FRAU LOU: Nietzsche's Wayward Disciple by Rudolph Binion

FRAU LOU: Nietzsche's Wayward Disciple

Email this review


For half a century, Lou Andreas-Salome (1861-1937) played Circe to cerebral Europe. The roster of her friendships reads like a Who's Who. Nietzsche, Rilke, Freud were spurred to great feats (not to mention Buber, Hauptmann, and Schnitzler). Frau Lou, a brilliant, bitchy literary lady, was no simple courtesan. But her relationships to the intelligentsia are more important than her works. Binion, a professor of history at Brandeis, makes his thorough study of her life an essay in intellectual history. He tells her story chronologically: she climbed mountains and discussed philosophy with Nietzsche; she worked and traveled with Rilke for three years (though she was married to someone else); she studied with Freud, became a lay analyst, and one of his few female friends and apologists. Professor Binion's findings contradict much previous scholarship--he gives the lie to H. F. Peters' allegation (My Sister, My Spouse, 1960) that Nietzsche fell hopelessly in love with her. Frau Lou said he craved her body, but Binion (and Nietzsche) say he adored her mind. This, however, appears to be the lady's sole defeat. Binion's massive account is erudite. He uses psychoanalytic speculation to bolster his superb scholarship, but even the non-psychoanalytically inclined will find filling fare here. Aficionados of memoirs, devotees of European intellectual history, and specialists will find the book rewarding. The foreword is by Walter Kaufmann, a specialist in Nietzsche, who points out that Binion is fascinated with the lady's bearing on intellectual history. He is, and he provides numerous important insights. But he doesn't shy away from scandal. His study is definitive.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Princeton University Press