26 December 2008

When Nietzsche Wept; Irvin D. Yalom

When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession by Irvin D. Yalom

My review

rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is one of those historical fiction books that is peopled by real people in a "supposal" of what would/might have happened. In this case, it's a meeting between Josef Brauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, at a point when Nietzsche was depressed and Brauer (along with his friend "Sig" Freud) was experimenting with treatment of hysterics.

Brauer made what he thought was a breakthrough during his treatment of "Anna O.", a hysteric. The case made his name and may have spurred his friend Freud to develop psychoanalysis. Nietzsche was writing his philosophical tracts and potentially devastated by the end of a romance/affair with Lou Salome. These are the facts; the "supposal" is what would have happened had the two met.

I've not been a fan of Freud since reading Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria in college. Later I read Freud, Dora, and Vienna 1900, which gave me a better appreciation of the time in which the case took place. When Nietzche Wept is set in 1892, shortly before. The misogyny throughout the text bothered me, even though I understand the era in which the book was set.

Still, seeing how analysis might - probably? - emerged is fascinating, particularly given the book's emphasis on being a "doctor of despair" and today's angst-ridden culture.

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  1. It DOES sound like a fascinating read! Thanks for calling my attention to it.

  2. take a look at the movie also of when nietzsche wept - on dvd now - irv yalom