The Most Interesting Woman In The World (Gilded Age Edition)

I'm just reading Looking Back, the memoirs of Lou Andreas-Salomé. She's best known for her associations with Friedrich Nietzsche, Ranier Maria Rilke, and Sigmund Freud. I suppose it's inevitable that a woman in that era would be remembered primarily for the men in her life, but that would be selling her short. Nietzsche described her as the most intelligent person he ever met, although he may have been a little biased as he was pretty obviously crushing on her pretty hard.

The memoirs are frustrating in they're not particularly revealing about the woman herself. She writes extensively about the people in her live and she's extremely generous in her recollections. She had a happy childhood, loved her family, and appreciated the best qualities in the exceptional men whose acquaintance she made. She spends entire chapters on Nietzsche, Rilke, and Freud, as well as author and friend Paul Rée and her husband, Friedrich Karl Andreas. She's discreet as to the exact nature of her relationships with these men, even her husband.

Although Salomé was raised in Russia, she writes very much in a distinctly German style. If you've read Nietzsche or Hesse, you'll recognize the dense structure, alternately ecstatic and technical. The first few chapters discussing her childhood and of her leaving the church are a bit of a slog, but if it stick with it, it's easier going from there on out. The impression you're left with is one of a woman who refused traditional relationships, possessed a wildly curious and capable intellect, and retained a child-like nature, with all the good and bad implied, well into middle age. I just wish it was more than just an "impression" and she'd shared a little more of her own self in her memoirs.


On an unrelated note, we've been chain-watching The Twilight Zone and it's been an eye-opening experience. It was imaginative and way ahead of its time, but it's almost jarring how good the photography looks. The last time I saw the Twilight Zone, it was over broadcast television on an old CRT TV. Streaming on a good, but not great, modern television, it looks so much crisper and sharper than I remembered. That suggests that the recording technology, even way back in the sixties, was remarkably good, but when broadcast over VHF into a tube television, the quality of the image degraded enormously.

Oh, and as Nicole pointed out, just about every Simpson's Treehouse of Horror bit was lifted directly from The Twilight Zone.