Lou Andreas-Salomé

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Lou Andreas-Salomé
Lou Andreas-Salomé in 1914
Born(1861-02-12)12 February 1861
Died5 February 1937(1937-02-05) (aged 75)
Göttingen, Germany
Nationality German

Lou Andreas-Salomé (born either Louise von Salomé or Luíza Gustavovna Salomé or Lioulia von Salomé, Russian : Луиза Густавовна Саломе; 12 February 1861 – 5 February 1937) was a Russian-born psychoanalyst and a well traveled author, narrator, and essayist from a Russian-German family. [1] Her diverse intellectual interests led to friendships with a broad array of distinguished western thinkers, including Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, Paul Rée, and Rainer Maria Rilke. [2]

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Friedrich Nietzsche German philosopher

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher, cultural critic, composer, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on modern intellectual history. He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy. He became the youngest ever to hold the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in 1869 at the age of 24. Nietzsche resigned in 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life; he completed much of his core writing in the following decade. In 1889 at age 44, he suffered a collapse and afterward, a complete loss of his mental faculties. He lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897 and then with his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Nietzsche died in 1900.

Sigmund Freud Austrian neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.



Early years

Lou Salomé was born in St. Petersburg to Gustav Ludwig von Salomé (1807-1878), and Louise von Salomé (Wilm) (1823-1913). Lou was their only daughter; they had five sons. Although she would later be attacked by the Nazis as a "Finnish Jew", her parents were actually of French Huguenot and Northern German descent. [3] The youngest of six children, their household was wealthy and well-cultured, having all children speak Russian, German, and French, along with allowing Lou Andreas-Salomé to attend her brothers classes.

Saint Petersburg Federal city in the Northwestern federal district, Russia

Saint Petersburg is Russia's second-largest city after Moscow, with 5 million inhabitants in 2012, part of the Saint Petersburg agglomeration with a population of 6.2 million (2015). An important Russian port on the Baltic Sea, it has a status of a federal subject.

National Socialism, more commonly known as Nazism, is the ideology and practices associated with the Nazi Party—officially the National Socialist German Workers' Party —in Nazi Germany, and of other far-right groups with similar ideas and aims.

Born into a strictly Protestant family, Lou Andreas-Salomé grew to resent the Reformed church and Hermann Dalton, the Orthodox Protestant pastor, causing her to refuse being confirmed, while also leading her to be interested in philosophical, literary, and other religious topics.

Seeking an education when she was 17, Salomé persuaded the Dutch preacher Hendrik Gillot, 25 years her senior, to teach her theology, philosophy, world religions, and French and German literature. Gillot became so smitten with Salomé that he planned to divorce his wife and marry her. Salomé refused, for she was not interested in marriage and sexual relations; she was disappointed and shocked by this development, but remained friends with Gillot.

French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens of other nations such as Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, Senegal, Algeria, Morocco, etc. is referred to as Francophone literature. France itself ranks first in the list of Nobel Prizes in literature by country.

German literature literature written in the German language

German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language. This includes literature written in Germany, Austria, the German parts of Switzerland and Belgium, Liechtenstein, South Tyrol in Italy and to a lesser extent works of the German diaspora. German literature of the modern period is mostly in Standard German, but there are some currents of literature influenced to a greater or lesser degree by dialects.

Following her father's death in 1879, Salomé and her mother went to Zurich, so Salomé could acquire a university education as a "guest student". In her one year at The University of Zurich, which was one of the few schools that accepted female students, Lou Andreas-Salomé completed lectures in philosophy (logic, history of philosophy, ancient philosophy and psychology) and theology (dogmatics). During this time, Salomé's physical health was failing due to a lung disease, causing her to cough up blood. Due to this, she was instructed to heal in warmer climates so in February 1882, Lou Andreas-Salomé and her mother arrived in Rome.

University of Zurich university in Switzerland

The University of Zurich, located in the city of Zürich, is the largest university in Switzerland, with over 25,000 students. It was founded in 1833 from the existing colleges of theology, law, medicine and a new faculty of philosophy.

Left to right, Andreas-Salome, Ree and Nietzsche (1882) Nietzsche paul-ree lou-von-salome188.jpg
Left to right, Andreas-Salomé, Rée and Nietzsche (1882)

Rée and Nietzsche, and later life

Salomé's mother took her to Rome when Salomé was 21. At a literary salon in the city, Salomé became acquainted with Paul Rée, an author. Rée proposed marriage to her, but she instead proposed that they should live and study together as 'brother and sister', along with another man for company, where they would establish an academic commune. [4] Rée accepted the idea, and suggested that they be joined by his friend Friedrich Nietzsche. The two met Nietzsche in Rome in April 1882, and Nietzsche is believed to have instantly fallen in love with Salomé, as Rée had earlier done. Nietzsche asked Rée to propose marriage to Salomé on his behalf, which she rejected. She had been interested in Nietzsche as a friend, but not as a husband. [4] Nietzsche nonetheless was content to join together with Rée and Salomé touring through Switzerland and Italy together, planning their commune. On May 13, in Lucerne, when Nietzsche was alone with Salomé, he earnestly proposed marriage to her again, which she rejected again. He was happy to continue with the plans for an academic commune. [4] After discovering about the situation, Nietzsche's sister Elizabeth became determined to get Nietzsche away from what she described as the "immoral woman". [5] The three traveled with Salomé's mother through Italy and considered where they would set up their "Winterplan" commune. This commune was intended to be set up in an abandoned monastery, but as no suitable location was found, the plan was abandoned.

Rome Capital of Italy

Rome is the capital city and a special comune of Italy. Rome also serves as the capital of the Lazio region. With 2,872,800 residents in 1,285 km2 (496.1 sq mi), it is also the country's most populated comune. It is the fourth most populous city in the European Union by population within city limits. It is the centre of the Metropolitan City of Rome, which has a population of 4,355,725 residents, thus making it the most populous metropolitan city in Italy. Rome is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, within Lazio (Latium), along the shores of the Tiber. The Vatican City is an independent country inside the city boundaries of Rome, the only existing example of a country within a city: for this reason Rome has been often defined as capital of two states.

Paul Rée Prussian Doctor

Paul Ludwig Carl Heinrich Rée was a German author and philosopher, and friend of Friedrich Nietzsche.

After arriving in Leipzig in October 1882, the three spent a number of weeks together. However,the following month Rée and Salomé parted company with Nietzsche, leaving for Stibbe without any plans to meet again. Nietzsche soon fell into a period of mental anguish, although he continued to write to Rée, stating "We shall see one another from time to time, won't we?" [6] In later recriminations, Nietzsche would later blame the failure in his attempts to woo Salomé both on Salomé, Rée, and on the intrigues of his sister (who had written letters to the family of Salomé and Rée to disrupt the plans for the commune). Nietzsche wrote of the affair in 1883, that he felt "genuine hatred for my sister." [6]

Leipzig Place in Saxony, Germany

Leipzig is the most populous city in the German federal state of Saxony. With a population of 587,857 inhabitants as of 2018, it is Germany's eighth most populous city as well as the second most populous city in the area of former East Germany after (East) Berlin. Together with Halle (Saale), the largest city of the neighbouring state of Saxony-Anhalt, the city forms the polycentric conurbation of Leipzig-Halle. Between the two cities lies Leipzig/Halle International Airport.

Salomé would later (1894) write a study, Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werken (Friedrich Nietzsche in his Works), of Nietzsche's personality and philosophy. [7]

In 1884 Salomé became acquainted with Helene von Druskowitz, the second woman to receive a philosophy doctorate in Zurich.[ citation needed ] It was also rumored that Salomé later had a romantic relationship with Sigmund Freud. [8]

Marriage and relationships

Salomé and Rée moved to Berlin and lived together until a few years before her celibate marriage [9] to a linguistics scholar, Friedrich Carl Andreas. Despite her opposition to marriage and her open relationships with other men, Salomé and Andreas remained married from 1887 until his death in 1930.

The distress caused by Salomé's co-habitation with Andreas caused the morose Rée to fade from Salomé's life despite her assurances. Throughout her married life, she engaged in affairs or/and correspondence with the German journalist and politician Georg Ledebour, the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke, about whom she wrote an analytical memoir, [10] the psychoanalysts Sigmund Freud and Victor Tausk, among others. Accounts of many of these are given in her volume Lebensrückblick . Her relationship with Freud was still quite intellectual despite the gossip about their romantic involvement. In one letter Freud particularly commends Salomé's deep understanding of people so much so that he offers that she understood people better than people understood themselves. The two often exchanged letters. [11]

Her relationship with Rilke was particularly close. Salomé was fifteen years his senior. They met when he was 21, were lovers for several years and correspondents until Rilke's death; it was Salome who began calling him Rainer rather than René. She taught him Russian, in order to read Tolstoy (whom he would later meet) and Pushkin. She introduced him to patrons and other people in the arts, remaining his advisor, confidante and muse throughout his adult life. [9]


Lou Andreas-Salome's grave in Gottingen Gottingen Stadtfriedhof Grab Andreas-Salome.jpg
Lou Andreas-Salomé's grave in Göttingen

At the age of 74, Lou Andreas-Salomé ceased to work as a psychoanalyst. She had developed heart trouble, and in her weakened condition had to be treated many times in hospital. Her husband visited her daily; it was a difficult situation for the old man, who was himself quite ill. After a forty-year marriage marked by illness on both sides and long periods of mutual non-communication, the two grew closer. Sigmund Freud himself recognized this from afar, writing: "this only proves the permanence of the truth [of their relationship]." Friedrich Carl Andreas died of cancer in 1930. Andreas-Salomé had to undergo a difficult cancer-related operation herself in 1935.

On the evening of 5 February 1937 she died of uremia in her sleep, at Göttingen. Her urn was laid to rest in her husband's grave in the Friedhof an der Groner Landstraße (Cemetery on Groner Landstrasse) in Göttingen. A memorial plaque on the newly renovated ground floor of her home, a street named "Lou-Andreas-Salomé-Weg" (Lou-Andreas-Salomé-Way), and the name of the institute for psychoanalysis and psychotherapy ("Lou-Andreas-Salomé Institut") commemorate the contributions of this former resident of Göttingen. A few days before her death the Gestapo confiscated her library (according to other sources it was an SA group who destroyed the library, and shortly after her death). The pretense for this confiscation: she had been a colleague of Sigmund Freud's, had practiced "Jewish science", and had many books by Jewish authors in her library.


Salomé was a prolific writer, and wrote several little-known novels, plays, and essays. She authored a "Hymn to Life" that so deeply impressed Nietzsche that he was moved to set it to music. Salomé's literary and analytical studies became such a vogue in Göttingen, the German town in which she lived her last years, that the Gestapo waited until shortly after her death by uremia in 1937 to "clean" her library of works by Jews.

She was one of the first female psychoanalysts and one of the first women to write psychoanalytically on female sexuality, [12] before Helene Deutsch, for instance in her essay on the anal-erotic (1916), an essay admired by Freud. However, she had written about the psychology of female sexuality before she ever met Freud, in her book Die Erotik (1911).

She wrote more than a dozen novels, such as Im Kampf um Gott, Ruth, Rodinka, Ma, Fenitschka – eine Ausschweifung and also non-fiction studies such as Henrik Ibsens Frauengestalten (1892), a study of Ibsen's woman characters and a book on her friend Nietzsche, Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werke (1894).

She edited a memoir on her lifelong close friend and onetime lover, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, after his death in 1926. Among her works is also her Lebensrückblick, a book she wrote during her last years based on memories of her life as a free woman. In her memoirs, which were first published in their original German in 1951, she goes into depth about matters of her faith and her relationships.

Whoever reaches into a rosebush may seize a handful of flowers; but no matter how many one holds, it's only a small portion of the whole. Nevertheless, a handful is enough to experience the nature of the flowers. Only if we refuse to reach into the bush, because we can't possibly seize all the flowers at once, or if we spread out our handful of roses as if it were the whole of the bush itself — only then does it bloom apart from us, unknown to us, and we are left alone. [13]

Salomé is said to have remarked in her last days, "I have really done nothing but work all my life, work ... why?" And in her last hours, as if talking to herself, she is reported to have said, "If I let my thoughts roam I find no one. The best, after all, is death." [14]

Published works

Lou Andreas-Salomé's published works as cited by An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers. [15] :36–38


In fiction and film

A fictional account of Salomé's relationship with Nietzsche is described in Irvin Yalom's novel, When Nietzsche Wept , [16] also in Lance Olsen's novel, Nietzsche's Kisses , and the novel by Mexican writer Beatriz Rivas, titled La hora sin diosas (The time without goddesses). [17]

Salomé plays a major role in William Bayer's novel, The Luzern Photograph, in which two reenactments of the famous image of her with Nietzsche and Rée impact a murder in contemporary Oakland, California. [18]

Mexican playwright Sabina Berman includes Lou Andreas-Salomé as a character in her 2000 play Feliz nuevo siglo, Doktor Freud (Freud Skating). [19]

Salomé is also fictionalized in Angela von der Lippe's The Truth about Lou, [20] in Brenda Webster's Vienna Triangle, [21] in Clare Morgan's A Book for All and None [22] , in Robert Langs' two-act play Freud's Bird of Prey. [23] , and in Araceli Bruch's five-act play Re-Call (written in Catalan). [24]

In Liliana Cavani's movie Al di la' del bene e del male ( Beyond Good and Evil ) Salome is played by Dominique Sanda. In Pinchas Perry's film version of When Nietzsche Wept, Salome is played by Katheryn Winnick.

Lou Salome, an opera in two acts by Giuseppe Sinopoli with libretto from Karl Dietrich Gräwe, premiered 1981 at the Bavarian State Opera, with August Everding as General Director, staging by Götz Friedrich and set design by Andreas Reinhardt. [25]

In Colombian author Santiago Gamboa's novel Night Prayers [26] , the epigram quotes Andreas-Salome: "What remained in the end, however the world or life changed, was the immutable fact of a universe abandoned by God."

Lou Andreas-Salomé , a German-language movie directed by Cordula Kablitz-Post, released in German cinemas on 30 June 2016. [27] Andreas-Salome is portrayed onscreen by Katharina Lorenz and as a young woman by Liv Lisa Fries.

The film was released in New York City and Los Angeles in April 2018, with wider release to follow.


  1. "Lou Andreas-Salome biography". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. "Lou Andreas-Salome | German writer". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  3. Powell, Anthony (1994). Under Review: Further Writings on Writers, 1946–1990. University of Chicago Press. p. 440. ISBN   0-226-67712-5.
  4. 1 2 3 Nietzsche: The Man and his Philosophy, by R.J. Hollingdale (Cambridge University Press 1999), page 149
  5. Nietzsche: The Man and his Philosophy, by R.J. Hollingdale (Cambridge University Press 1999), page 151
  6. 1 2 Nietzsche: The Man and his Philosophy, by R.J. Hollingdale (Cambridge University Press 1999), page 152
  7. Salomé, 2001
  8. Borossa, Julia; Rooney, Caroline. "Suffering, Transience and Immortal Longings Salomé Between Neitzsche and Freud". The Gale Group. Sage Publications. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  9. 1 2 Mark M. Anderson, "The Poet and the Muse", The Nation, 3 July 2006, pp. 40–41.
  10. Andreas-Salomé, 2003
  11. Borossa, Julia; Rooney, Caroline. "Suffering, Transience and Immortal Longings Salome Between Nietzsche and Freud". The Gale Group. Sage Publications. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  12. Popova, Maria (2015-02-12). "Lou Andreas-Salomé, the First Woman Psychoanalyst, on Human Nature in Letters to Freud". Brain Pickings. Retrieved 2017-07-17.
  13. "Books of The Times – Her Friends Included Nietzsche, Rilke and Freud". Nytimes.com. 10 May 1991.
  14. Peters, 'My Sister, My Spouse', p. 300
  15. Wilson, Katharina M. (1991). An Encyclopedia of Continental Women Writers. New York and London: Garland Publishing, Inc.
  16. "When Nietzsche Wept". Litmed.med.nyu.edu. Retrieved 2015-12-05.
  17. "La hora sin diosas". Alfaguara.com. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  18. Bayer, William, The Luzern Photograph; ISBN   978-0-7278-8546-3
  19. Bruno Bosteels (2012-08-21). Marx and Freud in Latin America: Politics, Psychoanalysis, and Religion in ... Books.google.com. p. 237. ISBN   9781844678471 . Retrieved 2015-12-05.
  20. The Truth about Lou; ISBN   1-58243-358-5
  21. Vienna Triangle; ISBN   978-0-916727-50-5
  22. A Book for All and None; ISBN   978-0-7538-2892-2
  23. Freud's Bird of Prey; ISBN   1-891944-03-7
  24. Re-Call; ISBN   1905512201
  25. "Lou Salome: Muse, Geliebte, Therapeutin". Musik in Dresden. 2012-02-06. Retrieved 4 December 2015.
  26. 1965-, Gamboa, Santiago (2016). Night prayers. Curtis, Howard, 1949-. New York, N.Y. ISBN   9781609453114. OCLC   910980482.
  27. "In Love with Lou". World Literature Today. 2016-06-22. Retrieved 2017-07-17.

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