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Do You Write or Think? Mr Nietzsche's Assessment of Your Dilemma.

(382 Posts)
onebatmotherofgoditschilly Mon 07-Jan-08 21:59:03

I had forgotten this:

"The literary woman, unsatisfied, agitated, desolate in heart and entrails, listening every minute with painful curiosity to the imperative which whispers from the depths of her organism "aut liberi aut libri [either children or books]."
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

Ten years ago I would have turned the page with a sigh and a sneer.


Threadworm Tue 08-Jan-08 09:56:22

I wonder exactly what Nietzsche meant by these remarks. It could just as easily be a comment about the unsupportive circumstances in which literary women find themselves as a comment about the women themselves.

He had at least one woman intellectual friend whom he regarded with great respect -- Helen Zimmern, who translated some of his work into English. He referred to her as 'very clever' and as the person who introduced Schopenhauer to the English.

When asked if she had seen any signs of maddness in Nietzshe, she replied rather oddly that 'he did insist on eating an apple every day', thereby eliding the rather useful distinction between insanity and a healthy diet.

She was childless, I tnink. It just wasn't very easy to be a married intellectual in those days. Think of poor Hedda Gabbler (sp?)

SueBaroo Tue 08-Jan-08 09:58:35

*gets out copy of The Yellow Wallpaper*

littlelapin Tue 08-Jan-08 10:00:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SueBaroo Tue 08-Jan-08 10:03:27

I think it just boils down to the simple practicality of opportunity to me.

Although I would agree with Anna8888 that my children have given me another element of creativity in my writing. But I just don't physically get to do it as often as I'd like, and often have found myself too spent by the end of the day to attempt it.

SueBaroo Tue 08-Jan-08 10:06:34

"I shall see myself, I shall read myself, I shall go into ecstasies, and I shall say: ‘Is it possible that I should have had so much spirit?’"


Ah, now you see, I identify with that - read something I've written and thought 'Blimey, was that me?'

Threadworm Tue 08-Jan-08 10:08:06

And remember that he was just as scathing and contemptuous in his remarks about men. I don't know anything about his views on women. I want to find out now! But I suspect the quoted remarks could well be a comment on contemporary society rather than on femaleness as such.

Anna8888 Tue 08-Jan-08 10:10:56

SueBaroo - write in the morning wink. Café, croissant, two hours of peace and - presto smile.

SueBaroo Tue 08-Jan-08 10:17:07

Anna8888, yes, actually, getting up before the crack of dawn has been useful before now. I might give it a go again.

*Ponders the delightful image of a two hour lounge in a cafe with a croissant and a coffee*

Cappuccino Tue 08-Jan-08 10:41:19

I would just end up reading the papers blush

Peachy Tue 08-Jan-08 10:44:28

no no no no no

I did the module on him last term

I passed

tis enough I tell you

Wondering if was the inspiration for certain childless childcare guru types.....

(must admit to having a few things published pre kids in journals etc BUT I will have time again one day, and less 'formal' essay writing to do, and a lot more life material to utilise as well)

Peachy Tue 08-Jan-08 10:45:13

(threadworm have a couple of his books going spare I can post if you want to CAT me)

Threadworm Tue 08-Jan-08 10:47:49

Thanks Peachy. I have quite a lot of his books, but 'the imperatives whispering from the depths of my organism' (aka Ds1 and DS2) have kept me away from them. Hence my desolate entrails.

SueBaroo Tue 08-Jan-08 10:49:44

Hence my desolate entrails


My new book title grin

Threadworm Tue 08-Jan-08 10:54:23


Threadworm Tue 08-Jan-08 11:07:49

Actually, come to think of it, I have plenty of time for books:

"The literary woman, unsatisfied, agitated, desolate in heart and entrails, listening every minute with painful curiosity to the imperative which whispers from the depths of her organism "aut Matronnet aut libri [either Mumsnet or books]."

onebatmother Tue 08-Jan-08 11:19:03

lol threadworm
Matronnet - the world's best mithering site.
Haven't read the thread yet. Called away last night by vomit.

IorekByrnison Tue 08-Jan-08 11:20:30

Desolate in their entrails? Did he think babies come out of ladies' bottoms.

Threadworm Tue 08-Jan-08 11:36:41

Lol at 'called away by vomit' -- whispers from DC's organism? Desolate entrails indeed.

IorekByrnison Tue 08-Jan-08 11:42:36

(I mean, I assume he was meaning to refer to the empty womb of the literary woman)

Actually I don't know enough about Nietsche's work to make any very sensible comments on these words as he may have meant them in context.

But, I do think that although one's ability to undertake creative or intellectual projects is likely to be compromised while in the charge of small children, overall, one's understanding of language, psychology and many other things pertinent to literary creation are all enormously enriched by the experience of having and rearing children.

I'm looking forward to 50 myself.

onebatmother Tue 08-Jan-08 11:58:46

I quite like the entrails bit! I read it as guts, which seems to take the question seriously, at least.

Cappuccino, I suspect Eloise is sorting the socks that the cleaner has already ironed and folded. Eloise will then be placing them neatly in each child's linen-press and awaiting the purr of the peoplecarrier, which signals the safe arrival home of her darlings, and is always followed by the squeak-slump of Magda- the-au-pair's birkenstocks as she ushers them into the large basement kitchen on whose rustic table Eloise's vivid arrangement of wild flowers (grown in her kitchen garden) sits in a chipped cream pitcher.

I don't like Eloise much, I've realised.

Threadworm Tue 08-Jan-08 12:02:12

V. much agree with your penultimate paragraph, Iorek. (Apart from anything else -- and there is much else -- how much excellent children's literature like Pullman's has the experience of parenting at its core.) The magical months of witnessing my children's language acquisition were incredibly enlightening: made me think often of Wittgenstein.

SueBaroo Tue 08-Jan-08 12:03:55

excellent children's literature


My goal for the end of this year! Not kidding actually, although I'm not calling it a resolution, because that would tempting idleness.

onebatmother Tue 08-Jan-08 12:04:31

Oh gosh, I thought that desolate entrails meant churning guts (which are appalled at the choice that they were going to be called upon to make)?

Rather than the empty womb of the literary woman (who has already made her choice)..

Hmm.. perhaps you're right Iorek. That would be rather patronising..

Nietzsche and The Desolate Entrails will be my new band. When I'm fifty.

Perhaps by then it will be compulsory to be fifty before forming band?

Swedes2Turnips1 Tue 08-Jan-08 12:04:58

DS1 and DS2 (15 and 12) were having a chat as they unloaded the dishwasher last night.
DS1 'Don't stop just to talk, keep unloading!'
DS2 'I'm not a woman!' (and thus unable to multitask).

Why creativity/books or children? Didn't women multi task in Prussian Saxony in the 19th Century? tut

Threadworm Tue 08-Jan-08 12:09:26

Neitzsche seems to have been obsessed with his churning guts since he often used them as metaphor: e.g., something like 'the neurotic man is like the man with indigestion: he can never have done with anything.'

--i.e. (I suppose) his anxieties and self-doubts keep repeating on him, like raw onion after a salad.

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