24 January 2009

January's Book You May Have Missed: When Nietzsche Wept

Gah, just the thought of writing about this book makes me want to rush and read it again, not many novels make me almost sob with gratitude that the author has created such an intelligent, visceral read that I can fully and honestly comprehend and appreciate. I hate those books that you KNOW are brilliant, but wading through waist-high mud is by far the easier option... *cough* Carpentaria (Alexis Wright) *cough*. When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession by Irvin D. Yalom was originally published in 1992 and tells the story of Austrian psychologist Josef Breuer and his encounter and subsequent treatment of a mentally incapacitated Friedrich Nietzsche. Sigmund Freud makes a cameo as a young psychoanalyst as does the author Lou Salome. All historical figures I had heard of and studiously avoided their literary tomes whenever they popped up on an English reading list for uni; but brought together in the wake of Nietzsche's (probable but for the sake of semantics, fictional) breakdown they create a tense and emotional iceberg of a story that I couldn't put down. In fact, for a few days afterwards I quite considered myself the amateur psychologist and contemplated a change of career. If you have no interest in psychology, history or intellectual relationships (and are, in fact, completely oblivious to the mental hinderance that your narrow-sightedness has caused) this book probably isn't for you. But considering it came out more than a decade ago, chances are many who would have enjoyed it missed it first time around and should look it up.
Rating: 7/10
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