In love | Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 -1900 / Lou Andreas-Salomé 1861-1937 / Rainer Maria Rilke 1875 -1926

Lou Andreas-Salomé, Paul Rée and F. Nietzsche, 1882

Friedrich Nietzsche | 1844 -1900


“There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.”

“That which is done out of love is always beyond good and evil.”

 F. N., Beyond Good and Evil, 1886


One must learn to love. — This is what happens to us in music: First one has to learn to hear a figure and melody at all, to detect and distinguish it, to isolate it and delimit it as a separate life. Then it requires some exertion and good will to tolerate it in spite of its strangeness, to be patient with its appearance and expression, and kindhearted about its oddity. Finally there comes a moment when we are used to it, when we wait for it, when we sense that we should miss it if it were missing; and now it continues to compel and enchant us relentlessly until we have become its humble and enraptured lovers who desire nothing better from the world than it and only it.

But that is what happens to us not only in music. That is how we have learned to love all the things that we now love. In the end we are always rewarded for our good will, our patience, fairmindedness, and gentleness with what is strange; gradually, it sheds its veil and turns out to be a new and indescribable beauty. That is its thanks for our hospitality. Even those who love themselves will have learned it in this way; for there is no other way. Love, too, has to be learned.

F. N., The Gay Science, 1882


Lou Andreas-Salomé, Paul Ree and Friedrich Nietzsche in Jules Bonnet studio, Lucerne 1882

Lou Andreas-Salomé | 1861-1937


"All love is tragic. Requited love dies of satiation, unrequited of starvation. But death by starvation is slower and more painful."

"If you have no more happiness to give: Give me your pain."

“Poetry is something in-between the dream and its interpretation.”

“The main thing is that life-faith is essentially and vitally present, by means of which we survive." *

“Should we not be moved rather than chilled by the knowledge that he might have attained his greatness only through his frailties?” *

"The more fiery the fanaticism of love, the colder the effect of its distortion–right up to fire and cold coming together as one."


Lou Andreas-Salomé
* Letters to Sigmund Freud


R. M. Rilke, Lou Andreas-Salomé and the poet Spiridon Drozin in Russia, 1900


Rainer Maria Rilke | 1875 -1926

To Lou Andreas-Salome 


I held myself too open, I forgot
that outside not just things exist and animals
fully at ease in themselves, whose eyes
reach from their lives’ roundedness no differently
than portraits do from frames; forgot that I
with all I did incessantly crammed
looks into myself; looks, opinion, curiosity.
Who knows: perhaps eyes form in space
and look on everywhere. Ah, only plunged toward you
does my face cease being on display, grows
into you and twines on darkly, endlessly,
into your sheltered heart.

As one puts a handkerchief before pent-in-breath-
no: as one presses it against a wound
out of which the whole of life, in a single gush,
wants to stream, I held you to me: I saw you
turn red from me. How could anyone express
what took place between us? We made up for everything
there was never time for. I matured strangely
in every impulse of unperformed youth,
and you, love, had wildest childhood over my heart.

Memory won’t suffice here: from those moments
there must be layers of pure existence
on my being’s floor, a precipitate
from that immensely overfilled solution.


For I don’t think back; all that I am
stirs me because of you. I don’t invent you
at sadly cooled-off places from which
you’ve gone away; even your not being there
is warm with you and more real and more
than a privation. Longing leads out too often
into vagueness. Why should I cast myself, when,
for all I know, your influence falls on me,
gently, like moonlight on a window seat.


translation : A. Poulin




Anaïs Nin talks about Lou Andreas-Salomé, Observed, dir Robert Snyder, 1974


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