by Paulo Coelho
"Lou Salomé‘s mother took her to Rome, Italy when she was 21. At a literary salon in the city, Salomé became acquainted with Paul Rée, an author and compulsive gambler with whom she proposed living in an academic commune. After two months, the two became partners. On 13 May 1882, Rée’s friend Friedrich Nietzsche joined the duo. The three travelled with Salomé’s mother through Italy and considered where they would set up their “Winterplan” commune. Arriving in Leipzig, Germany in October, Salomé and Rée separated from Nietzsche after a falling-out between Nietzsche and Salomé, in which Salomé believed that Nietzsche was desperately in love with her.
Lou Salome, P. Ree and Frederic Nietzche
She was singularly clever and attractive. One after another they all fell in love with her like Nietzsche the moment he saw her and according to legend said: “What star have we both come from to meet here?”
Nietzsche’s mother was tradition-minded and disliked Lou, but Nietzsche thought that his sister would side with him against their mother. He failed to understand that his sister was a schemer. As a born spinster she did not appreciate the way Lou held center stage. She wrote more than a dozen novels, a study of Ibsen’s woman characters and a famous book on her friend Friedrich Nietzsche, “Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werke”, 1894, one of the most informative books of the 19th century on Nietzsche’s work. She also edited a memory-book on her lifelong close friend and onetime lover, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, after his death in 1926. Among her works is also 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.”
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.”