March 2, 2009

Growing Up Wittgenstein

As we learn from Alexander Waugh's new book, The House of Wittgenstein: A Family at War, being one Viennese steel magnate Karl Wittgenstein's nine children had its ups and downs.

The ups: very musical. Brahms, Richard Strauss, Schoenberg and Mahler all came to their home concert. "All the Wittgensteins, parents and children alike, were prodigiously talented musicians...Concertizing together seems to have been for them a wordless medium of communication, affording a respite from the usual family tension and bickering."

Also, you had a one in nine chance of becoming one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century. [That'd be Ludwig.]

The downs: being a closet case, suicidal, or both.

I don't know where to put this one: "the first spoken word of one of the Wittgenstein boys was 'Oedipus.'"

Book Review: The House of Wittgenstein: A Family at War by Alexander Waugh, reviewed by Jim Holt [nyt]

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