When Nietzsche Wept: A Novel of Obsession

( 10 )

Overview

In nineteenth-century Vienna, a drama of love, fate, and will is played out amid the intellectual ferment that defined the era. Josef Breuer, one of the founding fathers of psychoanalysis, is at the height of his career. Friedrich Nietzsche, Europe's greatest philosopher, is on the brink of suicidal despair, unable to find a cure for the headaches and other ailments that plague him.

When he agrees to treat Nietzsche with his experimental “talking cure,” Breuer never expects that...

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Overview

In nineteenth-century Vienna, a drama of love, fate, and will is played out amid the intellectual ferment that defined the era. Josef Breuer, one of the founding fathers of psychoanalysis, is at the height of his career. Friedrich Nietzsche, Europe's greatest philosopher, is on the brink of suicidal despair, unable to find a cure for the headaches and other ailments that plague him.

When he agrees to treat Nietzsche with his experimental “talking cure,” Breuer never expects that he too will find solace in their sessions. Only through facing his own inner demons can the gifted healer begin to help his patient. In When Nietzsche Wept, Irvin Yalom blends fact and fiction, atmosphere and suspense, to unfold an unforgettable story about the redemptive power of friendship.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Tribune
“When Nietzsche Wept is the best dramatization of a great thinker’s thought since Sartre’s The Freud Scenario.”
Boston Globe
“An intelligent, carefully researched, richly imagined novel.”
Washington Post Book World
“Strong and authentic. The element of surprise is a magical, jolting moment.”
Chicago Tribune
“When Nietzsche Wept is the best dramatization of a great thinker’s thought since Sartre’s The Freud Scenario.”
Boston Globe
“An intelligent, carefully researched, richly imagined novel.”
Washington Post Book World
“Strong and authentic. The element of surprise is a magical, jolting moment.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This talky first novel by psychotherapist Yalom ( Love's Executioner ) is set in 1882 Vienna, where Joseph Breuer, an eminent physician and mentor of Sigmund Freud, has applied his recently discovered talking cure to a woman afflicted with multiple symptoms of hysteria. But now it is Breuer who needs help, for he has become obsessed with the beautiful Anna O. although she is no longer his patient. On vacation in Venice, he is asked by Lou Salome, an imperious Russian woman, to treat German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, who has threatened suicide because of her rejection. Nietzsche consults Breuer in Vienna and, after a series of subtle subterfuges, agrees to a month of daily meetings; Breuer's plan is to employ the talking cure on the bristling Nietzsche under the guise of getting the philosopher to help him with his own obsession and related depression. In this intelligent, fully imagined tale, Yalom accurately evokes the encapsulated world of Breuer and Nietzsche's sessions as well as the social and intellectual milieu of the period, but the narrative is constrained by too much telling (``Perhaps dreams can express either wishes or fears,'' Freud observes in a discussion with Breuer)--at the expense of showing--and a manipulated, unconvincing resolution. Major ad/promo; author tour. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
Freud's mentor, Josef Breuer, attempts to cure Friedrich Nietzsche of suicidal despair in the clinics, cemeteries, and coffeehouses of 19th-century Vienna—in this first novel by the author of the bestselling Love's Executioner: an entertaining and highly original tale of an uncompromising friendship between two brilliant men. Distinguished physician, renowned scientist, beloved husband and father, Josef Breuer finds himself at 40 simultaneously at the crest of his professional life and near the bottom of a pit of incomprehensible despair. Cursed with nightmares, insomnia, and obsessive sexual fantasies of his former patient, Anna O. (whom he cured, miraculously if temporarily, through a new technique called "talk therapy"), Breuer welcomes the distraction when the imperious future psychoanalyst Lou Salom‚ demands that he use talk therapy to cure the suicidal depression of her friend, Friedrich Nietzsche. Because the poverty-ridden, unknown philosopher is too proud to accept spiritual help from anyone, Breuer must somehow cure the younger man without his knowledge—but the physician welcomes the challenge, and soon solves it by posing as the patient himself and begging Nietzsche's help in relieving his own existential pain. Unable to refuse, dour Nietzsche agrees to embark on a month of daily "talks" with the physician. The ensuing dialogue between a man of the world and an unworldly man becomes increasingly compelling as first Breuer, then Nietzsche, uncovers his forgotten past and delves deep into his own and the other's unconscious desires and fears. Throughout, Yalom's evocation of Breuer imprisoned in a classic midlife crisis, Nietzsche stymied by his own pride,loneliness, and terror, Lou Salom‚ cracking her feminist whip, and young Sigmund Freud eagerly following each conversation's twists and turns make for a stimulating dip into the pools of 19th-century philosophy, psychology, and culture. A delectable fantasy—in which the sole disappointment is that it didn't actually occur.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062009302
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/22/2011
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 128,673
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Irvin D. Yalom, M.D., is the author of The Schopenhauer Cure, Lying on the Couch, Every Day Gets a Little Closer, and Love's Executioner, as well as several classic textbooks on psychotherapy. When Nietzsche Wept was a bestseller in Germany, Israel, Greece, Turkey, Argentina, and Brazil with millions of copies sold worldwide. Yalom is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at Stanford University, and he divides his practice between Palo Alto, where he lives, and San Francisco, California.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 13, 2009

    One of the best books I've read

    An incredibly well written book that is engaging from the first page and kept me going and wanting more, right until the end. I'm looking forward to reading his other works and to more books to come from this inspiring and entertaining, and clearly very intelligent doctor/writer.
    Reading this book is a form of therapy, you get more out of it than you realize.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2013

    Blew me away! I have a habit of reading with a Sharpie highlight

    Blew me away! I have a habit of reading with a Sharpie highlighter. It came in very handy and I used it often. Very thought provoking read. The next book I read will most likely be a let down.


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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2005

    Buy this book!!!

    If you are in any way interested in philosophy and psychology and in how the one can possibly be of any importance to the other, you must read this intelligent, well thought through book. It will enrich and inspire you and show you that there really are no boundries between the different disciplines. All that is needed is your curiosity and your willingness to let fixed ways of thinking and looking at yourself and others go.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 22, 2000

    Great psychological novel

    This book tells a fictional tale of Emil Breur, Nietzsche, & Freud. Breur is Nietzsche's 'therapist' and Freud consults on the case some. It takes you into the minds of all three in a very unique manner. Great read!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2011

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    Posted April 3, 2009

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    Posted December 4, 2008

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    Posted November 30, 2008

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    Posted May 29, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

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