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Wittgenstein's Family Letters


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Table of Contents

Introduction Family Tree Cast of Characters Ludwig's Early Letters 1908 The War Years August 1914-April 1918 Captivity November 1918-September 1919 The Tractatus and the elementary school years October 1920-March 1926 A Viennese intermezzo a letter from late 1928? Cambridge January 1929-February 1938 121 The Anschluss and World War Two March 1938-May 1945 172 Ludwig's last letters January 1946-April 1951 Index

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A personal and intimate illustrated collection of over 100 letters between Wittgenstein and his siblings, written over the course of his life.

About the Author

Brian McGuinness is Professor of the History of Philosophy at the University of Siena, Italy. He is author of Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (with David Pears) and A Life of Wittgenstein (Volume 1, Young Ludwig, 1988). Peter Winslow is a professional translator. He has translated the work of Karl Kraus.


Anyone interested in the period, the Wittgenstein family, or the lost art of letter writing will find this a delightful read. Summing Up: Essential. * CHOICE *
This meticulously edited and superbly translated volume of letters written between 1908 and weeks before Ludwig's death in 1951 swings seamlessly between mundane trivialities and profound insights ... The letters offer incredible insight into Wittgenstein. * Times Higher Education *
The letters Wittgenstein exchanged with his siblings and other family members make fascinating reading for the light they shed on his cultural background, particularly the central role that music played in his life. Here, they are presented in a beautiful edition, superbly translated and edited. * Ray Monk, author of Ludwig Wittgenstein: The Duty of Genius *
There are not many families of the twentieth century as fascinating as the Wittgensteins. This is a valuable and often moving collection. The letters reveal how tight the bonds between family members were - but they also expose the tensions, that led ultimately to an irreparable split. * David Edmonds, co-author of Wittgenstein's Poker *
This beautifully illustrated and edited translation of Wittgenstein's correspondence with his family will appeal to anyone interested in learning more about his life or in exploring connections between his life and work. The present edition includes a new introduction, family tree, an annotated list of people and places and informative footnotes, all of which will be invaluable to readers. * David G. Stern, Professor of Philosophy, University of Iowa, USA *
Wittgenstein fans will want this newly translated, intimate look over 40 odd years into the on-going soap opera that characterized the Wittgenstein family, ranging from personal hurts to life-or-death decisions; ranging from aesthetic, mainly musical, judgments to assessments of the obligations of friendship and family relations. It includes some three dozen newly published letters between Ludwig and his brother Paul. * James C. Klagge, Professor of Philosophy, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA and editor of Wittgenstein: Biography and Philosophy (2001) *
The publication of this, the first English translation of the correspondence between Ludwig Wittgenstein and family-specifically, with his siblings Hermine, Margarete, Helene, and Paul-is an important event. As Brian McGuinness says in his incisive introduction, "The Wittgenstein's were a family that might well have figured in one of the nineteenth century sagas they read." A close but often contentious family, the siblings, especially Ludwig's elder sister Hermine, wrote long and detailed letters to their famous brother; he responded with unusual candor -and often severity-- and so we learn a great deal about the Wittgenstein way of doing things-which was by no means always Ludwig's way. The letters of the World War II years are especially interesting. This excellent translation by Peter Winslow, thoroughly annotated and copiously illustrated, is a real page-turner. * Marjorie Perloff, Sadie Dernham Patek Professor of Humanities, Emerita, Stanford University, Author of Wittgenstein's Ladder *
What does the correspondence have to offer beyond specialist interest? One answer, surprisingly, is pleasure. The siblings - 'rather hard and prickly elements', Ludwig calls them - slowly develop their own characteristics in the reader's mind ... The letters also offer a startling insight into what it meant to be a wealthy Viennese family in the early 20th century. * Literary Review *

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