In this week’s TLS – A note from the Editor
The baby Ludwig Wittgenstein on this week’s cover comes from what Iain Bamforth describes as a “compelling” visual and textual biography of a philosopher who himself described his work as “really only an album”. Michael Nedo’s “judiciously edited” book uses postcards and patents to show “the first evidence of the interest in technical objects that was a constant in Wittgenstein’s life” – and a collage of “family resemblances”, ostensibly scientific but also “oddly mystical”.
While an Austrian was transforming philosophy at the beginning of the twentieth century, the Germans were exhausting themselves in ways that are the subject of Anna Katharina Schaffner’s review of two books linking individual illness with the state of society. Nudism, muesli and yoga were all innovative responses to national tiredeness at the time, and some are still called upon during the current German obsession with “overwork”. Being “burned out” in Germany today, Schaffner says, is “socially acceptable”, “implying, as it does, that one has simply worked too hard”.
Michael Silk considers the tension between the Germanic and Latin influences on the language of Shakespeare, reviewing Colin Burrow’s book Shakespeare and Classical Antiquity. Readings of England’s greatest writer as Germany’s Gothic genius are not as fashionable as they were in the Romantic era of Schlegel, but Silk wonders if the Latinity is not now stressed too much: “we do well to ponder, not how much Shakespeare classicizes, but how relatively little”.
A. N. Wilson notes the gallantry of Hugh Trevor-Roper in taking “more than his share of the blame” for the fiasco of the fake “Hitler Diaries”. Geordie Torr explains how Wagner came to supply the names for newly discovered frogs in Papua New Guinea, Gudrun and Brünnhilde being merely two of them. Arnold Hunt praises an account of early modern Protestantism which “vividly and movingly” rebuts the notion of “deep spiritual isolation” promoted by Weber.