Wittgenstein's Family Letters

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With a quality all their own, Wittgenstein's Family Letters reveals a side of Ludwig Wittgenstein few would have known. The familiarity and intimacy of the letters offer new insights into the development of his relationships and ideas over the course of forty years.

In his usual frank, and sometimes brutally honest manner, he explains his decisions to lead a life in absolute agreement with what he considered right for him. In correspondence with his siblings we learn more about Ludwig's refusal to be known as a 'Wittgenstein' during his time as a school teacher and his insistence to celebrate Christmas not with the family, but with friends. Using a different tone for each of his siblings, he creates distinct portraits of the siblings themselves. The open and simple tone to Hermine, a mother figure to Ludwig; the practical and sometimes joking tone to Paul; and, most strikingly, the loving and witty tone to Helene Salzer, the sibling closest to Ludwig and with whom he remained in contact until his death. The most intellectual and original of his sisters, Margaret, is seen primarily through her letters to Ludwig, as almost no letters to her are believed to have survived from him.

Translated into English for the first time, these personal letters not only illuminate Wittgenstein the philosopher, they bring us closer to Ludwig Wittgenstein the man.

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