Martin and Hannah: man and woman

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I have just finished this painstaking account of the love affair and friendship between Martin Heidegger, the important 20th Century philosopher, and Hannah Arendt, the noted writer on ethics and totalitarianism.

The upshot of the book is that the Jewish Arendt had a love affair with Heidegger, who was a married man and an enthusiastic Nazi. She continued her friendship and love for him through two subsequent marriages of her own. She also covered for Heidegger after the Second World War when his unrepentant Nazism was causing him trouble. She defended him and excused his behaviour.

Throughout their relationship, he dominated her intellectually and treated her as an intellectual inferior, despite the fact that Arendt eventually developed a major reputation of her own as a writer on ethics.

The woman who wrote the account, Elzbieta Ettinger, is feminine enough to describe their relationship with a great deal of emotional detail. But perhaps she evades the obvious central point: that the young Jewess Arendt developed a huge and insatiable crush on Heidegger when she was a student, which never dissipated; and in fact survived his becoming a Nazi. She even went out of her way to defend him and help to rehabilitate him after the War. Basically, she was totally in his thrall.

It is a textbook case of female hypergamy. (And she was a clear case too of what is sometimes called an “alpha widow”.)

ADDENDUM: “Every Woman Adores a Fascist” (the case of poetess Sylvia Plath.)

Women 'black-shirts'  from Sir Oswald Mosley's British Union of Fascists on parade in Liverpool give the fascist salute. Their uniform is a black shirt and tie, beret and slightly flared skirts. All are wearing high heel shoes of various styles.   (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Women ‘black-shirts’ from Sir Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists on parade in Liverpool give the fascist salute. Their uniform is a black shirt and tie, beret and slightly flared skirts. All are wearing high heel shoes of various styles. (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

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