Friday, 20 January 2017

Byron & Schopenhauer: The Men who Hated their Mothers

Can hatred for one's biological mother make someone great? It can, if the person happens to be Arthur Schopenhauer (Germany) or the great Lord George Gordon Byron (England). The former was a great philosopher, who inspired generations of philosophers like Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and all the existentialists and the latter is regarded as one of the greatest poets the world has ever seen. It's a great coincidence that both were born in the same year (1788) and hated their mothers so much that Byron never met his mother after the age of 19 and Schopenhauer called his mother 'a blot on motherhood and mankind.'



 It was Arthur Schopenhauer who said that, ' Mothers gave birth not because they had any affection or feelings for the child. They gave birth because they wanted to prove that they could conceive!! Affection for the child comes more of a burden'. Why Schopenhauer hated his mother so rabidly is a matter of speculations and it's said that because of an unloving mother, Schopenhauer gave the world his celebrated, 'Philosophy of pessimism'. It was because of his strained relationship with his mother, he could never love any woman wholeheartedly and found all women just the extensions of his mother. 

But Byron's hatred for his mother is well-documented. His mother never liked him. Neither did he ever bother to call her mother. He always called his biological mother Mrs Byron. She was herself a writer of some repute. They kept arguing over petty issues and one day things came to a head. Mrs Byron pushed her son down the staircase. Her maverick son regained his composure and told her, ' Now the world will know you through me.' Needless to say, no one knows Byron's mother but the entire world knows her genius son. Christopher Caudwell found professional rivalry between son and mother and James Havinge opined in his 'Byron: Life of an iconoclast' that when Byron's mother tried to seduce him at the age of 16, he spurned her. Not because Byron had any moral issue to have sex with his mother, he found her (mother) ugly. In fact, Augusta Leigh, Byron's half-sister was his first and the greatest love.
Having been rebuffed by her son, MrsByron became violent and never forgave her bohemian son, who'd more than hundred female friends in his rather short life. He died at the age of 36 in Greece. Women found him devilishly handsome, despite being lame. And in the case of Arthur Schopenhauer, though it's not yet been proven but a few German scholars are of the opinion that Schopenhauer was the product of a rape. His mother never wanted to give birth to him. Both the greats never acknowledged even an iota of contribution of their respective mothers and instead said that because of such useless mothers, they were greats. Schopenhauer always held parents responsible for bringing children into this squalid world.

In a letter to his friend, the reclusive Schopenhauer wrote: ' Mothers have their own interests in giving birth to offspring. Wish, my mother never existed. I'd not have had to come to this wretched world.' And the great Byron wrote to his beloved half-sister, 'A mother is not an angel. She's a devil's representative on earth.' And his sister wrote back, 'That's why, you're so devilishly handsome!'

 This is indeed interesting to know that how two really great personalities treated their mothers so disparagingly (and their mothers were actually at fault for getting such shabby treatment from their remarkable sons).      


SUMIT PAUL, from Pune
sumitmaclean@hotmail.com

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