Inspiring woman

Have you ever heard about the writer Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach? I hadn’t until I visited the Archbishop chateau in Kroměříž last summer and saw a little unusual exhibition presented in the chateau’s tower on the 100th anniversary of her death. Her words flying in the air captured my attention…

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach was a writer of Moravian origin writing in German language. She is considered to be one of the most important women writers of the 19th century who wrote in German.

She was born in September 13, 1830 in Zdislavice, not far from Kroměříž, to the noble family of Count Dubský and his wife. When she married, she and her husband moved to Vienna where they lived most of the time but she did not forget her origin and kept visiting Moravia and her native Zdislavice.

She is appreciated for her extraordinary social feelings, also in her novels she wrote about problems of poor people and outcasts from society, about people who did not have any social certainties. In the world of literature she is labelled as a realist.

In 1898 she was awarded the highest Austrian civil order, the Cross of Honour for Art and Literature. In 1900 she became the first woman who was conferred upon an honorary doctorate by the University of Vienna. In 1910 and 1911 she was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature.

She died in Vienna in March 12, 1916.

Besides her novels, she also wrote many aphorisms, here are a few that I really liked:

“Most people need more love than they deserve.”
“Where vanity begins, reason comes to an end.”
“That bit of truth that is contained in many lies makes them terrible.”
“At any time there are some great truths in the air; they make the spiritual atmosphere of the century.”
“Habit lasts longer than love and it often surmounts even contempt.”
“Many a truth sprang from an error.”
“Nobody knows enough, but many know too much.”
“Generosity, to be perfect, should always be accompanied by dash of humour.”
“It is difficult to take him, who admires us, for a fool.”

And a few more, quite critical, quite merciless:

“Many people think that they have a good heart and have only weak nerves.”
“What do people like to call stupid the most? Something sensible that they can’t understand.”
“Happy slaves are the bitterest enemies of freedom.”
“Public opinion is the whore among opinions.”
“There are very few honest friends – the demand is not particularly great.”

She must have been an inspiring woman…

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8 Comments

  1. I had never heard of this woman, but the aphorisms you’ve listed are spot on. It’s hard to narrow them down to a few favorites, but the one that made me chuckle is “Nobody knows enough, but many know too much.” Of the second grouping, this one made me smile: “There are very few honest friends – the demand is not particularly great.” I might have to check our local library to see if they have any of her works in English.

    1. Linda, she is most appreciated for her insightful aphorisms nowadays so if you wanted to read anything from her work, I would recommend to start with the book “Aphorisms” which is a collection of more than five hundred of them. She must have been a very good observer… Many of her “conclusions” are brief and apt, even those that I didn’t like made me think about the ideas which was very enriching.

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