Spielhagen’s “Never Having Been Born” Dictum

“That no human being has ever yet seen the light of day for whom some hour did not come in which he wished that he had not been born.” [1] This dictum of Friedrich Spielhagen’s (1829-1911) makes clear the extent to which every procreation is an imposition and touches upon the >Parent Taboo. One might be tempted to dismiss Spielhagen’s dictum with the contention that it expresses just the mood of a passing moment. – But this is to forget that such a wish never to have been born may be the culminating point of some despair of much longer duration. Alternatively, one might take the attitude that “once in a while, in a long life, one is bound to feel that way” – an attitude, in our view, which lies at the root of nativistic >Ruthlessness.


[1] Friedrich Spielhagen, Problematische Naturen. Zweite Abteilung (Durch Nacht zum Licht)

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