Tag Archives: vita sexualis

“My poor Jane died a virgin”

Fearless Frank, or Tit-bits from the Life of an Adventurer (1978)

Yesterday, as I was reading up on the recently deceased Monique van Vooren, I searched for Fearless Frank (1967) on YouTube and stumbled upon Fearless Frank, or Tit-bits from the Life of an Adventurer (1978). This is a BBC television film directed by Colin Bucksey, an adaptation of Frank Harris’s autobiography My Life and Loves (1922-27) starring Leonard Rossiter as Frank.

There is an amusing scene at 56:29 at the Cafe Royal with Ernest Dowson, Oscar Wilde, Bernard Shaw, Lord Alfred Douglas and Whistler which gives an idea of the boasting of Harris.

And at 35:20 one hears Carlyle say to Frank:

“I did not consummate my marriage Frank … my poor Jane died a virgin.”

A quick search finds that the phrase “Jane Welsh Carlyle died a virgin” is featured in David Markson’s ‘novel’ The Last Novel.

Part of the fun of the writings of Frank Harris is not only the sex bits, but the self-aggrandizing demeanor of Frank.

This is a very enjoyable play, I imagine it to be the best quick introduction to the person and writings of Frank Harris.

Kant in film, and, the sexual lives of philosophers

Prompted by my previous post on Nietzsche in film, here is an interesting film on the life of Immanuel Kant, more particularly on his last days.

The film, Les Derniers Jours d’Emmanuel Kant is based on The Last Days of Immanuel Kant by English writer Thomas De Quincey.

In the film, Kant approaches the end of his life, which is entirely punctuated by habits acquired over many years. The leaving of his butler Martin Lampe will upset this well planned routine.

In the scene above, Kant reads a letter asking for help. It is a letter by Maria von Herbert, sent in August 1791.

The letter was also mentioned in La vie sexuelle d’Emmanuel Kant, about which I have written here.

Like so many philosophers, Kant was not sexually active. For all we know, Immanuel Kant died a virgin. I find this very interesting.

So did Friedrich Nietzsche, in The Genealogy of Morals he says on married philosophers:

“the philosopher shudders mortally at marriage, together with all that could persuade him to it—marriage as a fatal hindrance on the way to the optimum. Up to the present what great philosophers have been married? Heracleitus, Plato,Descartes, Spinoza, Leibnitz, Kant, Schopenhauer—they were not married, and, further, one cannot imagine them as married. A married philosopher belongs to comedy, that is my rule; as for that exception of a Socrates—the malicious Socrates married himself [to Xanthippe], it seems, ironice, just to prove this very rule.”

So did Jacques Derrida.

Asked what would he like to see in a documentary on a major philosopher, such as Hegel or Heidegger, Derrida replies he would want them to speak of their sexuality and ‘the part that love plays in their life’. He criticizes the dissimulation of such philosophers concerning their sex lives – ‘why have they erased their private life from their work?’