Main | Wittgenstein Labors at Guy's During WWII »
Sunday
Dec132009

Anthony Ryle's Account of Wittgenstein

[continuing the series, "Wittgenstein at War, Again"]

John Ryle was the Regius Professor Physics at Cambridge. In 1940, he was helping Guy's Hospital in London prepare for the Blitz. He had helped Wittgenstein get a job at the hospital around September of 1941, so he, too, could assist with the civilian war effort.  In early 1942, John Ryle took Wittgenstein to meet Ryle's family. There, Wittgenstein encountered the Ryle’s 14-year old son, Anthony, who recorded the following in his diary:

     “Daddy and another Austrian (?) professor called Winkenstein (spelling?) arrived at 7:30. Daddy rather tired. Wink is awful strange – not a very good English speaker, keeps on saying ‘I mean’ and ‘its-tolerable’ meaning intolerable.  

     [Continuing at the end of next day: -- sw] In the morning Daddy, Margaret, goats, Tinker & I went for a walk. Frosty but sunny. Witkinstein spent the morning with the evacuees. He thinks we’re terribly cruel to them. We spent the afternoon argueing – he’s an impossible person everytime you say anything he says ‘No No, that’s not the point.’ It probably isn’t his point, but it is ours. A tiring person to listen to.

    After tea I showed him round the grounds and he entreated me to be kind to the miserable little children – he goes far too much to the other extreme – Mommy wants them to be good citizens, he wants them to be happy.”

Source: Ray Monk, The Duty of Genius, 434-435. 

 Dr. Sean Wilson, Esq.

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