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Johanna Trosiener, the Daughter of a Danzig Merchant and Mother of Philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer and Writer Luise Adelaide Lavinia Schopenhauer, Reflects on her Childhood and Youth in the 1770s (Retrospective Account)

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My parents, though, had no choice but to separate me in this gentle way from my teacher, whose earlier services toward my education rendered utmost indulgence a duty. [ . . . ]

Probably in no other period or place than in those old free cities at the time, where complete equality was supposed to prevail among citizens has an aristocratic disposition bordering on the ridiculous taken firmer root. It raised its head blatantly in the context of every religious celebration, weddings, baptisms, even before God’s altar, during Holy Communion, and it frequently gave cause for highly unpleasant scenes, especially among the women.

Back then, I would not have been permitted to participate in the public Confirmation of children at any cost, for it was deemed proper only for the lower bourgeoisie; [instead, Johanna was confirmed alone at the parsonage. – Subsequently, at the age of 18 she married Heinrich Floris Schopenhauer, a major merchant 20 years her senior. Her son was the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.]

Source: Johanna Schopenhauer, Jugendleben und Wanderbilder [Youthful Life and Scenes from Travels]. Braunschwieg, 1839, excerpts from Volume 1, pp. 9-242.

Reprinted in Jürgen Schlumbohm, ed., Kinderstuben, Wie Kinder zu Bauern, Bürgern, Aristokraten wurden 1700-1850 [Upbringing, How Children Became Farmers, Middle-Class Citizens, and Aristocrats 1700-1850]. Munich: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag, 1983, pp. 336-59.

Excerpted by the volume editor. Translated by Erwin Fink

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