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Wittgenstein, Herta.



Wittgenstein, Herta. Scratches. A picaresque autobiography. New York: American Book Company, (1977).
8vo.; black cloth, stamped in gilt on the spine; black-and-white illustrated dust-jacket with photograph of Wittgenstein on the rear cover; lightly soiled.
First edition. A presentation copy, inscribed in blue ink on the front endpaper: To Hap with a bowl of sunshine, best wishes and a lot of affection. Love Herta Feb 20 1978.
Herta Hilscher-Wittgenstein (b. 1942) is best known for her friendship with semi-reclusive Georgia O'Keeffe. In this impressionistic autobiography, Wittgenstein describes several lesbian affairs and her difficult family life, though it is difficult to separate fact from fiction. The first section of the book, entitled "Realities and Lies," draws attention to Wittgenstein's intentional blurring of the boundaries of the real and the imaginary-she writes candidly, "I have invented myself and believed the lie" (13). Scratches draws from influences such as Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and the diaries of Anaïs Nin. Wittgenstein appears to have been somewhat obsessed with Nin, whom she claims to have met when the author was near death.
In the late 90s, Wittgenstein's life took a turn for the worse-when it was discovered that she had immigrated illegally to the U.S. as a child, she was deported to her native Austria. When she re-entered the country again a year later, she was promptly arrested. Additionally, she was put on trial and convicted for selling forgeries of O'Keeffe's work and sentenced to 10 years in prison, a term which she is still serving.   

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