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Nietzsche's Letters

1874

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Malwida von Meysenbug.
From b/w photo, 1880.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, February 11, 1874:
Letter to Malwida von Meysenbug.

Esteemed friend!

I no longer knew where my thoughts might find you; only I learned from Gersdorff that your Bayreuth existence has come to an end; now I hear where you are, lonely and ill, and I would have liked to follow you immediately, if it were somehow compatible with my job, with my duties.1 But I promise you a visit to Rome.2 Or would it not be worth considering whether Geneva or Lugano would be good for your health? For a while I thought of suggesting Basel to you, for up to now we have had a mild and sunny winter, and it is only since yesterday that there has been snow and really cold weather. At least I know that the difference between our climate and that of Bayreuth is significant, and that the trees here are in leaf almost four weeks earlier. Do not see anything in this suggestion other than the most heartfelt wish to be closer to you once more; because we have one suffering in common that other people would hardly feel so strongly, the suffering about Bayreuth.3 For, alas, our hopes were too high! At first I tried not to think any more about the adversity there,4 and since that didn't work, I've thought about it as much as possible in the last few weeks and have scrutinized sharply all the reasons why the undertaking has faltered, indeed, why it might even fail. Perhaps later I shall share some of these reflections5 with you; but first, in about two weeks, you will receive something else from me, the Number 2 you were expecting, entitled "On the Use and Abuse of History for Life."6 The number "2" reminds me that that David Strauss was buried yesterday in Ludwigsburg.7

And what is Frau Monod doing, and is it true that she gave birth to a boy?8

You see, I was dictating9 up until now: my eyesight is poor. Yet better than before. Ah, if only I could help you! Or be of use somehow! I think of you, poor lady, with sympathy and admire your ability to endure life. Compared with all this, I'm a lucky prince and I ought to be ashamed. My wishes are all for you!

Your Friedr. Nietzsche

1. Malwida von Meysenbug lived in Bayreuth from August 1873, but left for Italy when she contracted an ear infection. She sought treatment in San Remo, and eventually settled permanently in Rome.
2. Nietzsche visited her in Rome at the end of April 1882.
3. Due to the problem of raising funds for Richard Wagner's Bayreuth Festival.
4. King Ludwig II eventually guaranteed the performances at the Bayreuth Festival.
5. Nietzsche's notes that were eventually used for his Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, (Untimely Meditations, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth). German Text.
6. Nietzsche had written Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 2. Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben, (Untimely Meditations, 2. On the Use and Abuse of History for Life). German Text.
7. Cf. Basel, 02-11-1874: Letter to Carl von Gersdorff: "Gestern hat man in Ludwigsburg David Strauss begraben. Ich hoffe sehr dass ich ihm die letzte Lebenszeit nicht erschwert habe und dass er ohne etwas von mir zu wissen gestorben ist." (Yesterday they buried David Strauss in Ludwigsburg. I really hope that I didn't make life difficult for him and that he died without knowing anything about me.)
8. On December 24, 1873, Malwida von Meysenbug's foster-daughter Olga Herzen (1851-1953), who was married to the French historian Gabriel Monod (1844-1912), gave birth to Édouard Monod-Herzen (1873-1963).
9. Nietzsche had started dictating to Adolf Baumgartner (1855-1930): a student of Jacob Burckhardt and Nietzsche at the pedagogium in Basel, and the son of Marie Baumgartner. Baumgartner left Basel in the autumn of 1874, serving in the Hussars for his one-year military service. He returned to Basel to resume his studies, which ended in the summer of 1877. On Nietzsche's advice, he went to Jena in the autumn of 1877 to study under Erwin Rohde, but their relationship soured. Baumgartner went on to write a philological book on the Armenian historian, Moses of Khoren (ca. 410-490s). See Adolf Baumgartner, Dr. M. Lauer und das zweite Buch des Môses Chorenazi. Leipzig: Stauffer, 1885. In 1878, Nietzsche gifted him a dedicated copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Neue Essays (Letters and Social Aims). Autorisirte Uebersetzung mit einer Einleitung von Julian Schmidt. Stuttgart: Abendheim, 1876. The dedication reads: "Herrn Adolf Baumgartner / als Gefährten für einsame / Spaziergänge / empfohlen. / / Und dabei gedenken Sie auch / meiner! — / / F. Nietzsche / Ende 1878." (Mr. Adolf Baumgartner / Recommended as a companion on lonely walks. / / And with it remember me too! — / / F. Nietzsche / Ende 1878.) For further biographical details on Baumgartner, see Emil Dürr, "Adolf Baumgartner 1855-1930." In: Basler Jahrbuch. 1932, 211-242.

 


Adolf Baumgartner as a young man.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, February 15, 1874:
Letter to Erwin Rohde.

First of all, a happy Sunday greeting, dearest friend! How's life in the gray north?1 We are having such perfect warm days and plenty of sunshine, indeed even deep-colored sunsets already. Since New Year's Day, I have also lived more sensibly and carefully, so that today I can praise my health. But my eyes! What I need is a secretary! In fact, for the last six months, a very sympathetic, gifted, mature student is here for me, who already really belongs to all of us: Baumgartner by name, an Alsatian, son of a Mühlhausen manufacturer.2 He comes every Wednesday afternoon and stays the night; here he takes dictation, reads aloud, writes letters. In short, he's a real asset for me and, rest assured, for all of us one day. I will return to Naumburg at Easter,3 so that I can once again methodically live in peace and healthily there: that way I will be able to bear things in the long run. Since Christmas I've reflected on many things and have had to roam so far afield that when the proof-sheets arrive I often have doubts about when I actually wrote this stuff, indeed whether it was all by me.4 I now protest very strongly against the authority5 of political and bourgeois virtues and duties, and have occasionally even strayed beyond the "national"6 — May God improve it and me!

In spite of all your needs,7 dear faithful friend, you've also had proofreading ones.8 Every little hint has been gratefully used ("deduced"9), and many a blemish has been removed by your hand. By the way, a number of peculiarities were not due to me, but to the copying of my scarcely legible manuscript. Unfortunately, I was unable to avail myself of your help for the last sheet, and the matter had to be dealt with quickly. Fortunately I got rid of the worst stumbling block myself, also made the concluding parts a bit lighter by deleting about 1 page of text.10 By the way, a certain generality was necessary, because I had to take into account more specific explanations in future Untimely publications.11 So let the beast run — who will take pleasure in it? Who will even read it? I believe people will conclude that I am incredibly foolish — and they will actually be right! But I really can't stand this cleverness any longer, and will go into seclusion. I really can't help it; but promise you won't immediately despise me on that account? For I really think that you understand me in these things — and have a right to do so, dearest friend! When I think of my fellow philologists, I sometimes feel something like shame. Yet I don't think that I'm so easily thrown off course — and just now I want to express myself completely, there is really no greater blessing that one can bestow upon oneself! When you have your copy (hopefully in 2 weeks), I would like to request from you just one more thing: tell me12 really severely and briefly about the faults, embellishments and dangers of my exposition — because I am not content with it and am striving for something completely different. So help me with brief hints; I will be very grateful.

There is some news about Bayreuth, and if only it were true! A very explicit notice in the Mannheim Journ. (Heckel's organ) reports from the best source (i.e. Frau W[agner]) that the performances are now finally secured.13 So then the miracle has happened! We hope! It has been a desolate state14 since the New Year, from which I was finally able to rescue myself in the most wonderful way: I began to examine with the most cold contemplation why the undertaking had failed: I learned a lot in the process and now believe I understand Wagner much better than before.15 If the "miracle" is true, it does not overturn the result of my meditations. But let's be happy and celebrate the festival if it's true!

Weren't you called to Greifswald to take Schöllii's16 position? But something really has to happen. I hear Koechly is going to Berlin to succeed Haupt17 — at least that's what the newspapers are gossiping about.18 Well, maybe the Heidelberg professorship! That would be something after Freiburg failed!19 And how is your novel going?20 You still don't know that we got Heinze as a philosopher;21 Romundt22 was not accepted, the fear of Schopenhauer seemed naive (not to Vischer,23 but he is not omnipotent). I was invited to [contribute to] an Italian journal that will be published in book form; I refused, likewise J. Burckhardt.24 Frl. v. Meysenbug is ill again and has arrived in San Remo near Nice, from where she wrote me poignantly.25 Olga Monod had a boy.26 Gersdorff, the divine country gentleman, is now the model for my imagination:27 we should all acquire country estates and then live quietly and bravely to the end. But in any case: always forward with rigorous swordplay!28

Adieu, beloved friend!
Your
Friedrich N.

1. At the time, Rohde was a private docent at the University of Kiel.
2. Adolf Baumgartner (1855-1930): a student of Jacob Burckhardt and Nietzsche at the pedagogium in Basel, and the son of Marie Baumgartner. Baumgartner left Basel in the autumn of 1874, serving in the Hussars for his one-year military service. He returned to Basel to resume his studies, which ended in the summer of 1877. On Nietzsche's advice, he went to Jena in the autumn of 1877 to study under Erwin Rohde, but their relationship soured. Baumgartner went on to write a philological book on the Armenian historian, Moses of Khoren (ca. 410-490s). See Adolf Baumgartner, Dr. M. Lauer und das zweite Buch des Môses Chorenazi. Leipzig: Stauffer, 1885. In 1878, Nietzsche gifted him a dedicated copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Neue Essays (Letters and Social Aims). Autorisirte Uebersetzung mit einer Einleitung von Julian Schmidt. Stuttgart: Abendheim, 1876. The dedication reads: "Herrn Adolf Baumgartner / als Gefährten für einsame / Spaziergänge / empfohlen. / / Und dabei gedenken Sie auch / meiner! — / / F. Nietzsche / Ende 1878." (Mr. Adolf Baumgartner / Recommended as a companion on lonely walks. / / And with it remember me too! — / / F. Nietzsche / Ende 1878.) For further biographical details on Baumgartner, see Emil Dürr, "Adolf Baumgartner 1855-1930." In: Basler Jahrbuch. 1932, 211-242.
3. He never made the trip.
4. Nietzsche had written Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 2. Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben, (Untimely Meditations, 2. On the Use and Abuse of History for Life). German Text.
5. "Ich locke jetzt sehr stark wider den Stachel" (literally: I now kick very strongly against the pricks). An allusion to an obsolete idiomatic expression used in a biblical verse from Martin Luther's translation of Acts 9, verse 5: "Er aber sprach: Herr, wer bist du? Der Herr sprach: Ich bin Jesus, den du verfolgest. Es wird dir schwer werden, wider den Stachel zu löcken." (And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.) The phrase "wider den stachel zu löcken" also appears a few times in Theodor Mommsen's Römische Geschichte. See, e.g., Bd. 3: Von Sullas Tod bis zur Schlacht von Thapsus. Berlin: Weidmann, 1856, 297.
6. Probably referring to protests in Basel against Einjährig-Freiwilligen-Dienst (One-Year Volunteer [Military] Service).
7. A reference to Rohde's complaints about not getting tenure at Kiel.
8. Rohde was helping Nietzsche proofread Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 2. Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben, (Untimely Meditations, 2. On the Use and Abuse of History for Life). German Text.
9. "ausgelitzt": from "litzen," an Alemannic German word Nietzsche probably became familiar with while at Basel. Also used by Nietzsche in: 05-05-1873 letter to Rohde; and 12-24-1874 letter to Carl von Gersdorff.
10. For an analysis of the textual changes that improves upon the explanations published in KGW, KSA, and Jörg Salaquarda's "Studien zur Zweiten Unzeitgemässen Betrachtung" (Nietzsche-Studien 13 (1984), 1-45), see Anthony K. Jensen, "Text and Context." In: An Interpretation of Nietzsche's On the Uses and Disadvantage of History for Life. London; New York: Routledge, 2016, 1-39.
11. "Unzeitgemässheiten": Nietzsche drew up a plan for thirteen Untimely Meditations in the autumn of 1873 (it did not include the two he published on Schopenhauer and Wagner). See Nachlass, Sommer-Herbst 1873 29[163].
12. For Rohde's reply about reading the book, see Hamburg, 03-24-1874: Letter from Erwin Rohde to Nietzsche in Basel.
13. Emil Heckel, the president of the Wagner Society in Mannheim, reported [through his correspondence with Richard Wagner] that King Ludwig II had guaranteed the performances at the Bayreuth Festival. See Richard Wagner, Emil Heckel, Karl Heckel (Hrsg.), Briefe Richard Wagners an Emil Heckel. Zur Entstehungsgeschichte der Bühnenfestspiele in Bayreuth. Berlin: Fischer, 1899, 82. Cf. Richard Wagner, Emil Heckel, William Ashton Ellis (ed.), Letters of Richard Wagner to Emil Heckel. With a Brief History of the Bayreuth Festivals. London: Richards, 1899, 68.
14. Due to the problem of raising funds for Richard Wagner's Bayreuth Festival.
15. Cf. Basel, 02-11-1874: Letter from Nietzsche to Malwida von Meysenbug in San Remo, Italy.
16. Rudolf Schöll (1844-1893): German philologist.
17. Moritz Haupt (1808-1874) German philologist; Hermann Köchly (1815-1876): German philologist. Haupt died on February 5, 1874, while Köchly remained in his position in Heidelberg until his death in 1876.
18. Unknown reference.
19. Rohde had failed to get a position in Freiburg in the summer of 1872.
20. Erwin Rohde, Der griechische Roman und seine Vorläufer. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1876.
21. Max Heinze (1835-1909): Nietzsche's former teacher and tutor at Pforta, who in 1875 became professor of philosophy at Leipzig.
22. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919): their friend and classmate at the University of Leipzig.
23. Wilhelm Vischer-Bilfinger (1808-1874): Swiss philologist, rector, and Basel politician. He died on June 5, 1874.
24. Nietzsche and Burckhardt refused offers from Karl Hillebrand to contribute to his journal, Neue Reihe Italia. Nietzsche's letter of refusal is lost.
25. Cf. San Remo, Italy, 02-04-1874: Letter from Malwida von Meysenbug to Nietzsche in Basel.
26. On December 24, 1873, Malwida von Meysenbug's foster-daughter Olga Herzen (1851-1953), who was married to the French historian Gabriel Monod (1844-1912), gave birth to Édouard Monod-Herzen (1873-1963).
27. Regarding Nietzsche's plans to be independent. In 1874, Nietzsche came up with a plan to give up his professorship and retire to Rothenburg ob der Tauber because, with its intact city walls, it was still very old German.
28. A phrase Nietzsche attributed to "wie irgend ein alter brandenburger Markgraf in der Reformationszeit gesagt hat" (what some old Brandenburgian margrave said during the time of the Reformation). See his 04-28-1874 letter to Carl Fuchs.

 


Hans Theodor Plüss, ca. 1889.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, March 19, 1874:
Letter to Erwin Rohde.

My semester is also coming to an end, namely tomorrow, although of course only at the university; the pedagogium, in its stingy way, tosses me but a week and a half of Easter vacation, no more.1 In this you are better off, dearest friend, but only in this, because we brothers2 constantly lament, individually and collectively, your odd fate.3 I've made a fine plan again, for later, to unite us permanently4 — but a few years still have to pass. But the get-together in autumn, the concilium Rhaeticum,5 that's definite there isn't it? — Now Bayreuth! We know from Frau W[agner] — and it is supposed to be a secret among our friends — that the king of B[avaria] will support the work in the form of subsidies up to 100,000 talers, so that the operations (machines — decorations) can be vigorously speeded up.6 Wagner himself writes7 that the deadline is 1876, he is spirited and believes that the undertaking is now in order. Well, amen to that! It's hard to get over this waiting and worrying; sometimes I really had quite given up hope.

Shall I keep expecting your announcement of getting a full professorship? — By the way, people are terribly stupid regarding academic tenure; I was recently in Freiburg and heard complaints about the insufferable pedant and grouser Keller.8 Serves you right! I thought, just keep complaining; I also learned that Ritschl9 was the cause of his appointment. He remains silent, and I delight in thinking how little he will understand when reading my "History."10 This lack of understanding protects him from being annoyed and that's the best thing about it.

Professor Plüss11 of Schulpforta, a stranger to me, a historian, has roused my mother city of Naumburg with an enthusiastic speech about The Bir[th] of Tragedy and the first Untime[ly Meditation].12 Mr. Bruno Meier [sic]13 wrote a long, difficult essay,14 refuting Dräseke's contribution to the Wagner question,15 of belly-shaking memory, in which I am solemnly denounced as an "enemy of our culture"16 and, incidentally, portrayed as a crafty deceiver among the dupes.17 He sent me his essay personally, even giving details of where he resides;18 I will send him the two works of Wilamops.19 That's what Christians call doing good to one's enemies. For what this good Meier [sic] will be pleased by in Wilamops, that is inexpressible.

Dr. Fuchs has praised me fulsomely again in the Wochenblatt,20 I've had enough of him now. But why am I telling you about praise and blame! Here our friendship fairly protects us from whims and annoyances, and since I once more bear something under my heart,21 praise and blame do not concern me at all. I know that I carry out my effusions in a rather dilettantishly immature way, but it's important to me to get rid of all the polemically negative stuff in me first; I just want to sing undauntedly the whole scale of my hostile feelings, up and down, quite atrociously, "so that the vault resounds."22 Later, five years later, I will chuck all polemics behind me and think of a "good work." But now my chest is full of mucus from sheer aversion and distress, so I have to expectorate, fairly or unseemly, if only for good. I still have eleven beautiful melodies to sing.23 — To my great secret joy, I have gotten our Overbeck back to the point where, at Easter, he is fighting again out in the open, by way of his pamphlet on polemics and peace No. 1.24 You see, things are spirited here, we are hitting out all around us. Always forward with rigorous swordplay!25 — Only the good, excellent Romundt causes us some concern, he is becoming an annoying mystic.26 Clarity was never his thing, nor was worldly experience; now a strange hatred of culture in general is building up in him — well, as I said, we (Overbeck and I) are a bit worried. He ponders in weird ways on the inception of sentience, synthetic unity of apperception — may our Savior Jesus Christ preserve us from this.

I have had good letters from many quarters. Burckhardt, my colleague, in an emotional state about my work on "History," wrote me a very good and characteristic one.27 — Old Vischer28 is doing very poorly, he has had himself relieved of most of his duties and looks very miserably greenish-white-yellow.

The Birth of Tragedy is being busily printed — at last!29

When can you come to us in autumn? I would like to know the most precise details now: so that our friends can make their plans for the summer.

Farewell, dearly beloved hermit and romantic of the north with regard to the south.

Incidentally, we are curious fellows, all of us; I get really more and more surprised.

Your F N.

1. Nietzsche's request to be excused from his teaching duties at the pedagogium due to poor health was denied.
2. A reference to Rohde's complaints about not getting tenure at Kiel.
3. Namely, Nietzsche, Franz Overbeck (1837-1905), and Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919).
4. Nietzsche's plan to be an independent teacher.
5. A planned get-together between Nietzsche, Erwin Rohde, Carl von Gersdorff, and Heinrich Romundt. The meeting never took place.
6. King Ludwig II had guaranteed the performances at the Bayreuth Festival.
7. See Bayreuth, 02-27-1874: Letter from Richard Wagner to Nietzsche in Basel.
8. Otto Keller (1838-1927): German philologist at Freiburg from 1872-1876.
9. Friedrich Ritschl (1806-1876): Nietzsche's philology professor at the University of Bonn and the University of Leipzig.
10. Nietzsche had written Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 2. Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben, (Untimely Meditations, 2. On the Use and Abuse of History for Life). German Text.
11. Hans Theodor Plüss (1845-1919): Swiss teacher at Schulpforta.
12. In a letter from his sister, Nietzsche learned about Plüss' lecture held in Naumburg on The Birth of Tragedy and Untimely Meditations, 1. David Strauss: The Confessor and the Writer. See Naumburg, mid-February 1874: Letter from Elisabeth Nietzsche to Nietzsche in Basel.
13. Bruno Ludwig Julius Boguslaus Meyer (1840-1917): German art historian.
14. Johannes Dräseke (1844-1916): German philologist. See "Beiträge zur Wagnerfrage." In: Musikalisches Wochenblatt. Organ für Musiker und Musikfreunde. Jhg. 4. Leipzig: Fritzsch, 1873, 438-441, 453-456, 470-472.
15. Bruno Meyer, "Beiträge zur Wagnerfrage. In eigener Sache." In: Deutsche Warte. Umschau über das Leben und Schaffen der Gegenwart. Bd. 5. Leipzig: Wigand, 1873, 641-673. Meyer was the founder and editor of Deutsche Warte, which ran from 1871-1875.
16. See Bruno Meyer, "Beiträge zur Wagner-Frage. In eigener Sache." In: Deutsche Warte. Umschau über das Leben und Schaffen der Gegenwart. Bd. 5. Leipzig: Wigand, 1873, 641-673 (654). "Mit einer gewissen Behäbigkeit und conservativen Gemüthlichkeit, die auf dem Boden des historisch Gewordenen sich häuslich und bescheiden einrichtet und sich gegen Neues ohne Wahl ablehnend verhält, wollen wir nicht allzu glimpflich umgehen; aber wir wollen denjenigen für einen Feind der Cultur erklären, der den Baum unseres modernen Lebens zu entwurzeln droht; denn nur in dem Boden der Vergangenheit stecken die Kräfte und Säfte, durch welche das Leben unserer modernen Cultur befruchtet und lebendig erhalten wird. Man löse uns von diesem mütterlichen Boden los, und es wird uns begegnen, daß der kräftige und viel verheißende Baum entartet und vergeht." (We don't want to be too lenient with a certain complacency and conservative cosiness, which settles down comfortably and modestly upon the ground of what has become historical and shows reluctance toward anything new; but whoever threatens to uproot the tree of our modern life, we will proclaim an enemy of culture; for only in the soil of the past are there the powers and fluids by which the life of our modern culture is fertilized and kept alive. Remove us from this maternal soil, and we shall find that the sturdy and very promising tree degenerates and perishes.)
17. See Bruno Meyer, "Beiträge zur Wagner-Frage. In eigener Sache." In: Deutsche Warte. Umschau über das Leben und Schaffen der Gegenwart. Bd. 5. Leipzig: Wigand, 1873, 641-673 (673). "Doch diese Dinge sind für Jeden, der einige wissenschaftliche Kenntnisse hat und nicht durch Parteiinteressen verblendet ist, so einfach und handgreiflich, daß es nicht lohnt, länger dabei zu verweilen. Eine Wiedergeburt nicht nur des deutschen, sondern irgend eines Mythos, um daraus ein specifisch nationales Element der modernen Cultur zu schaffen, ist ein Unding, und die Aufsteckung dieses Panieres ein Schwindel, bei dem es nur gilt, unter seinen Bekennern die Betrüger von den Betrogenen zu sondern." (But these things are so simple and obvious to anyone who has some scholarly knowledge and is not blinded by party interests that it is not worth dwelling on them any longer. A rebirth not only of German, but of any myth, in order to create a specifically national element of modern culture, is an absurdity, and the display of this banner is a swindle, whereby it is only valid among its confessors to separate the deceivers from the dupes.)
18. Unknown reference.
19. A pejorative nickname for the German philologist, Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Möllendorff (1848-1931), who wrote two polemical tracts against Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy. See 1. Zukunftsphilologie! Eine Erwidrung auf Friedrich Nietzsche's "Geburt der Tragödie." Berlin: Borntraeger, 1872; and 2. Zukunftsphilologie! Zweites Stück. Eine Erwidrung auf die Rettungsversuche für Fr. Nietzsches "Geburt der Tragödie." Berlin: Borntraeger, 1873.
20. Carl Fuchs, "Gedanken aus und zu Grillparzers Aesthetischen Studien." In: Musikalisches Wochenblatt. Organ für Musiker und Musikfreunde. Jhg. 5. Leipzig: Fritzsch, 1874, 105-107, 129-131, 147-107, 161-164. Especially his remarks on page 131: "Und nun versäume man nicht, zu tieferer Einsicht in den Gegenstand, welchen die oben mitgetheilten Bemerkungen Grillparzer's beleuchten, das 9. Capitel von Fr. Nietzsche's bereits genanntem Buche ['Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik'] nachzulesen, welches an dieser Stelle von der Nothwendigkeit des tragischen Frevels mit unnachahmlichem Tiefsinn handelt. Wir citiren gleich hier den Satz, welcher etwa (nämlich ohne dass der Verfasser dies beabsichtigt hat) als der Kern dieser Betrachtung, oder als ihr dogmatischer Ausdruck gelten könnte (p. 49): 'Bei dem heroischen Drange des Einzelnen ins Allgemeine, bei dem Versuche, über den Bann der Individuation hinauszuschreiten und das eine Weltwesen selbst sein zu wollen, erleidet der Mensch an sich den in den Dingen verborgenen Urwiderspruch, d. h. er frevelt und leidet.' (Weiter: 'So wird von den Ariern der Frevel als Mann, von den Semiten die Sünde als Weib verstanden, so wie auch der Urfrevel vom Manne [Prometheus], die Ursünde vom Weibe begangen wird.') Man lese das Ganze aber selbst. Nur erwarte man die Belehrung, die Nietzsche zu geben hat, nicht wie Etwas, das mit den Händen zu greifen und gleich 'getrost nach Haus zu tragen' ist. Wenn es zutrifft, was Heine von den Deutschen einmal sagt: in ihrer Jedem stecke entweder ein Goethe oder ein Kant, so gehört Nietzsche zu den Goethe-Naturen und kann nicht allgemein dogmatisch, gleichsam sächlich, sondern nur individuell, von Person zu Person, von Gefühl zu Gefühl verstanden werden. Das kommt zunächst daher, dass er Herr in seiner Werkstatt und über sie ist, und nicht, wie andere Gelehrte 'vom Fach,' dem Lernenden jedes Stück Handwerkszeug vorzeigt, womit er sein Werk zu Stande gebracht hat, sondern dieses selbst ist aus dem Urgrunde einer ganz eigen ausgeprägten Persönlichkeit, im Augenblick der Production selbst mühelos, an das Tageslicht getreten, wie viele Nächte auch der Verfasser gebraucht haben muss, um seine das Alterthum und die Philosophie völlig umfassenden Kenntnisse zu erwerben und sie sich bis zu dieser poesievollen Freiheit des Gebrauches zu eigen zu machen, eine Freiheit, um die Handwerker ihn beneiden, Künstler ihn bewundern müssen." (And now, for a deeper insight into the subject, which the above-mentioned remarks by Grillparzer illuminate, one should not fail to read the 9th chapter of Fr. Nietzsche's already mentioned book ["The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music"], which in that passage deals with inimitable profundity on the necessity of tragic sacrilege. Herewith we quote the sentence which (of course, not intended by the author) could be regarded as the core of this observation or as its dogmatic expression (p. 49): "In the heroic effort of the individual to attain universality, in the attempt to transcend the curse of individuation and to become the one world-being, he suffers in his own person the primordial contradiction that is concealed in things, i.e. he commits sacrilege and suffers." (He continues: "Thus the Aryans understand sacrilege as something masculine, while the Semites understand sin as feminine, just as the original sacrilege is committed by a man [Prometheus], the original sin by a woman.") However, read the whole thing yourself. But don't expect the instruction that Nietzsche has to give as something that can be grasped with one's hands and immediately "carried home confidently" [see Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, 1:1614.] If it is true what Heine once said of the Germans: there is either a Goethe or a Kant in everyone, then Nietzsche belongs to the Goethe type and cannot be generally dogmatic, factual, as it were, but only understood individually, from person to person, from feeling to feeling. This is primarily due to the fact that he is the master in and over his workshop, and does not, like other "expert" scholars, show the apprentice every piece of the tool with which he has accomplished his work, but rather this itself is from the primal ground of a very distinctive personality, effortless at the moment of production, that comes to light no matter how many nights the author must have needed to acquire his knowledge of antiquity and philosophy, which was completely comprehensive, and to make this use of poetic freedom his own, a freedom that craftsmen must envy about him, and artists must admire about him.)
21. An allusion to his working on Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text. Bearing something "under one's heart" was an 18th century euphemism for pregnancy.
22. An allusion to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, 1:2085, "Wenn das Gewölbe widerschallt, / Fühlt man erst recht des Basses Grundgewalt." (Only when the vault resounds / Does one really feel the full power of the bass.)
23. Nietzsche drew up a plan for thirteen Untimely Meditations in the autumn of 1873 (it did not include the two he published on Schopenhauer and Wagner). See Nachlass, Sommer-Herbst 1873 29[163].
24. See Franz Overbeck, Ueber die Christlichkeit unserer heutigen Theologie. Streit- und Friedensschrift. [On the Christianity of Our Present Theology. A Pamphlet of Polemics and Peace.] Leipzig: Fritzsch, 1873.
25. A phrase Nietzsche attributed to "wie irgend ein alter brandenburger Markgraf in der Reformationszeit gesagt hat" (what some old Brandenburgian margrave said during the time of the Reformation). See his 04-28-1874 letter to Carl Fuchs.
26. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919): their friend and classmate at the University of Leipzig. Romundt left Basel on 04-10-1875 planning to become a Catholic priest, but soon dropped those plans and became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg.
27. See Basel, 02-25-1874: Letter from Jacob Burckhardt to Nietzsche in Basel.
28. Wilhelm Vischer-Bilfinger (1808-1874): Swiss philologist, rector, and Basel politician. He died on June 5, 1874.
29. 750 copies of the second edition of Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik [The Birth Of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music] were printed in March 1874, with the publishing info, "Leipzig. / Verlag von E. W. Fritzsch. / 1874." They were not published until 1878, when the publishing info was pasted over with a label reading, "Chemnitz / Verlag von Ernst Schmeitzner / 1878."

 


Friedrich Hegar.
From b/w photo.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, April 3/4, 1874:
Letter to Friedrich Hegar.

Esteemed Herr Capellmeister,1

a small request!

I once gave you a music score with the title "Manfred Meditation";2 perhaps you will still find it among your papers — in that case I would be quite obliged to you if you would send it to me in Basel.

I thought of you when I read in the newspapers that "Tristan"3 will be performed again in Munich on the 11th of this month.

I will also attend your Zurich music festival; I'm particularly looking forward to finally hearing the Triumphlied!4

Respectfully yours
Dr. Friedrich Nietzsche
Prof. in Basel.

1. Friedrich Hegar (1841-1927). Hegar, whom Nietzsche had met while visiting Richard Wagner, was the founder and director of the music conservatory in Zurich, the conductor of the Zurich Symphony, and a close friend of Johannes Brahms (1833-1897).
2. The exact date when Nietzsche sent Hegar his "Manfred-Meditation" is unknown, but it was probably in June 1872. Hegar replied to this letter on 04-09-1874, and offered a lukewarm response regarding Nietzsche's composition: "Entschuldigen Sie gütigst, daß ich Ihre Komposition so lange behalten habe; ich hoffte immer dieselbe persönlich zurückbringen und Ihnen bei dieser Gelegenheit sagen zu können, wie sehr mich Vieles interessirte, namentlich die Art und Weise wie Sie der zu Grunde liegenden Stimmung musikalisch Ausdruck zu geben versuchen. Freilich fehlt dem Ganzen, was die Gestaltung der musikalischen Ideen anbetrifft, die Erfüllung gewisser architektonischer Bedingungen so, dass mir die Komposition mehr den Eindruck einer stimmungsvollen Improvisation als eines durchdachten Kunstwerkes macht." (Please excuse me for keeping your composition for so long; I always hoped to return it personally and to be able to use this opportunity to tell you how much I was interested in many things, especially the way in which you try to give musical expression to the underlying mood. Admittedly, as far as the shaping of the musical ideas is concerned, the entire thing lacks the fulfillment of certain architectural conditions so that the composition gives me the impression of an improvisational mood rather than a well thought-out work of art.) See Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012, 23-24.
3. Tristan und Isolde: opera by Richard Wagner.
4. Nietzsche heard Brahms' "Triumphlied" under Brahms' direction on 06-09-1874 in Basel. He later went to Zurich on 07-12-1874, and heard it conducted by Hegar.

 


Carl von Gersdorff.
From b/w photo, 1880.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, April 1, 1874:
Letter to Carl von Gersdorff.

Dear faithful friend, if only your opinion of me were not much too good! I almost believe that one day you yourself will be somewhat disappointed in me; and I will begin by doing this myself so that in the process I can declare to you, on the basis of my best self-knowledge, that I deserve none of your praises. Would you knew how despondent and melancholy I fundamentally think of myself as a productive person! I'm constantly looking for nothing more than a little freedom, some real breath of life, and I defend myself, rebelling against the many, indescribably many parts of unfreedom that cling to me. But there can be no talk of real productivity as long as one is still so little removed from unfreedom, from the suffering and the feeling of being burdened: shall I ever attain it? Doubt after doubt. The goal is too far away, and once one has even reached it, one has mostly used up one's strength in the long search and struggle: one reaches freedom and is as weary as a mayfly in the evening. I am afraid of that so much. It is a misfortune to be so conscious of one's struggle so early in life! I just cannot resist it with deeds, as the artist or the ascetic can. How miserable and sickening this bittern-like wailing1 often is to me! — At the moment I am somewhat tired of it, more than tired.

By the way, my health is excellent: don't worry at all. But I am quite dissatisfied with Nature, which should have given me a little more understanding, along with a fuller heart — I am always lacking the best things. Knowing that is the greatest torture for a man.

Regular tenured work is so good because it brings on a certain mental torpor, so that one suffers less.

So in the autumn — ah you understand the "so," right? We must see each other at the concilium subalpinum sive Rhaeticum.2 When we're all together, quite a fellow emerges who has no reason to be sad. Jointly and together we are a being who can "drink of joy" — at the breasts of Nature.3 Tell me exactly when you will be allowed to come here, okay? Rohde said in his last letter4 that he was definitely coming. Overbeck too, Romundt5 (our roommate since yesterday6) also. I, who have the shortest vacation, plan to be available in the first half of October. Can you give us this time? — Dear cherished friend! —

Did you happen to hear that Prof. Plüss7 in Schulpforte, Volkmann's8 successor, gave an "enthusiastic" lecture in the Naumburg Litteraria about the Birth of Trag[edy] and the Straussiad?9 Very funny and incredible, isn't it? — Dr. Fuchs, in the Musikal[isches] Wochenblatt,10 is very cheeky and has spoiled things with Overbeck and me as a result, as well as through some importunities. — Dear Meysenbug sent me beautiful fresh flowers, heralds of spring from the Mediterranean.

I am enclosing a nice letter11 from Rohde that will also be instructive for you; return it sometime!

Glorious letters from the Bayreuth people.12

Thanks for the misprints: but the most important one is missing, Höderlin for Hölderlin.13 But it looks wonderful, doesn't it? But not a swine will understand.14

My writings are said to be so obscure and unintelligible! I thought that when one speaks about distress, those who are in distress would understand. That is also certainly true: but where are those who are "in distress"?15

Don't expect anything literary from me now. I have much to prepare for my summer lectures and like doing it (on rhetoric).16

By the way, a lot has been thought through and thought out since Christmas.

Best wishes to you and your dear parents.

Yes, if one had no friends! Could one endure it, have endured it? Dubito.

Fridericus.

1. The call of a bittern is like that of a low-pitched horn.
2. A planned get-together between Nietzsche, Erwin Rohde, Carl von Gersdorff, and Heinrich Romundt. The meeting never took place.
3. An allusion to Friedrich Schiller's "An die Freude" (Ode to Joy), line 25 f.: "Freude trinken alle Wesen / An den Brüsten der Natur." (All creatures drink of joy / At Nature's breasts.)
4. Hamburg, 03-24-1874: Letter from Erwin Rohde to Nietzsche in Basel.
5. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919): their friend and classmate at the University of Leipzig.
6. On 03-31-1874, Romundt moved in with Nietzsche and Franz Overbeck.
7. Hans Theodor Plüss (1845-1919): Swiss teacher at Schulpforta.
8. Diederich Volkmann (1838-1903): German philologist, teacher and rector at Schulpforta from 1861-1898, who briefly left the school from 1873-1877, before returning as rector. Nietzsche was one of his students (he advised Nietzsche to study at Bonn, his alma mater).
9. In a letter from his sister, Nietzsche learned about Plüss' lecture held in Naumburg on The Birth of Tragedy and Untimely Meditations, 1. David Strauss: The Confessor and the Writer. See Naumburg, mid-February 1874: Letter from Elisabeth Nietzsche to Nietzsche in Basel.
10. Carl Fuchs, "Gedanken aus und zu Grillparzers Aesthetischen Studien." In: Musikalisches Wochenblatt. Organ für Musiker und Musikfreunde. Jhg. 5. Leipzig: Fritzsch, 1874, 105-107, 129-131, 147-107, 161-164. Especially his remarks on page 131: "Und nun versäume man nicht, zu tieferer Einsicht in den Gegenstand, welchen die oben mitgetheilten Bemerkungen Grillparzer's beleuchten, das 9. Capitel von Fr. Nietzsche's bereits genanntem Buche ['Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik'] nachzulesen, welches an dieser Stelle von der Nothwendigkeit des tragischen Frevels mit unnachahmlichem Tiefsinn handelt. Wir citiren gleich hier den Satz, welcher etwa (nämlich ohne dass der Verfasser dies beabsichtigt hat) als der Kern dieser Betrachtung, oder als ihr dogmatischer Ausdruck gelten könnte (p. 49): 'Bei dem heroischen Drange des Einzelnen ins Allgemeine, bei dem Versuche, über den Bann der Individuation hinauszuschreiten und das eine Weltwesen selbst sein zu wollen, erleidet der Mensch an sich den in den Dingen verborgenen Urwiderspruch, d. h. er frevelt und leidet.' (Weiter: 'So wird von den Ariern der Frevel als Mann, von den Semiten die Sünde als Weib verstanden, so wie auch der Urfrevel vom Manne [Prometheus], die Ursünde vom Weibe begangen wird.') Man lese das Ganze aber selbst. Nur erwarte man die Belehrung, die Nietzsche zu geben hat, nicht wie Etwas, das mit den Händen zu greifen und gleich 'getrost nach Haus zu tragen' ist. Wenn es zutrifft, was Heine von den Deutschen einmal sagt: in ihrer Jedem stecke entweder ein Goethe oder ein Kant, so gehört Nietzsche zu den Goethe-Naturen und kann nicht allgemein dogmatisch, gleichsam sächlich, sondern nur individuell, von Person zu Person, von Gefühl zu Gefühl verstanden werden. Das kommt zunächst daher, dass er Herr in seiner Werkstatt und über sie ist, und nicht, wie andere Gelehrte 'vom Fach,' dem Lernenden jedes Stück Handwerkszeug vorzeigt, womit er sein Werk zu Stande gebracht hat, sondern dieses selbst ist aus dem Urgrunde einer ganz eigen ausgeprägten Persönlichkeit, im Augenblick der Production selbst mühelos, an das Tageslicht getreten, wie viele Nächte auch der Verfasser gebraucht haben muss, um seine das Alterthum und die Philosophie völlig umfassenden Kenntnisse zu erwerben und sie sich bis zu dieser poesievollen Freiheit des Gebrauches zu eigen zu machen, eine Freiheit, um die Handwerker ihn beneiden, Künstler ihn bewundern müssen." (And now, for a deeper insight into the subject, which the above-mentioned remarks by Grillparzer illuminate, one should not fail to read the 9th chapter of Fr. Nietzsche's already mentioned book ["The Birth of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music"], which in that passage deals with inimitable profundity on the necessity of tragic sacrilege. Herewith we quote the sentence which (of course, not intended by the author) could be regarded as the core of this observation or as its dogmatic expression (p. 49): "In the heroic effort of the individual to attain universality, in the attempt to transcend the curse of individuation and to become the one world-being, he suffers in his own person the primordial contradiction that is concealed in things, i.e. he commits sacrilege and suffers." (He continues: "Thus the Aryans understand sacrilege as something masculine, while the Semites understand sin as feminine, just as the original sacrilege is committed by a man [Prometheus], the original sin by a woman.") However, read the whole thing yourself. But don't expect the instruction that Nietzsche has to give as something that can be grasped with one's hands and immediately "carried home confidently" [see Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, 1:1614.] If it is true what Heine once said of the Germans: there is either a Goethe or a Kant in everyone, then Nietzsche belongs to the Goethe type and cannot be generally dogmatic, factual, as it were, but only understood individually, from person to person, from feeling to feeling. This is primarily due to the fact that he is the master in and over his workshop, and does not, like other "expert" scholars, show the apprentice every piece of the tool with which he has accomplished his work, but rather this itself is from the primal ground of a very distinctive personality, effortless at the moment of production, that comes to light no matter how many nights the author must have needed to acquire his knowledge of antiquity and philosophy, which was completely comprehensive, and to make this use of poetic freedom his own, a freedom that craftsmen must envy about him, and artists must admire about him.)
11. Hamburg, 03-24-1874: Letter from Erwin Rohde to Nietzsche in Basel.
12. Bayreuth, 02-27-1874: Letter from Richard Wagner to Nietzsche in Basel; Bayreuth, 03-20-1874: Letter from Cosima Wagner to Nietzsche in Basel.
13. Ostrichen, 03-11-1874: Letter from Carl von Gersdorff to Nietzsche in Basel.
14. It's not certain what Nietzsche is referring to: "Hode" means "testicle," while "Höderlin" could mean "little testicle." On the other hand, "Höd" was a blind God in Norse mythology with whom Nietzsche was familiar. The last phrase about a swine not getting the point of the misprint doesn't really help to connect the two phrases. Yet, knowing that Nietzsche was an inveterate punster, it probably had something to do with a testicle joke.
15. Cf. Richard Wagner, "Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft." In: Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen. Bd. 3. Leipzig: Fritzsch, 59-62. "Das Volk ist der Inbegriff aller Derjenigen, welche eine gemeinschaftliche Noth empfinden." (The Folk is the epitome of all those men who feel a common need.)
16. In SS1874, Nietzsche's lecture courses were: "Darstellung der antiken Rhetorik" (Description of Ancient Rhetoric); "Aeschylos: Choephoren" (Aeschylus: Choephori); and a seminar on Sappho.

 

San Remo, Italy.
From b/w photo, 1875.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, April 4, 1874:
Letter to Malwida von Meysenbug.

Most esteemed friend

What a touching surprise you have given me! Nobody has ever given me flowers, and I think I now know that there is a certain eloquence in this silent abundance of color and animation. These harbingers of spring bloomed again in my room and I enjoyed them for almost a week. For so gray is our life and at the same time so painful that flowers are, as it were, the tattle-tales of a secret of nature; they betray that life hope light color must be found somewhere in this world. How often does one lose all faith in it! And it's such good fortune when fighters encourage each other and remind each other of their common faith by sending symbols, be they flowers or books.

But then I think of your poor eyes, and very much doubt that you can read this bad writing — if you can even read it.

My health, to say something about it, has been quite good and without any concerns since the New Year, as a result of a change in my way of living: only that I have to be careful with my eyes. But you know there is a condition of bodily suffering which at times seems like a blessing; for one forgets about from what else one is suffering, or rather: one thinks one can be helped, just as the body can be helped. This is my philosophy of illness: it gives the soul hope. And isn't it a feat — still to hope?

Now wish me strength for the remaining eleven Untimely Meditations.1 I want to say everything at least once, everything that is troubling us; perhaps after this general confession2 one will feel a little more relieved.

My best wishes go with you, dear and esteemed friend.

Faithfully yours,
Friedrich Nietzsche.

1. Nietzsche drew up a plan for thirteen Untimely Meditations in the autumn of 1873 (it did not include the two he published on Schopenhauer and Wagner). See Nachlass, Sommer-Herbst 1873 29[163].
2. Cf. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Gesellige Lieder. Generalbeichte." In: Goethe's sämmtliche Werke in vierzig Bänden. Bd. 1. Stuttgart; Augsburg: Cotta, 1855:103. "Willst du Absolution / Deinen Treuen geben, / Wollen wir nach deinem Wink / Unabläßlich streben, / Uns vom Halben zu entwöhnen, / Und im Ganzen, Guten, Schönen, / Resolut zu leben." (From Goethe's "General Confession": If your faith would grant / absolution to your faithful / we would take your cue / to strive unindulgently, / to wean ourselves from the half, / and to live resolutely / in the whole, the good, the beautiful.) Nietzsche was fond of this poem's call to "live resolutely." Cf. Naumburg, 05-28-1882: Letter to Lou Salomé.

 



Erwin Rohde.
From b/w photo, ca. 1875.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Kiel, June 17, 1874:
Letter from Erwin Rohde.

Forgive me, dearest friend, if I have once again delayed for so long my admirable intentions of writing and have aroused undue concern in my friends. Fortunately it is completely uncalled for: for I am only struggling with a certain emotional torpor and a dreadful reluctance to say anything. That's why I dive completely into the depths of the most wondrous fictional seas1 and enjoy the fantastic creatures below among the larvae and other Schiller wolffish.2 Here the distant sounds of a bell hardly ever reach into the solitude far below the surface. Just don't worry about me in any way at all: such foolish outbursts like the ones contained in my last letter,3 which I immediately regretted having sent — rarely assail me. Otherwise my mood is mostly nè trista nè lieta,4 as is normal.

To give public expression to my whole way of thinking — as you advise me to do as a salutary bloodletting5 — I will spare myself for a much later time, when I will have become mature: I am a very slowly maturing being who develops his rings very gradually. For the time being I really don't feel mature enough to speak publicly about things in general, I need the trunk of a special subject on which to climb up.

By the way, I request of you one thing, beloved friend: in the future, let me hear your real sentiments6 always faithfully and undisguised: why should we hide our pain from each other, out of some distorted consideration, and not bear together what we feel together?! Incidentally, it is certain that, in the long run, as things have turned out, you will not be able to endure the never-ending daily torments that the university position must give you. But, as Gersdorff also advises you,7 don't make any rash decisions. Damn it, aren't there any more rich women to marry us irresistible young men! There's nothing in the lottery: at least I'm not lucky at the game.8 Not even in love: of course in my neck of the woods there are only such female creatures who were surely cats in a previous life: since I was probably already a donkey like that friend of Pythagoras,9 there is something missing between me and those who are φυσιχ¬ συμπάδεια.10 From what I'm now reading so much about,11 if I only had a Rhâkshasa12 as a friend, I — and you — would soon find gold and give a damn about all millionaire brides! — Write me about the vacation plan! — I am reading Dante Divina Commedia with great devotion. — Could you at times suggest to Frau Wagner that I've long felt remorse about my obligation:13 I will also pay it off in the near future, but at the moment I'm as tapped out and hard up as a hollow nut. — Many greetings to our friends: also give regards to poor old Vischer,14 and commend me to your sister. — Regarding the "History"15 everything is stumm, bum, bum.16 The newest and surest way of destruction. At Easter, in Hamburg, I saw it lying on a table in a reading room and literally thumbed through and marked with dirty fingerprints: the way Germans are accustomed to express their interest and respect. Addio

Your
E. R.

1. Perhaps an allusion to Rohde working on his "novel," Der griechische Roman und seine Vorläufer. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1876.
2. See the 1797 ballad by Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805), Der Taucher ("The Diver"), st. 20-21: Dual Text.
3. Kiel, 05-10-1874: Letter from Erwin Rohde to Nietzsche in Basel.
4. "Neither sad nor happy."
5. Cf. Basel, 06-01-1874: Letter to Erwin Rohde in Kiel. "Sage einmal, liebster Freund, willst Du nicht auch das Mittelchen gebrauchen, das ich selbst, ebenso Overbeck, gebrauchen? Man rißt sich die Adern und läßt etwas Blut fließen unzeitgemäß, wie die Andern schreien, die den Aderlaß als ein überwundenes und antiquirtes Heilmittel betrachten. Ich meine: willst Du nicht auch einmal Dein und unser Elend etwas ausschütten und sagen, was Du leidest? Es liegt ganz gewiß etwas Befreiendes darin, den Leuten grob zu sagen, wie Unsereiner sich eigentlich unter ihnen befindet. Beseitigen wir den Bandwurm der Melancholie schriftlich indem wir die Andern zwingen, unsre Schriften zu verschlucken." (Tell me, dearest friend, don't you also want to use the remedy that I use myself, as does Overbeck? One cuts one's veins and lets a little blood flow the old-fashioned way, as other people shout, who regard blood-letting as an obsolete and antiquated remedy. I mean: don't you want to even once pour out something of your and our misery and say what you suffer? There is certainly something liberating about telling people roughly how one of us really feels among them. Let's get rid of the tapeworm of melancholy in writing by forcing others to swallow our writings.)
6. Cf. Basel, 05-14-1874: Letter to Erwin Rohde in Kiel. "Ich denke öfters, es ist Dir tröstlicher, wenn Du von mir nur das Gute und Entschlossene hört" (I often think it is more consoling for you if you only hear good and decisive things from me).
7. Cf. Gnadenberg, 05-29-1874: Letter from Carl von Gersdorff to Nietzsche in Basel. "Ich habe leider aus Deinem letzten Brief an Frau Wagner ersehen, dass die Depression in der Du vorher stecktest jetzt nicht in wirkliche Resignation übergegangen ist, sondern in eine Art von gewaltsamer Betäubung Deiner gegen die Misère der Gegenwart sich sträubenden Kräfte. Deine Versicherungen, daß es Dir gut gehe, kommen Dir nicht so von Herzen, wie es zu wünschen wäre; Du kommst mir damit so vor wie der zaghafte Wanderer, der im schaurigen Walde sich durch lautes Singen über seine Furcht täuschen will. Es liegt etwas von Galgenhumor in diesem letzten Briefe, der uns ernstere Sorge macht, als irgendein vorhergehender. Was ist zu thun? Irgendwann einmal wirst Du aus Deiner Stellung hinaus müssen, das erscheint mir unzweifelhaft. Ist aber jetzt dazu der Augenblick gekommen? Dass Du wieder ein sorgsam vorbereitetes Kolleg nicht zustande gebracht hast, ist zwar Ursache genug zu einiger Bitterkeit. Aber wer trägt die Schuld? Doch nur die Esel, die nicht von den Disteln lassen können und sich in ihrer Eselhaftigkeit behagen. Ich höre von Rothenburg am Tauber reden. Aber was willst Du dort? Ohne Freunde in ganz engen Verhältnissen ein zurückgezogenes Leben führen, in dem Du doch das Gefühl der Freiheit nicht haben wirst, wonach Du verlangst. Warte doch noch eine Weile. Wer kann wissen, was Bayreuth noch nach sich zieht! Wagner weiss für Dich immer nur den einen Rath, Du müssest Dich gut verheirathen." (Unfortunately, I saw from your last letter to Frau Wagner that the depression you were in before has not turned into real resignation now, but into a kind of violent numbing of your powers, which are struggling against the misery of the present. Your assurances that you are well are not as sincere as one might wish; you seem to me like the timid wanderer who tries to deceive himself about his fear by singing loudly in the scary forest. There is something of gallows humor in this last letter, which causes us more grave concern than any that has preceded it. What to do? At some point you will have to leave your position, that seems to me indisputable. But has the moment for that now come? The fact that you once again failed to complete a carefully prepared lecture is cause enough for some bitterness. But who is to blame? Really only the donkey that can't let go of the thistles and is content with its donkeylike nature. I hear talk of Rothenburg am Tauber. But what do you want there? Lead a withdrawn life without friends in very cloistered circumstances, in which you will not have the feeling of freedom that you desire. Wait a while still. Who can know what else Bayreuth will bring! Wagner always has only one piece of advice for you: you must marry well.)
8. Nietzsche played the Hamburg lottery 35 times before giving it up in June 1879, (see 06-23-1879 letter to Franz Overbeck).
9. See the fable of Pythagoras and a talking donkey, in Gustav Michell, Das Buch der Esel. Jena: Mauke, 1884, 221.
10. "Naturally sympathetic."
11. The 1874 Black Hills Gold Rush in America.
12. Rakshasa, guardian of the treasures of Kubera (the Indian Pluto, the god of wealth).
13. Unknown reference.
14. Wilhelm Vischer-Bilfinger (1808-1874): Swiss philologist, rector, and Basel politician. He died on June 5, 1874.
15. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 2. Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben, (Untimely Meditations, 2. On the Use and Abuse of History for Life). German Text.
16. A phrase in German translation from William Shakespeare, Alexander Fischer (trans.), Der Kaufmann von Venedig [The Merchant of Venice], III, ii. "Laßt uns läuten, stil und stumm; / Ich beginne: Bim, bam, bum." The original verse in English by Shakespeare doesn't really make sense here. ("Let us all ring fancy's knell: / I'll begin it, — Ding, dong, bell.") Rohde probably means Nietzsche's book is being killed with silence. Cf. Basel, 03-16-1872: Letter to Erwin Rohde in Kiel.

 


Gustav Adolph Krug.
From b/w photo by: Ferdinand Henning.
Naumburg, ca. 1860.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, July 4, 1874:
Letter to Carl von Gersdorff.

Now, dearest good friend, I want to tell you a few things, despite the blazing heat of the summer sun. First, a longing for a cool place. Second, diligently writing the untimely one,1 hoping to be able to finish it by the vacation, but cannot, because the body is a hindrance and needs a little encouragement. On the other hand, everything is already fitting together nicely, it would be a pity if I spoiled or forgot it. I will probably go to the Engadin for a while with my sister.2 As for Bayreuth I never got beyond good intentions; for it seems to me that their household and their life there are in turmoil,4 and that just now our visit would not be appropriate. By the way, they are reassured about my condition; you have all outdone each other by being excessively pessimistic.5 Finally — all I can think about now is finishing No. 3 and making it good.6 — By the way, dear friend, how did you come up with the droll idea of wanting to force my visit to Bayreuth by a threat?7 It almost looks as if I did not want to go voluntarily — and yet I met the Bayreuth people twice last year, and twice the year before last8 — leaving from Basel, and with my paltry vacation terms! — We both know that Wagner's nature tends to be suspicious — but I didn't think it would be good to stir up this mistrust. And last but not least — just remember that I have obligations toward myself which are very difficult to fulfill in a very frail state of health. Really, nobody should force me to do anything.

Take all this quite genially and kindly!

Just think, good old Vischer9 has been on his deathbed for a few days and his family is gathered around him. You know what I am losing in him. —

I have just been informed of the death of the Appellate Councilor Krug, my friend's father.10 My friend Pinder,11 as well as Gustav Krug,12 are getting married in the autumn — and the generations continue to flourish.

I have something very nice for our get-together13 — but please bring something yourself as well. Perhaps the Italian translations!14

But only if you have the time and the leisure, Adieu, dear faithful friend.

1. Nietzsche was working on Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text.
2. Instead, Nietzsche traveled to Bergün in the Engadin with Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919), who was now rooming with him and Franz Overbeck in Basel.
3. Nietzsche was in Bayreuth from August 4-15, 1874.
4. Nietzsche learned about this from his sister, who had received the news in an 06-25-1874 letter from Cosima Wagner.
5. Cf. Bayreuth, 04-06-1874: Letter from Richard Wagner to Nietzsche in Basel.
6. That is, Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text.
7. See Gnadenberg, 05-29-1874: Letter from Carl von Gersdorff to Nietzsche in Basel; Bayreuth, 06-25-1874: Letter from Cosima Wagner to Elisabeth Nietzsche in Naumburg.
8. In 1873, Nietzsche was in Bayreuth from April 6-12, and from October 30 to November 2.
9. Wilhelm Vischer-Bilfinger (1808-1874): Swiss philologist, rector, and Basel politician. He died on June 5, 1874.
10. Gustav Adolph Krug (1805-1874): Councillor of the Appellate Court in Naumburg, an accomplished musician — and the father of Gustav Krug (1844-1902), Nietzsche's friend since childhood.
11. Wilhelm Pinder (1844-1928): Nietzsche's friend since childhood.
12. Gustav Krug (1844-1902): Nietzsche's friend since childhood.
13. A planned get-together between Nietzsche, Erwin Rohde, Carl von Gersdorff, and Heinrich Romundt. The meeting never took place.
14. Carl von Gersdorff was translating Niccolò Machiavelli's Vita di Castruccio Castracani (Life of Castruccio Castracani).

 


Wilhelm Vischer-Bilfinger.
From b/w photograph.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, July 4, 1874:
Letter to Erwin Rohde.

Dearest friend, we are having hot days, my great longing for vacation1 is growing; I wanted to be ready with my No. 3 of the Untimel[y Meditations]2 before then, but that's definitely not possible, for physical reasons. If only it turns out exactly as I wish! I look forward to sharing it with you. For I actually think it must be useful and bracing for all of us (since I feel that way myself). I really speak from experience when I tell you: one can write down many a thing from one's heart and soul — at least for a good while. I no longer understand the words "mature" and "immature" in this regard, one just helps oneself as much as one can in order to just make things bearable.3 I never wish that such things be considered purely literary. And if they have any value, it is in their more illiterate character: things about which it is foolish to write a review. —

Our good old Vischer4 is terminally ill, his family is gathered around him and death can come any day or any hour, hopefully soon for relief from severe pain. Of all the people from Basel, he is definitely the one who placed the most significant and thorough trust in me, even in complicated circumstances. In short, I'm losing a lot too, and I'm becoming a little more indifferent to the university than I already am. We, Overbeck and I, are now in an almost uncanny isolation, and there are signs, here and there, of a fearful attitude towards us.5

For our fall get-together,6 I have made the suggestion that each of us bring something of our own.

God bless you and your novel7 and grant you cool and clear days and well-slept nights under moonlight and glimmering comets. I long for cold mountain water like a wild sow.

Fare thee well.
Your Fridericus.

1. Nietzsche traveled to Bergün in the Engadin with Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919), where they stayed from July 19 to August 2, 1874.
2. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text.
3. Cf. 06-17-1874 letter from Erwin Rohde, in which Rohde has doubts about publishing his immature ponderings: "Einen öffentlichen Ausdruck meiner ganzen Denkweise zu geben, — wie Du, als einen heilsamen Aderlaß, es mir anräthst — erspare ich mir auf eine viel spätere Zeit, wo ich reifer geworden sein werde: ich bin ein sehr langsam reifendes Wesen, das seine Ringe sehr allmählich ansetzt. Vor der Hand fühle ich mich wirklich nicht gereift genug, um über Allgemeines öffentlich zu reden, sondern ich bedarf des Stammes eines besondern Gegenstandes, an dem ich mich aufranke." (To give public expression to my whole way of thinking — as you advise me to do as a salutary bloodletting — I will spare myself for a much later time, when I will have become mature: I am a very slowly maturing being who develops his rings very gradually. For the time being I really don't feel mature enough to speak publicly about things in general, I need the trunk of a special subject on which to climb up.)
4. Wilhelm Vischer-Bilfinger (1808-1874): Swiss philologist, rector, and Basel politician. He died on June 5, 1874.
5. Unknown reference.
6. A planned get-together between Nietzsche, Erwin Rohde, Carl von Gersdorff, and Heinrich Romundt. The meeting never took place.
7. Erwin Rohde, Der griechische Roman und seine Vorläufer. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1876.

 


Gustav Krug.
From b/w photograph, ca. 1900.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, July 6, 1874:
Letter to Gustav Krug.

Hear from me today as well, my beloved friend, a few words of heartfelt sorrow.1 Of course, from experience I know almost as little about what it means to lose a father as it does to have a father.2 For that reason, my early inner life became more difficult and more oppressive than it should have been; and precisely out of my oft-felt need for a truly familiar and loving advisor, I also dare to understand the degree and scope of your loss today.

When I look at you now, the enigmatically connected words, death and marriage,3 appear again before my eyes so quickly one after the other that there is no end in sight to life and flourishing. Your father lives on in you, and his best and noblest qualities shall not be lost in you.

And so that other word shall provide an answer to that strangely awful question that the word "death" raises. One answer: for perhaps there are several. —

With old loyal sentiments
Your F. N.

Greet your esteemed relatives from me and my sister,4 with an expression of the warmest condolences.

1. Gustav Adolph Krug died on 06-30-1874. He was Councillor of the Appellate Court in Naumburg, an accomplished musician — and the father of Gustav Krug (1844-1902), Nietzsche's friend since childhood.
2. Nietzsche's father died on July 30, 1849, when Nietzsche was 4 years old.
3. Nietzsche is referring to Krug's upcoming marriage on September 10, 1874 to Therese Brummer.
4. At the time, Nietzsche's sister visited Nietzsche in Basel from April 28 to September 5, 1874.

 


Heinrich Romundt.
From b/w photograph, ca. 1870.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, October 7, 1874:
Letter to Erwin Rohde.

Last night, my dear friend, I returned from the mountains1 and this morning my imminent winter life2 should begin and be consecrated with a birthday letter3 to you. I am not lacking in courage and confidence: I brought that with me from the silence of the mountains and lakes, where I soon noticed what was lacking, or rather what was in excess. Namely egoism; and that comes from eternally brooding on and suffering over oneself. Finally one constantly feels as if one has a hundred scars and as if every movement hurts. But honestly, now that I'll be 30 years old soon, things have to be a little different, namely more manly and steady and not so damn up and down anymore. To continue one's work and to think of oneself as little as possible — that must be what is really needed. After a bit of reflection, I felt quite ungrateful and foolish with my agonizing despondency: because I thought about with what I have actually been so lavishly bestowed over the last 7 years, and how I cannot feel enough for what I have in my friends. Actually, I live through you, I move forward by leaning on you; for my self-esteem is weak and pathetic, and you have to vouch for me over and over again. In addition, you are the best role models for me; for both you and Overbeck bear the lot of life with more dignity and with fewer complaints, although you have it worse and more difficult than I do in many respects. And most of all, I feel how you exceed me by far precisely in your loving disposition and thinking less about yourself. I've been brooding over this a lot lately; if I may be permitted to mention this to you in a birthday letter.

I was on the Rigi for a few days with Romundt and Baumgartner, then a good week alone in Lucerne.4 My dinner partners were Bishop Reinkens5 and Professor Knood [sic].6 Tonight is the christening of Immermann's youngest;7 the three of us8 will attend as well. I've been to Tribschen several times and missed a great deal;9 I poured my heart out to Countess Bassenheim10 in Lucerne, she also feels completely "disinherited" by Wagner's departure and was obviously very happy to hear some recent news and more details about Bayreuth.11 Gersdorff isn't coming until around October 12. You can see how our autumn get-together12 is falling apart, because it's going to be time for work again since my classes start on the 10th. Overbeck is still in the process of correcting;13 I'm done with [mine] and expect at any hour the arrival of the finished copies, so that one of them can be dispatched to you immediately.14 In the meantime, the content of No. 415 has roughly dawned on me: which made me very happy, since I take it as a gift. Romundt has literary intentions; privately he is establishing the state and the religion.16 Dr. Fuchs has expressed that it's not over yet, by sending greetings and concert tickets; and Overbeck wrote him a good honest letter about all our travails.17 Baumgartner left me a large photograph of himself that turned out splendidly.18 Krug19 and Pinder20 are traveling about with their wives and will meet each other in Heidelberg; unfortunately I missed Krugen,21 likewise Deussen, who was also passing through Basel and wanted to talk to me.22

Money and key arrived, thank you very much.23 Gersdorff should have the same lodgings, together we want to think quite a lot about you. When your novel24 is finished, please telegraph, I beg you, so that we can celebrate with a little party a tempo. If I only knew how you yourself could create some music, music of our style!

It is the sunniest autumn outside and I have such beautiful grapes on the table that I only wish you could eat them, and we sat together while I played something for you; I also brought excellent cigarettes from Lucerne. The fact is everything is finished now.25

Farewell, my dear, cherished friend, and remain as devoted to me as before — then we can still endure life on earth for a while longer.

Your
devoted
Friedrich Nietzsche

Now it occurs to me that I indeed have a finished copy of Nr. 3, of course only in advance sheets. Nevertheless, it arrives at the right time, if it arrives exactly on the 9th.26

1. Nietzsche spent 3 days at a hotel on Mt. Rigi near Lucerne with Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919), their friend and classmate at the University of Leipzig (who was now a roommate in Basel), and his student Adolf Baumgartner (1855-1930), followed by a week in Lucerne at a hotel spa.
2. Nietzsche's teaching duties for WS1874-75 were to start on October 10.
3. Rohde's birthday was October 9.
4. See Note 1 above.
5. Joseph Hubert Reinkens (1821-1896): German Old Catholic bishop.
6. Franz Peter Knoodt (1811-1889): German Catholic theologian, and philosophy professor in Bonn.
7. Karl Wilhelm Georg, the son of Hermann and Marie Immermann (née Diehl). Hermann Immermann (1838-1899) was a doctor and professor of pathology in Basel.
8. Nietzsche, Franz Overbeck, and Heinrich Romundt.
9. The residence of Richard and Cosima Wagner from March 30, 1866 to April 22, 1872 (about a mile south of Lucerne).
10. The reference is suppossedly to Marie Bassenheim — yet she was a mere 13 years old in 1874. Her mother, Caroline von Waltbott-Bassenheim (1824-1889), seems a more likely person to whom Nietzsche would "pour out his heart." Due to the profligate lifestyle of her husband (Hugo Philipp Waldbott von Bassenheim 1820-1895), the Bassenheim's lost their family fortune.
11. Nietzsche was in Bayreuth from August 4-15.
12. A planned get-together between Nietzsche, Erwin Rohde, Carl von Gersdorff, and Heinrich Romundt. The meeting never took place.
13. Franz Overbeck, Studien zur Geschichte der alten Kirche. Chemnitz: Schmeitzner, 1875.
14. On 09-24-1874, Nietzsche received the last proofsheets for Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text. The book was published on 10-15-1874.
15. Nietzsche's original plan was to write "We Philologists," not the eventual "Richard Wagner in Bayreuth."
16. Cf. Basel, 10-03-1874: Letter from Franz Overbeck to Nietzsche in Lucerne. "Romundt ist mit dem Staat fertig, und lustwandelt jetzt in der Religion, hatte in letzter Zeit ein paar merkwürdige Conferenzen mit dem Specialcollegen H[einze]." (Romundt has finished with the state and is now wandering around in religion, recently had a couple of strange conferences with his special colleague H[einze].)
17. Unknown reference.
18. See photograph above.
19. Gustav Krug (1844-1902), Nietzsche's friend since childhood.
20. Wilhelm Pinder (1844-1928), Nietzsche's friend since childhood.
21. Gustav Krug married Therese Brummer on September 10, 1874. Wilhelm Pinder married Marie Hesse on September 25, 1874. For Nietzsche's early description of his two friends, see "1858 Aus meinem Leben." Translation (1858 From My Life) in: Nietzsche's Writings as a Student. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012, 1-34 (11-13).
22. Cf. Lucerne, Early October 1874: Letter from Paul Deussen to Nietzsche in Basel.
23. During his stay at Nietzsche's place in Basel, Rohde had accidentally taken the house key with him; he then sent it to Nietzsche along with some money he had borrowed.
24. Erwin Rohde, Der griechische Roman und seine Vorläufer. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1876.
25. That is, the corrections for Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text. The book was published on 10-15-1874.
26. Cf. Schlosschemnitz, 09-26-1874: Letter from Ernst Schmeitzner to Nietzsche in Basel, in which Schmeitzner encloses the last advance sheets for Schopenhauer als Erzieher (Schopenhauer as Educator). Nietzsche received them on 10-07-1874.

 

Cover of Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 2. 1874.
With Nietzsche's dedication to Wilhelm Vischer-Bilfinger.
Enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, October 25, 1874:
Letter to Malwida von Meysenbug.

At last, most esteemed Fräulein, I am able once again to give you some news of myself, namely by presenting you with something new by me; from the contents of this latest work1 you will be able to divine enough of what I have experienced in the meantime. Also that in the course of the year things were sometimes in a much worse and precarious state for me than what can be gleaned from the book. In summa, however, that things are going well, going forward and that I just lack the sunshine of life too much; otherwise I would have to say that things could not be going better with me than they are. For it is certainly a great good fortune to proceed with one's task step by step — and now I have finished three of the 13 Meditations2 and the fourth3 is haunting my mind; how will I feel once I have removed everything negative and rebellious that is inside me, and yet I can hope to be near this glorious goal in about 5 years! I am already feeling with true gratitude how I am learning to see more and more clearly and sharply — intellectually! (unfortunately not physically!) and how I can express myself more and more definitely and intelligibly. If I am not completely led astray on my path, or even flag, something must come of all this. Just imagine a series of 50 such works, like my previous 4,4 all forced into the light of day out of inner experience — they would all have to make an effect, for one would certainly have loosened many tongues, and enough things would have been articulated that people could not so quickly forget them, things that right now seem to have been forgotten, that don't seem to exist at all. And what could interfere with my course? Even hostile counteractions I now find useful and felicitous, for they often enlighten me more quickly than friendly assistance: and I desire nothing more than to be enlightened about the whole highly complicated system of antagonisms that make up the "modern world." Fortunately I lack any political or social ambition, so that I need fear no dangers from that quarter, no abstractions, no need for transactions and considerations; in short, I may say exactly what I think, and I want to test the extent to which our fellow human beings, who are proud of their freedom of thought, can tolerate free thoughts. I do not ask too much of life and nothing excessive; besides, we will all get to experience something in the next few years that may make everyone from the past and posterity envy us.5 I have also been bestowed with excellent friends, undeservedly; now, speaking confidentially, I would like to find a good wife very soon, and then I shall consider my life's wishes to be fulfilled — everything else then will be up to me.

I have now said enough about myself, most esteemed friend, and still have not revealed the heartfelt concern with which I have always thought of you and your difficult life.6 You can judge by the tone of unconditional trust in which I speak to you about myself how close I have always felt to you and how much I have wished I could console and entertain you a little now and then. Unfortunately you live so terribly far away. But perhaps I'll set off to visit you in Italy around next Easter,7 provided that I know where you are to be found there. In the meantime, my warmest best wishes for your health and the old request that you remain kindly disposed towards me.

Truly
Your
most devoted servant,
Friedrich Nietzsche

I recently turned 30 years old.

Enclosed is the photo of my sister, who is no longer with me.8

1. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text.
2. Nietzsche drew up a plan for thirteen Untimely Meditations in the autumn of 1873 (it did not include the two he published on Schopenhauer and Wagner). See Nachlass, Sommer-Herbst 1873 29[163].
3. Nietzsche's original plan was to write "We Philologists," not the eventual "Richard Wagner in Bayreuth."
4. The Birth of Tragedy, and the first 3 "Untimely Meditations."
5. An allusion to Richard Wagner's planned The Ring of the Nibelung for the Bayreuth Festival.
6. Her separation from her foster-children, and her failed attempt to secure residence in Bayreuth.
7. From July 16 to August 12, 1875 Nietzsche decided instead to stay in Steinabad, seeking the purported healing cure from thermal stone baths.
8. It's not clear to which photograph he is referring. On 09-12-1874, Elisabeth Nietzsche had two photographs taken of her by Jacob Höflinger in Basel (see the receipt in GSA 72/878).

 

Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Florence, December 7, 1874:
Letter from Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga.1

Dearest friend!

What will you say if yet again2 I feel pressured into a confession? Your last work3 left a depressing impression on me, despite many great ideas that shone through me like flashes of lightning and for me have become a possession for life! But you are pushing the entire existing world into a gloomy abyss, in which everything tumbles about chaotically and will never, ever be able to soar upwards into the light! You leave no bridge for those who are yearning, striving, upon which one could step slowly and hesitantly out of the evil world surrounding one into that higher realm of truth, beauty, love! And yet Nature has not given us wings! — We have to pay for any higher knowledge with great suffering, and when we ourselves long to transfer our higher notions, higher beliefs, higher knowledge into living, when we strive to climb up, hampered by every step, often frustrated, wounded by missteps, where do we then find the necessary help for our gradual transformation? — Does it help us, say, when someone says: "Everything that you have become through birth, upbringing, through the influence of the atmosphere surrounding you, you must first destroy root and branch, plant a new sprig and then see if you thrive?"4 Alas, I dread this radical cure, and I prefer the educator who, by affirming the little bit of good in me, gently pulls me up for improvement, and thus gradually allows my character to mature through slow development into a higher being! — Do you understand, esteemed friend, what I mean when I think you deal out crushing blows too much, hurt too deeply, to have an effect on the core of a person? For my part, I understand and respect passion that recklessly pursues with unbridled hatred the existing evil wherever and however it strikes! But I feel that the true educator must proceed differently, namely with the lamp of the highest realized goal in their helping hand, they must be a crutch for those who have scarcely pulled themselves up from the dirty, viscous soil, still barely able to stand, and only with the help of the best and noblest to recognize that radiant far-off goal, concealed from their bleary eyes, and alas! so difficult, so rarely able to achieve! —

Just as you do, I love Schopenhauer; it was a revelation for me too when I first glanced at his profoundly comprehensive intellectual life! I found your words wonderfully accurate: "He took upon himself the suffering of truthfulness."5 Schopenhauer also went in for crushing blows, but he was more a creator than a critic, in solitude and silence he overcame life, created the most profound things from his deep intellect into the light of day, and then he drove off with the long-restrained rage of the victor; with his creative feeling, which towers far above all his contemporaries, he pushes everything that is not entitled to real life back into the abyss! —

But was he an educator in the full sense of the word, even if I only think of him as a pure exemplar? — Wasn't there a void in his life? Did his deep, rich heart find anything even remotely fulfilling? — I do not think so. Suspicion about this shot through him when, in the last years of his life, deeply moved by the impression he had received from a talented young artist who had come to make his bust, he said to the latter: "You, you are the child of nature and art combined; I should have known you in my youth." And his eyes shone with childlike happiness. — From his relationship to this artist,6 who was a friend of mine, I concluded that he always lacked the happiness of loving understanding in those around him and that he felt this deficiency himself. I even believe, perhaps presumptuously on my part, that this deficiency had a great influence on the final conclusions he drew from his philosophy. —

Do you know what I disagree with you about? With your contempt for the national feeling of a people, which I consider to be the starting point for true humanity. A child loves himself, his family, his nation, humanity; with growing understanding and expanded feelings, the connection with the universe becomes larger and deeper! — Why are you exasperated with the German Reich?7 Doesn't it awaken more hope for the future in you than the weak, powerless and feeble solidarity of the German states in former times? — Didn't the Greeks have a very pronounced sense of state? —

I am writing everything down without hesitation, although I obviously feel that you are under no obligation to answer my objections. So accept them as the proof of my deep respect for you, which doesn't allow me to hold back where I feel compelled to speak and where I see the basis for a singular understanding of a thousand questions that I need clarification on. — Fare well for now, and believe in the honest pursuit of truth

Thinking so highly of you, your
E. Guerrieri-Gonzaga

1. Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga (1835-1900): German pedagogue, and friend of Nietzsche.
2. See Florence, 05-15-1874: Letter from Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga to Nietzsche in Basel, in which she gives her opinion of Nietzsche's writings, including positive ones of Homer und die klassische Philologie (Homer and Classical Philology), and Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 2. Vom Nutzen und Nachtheil der Historie für das Leben, (Untimely Meditations, 2. On the Use and Abuse of History for Life). German Text. "Ein gütiges Schicksal führte mich von Neuem zu Ihnen: ich las Ihre kleine Schrift über Homer die mir unendlich gefiel. Und jetzt das 2te Stück Ihrer 'Unzeitgemäßen Betrachtungen' die für mich wie eine Offenbarung waren und ich glaube nicht daß ich Ihnen im Geiste wieder untreu werden kann! / Damit habe ich meine Beichte vollbracht, denn ehrlich will ich Ihnen gegenüberstehen!" (Kind providence led me to you again: I read your short work on Homer, which I really enjoyed. And now the 2nd part of your "Untimely Meditations" which was like a revelation for me and I don't think I can be disloyal to you again in spirit! / With that said I have made my confession, because I want to be honest with you!)
3. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text.
4. Cf. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, §3 (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator, §3). "Diese Menschen, die ihre Freiheit in das Innerliche geflüchtet haben, müssen auch äusserlich leben, sichtbar werden, sich sehen lassen; sie stehen in zahllosen menschlichen Verbindungen durch Geburt, Aufenthalt, Erziehung, Vaterland, Zufall, Zudringlichkeit Anderer" (These people who have fled inward for their freedom also have to live outwardly, become visible, let themselves be seen; they are united with mankind through birth, residence, education, fatherland, chance, the importunity of others).
5. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, §4 (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator, §4). "Der Schopenhauerische Mensch nimmt das freiwillige Leiden der Wahrhaftigkeit auf sich" (The Schopenhauerean man voluntarily takes upon himself the suffering involved in being truthful).
6. Elisabet Ney (1833-1907): German-American sculptor, who created a bust of Schopenhauer in 1859. For details about Ney and Schopenhauer, see: 1. Helen Zimmern, Arthur Schopenhauer. His Life and His Philosophy. London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1876, 242. 2. Arthur Schopenhauer, Johann August Becker, Johann Karl Becker (hrsg.), Briefwechsel zwischen Arthur Schopenhauer und Johann August Becker. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1883, 156. 3. Anon., "Elisabet Ney." In: The Open Court. Vol. XI. No. 492. May 1897. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Co., 309-310. 4. Arthur Schopenhauer, Max Brahn (hrsg.), Arthur Schopenhauers Briefwechsel und andere Dokumente. Ausgewählt und herausgegeben von Max Brahn. Leipzig: Insel, 1911, 252f., 260f., 299, 314, 317. 5. Bride Neill Taylor, Elisabet Ney, Sculptor. New York: Devin-Adair, 1916, 27-29.
7. See, e.g., Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, §6 (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator, §6).

 

Theodor Opitz.
From b/w photo, ca. 1880.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Liestal, December 21, 1874:
Letter from Theodor Opitz.1

"Schopenhauer as Educator."

This little book about Arthur Schopenhauer,
Like the very best poetry, seizes
The soul mightily, and a thrill of joy
Flashes through, liberating and uplifting it.

It is a bold little book, full of spirit and fire,
Indeed, a passionate act of weather:
Blazing lightning, newly rolling thunder,
Intensely stimulating with purifying power.

And behind this roaring storm,
Vaulting eternal skies in azure silence;
And before us stands the more graven knight of truth
At his full height, on parade!

Of course, everything in it is very "untimely,"
Yet just for that reason even more timely now.2

Opitz.

1. Theodor Opitz (1820-1896): German journalist, translator, and admirer of Nietzsche.
2. The poem was written in admiration of Nietzsche's Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text. A year earlier, Opitz wrote to Nietzsche praising Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik (The Birth Of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music). Nietzsche was familiar with Opitz's translation of Sándor Petöfi's poetry, Alexander Petöfi's lyrische Gedichte, übersetzt von Theodor Opitz. Pest: Gustav Heckenast, 1867. During his early years, Nietzsche used three Petofi poems for his musical lieder in 1864, from a translation by Károly Mária Kertbeny, Alexander Petöfi's Dichtungen. Nach dem Ungarischen, in eignen wie fremden Übersetzungen gesammelt von Károly Mária Kertbeny. Berlin: Hofmann, [ca.1860]). In addition, Nietzsche used Opitz's translation of two poems by Alexander Puschkin: "Beschwörung" (Conjuration), and "Nachspiel" (Postlude, Nietzsche's title for an untitled poem). The poems were published in Dichtungen. Von A. Puschkin und M. Lermontov. Deutsch von Theodor Opitz. Berlin: Hofmann, 1859. See Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012, 11-15.

 


Adolf Baumgartner in his Hussar uniform.
From b/w photograph by:
Bernhard Mischewski.
Danzig, ca. 1875.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Naumburg, December 24, 1874:
Letter to Carl von Gersdorff.

My dear, faithful friend, I am sitting here in Naumburg,1 in the most nostalgic mood; I arrived yesterday, slept well, and this morning you and Frau Wagner shall be celebrated.2 There has been a lot of pressure in the last few weeks, so I haven't gotten around to writing letters, but my health is just about okay, and I also think it will be okay. So far, I have explained the history of Greek epic poetry in my lecture, but then the lecture on the entire literature of the Greeks shall probably drag on for 3 semesters.3 This vacation I want to be spared from all literature, but I have piled up around me all my youthful compositions,4 something should be concocted out of them "in recognition of springtime,"5 I mean as a memento for old age. A lot has been going through my mind in the last few months, and I've repeatedly been untimely stimulated,6 but when will I again have the time? Quaeritur.7 On the day of my departure from Basel, a poem appeared, written by the translator of Petofi, Th. Opitz;8 when I get the opportunity, I'll send it. This time, the impression it expresses seems to have spoken to all of my regular readers (only Frau Guerrieri found herself "depressed" this time,9 appalled by the size of the task, womanishly squeamish!); our old president Turneysen wrote me10 kindly, and I have told you that Frau Baumgartner translates eagerly and happily (so far up to Chapter 5),11 she has a lot of practice and taste, but with many of her linguistic comments, I really thank heaven for being a German, I would have nothing to do with a language so elaborate12 as French. The day before yesterday, our dear young friend Baumgartner accompanied me to the train station for my departure, and in fact attired in the parade splendor of a blue hussar,13 he looks well and more prosperous than before and is really in very good hands in his squadron; the officer who trains him and fellow volunteers is Prince Löwenstein, his official commander-in-chief is Reuss. Baumgartner sends you his best regards, your relative Gr[af] Rothkirch is with another squadron. With our Dr. Fuchs peace and friendship has been regained,14 moral childbed fever overcome;15 you should know that he has established a new home in Hirschberg (Silesia); he writes forcefully, cheerfully and calmly, also very gratefully — for what actually? I'm sincerely happy about knowing this. — Rohde sent sprats from Kiel to Basel and a very nice letter,16 he continues to work on his "novel,"17 which is getting fatter and fatter like a snowman;18 also wrote quite a bit about erotica19 and wishes to note that he was "too old or too stupid or too studied for such things to be able to fascinate his thoughts completely or only predominantly and especially for any length of time." — Overbeck is in Dresden,20 Romundt (whose birthday is on December 27) in Basel, the latter now has finally put his university affairs on hold, I want to say he goes here and there at Easter — and where to?21 We don't know yet, a good teaching position should come about, it is really necessary that he put the cursed philosophizing on ice, he became quite a fool22 in the process and becomes more so every day, as he himself feels and we feel with him. — Many thanks for your last letter and the report about the Bayreuth letter;23 we all want to thank heaven and the underworld and wherever else gods reside, that the Nibelungen work24 is finished. I wish the excellent Rau be recommended and to stay, he's a good person, and it's good to hear how he's doing things properly, also with the reproductions. Krug and Pinder, incidentally, will be presenting their wives to me in a few days,25 everything will happen at Christmas.

Well, my dearest friend, you know that we do not lament and curse the day of your birth; whatever the lot of mankind may be as a whole, certainly lamentable, perhaps curseworthy — but good friend is a very commendable invention, on account of which the lot of mankind should be praised. Until now it was the only way we persisted and lived on with our best people, beyond the individual; now and then we have to do our other duty and care for a strong, mentally and physically equal offspring. But whatever happens, the Hymn to Friendship26 shall forever resound; and with it I will always think of you with praise and thanks, my dear, loyal Gersdorff!

Commend me to your esteemed parents and warm regards from my mother and sister.

And now bravely across into the new year.

Your
Friedrich Nietzsche.

1. Nietzsche was in Naumburg from December 22, 1874 to January 2, 1875.
2. Cosima Wagner's birthday was December 25; Carl von Gersdorff's birthday was December 26.
3. Nietzsches lectures on the "Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur" (History of Greek Literature) were held in WS1874-75, SS1875, and WS1875-76.
4. For a chronological list of Nietzsche's musical compositions, see Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012. In his 01-02-1875 letter to Malwida von Meysenbug, Nietzsche discusses revising the compositions from his youth.
5. See Richard Wagner, "Die Meistersinger von Nuernberg" (The Mastersingers of Nuremburg), Act 3, Scene 2: "Das waren hoch-bedürft'ge Meister, / von Lebensmüh' bedrängte Geister; / in ihrer Nöthen Wildniss / sie schufen sich ein Bildniss, / dass ihnen bliebe / der Jugendliebe / ein Angedenken klar und fest, / dran sich der Lenz erkennen lässt." (They were needy masters, spirits beset by life's toil; in their needy wilderness they created an image for themselves, so that they would have a clear and firm memory of their youthful love, by which spring can be recognized.)
6. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth was published on 07-10-1876. Nietzsche started to explore writing an essay on Wagner in the autumn of 1874, but didn't begin serious work on it until the autumn of 1875. In autumn 1874 through March 1875, Nietzsche wrote preparatory material for a work entitled "We Philologists" — to combat criticism of The Birth of Tragedy — but abandoned that work shortly thereafter.
7. Latin: That's the question.
8. See 12-21-1874 letter from Theodor Opitz with poem.
9. See 12-07-1874 letter from Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga.
10. See 12-08-1874 letter from Eduard Thurneysen-Gemuseus (1824-1900): president of the criminal court in Basel.
11. Marie Baumgartner began a French translation of Schopenhauer as Educator in December 1874, but it was never published. However, her French translation of Richard Wagner in Bayreuth was published in 1877.
12. "ausgelitzt": from "litzen," an Alemannic German word Nietzsche probably became familiar with while at Basel. Also used by Nietzsche in: 05-05-1873 letter to Erwin Rohde; and 2-15-1874 letter to Erwin Rohde.
13. See photograph above. Adolf Baumgartner (1855-1930): a student of Jacob Burckhardt and Nietzsche at the pedagogium in Basel, and the son of Marie Baumgartner. Baumgartner left Basel in the autumn of 1874, serving in the Hussars for his one-year military service. He returned to Basel to resume his studies, which ended in the summer of 1877. On Nietzsche's advice, he went to Jena in the autumn of 1877 to study under Erwin Rohde, but their relationship soured. Baumgartner went on to write a philological book on the Armenian historian, Moses of Khoren (ca. 410-490s). See Adolf Baumgartner, Dr. M. Lauer und das zweite Buch des Môses Chorenazi. Leipzig: Stauffer, 1885. In 1878, Nietzsche gifted him a dedicated copy of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Neue Essays (Letters and Social Aims). Autorisirte Uebersetzung mit einer Einleitung von Julian Schmidt. Stuttgart: Abendheim, 1876. The dedication reads: "Herrn Adolf Baumgartner / als Gefährten für einsame / Spaziergänge / empfohlen. / / Und dabei gedenken Sie auch / meiner! — / / F. Nietzsche / Ende 1878." (Mr. Adolf Baumgartner / Recommended as a companion on lonely walks. / / And with it remember me too! — / / F. Nietzsche / Ende 1878.) For further biographical details on Baumgartner, see Emil Dürr, "Adolf Baumgartner 1855-1930." In: Basler Jahrbuch. 1932, 211-242.
14. Cf. 12-16-1874 letter from Carl Fuchs.
15. Cf. 12-21-1874 letter to Carl Fuchs.
16. Cf. 12-13-1874 letter from Erwin Rohde.
17. Erwin Rohde, Der griechische Roman und seine Vorläufer. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1876.
18. Cf. 12-13-1874 letter from Erwin Rohde.
19. Ibid.
20. Overbeck spent the Christmas holiday with his mother, who lived in Dresden.
21. Romundt left Basel on 04-10-1875 planning to become a Catholic priest, but soon dropped those plans and became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg.
22. In the sense of being a "Tottel" (a clumsy fool). See the Grimm definition.
23. A lost letter that Cosima Wagner sent to Carl von Gersdorff at the end of November 1874.
24. Richard Wagner's The Ring of the Nibelung for the Bayreuth Festival.
25. Gustav Krug married Therese Brummer on September 10, 1874. Wilhelm Pinder married Marie Hesse on September 25, 1874. For Nietzsche's early description of his two friends, see "1858 Aus meinem Leben." Translation (1858 From My Life) in: Nietzsche's Writings as a Student. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012, 1-34 (11-13).
26. Nietzsche's piano composition. See Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012, 24-25.

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