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Nietzsche's Letters

1875

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Hans von Bülow (1830-1894).
1874.
Colorized image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Naumburg, January 2, 1875:
Letter to Hans von Bülow.

Highly esteemed sir

I felt much too delighted and honored by your letter1 not to think tenfold about the proposal you are making me regarding Leopardi.2 Of course, I know only bits and pieces of his prose writings; one of my friends,3 who lives with me in Basel, has often translated individual passages from them and read them to me, always to my great surprise and admiration; we have the latest Livornese edition.4 (By the way, a French work on Leopardi has just appeared, by Didier in Paris, I forget the name of the author — Boulé?)5 I know the poems from a translation by Hamerling.6 I myself don't understand enough Italian and although I'm a philologist I'm unfortunately not a linguist (the German language annoys me enough).

But the worst thing is: I have no time at all. I have set aside the next 5 years to work out the remaining 10 Untimely Ones7 and to purge my soul as much as possible of all the passionate-polemical clutter. In truth, however, I can hardly see when I shall find the time for this; for I am not only an academic teacher, but I also teach Greek at the Basel Pedagogium.8 During short vacations and times of sickness, I practically coaxed out of myself my previous written productions9 (I would prefer not to say "books" and also not "pamphlets"); I even had to dictate the Straussiad,10 because at that time I could neither read nor write. But since my physical condition is now very good, no sickness on the horizon, and my daily cold water baths mean that I am not likely to ever get sick again, my future as a writer is almost hopeless — unless my literary thoughts and endeavors are fulfilled some day on a country estate.11

Of course, esteemed sir, you will not agree to such a modest possibility; which is why I must ask you to exclude me from this plan. But the fact that you "thought" of me at all is a form of sympathy that I cannot be happy enough about, even if I should recognize that there are more worthy and more suitable personalities for the office of mediating between Italy and Germany.

I remain in constant esteem
your most devoted
Friedrich Nietzsche

1. See 11-01-1874: Letter from Hans von Bülow.
2. In his 11-01-1874 letter to Nietzsche, Hans von Bülow, who himself had been translating the Italian philosopher and poet Giacomo Leopardi (1798-1837), wrote: "Schopenhauer's großer romanischer Bruder Leopardi harrt noch immer vergeblich seiner Einführung bei unserer Nation. Seine Prosa ist uns wichtiger als seine Poesie, die, wie Sie wissen, durch Brandes 69, und ich glaube vor Kurzem durch einen Anderen (Lobedanz?) verdeutscht worden ist. Mit einer Übersetzung aber im landläufigen Sinne ist's nicht gethan: es bedarf eines Nach- und Mit-Denkers. / Werden Sie doch dieser 'Schlegel'!" (Schopenhauer's great Romansh brother Leopardi still awaits in vain his introduction to our nation. His prose is more important to us than his poetry, which, as you know, has been translated into German by Brandes 69 and I believe recently by another (Lobedanz?). But a translation in the usual sense won't be enough: it requires a cogitator and co-thinker. / Why don't you become this "Schlegel"!) The references include: 1. Giacomo Leopardi, Gustav Brandes (übersetzt, hrsg.), Giacomo Leopardi's Dichtungen. Mit einer Einleitung über das Leben und Wirken des Dichters. Hannover: Rümpler, 1869. 2. Edmund Lobedanz (1820-1882): German-Danish librettist, lyricist, dramatist, and translator. 3. August Wilhelm Schlegel (1767-1845): German critic, poet, and translator of Shakespeare.
3. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919) was Nietzsche's and Erwin Rohde's friend, classmate, and member of the Classical Philology Club at the University of Leipzig. He wrote his initial doctoral thesis on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, and later earned another Ph.D on the theory of knowledge. In 1872, Romundt move to Basel where he was an unpaid lecturer in philosophy. In April 1873, he convinced his friend Paul Rée to attend Nietzsche's lectures in Basel. On 03-31-1874, Romundt became Nietzsche's and Franz Overbeck's housemate in Basel before leaving the city on 04-10-1875. He planned to become a Catholic priest but soon dropped that idea and became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg. Romundt's familiarity with Leopardi is shown in a 03-14-1875 letter from Adolf Baumgartner to Nietzsche, as well as a 10-12-1878 letter to Nietzsche from Romundt.
4. Le operette morali di Giacomo Leopardi. Con la prefazione di Pietro Giordani. Edizione accresciuta e corretta da G. Chiarini. Livorno: Vigo, 1870.
5. A. Bouché-Leclercq, Giacomo Leopardi sa vie et ses oeuvres. Paris: Didier, 1874.
6. Giacomo Leopardi, Gedichte. Verdeutscht in den Versmaßen des Originals von Robert Hamerling. Hildburghausen: Verl. d. Bibliogr. Instituts, 1866.
7. 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].
8. Nietzsche taught six lessons of Greek a week at the pedagogium.
9. The Birth of Tragedy, and the first 3 "Untimely Meditations."
10. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 1. David Strauss. Der Bekenner und der Schriftsteller, (Untimely Meditations, 1. David Strauss: The Confessor and the Writer). German Text.
11. Regarding Nietzsche's plans to be independent.

 

Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Naumburg, January 2, 1875:
Letter to Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga.1

So esteemed Frau! For the time being we must admit that our agreement is not complete, and above all not fundamental. That is indeed how I interpreted your feelings, as you communicated them to me with the most grateful frankness:2 I think your reluctant mood this time went beyond the book3 presently at hand and led to general doubts and concerns regarding all my methods and goals. Do you think that your letter appeared to me particularly as a reply to my "History";4 as if you had indeed now gotten to the point of seeing the generalities expressed in it as closely as I am somewhat accustomed to perceiving them: although you were frightened and confused by the generalities themselves.

I have to leave you with these doubts at present, for I have absolutely no confidence in epistolary explanations of such complicated matters; whereby in the end everyone really gauges things according to one's own measure, I mean according to one's experiences and needs. Your pure and truth-striving mind will be able to enlighten you better about, and, above all, resolve more fruitfully the actual misunderstandings than any letter could ever do; in accordance with this, please ask yourself, e.g., whether I am an enemy of national feeling and whether I denigrate the German Reich, or whether not much more — — but no, in such matters you should justify me, not I myself. But apart from the misunderstandings — won't you forgive me if I use the word quite freely? — I just wish you would totally try once or twice to gain a new perspective (emotional perspective?)5 for this last work; from the outset, you don't want to be too hasty with wanting to discover what is essential for you. The road from Schopenhauerian educatorship to the individual is still very long, and even what I still have to say about this road — the epitome of the remaining 10 Untimely Meditations6 — is still a great deal. A bit of patience! —

No, most esteemed Frau, it must not be the case that you get a depressing impression from any heroic music. It really doesn't mean that you should be required to feel manly. —

Farewell and remaining affectionately

Your most devoted
Friedrich Nietzsche

1. Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga (1835-1900): German pedagogue, and friend of Nietzsche.
2. Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga "confessed" that she was depressed by Nietzsche's Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text. See Florence, 12-07-1874: Letter from Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga to Nietzsche in Basel. "Was werden Sie sagen wenn ich mich schon wieder zu einer Beichte gedrängt fühle? Ihre letzte Schrift hat mir einen deprimirenden Eindruck hinterlassen trotz mancher großer Gedanken, die mich wie Blitze durchleuchteten und mir ein Besitz für's Leben geworden sind! Aber Sie stoßen die ganze bestehende Welt in einen düstern Abgrund, in dem Alles chaotisch sich umherwälzt und nie und nimmer sich zum Lichte emporzuschwingen vermag! Sie lassen dem Sehnenden, Strebenden keine Brücke, auf der er mit langsam zögerndem Schritte aus der ihn umgebenden schlechten Welt hinüberschreiten könnte in jenes höhere Reich der Wahrheit, Schönheit, Liebe! Und doch hät uns die Natur keine Flügel gegeben!" (What will you say if yet again I feel pressured into a confession? Your last work 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!) The complete letter: In German. In English.
3. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text.
4. 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. "einen neuen Gesichtswinkel (Gefühlswinkel?)"
6. 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].

 


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

Naumburg, January 2, 1875:
Letter to Malwida von Meysenbug.

Dear highly esteemed friend, if I am replying so late to such an excellent letter worthy of every thanks, the reason lies in my curious hardship, which my Basel profession has now become. I've got so much to do at present and for a few semesters that I'm going to get really dazed from day to day; that's how "duty" wants it, and yet I often feel as if I'm not performing my actual duty with this "duty"; and the latter is certainly connected with the few people who — like you — in everything they do and live, remind me of what needs to be done.

Well, I am lecturing on Greek literary history1 and interpreting Aristotle's Rhetoric2 and putting in hour after hour; my health is holding up, including my eyes, so according to the external view of things I'm doing fine. But with all that I don't even know anymore when I shall get around to continuing my Untimely cycle.3 My secret but hopeless literary thoughts and endeavors are going to a country estate.4 Yes, wisdom with an inheritance! as Jesus Sirach says.5

My 10-day vacation is over now, I spent it with my mother and sister and feel quite recuperated;6 during this time, I left all thinking and reflecting behind me and produced music. Thousands of notes were written down, and one work is completely finished. The Hymn to Friendship7 can now be played by two hands or four; this is its form:

Prelude of the friends to the temple of friendship
Hymn, first strophe.
Interlude — as in bitter-sweet remembrance.
Hymn, second strophe
Interlude, as a foretelling of the future.
A view into the farthest distance.
In departure: Chorus of friends, third strophe and finale.

I am very satisfied with it. God willing, others will be too, especially my friends! The duration of the music in its entirety is exactly 15 minutes — you know how everything in it will proceed; precisely this music is the clearest argument for the ideality of the time. My music should be the proof that one can forget one's time, and that ideality lies within one's time!

Moreover, I have revised my youthful compositions8 and put them in order. I never cease to be amazed at how the immutability of character is revealed in music; whatever a boy says in music is so markedly the utterance of the basic essence of his entire nature that the man would not change anything in it — except, of course, the imperfection of the technique, etc.

If, according to Schopenhauer,9 the will is inherited from the father and the intellect from the mother, then it seems to me that music as the expression of the will might also be the father's legacy. Just look closely at your experience: my experience confirms that statement.

Tonight I'm going back to Basel, through deep snow and intense cold, be glad, esteemed friend, that I'm not in our bearskin climate now. —

Frau Wagner10 and Gersdorff11wrote to me yesterday. We all hope to get together for the Bayreuth rehearsals in the middle of this year.12

Oh, you could really be there.13 And I would like this year to be bearable and easy for you! And present a few good and joyful things!

Yesterday, the first day of the year, I looked to the future with real trepidation. It is dreadful and dangerous to live — I envy anyone who dies in a righteous manner.

Besides, I'm determined to grow old; for otherwise one can't get anywhere. But I do not want to grow old for the pleasure of living. You understand this resolve.

With warmest wishes as ever
to you and yours
Friedrich Nietzsche

My sister will write very soon.

1. Nietzsche's lectures on the "Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur" (History of Greek Literature) were held in WS1874-75, SS1875, and WS1875-76.
2. Nietzsche's lectures on the "Erklärung von Aristoteles' Rhetorik" (Explanation of Aristotle's Rhetoric) were held in WS1874-75 and SS1875.
3. 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].
4. Regarding Nietzsche's plans to be independent.
5. A saying from the apocryphal book of Ecclesiasticus. See "Der Prediger Salamo." Chapter 7, 12. E.g., in: Martin Luther, Heinrich Ernst Bindfeil, Martin Luther's Bibelübersetzung. Nach Der Letzten Original-Ausgabe. Kritisch bearbeitet von Dr. Heinrich Ernst Bindfeil [...] und Dr. Hermann Agathon Niemeyer [...]. Dritter Theil. Die poetischen Bücher des Alten Testaments. Hiob — Hoheslied. Halle: Canstein, 1850, 405. "Weisheit ist gut mit einem Erbgut, und hilft, daß sich einer der Sonne freuen kann." (Wisdom is good with an inheritance, and helps in being able to enjoy the sun.)
6. Nietzsche stayed in Naumburg from 12-23-1874 to 01-02-1875.
7. Nietzsche's last musical composition, Hymn auf die Friendship (Hymn to Friendship). Piano: December 29, 1874. See Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012, 24-25.
8. See Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012.
9. Arthur Schopenhauer, Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung. Bd. 2. §43, "Erblichkeit der Eigenschaften." In: Arthur Schopenhauer's sämmtliche Werke. Hrsg. von Julius Frauenstädt. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1873, 591-607 (592).
10. Bayreuth, 12-31-1874: Letter from Cosima Wagner.
11. Ostrichen, 12-30-1874: Letter from Carl von Gersdorff.
12. Nietzsche did not attend.
13. She was in poor health and could not attend.

 


Paul Deussen.
From b/w photo, 1885.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, Mid-January 1875:
Letter to Paul Deussen.

I was really delighted by your letter,1 dear friend. If everything is as you describe it, and you have the energy to carry out such plans — or keep them, as I might say — then your life will really acquire to a rare degree a reasonable and beneficial nature. I commend very much your intention to make yourself completely independent for all the remaining years of life by a few years of stricter compulsory service; don't become unsure about the implementation of this plan! It is hard to express what you gain by doing this and what kind of dangers will thereby impede your progress. And this plan seems even higher if you have set before yourself such a noble life's work for the future leisure time that will have been so hard won, namely making Indian philosophy accessible to us through good translations. If I knew a way to encourage you to such a direction in life, how gladly would I encourage you! My praise for you cannot suffice, perhaps more likely my desire to drink from that source itself, which you want to open up to us all one day.

If you only knew with what frustration I have always thought of Indian philosophers! What I had to feel when Prof. Windisch (who dealt with the philosoph[ical] texts a lot, wrote a catalog of c. 300 philosophical writings in London!)2 was able to tell me when he showed me a Sankhya writing in manuscript[:] "Strange, these Indians have constantly philosophized, and always cross-wise!" This "cross-wise" has become proverbial for me to describe the incompetence of our Indian philologists and their utter crudeness. r_<@l BkÏl 8bk"<.3 A few years ago old Brockhaus gave a rectoral speech4 in Leipzig with a summary of the results of Indian philology — but everything about philosophy was silent, I think he had accidentally forgotten it.

Well: you should be praised for not accidentally forgetting it.

How fortunate your previous preoccupation with Kant and Schopenhauer now seems! You have discovered a beautiful way of expressing your gratitude to these teachers.

Overbeck and Romundt, just like me, are full of praise for you; and you have already appeared exemplary and encouraging to the latter with such a reasonable plan of life. At Easter he left the university and the academic philosopher-dom in general and is looking for a teaching position.5

By the way: some time ago you reported to me6 that you could get to Basel on a certain train. Of course I was at the station, but finally left in sorrow after I had looked at all the people aboard the Geneva train and didn't find you among them.

But you'll have to make up for that by deeds at some point, won't you, dear friend?

And now farewell! My blessings shall be with you.

Your Friedrich
Nietzsche.

1. Aachen, 01-17-1875: Letter from Paul Deussen to Nietzsche in Basel.
2. Ernst Windisch (1844-1918): Nietzsche's friend at the University of Leipzig, and member of the Classical Philology Club there. Windisch went on to specialize in Sanskrit texts. From 1870 to 1871 he resided in London, where he helped catalog the Indian Office Library's Sanskrit manuscripts. See his entry in Nietzsche's Library.
3. "Esel zur Lyra": Ass with the lyre. A pejorative ancient proverbial expression used against feckless endeavors. See Phaedrus, Fabulae Aesopiae, 12. For a thorough analysis of the phrase, see Martin van Schaik, The Harp in the Middle Ages. The Symbolism of a Musical Instrument. 2d edition. Boston: Brill, 2005, 116-135.
4. Hermann Brockhaus (1806-1877): Sanskrit specialist and later rector of the University of Leipzig in 1872-1873.
5. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919) was Nietzsche's friend, classmate, and member of the Classical Philology Club at the University of Leipzig. He wrote his initial doctoral thesis on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, and later earned another Ph.D on the theory of knowledge. In 1872, Romundt move to Basel where he was an unpaid lecturer in philosophy. In April 1873, he convinced his friend Paul Rée to attend Nietzsche's lectures in Basel. On 03-31-1874, Romundt became Nietzsche's and Franz Overbeck's housemate in Basel before leaving the city on 04-10-1875. He planned to become a Catholic priest but soon dropped that idea and became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg.
6. Unknown letter.

 


Franziska Nietzsche.
By: Jakob Höflinger, Basel.
From b/w photo, ca. 1869.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, January 31, 1875:
Letter to Franziska Nietzsche.

My dear good mother, I've just come back from lunch at the Vischer-Heußlers1 and just want to quickly write my birthday letter2 so that you can get it at the right time and possibly even before the right time (namely, to make up for the fact that my letter3 was a little late last year)[.] Though you shall turn 49 next Tuesday — I really don't know exactly — I want to tell you what the ancient Greeks considered this year; they thought that in this year one was in one's prime and doing quite well mentally and physically; which is why I want to congratulate you especially on this year. I assume, more or less, that you have now concluded the first half of your life, yet nothing stands in the way of a different notion, one e.g. you should prefer, that you have thus completed only the first third of your life ... In the latter case you would still have time on this earth until 1973, in the former case only until 1924. Since I myself have resolved to grow insufferably old, we then could just get used to looking upon one another as roughly being the same age; and who knows, perhaps in 10 years you might look younger than I will! I almost believe it and I won't be surprised. At some point anyone who doesn't know any better will take me for your older brother (and perhaps Lisbeth, if she continues to mummify herself in her youth) for our grandchild. That will make a wonderfully inverted world! And from where does it come? From the fact that Frau Mama refuses partout to grow old. For which today I congratulate you from the bottom of my heart.

I'm doing tolerably. Enough work, little rest day and night. But my eyes can tolerate it.

The years are running by and I am far from seeing life as a beautiful invention.

Last Friday evening I was visiting the Hagenbach-Bischoffs.4 I also visited the Siebers,5 but things are not going as well at Frau Sieber's as one would like. Tonight, Dr. Hermann6 to be our guest in the Baumannshöhle7 for a farewell, he is leaving Basel this month. —

3 Saturdays in a row I was in Lörrach, where the French translation of my last work made my presence desirable.8 This has also been carried on with admirable speed; I will get the finished manuscript in 14 days and we will try to find a publisher in Paris. My German publisher9 in Schloß-Chemnitz is quite satisfied with the sales so far. Gersdorff will visit us here at the beginning of March.10

Well, my dear mother, celebrate your special day as I, too, shall celebrate it from far away. Keep in your love your

Fritz

1. Sophie Vischer-Heussler (1839-1915), and her husband Wilhelm Vischer-Heussler (1833-1886): Basel historian and politician.
2. Franziska Nietzsche's birthday was on February 2.
3. See Basel, 02-01-1874: Letter to Franziska Nietzsche in Naumburg.
4. Eduard Hagenbach-Bischoff (1833-1910): Professor of Physics at Basel University.
5. Ludwig Sieber (1833-1891): Chief Librarian of the Basel University Library.
6. Ernst Hermann (?-1877): Prosector at Basel University, and son of Friedrich Benedikt Wilhelm von Hermann (1795-1868): German economist..
7. The nickname of Nietzsche's residence in Basel.
8. Marie Baumgartner's translation of Schopenhauer als Erzieher (Schopenhauer as Educator) was completed in February 1874, but never published.
9. Ernst Schmeitzner.
10. Carl von Gersdorff visited Nietzsche in Basel from 03-06-1875 to 03-31-1875.

 


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

Basel, February 7, 1875:
Letter to Malwida von Meysenbug.

Most esteemed friend

Today there is a request, or at least an inquiry. By now my work on Schopenhauer,1 by which you were so poignantly delighted, making me so downright embarrassed,2 has meanwhile been translated into French.3 In the last few years a young man, Adolf Baumgartner,4 has become very attached to me, and I hope I have brought up one of our kind in him — you will not believe what good hopes I have. Well, his mother, Marie Baumgartner-Köchlin, is the translator; she, too, has come closer and closer to our views (she is incidentally a grateful reader of certain idealistic memoirs5 and in general an excellent and experienced woman, with a brave German for a husband and full of the most unbelievable love for her Adolf). The family is Alsatian, Frau Baumgartner fought against the annexation6 with sonnets and writings. We are now looking for a Parisian publisher and are asking you whether Mr. Monod7 might be able to help here.

The translation is very good and skillful, revised by me regarding the ideas; we hope that Frau Wagner will read through it first before it goes to the printer.8

The title would be "Arthur Schopenhauer." I should think that, for the French, there must be a number of things in it that would make them sit up and take notice.

If you, most esteemed Fräulein, would say a few words about it in a letter to Frau Olga9 — how grateful I would be! —

Do you already know that my sister has been in Bayreuth since yesterday, at the special request of Frau Wagner, who will soon be traveling with Wagner to concerts in Vienna and Pest and during which time she needs a surrogate.10 My sister is very fortunate to be able to serve there, but very anxious about whether she can actually do it. Enough, I think it would be high school for her and the best preparation for the Bayreuth summer festival,11 where we will both be guests. These two years are sacred for me — I do not know what made me deserve to experience them.

I am brooding over something new12 and, before I get to a certain point, I am always quite anxious, as with evil sorcery and the bane and blight of hostile powers. Send me your blessings, I implore you for them.

I also want to mention an excellent letter from Frl. Mathilde Maier13 in Mainz, as a reply to my "Schopenhauer." On the other hand, Frau Guerrieri14 in Florence is not satisfied this time, but has become almost "rebellious" due to my last work, as she herself says, finding everything far too "polemical" and doubts the entire path that I am taking. Indeed, what do I know about my "path"! I take it because I could not stand it otherwise, and thus have no reason for doubts or misgivings about it. In summa, I am indeed actually doing better than all my fellow human beings since I have been on this path, over which the two suns of Wagner and Schopenhauer shine and an entire Greek sky stretches out. —

Keep your love for me and accept my warmest wishes for your well-being.

Your devoted and
faithful
Friedrich Nietzsche.

1. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text.
2. See Rome, 11-15-1874: Letter from Malwida von Meysenbug to Nietzsche in Basel.
3. Marie Baumgartner's translation of Schopenhauer als Erzieher (Schopenhauer as Educator) was completed in February 1874, but never published.
4. In February 1874, 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.
5. Malwida von Meysenbug's anonymously published book, Mémoires d'une idéaliste (entre deux révolutions): 1830-1848. Genève et Bale: Georg, 1869. She gifted Nietzsche a copy in 1872. See her entry in Nietzsche's Library.
6. Germany's annexation of Alsace and Lorraine after the Franco-Prussian War.
7. The French historian Gabriel Monod (1844-1912), who was married to Malwida von Meysenbug's foster-daughter Olga Herzen (1851-1953).
8. Since Cosima Wagner was fluent in both languages.
9. Malwida von Meysenbug's foster-daughter Olga Herzen (1851-1953).
10. They left on February 20.
11. The first Bayreuth Festival took place in August 1876. Rehearsals started in Summer 1875, which neither Nietzsche nor Meysenbug attended.
12. Nietzsche's original plan was to write "We Philologists," not the eventual Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, (Untimely Meditations, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth). German Text. It's not certain when he switched to the latter.
13. Mathilde Maier was an ardent fan of both Nietzsche and Schopenhauer, as she explains after reading Nietzsche's Schopenhauer as Educator: "Seine Werke sind mein geistiges und moralisches Universalheilmittel! Wenn weder ich selbst noch sonst Jemand mir zu helfen vermag, — er hilft mir immer!* Und sollte ich an Indigestion eines verkehrten Buches leiden, — ein Kapitel Schopenhauer setzt mir gleich den Denkapparat wieder in Ordnung; mit welchem Behagen dehnt man dann seine geistigen Glieder, weil dabei Alles die angemessenste, natürlichste Richtung annimmt und sich noch einmal leicht und frei bewegt! [....] * Trostlos nennen ihn die Leute! Mir war er stets der tiefste Trost!" (His works are my intellectual and moral panacea! If neither I myself nor anyone else can help me — he always helps me!* And should I suffer from the indigestion of a preposterous book — a chapter of Schopenhauer puts my thinking apparatus back in order; with what satisfaction one then stretches one's intellectual limbs, because in doing so everything assumes the most appropriate, most natural direction and once again moves easily and freely! [....] * People call him dreary! He was always the deepest consolation to me!) See Mainz, 02-02-1875: Letter from Mathilde Maier to Nietzsche in Basel.
14. Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga (1835-1900): German pedagogue, and friend of Nietzsche. She "confessed" that she was depressed by Nietzsche's Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text. See Florence, 12-07-1874: Letter from Emma Guerrieri-Gonzaga to Nietzsche in Basel. "Was werden Sie sagen wenn ich mich schon wieder zu einer Beichte gedrängt fühle? Ihre letzte Schrift hat mir einen deprimirenden Eindruck hinterlassen trotz mancher großer Gedanken, die mich wie Blitze durchleuchteten und mir ein Besitz für's Leben geworden sind! Aber Sie stoßen die ganze bestehende Welt in einen düstern Abgrund, in dem Alles chaotisch sich umherwälzt und nie und nimmer sich zum Lichte emporzuschwingen vermag! Sie lassen dem Sehnenden, Strebenden keine Brücke, auf der er mit langsam zögerndem Schritte aus der ihn umgebenden schlechten Welt hinüberschreiten könnte in jenes höhere Reich der Wahrheit, Schönheit, Liebe! Und doch hät uns die Natur keine Flügel gegeben!" (What will you say if yet again I feel pressured into a confession? Your last work 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!) The complete letter: In German. In English.

 


Title page of:
Geistergeschichten aus neuerer Zeit erzählt von Meta Wellmer. Nordhausen: Ferd. Förstemann's Verlag, 1875.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Zürich, February 8, 1875:
Letter from Meta Wellmer.1

Dear Professor,

I kindly wish you to accept from me my enclosed little book, Ghost Stories.2

Although its content is "quite light fare" for a philosopher, perhaps you will still give your approval to the objectives which, according to the preface,3 I had in mind with these stories.

Should anything in this little book please you, it would afford me much pleasure and benefit if you wished to refer to it in your writings.

My publisher has high hopes for the little book.

Meanwhile, with this submission, I seize the opportunity, dear Professor, to inform you of a thread, possibly a plan that has occupied me for a long time, and which is in any case worth your interest.

I have been thoroughly studying Schopenhauer's works for 3-4 years and have become his grateful pupil.4

It now always seems to me a reprehensible lack of consistency, to admire a teaching, a system, without granting it any influence upon the practical, daily way of life.

Nine years ago, e.g., when I definitely recognized the vegetarian way of life as, by its very nature, the only moral and humane one, I soon became a vegetarian. In other questions of life I have made decisions based on my deepest convictions and acted accordingly.

Since reading Schopenhauer, I have also been accepted as a member of an animal welfare society, and recently the board of the Munich Animal Welfare Society sent me a medal and a letter of commendation due to my oral and verbal zealousness for this good and just cause.5

For the numerous male and female disciples of Schopenhauer, I would now like to encourage a society, possibly a society journal, but at least ask the same of everyone to model their lives according to the teachings of this great philosopher, which could only act beneficially as a good example in social and ethical terms, and would certainly be more successful upon a large audience than the interminable and often bitter polemicizing with the shallow opponents of the great man.

An especially beautiful distinctive feature of Schopenhauer's followers should be, according to my wishes, that they make the doctrine of the equality and kinship of all people true in the Schopenhauerian sense, albeit to a limited extent. Everyone should, if they do not have to earn their living by daily intellectual or manual labor, take care of anyone or an indigent family as if they were their real biological brothers and sisters. They should promote and advise them in their professions and business, support and care for them in emergencies and illnesses, and even allow them to participate in the recreation and distractions that we can procure, e.g., on short trips, in concerts, in sophisticated entertainment and company etc. and all of this with neither condescension, nor as a work of charity and compassion, but as a matter of course, which is only forbidden to several of us with our limited funds.

Although I only have a modest income I earned myself, I have nevertheless taken care of an elderly married couple in the above way.

I have communicated the above line of reasoning and plan to a well-known Schopenhauerian.6 Your — and your Schopenhauerian friends in Basel — approval and implementation of these suggestions would in the meantime be a gratifying, fruitful deed. Excuse me for this long letter!

Signed
Faithfully yours
Dear Professor,
Your devoted
Meta Wellmer.

1. Meta Wellmer (1826-1889): German writer.
2. Geistergeschichten aus neuerer Zeit. Erzählt von Meta Wellmer. Nordhausen: Coburg, 1875. CONTENTS: Ueber den Wunderglauben. Statt einer Vorrede; Aus Paris. Erzählung einer Kammerjungfer; Aus dem Jahre 1686; Die Geistergeschichte des Fräulein Bertha v. K. Eine Jugenderinnerung der Verfasserin; Zwei Freundinnen; Der Geist der Mutter; Der Traum der Gräfin Montléard; Der Fluch; Vom Tode erwacht; Geisterseher; Eigene Erfahrungen. For a review of the book, see J. J. Honegger, Blätter für literarische Unterhaltung. 11. November. 1875. S. 1-2. A defense of the book in response to Honegger's negative review is in a truly cultish journal dedicated to purported "psychic" events, Psychische Studien. Monatliche Zeitschrift, vorzüglich der Untersuchung der wenig gekannten Phänomene des Seelenlebens gewidmet. Dritter Jahrgang. Leipzig: Mutze, 1876, 88-89. Coincidentally, in the early 1870s, Nietzsche went through a phase of fascination with spiritualism.
3. "Statt einer Vorrede" (In Place of a Preface) contains Wellmer's philosophical reasoning for the explanations of the stories, drawing on the writings of Jean Paul (1763-1825), and Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860).
4. Wellmer's interest in Nietzsche was probably due to her reading of his Unzeitgemäße Betrachtungen III. Schopenhauer als Erzieher. (Untimely Meditations III. Schopenhauer as Educator), which was published in 1874.
5. Wellmer wrote a 50-page pamphlet defending vegetarianism, Die vegetarische Lebensweise und die Vegetarier. Cöthen: P. Schettler, 1877. For a review of the 1884 2d edition, see [Anon], "Neue Schriften. 2. Natur, Länder und Völker." In: Allgemeine Conservative Monatsschrift für das christliche Deutschland. [Volksblatt für Stadt und Land], Jahrgang IXL. Leipzig, Januar-Juni, 1884, 476-477. Translated on Twitter by TNC.
6. It's not known to whom she was referring.

 


Portrait of Richard Wagner.
Ca. 1870-75.
By: Franz Seraph von Lenbach.

Lucerne, February 15, 1875:
Letter to Richard Wagner.

Beloved master

You will be surprised with me, but hopefully not angry, if I write nothing but a beggar's letter today. —

Frau Baroness Moltke, the General's sister-in-law, has asked me for one of your photographs, in fact one signed with your name.1 The purpose is a good, charitable one; so forgive the immodest agent and, at the same time, the immodest intermediary.2

It shall not, if possible, happen again, as little children say. I am enclosing Frau von Moltke's letter.

At the moment I am fleeing from the noisy Basel drums;3 I could not stand it for more than 4 hours, then I left in a hurry and now I am in Lucerne, in the deepest snow and snow flurries.

Laborious winter! But nothing bad can blow my way because I believe in what the summer brings.4

With the most heartfelt greetings
Your faithful Friedrich Nietzsche.

I just noticed that I cannot enclose the letter because I did not take it with me; in my haste I put in the wrong thing, the letter from the editor of the Berlin "Demokratische Zeitung," whom I recommend as "a harmless ally who is equipped with the best of intentions."5 — Frau von Moltke lives with her two daughters with the field marshal,6 who himself has no family and treats his brother's children as his own. — The woman I met from Lugano7 has great confidence in me; I would be very happy not to let your trust be ruined in today's case. — There is a splendid stillness all about me.

1. Auguste von Moltke (1814-1902) was the sister-in-law of Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke (1800-1891). She asked Nietzsche to request a photo in a 02-10-1875 letter. In March 1871, at the Hotel du Parc in Lugano, Nietzsche and his sister had met her and her husband, Adolph von Moltke (1805-1871, the brother of Field Marshal von Moltke) who were staying there with their family. Adolph von Moltke, while taking a boating trip around the lake, caught pneumonia and died on April 7, 1871. See Lugano, 03-22-1871: Letter from Nietzsche to Franz Overbeck in Dresden. In German. In English.
2. das unbescheidene Mittel und den unbescheidenen Vermittler: a pun on Mittel / Vermittler that can't be reproduced in English.
3. The Carnival of Basel was on February 15-17.
4. An allusion to rehearsals for the Bayreuth Festival in Summer 1875, which Nietzsche did not attend.
5. Cf. Weggis, 09-03-1874: Letter from Carl Lübeck to Nietzsche in Basel. Lübeck was the editor of Berlin's Demokratische Zeitung.
6. Field Marshal Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke (1800-1891).
7. Auguste von Moltke (1814-1902). See Note 1 above.

 



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

Basel, February 28, 1875:
Letter to Erwin Rohde.

How happy I was to hear, dearest friend, if only through one tiny word, that it's going well with you. I was recently bothered by a dream — if it was a dream. I was also asked from Bayreuth1 to give news of you, you know and yet can hardly know clearly enough how cordiallly and warmly you are thought of there and how worried they are. My sister is currently in Bayreuth and will be staying there for a few weeks.2 I also now want to tell you about Frau Wagner's request3 that you might like to contact the mayor of Bayreuth as soon as possible,4 and somewhat vehemently, in order to get lodgings there this summer; it will take a lot of trouble to find accommodations for all the tourists, and the mayor will be quite pressed because the demand for lodgings is still in a very bad state. Yet you do not want to ask for "a modest lodging." My sister is trying to find something for herself and me, so far without success.

The semester is coming to an end, there are still three weeks at the university and five more at the pedagogium.5 There is considerable excitement here, for the new constitution of the city of Basel is now being discussed in the great council, all parties are exasperated, then in the spring the people will decide.6 (Today a passage of mine from No. 3 about state omnipotence was used in the political struggle; it amused me[.])7 At Easter, our pedagogium will lose old Gerlach,8 who is finally retiring; but what then happens, who can guess? They have asked me if I would take over 4 hours of Latin for the highest grade next semester; I said no, because of my eyes.

All in all, things are going fairly well with me: I feel as if I am turning into a lord of a castle, my way of life is gradually becoming so entrenched and inwardly independent.

Number 4 should be finished by Easter.9 Have I already told you that the French translation of No. 3 has been completed and provided with a letter-like dedication to me?10 Gersdorff is coming here for a while on the 12th of March,11 you know about that too. —

But now something you don't know yet and have a right to know, as my most intimate and sympathetic friend. We too — Overbeck and I — have a domestic problem, a domestic ghost: don't fall off your chair when you hear that Romundt12 is planning to convert to the Catholic Church and wants to become a Catholic priest in Germany. That only came out recently, but, as we later heard to our horror, it has been thought about for several years, only now it is closer to fruition than ever. — I am a bit wounded internally by it and sometimes I feel it is the most wicked thing that one could do to me. Of course Romundt does not mean it wickedly, up to now he has not thought for a moment about anything but himself and the cursed emphasis given to the "salvation of one's own soul" has made him completely indifferent to everything else, including friendship. It has gradually become a mystery to me and Overbeck that R[omundt]. actually has nothing more in common with us and was annoyed or bored with everything that inspired and moved us; in particular, he has a kind of moody silence about him that already for us has not augered well. Finally there came confessions, and now, almost every three days, sanctimonious explosions. — The poor man is in a desperate state and no longer accessible to encouragement, that is, he is so drawn by vague intentions that he seems to us like a walking velleity. — Our good pure Protestant air! Never before until now have I felt so strongly my heartfelt dependence on Luther's spirit; and does the unfortunate man want to turn his back on all these liberating geniuses? I wonder if he is still in his right mind and if he cannot be treated with cold water baths: it is so incomprehensible to me that this ghost should have risen right next to me, after 8 years13 of intimate acquaintance. And last but not least, it will be me who will get the stigma of this conversion. God knows I am not saying this out of egoistic concern; but I also believe that I represent something holy and I am deeply ashamed when I encounter the suspicion that I have something to do with this completely odious Catholic business. — Figure out this monstrous story for yourself according to your friendship with me and tell me a few comforting words. I have been wounded right in the heart of friendship and hate more than ever the insincere, sneaky nature of many friendships and will have to be more careful. — R[omundt]. himself will feel content in some kind of conventicle, no doubt about it, but he is constantly suffering among us, as it seems to me. Oh dearest friend! Gersdorff is right when he often says "Crazier things are nowhere to be found than in the world."14 With grief

Your friend Friedrich N., also in
Overbeck's name. —

Burn this letter if it seems to you appropriate.15

1. Bayreuth, 12-31-1874: Letter from Cosima Wagner.
2. Elizabeth Nietzsche housesat for the Wagner's while he was on a concert tour.
3. See Bayreuth, 02-17-1875: Letter from Elizabeth Nietzsche.
4. Theodor Muncker (1823-1900): Mayor of Bayreuth.
5. The university semester ended on 03-31-1875, while the pedagogium ended on 04-22-1875.
6. It passed with 3430 in favor and 786 against.
7. Cf. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, §4 (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator, §4). "Hier erleben wir aber die Folgen jener neuerdings von allen Dächern gepredigten Lehre, dass der Staat das höchste Ziel der Menschheit sei, und dass es für einen Mann keine höheren Pflichten gebe, als dem Staate zu dienen: worin ich nicht einen Rückfall in's Heidenthum, sondern in die Dummheit erkenne." (But here we are experiencing the consequences of the doctrine recently preached from every rooftop, that the state is the highest goal of mankind, and that there are no higher duties for a man than to serve the state: in which [doctrine] I recognize a relapse not into paganism, but into stupidity.)
8. Franz Dorotheus Gerlach (1793-1876), who retired from the Basel Paedagogium in 1870 after fifty years of service teaching Latin.
9. Nietzsche's original plan was to write "We Philologists," not the eventual Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, (Untimely Meditations, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth). German Text. It's not certain when he switched to the latter.
10. Marie Baumgartner's translation of Schopenhauer als Erzieher (Schopenhauer as Educator) was completed in February 1874, but never published.
11. Carl von Gersdorff visited Nietzsche in Basel from 03-06-1875 to 03-31-1875.
12. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919) was Nietzsche's and Erwin Rohde's friend, classmate, and member of the Classical Philology Club at the University of Leipzig. He wrote his initial doctoral thesis on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, and later earned another Ph.D on the theory of knowledge. In 1872, Romundt move to Basel where he was an unpaid lecturer in philosophy. In April 1873, he convinced his friend Paul Rée to attend Nietzsche's lectures in Basel. On 03-31-1874, Romundt became Nietzsche's and Franz Overbeck's housemate in Basel before leaving the city on 04-10-1875. He planned to become a Catholic priest but soon dropped that idea and became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg.
13. The start of their friendship was as classmates at the University of Leipzig.
14. See Hohenheim, 02-22-1875: Letter from Carl von Gersdorff.
15. See the tragi-comic circumstances of Romundt's departure from Basel described in a 04-17-1875 letter to Carl von Gersdorff.

 


Ritter, Tod, und Teufel.
By: Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528).
Copper engraving, 1513.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, Mid-March 1875:
Letter to Malwida von Meysenbug.

Most esteemed friend

I am sending you herewith a whole bundle of letters:1 I would like to give back a bit of the joy that I receive with each of your very kind letters!

In this room, you have often been spoken of, usually when the loyal Gersdorff and I exchange our thoughts about our true friends;2 and you too have gained a warm-hearted distinguished friend in Frau Baumgartner; which at some point, perhaps soon, will be attested to by a letter. In the meantime my publisher Schmeitzner has obtained permission to see to a Parisian publisher; to which I would have preferred to give my consent, since I have no complaint about Mr. Monod,3 at least not at first. Should Schmeitzner have no luck, then I would gratefully accept Mr[.] M [onod]'s mediation.

Now there are a few days of vacation,4 and I need them. Gersdorff has already been with me for over 14 days. There has been work on the Number 4.5

Since the New Year, by the way, a new, larger piece of music has also been finished, a hymn to loneliness,6 the unearthly beauty of which I have glorified out of my completely grateful heart. — I have told you about the Hymn to Friendship.7

It occurs to me that I should say something about Eduard;8 but today I will be brief about it. I have not seen the work for a long, long time and I have never thought about Eduard. If you want to be content with something really immature, I would call this my opinion: Only in the light of Ottilie's love does Eduard look the way he should always truly seem to look. But Goethe has described him as he describes anyone who is like himself or similar to him and how he portrays himself: a bit more ordinary and vapid than he is; the way Goethe, according to his own confessions,9 was always fond of making himself a little more humble, dressing worse, choosing simpler language. This penchant of Goethe must have been suffered by the Goethe-related Eduard. But, as mentioned above, Ottilie's love only shows us who he is, or lets us guess; the fact that precisely this person must love that person, Goethe has invented to the glory of such natures, who are deeper than they ever appear and whose depth is only fathomed by the visionary view of congenial love. —

But as I said and promised: I want to read the work again and then write to you.

A local patrician has made a significant gift to me with a genuine Dürer print;10 I seldom take delight in an artistic representation, but this picture "Knight Death and Devil" is near and dear to me, I can hardly say how. In the Birth of Tragedy I compared Schopenhauer with this knight; and because of this comparison, I got the picture.11

I experience such good things. I wish I could do something good for other people every day. This autumn I decided to begin every morning by asking myself: Is there anyone for whom you could do something good today? Sometimes I manage to find something. With my writings, I am making so many people annoyed that I do not have to try to make amends with them in that way.

And now, most esteemed friend, may the letter be continued, otherwise Evchen's written effusions will arrive too late.12

Luckily, my sister is in Bayreuth,13 in a kind of high school. She celebrated Wagner's return14 with a small performance in which the good children15 recited their short lines very cutely — little Siegfried said to my sister "I love you more than myself."

So far I have had nothing but good news: but I do not know if I can call the news good, the fact that Wagner wants to give concerts in Munich and Berlin after Easter.16

Wishing you the best and to myself your love

I remain faithfully
yours
Friedrich Nietzsche

1. Nietzsche's letter, one from Carl von Gersdorff, and one from Eva von Bülow (1867-1942) in Bayreuth.
2. Carl von Gersdorff visited Nietzsche in Basel from 03-06-1875 to 03-31-1875.
3. The French historian Gabriel Monod (1844-1912), who was married to Malwida von Meysenbug's foster-daughter Olga Herzen (1851-1953).
4. Easter holiday.
5. Nietzsche's original plan was to write "We Philologists," not the eventual Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, (Untimely Meditations, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth). German Text. It's not certain when he switched to the latter.
6. Nietzsche's musical composition is lost.
7. Nietzsche's last musical composition, Hymn auf die Friendship (Hymn to Friendship). Piano: December 29, 1874. See Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012, 24-25.
8. In a 02-28-1875 letter to Nietzsche, Malwida von Meysenbug asked for his opinion about Eduard, a character in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's novel, "Die Wahlverwandtschaften" [Elective Affinities]. See Goethe's sämmtliche Werke in vierzig Bänden. Bd. 15. Stuttgart; Tübingen: Cotta, 1854. She explained why she wanted his opinion in a subsequent 07-02-1875 letter. "Ich will Ihnen nun auch sagen, wie ich dazu kam, Sie zu fragen. Es war nämlich das einzige Mal, daß ich in Bayreuth ganz ernstlich mit Wagner aneinander kam. Er wurde so böse, als ich meine Meinung über Eduard sagte, wie er es sonst nie über mich gewesen ist. Ich bleibe aber doch bei meiner Ansicht. Nur was Sie sagen, hat mich getroffen und mein Urtheil gemildert." (I will now also tell you how I came to ask you about it. You see, it was the only time in Bayreuth that I had a really serious encounter with Wagner. When I stated my opinion about Eduard, he got so angry with me like he never was before. But I still stand by my opinion. Only I was struck by what you said and have softened my judgement.)
9. An allusion to a 07-09-1796 letter from Goethe to Friedrich Schiller. In: Briefwechsel zwischen Schiller und Goethe in den Jahren 1794 bis 1805. Bd. 1: Vom Jahre 1794 bis 1797. Stuttgart: Cotta, 1870, 177-178 (177). "So werde ich immer gerne incognito reisen, das geringere Kleid vor dem bessern wählen, und in der Unterredung mit Fremden oder Falbbekannten den unbedeutendern Gegenstand oder doch den weniger bedeutenden Ausdrud vorziehen, mich leichtsinniger betragen als ich bin, und mich so, ich möchte sagen, zwischen mich selbst und zwischen meine eigene Erscheinung stellen." (Thus I will always gladly travel incognito, choose my more modest clothing over the better, and in my discussions with strangers or acquaintances prefer the unimportant subject or at least the less important expression, comport myself more frivolously than I am, and thus, I dare say, place myself between myself and my own appearance.)
10. A copy of Ritter, Tod, und Teufel [Knight, Death, and Devil] from Adolf Vischer (1839-1902). See above. In 1885, Nietzsche gave it to his sister as a wedding present. See Basel, 03-06-1875: Letter from Adolf Vischer. "Lieber Herr Professor! / Mitfolgend erhalten Sie das Bild, an dem Sie gestern so große Freude hatten. / Auf der Rückseite habe ich den 23 Psalm aufgeschrieben. Darin ist Das genannt, was Einzig und Allein dem Menschen im Thal der Todesschatten Muth und Freudigkeit bewahren kann. / 'Der Glaube an Gott, als unseren Hirten, Der ja sich jedes Einzelnen annimmt und selbst das irrende Schaf aufsucht.' / In Freundschaft / Ihr / A. Vischer." (Dear Herr Professor! / Attached is the picture that gave you so much joy yesterday. / I wrote Psalm 23 on the back. What is stated therein is that which can uniquely maintain courage and cheerfulness for a person in the valley of the shadow of death. / "Belief in God as our shepherd, who takes care of every individual and even seeks out the stray sheep." / Yours / In friendship / A. Vischer.) The proselytizing quote didn't stop Nietzsche from being delighted with the print.
11. See excerpt from Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik, §20 (The Birth Of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music, §20). "Was wüssten wir sonst zu nennen, was in der Verödung und Ermattung der jetzigen Cultur irgend welche tröstliche Erwartung für die Zukunft erwecken könnte? Vergebens spähen wir nach einer einzigen kräftig geästeten Wurzel, nach einem Fleck fruchtbaren und gesunden Erdbodens: überall Staub, Sand, Erstarrung, Verschmachten. Da möchte sich ein trostlos Vereinsamter kein besseres Symbol wählen können, als den Ritter mit Tod und Teufel, wie ihn uns Dürer gezeichnet hat, den geharnischten Ritter mit dem erzenen, harten Blicke, der seinen Schreckensweg, unbeirrt durch seine grausen Gefährten, und doch hoffnungslos, allein mit Ross und Hund zu nehmen weiss. Ein solcher Dürerscher Ritter war unser Schopenhauer: ihm fehlte jede Hoffnung, aber er wollte die Wahrheit. Es giebt nicht Seinesgleichen." (What else could we name that might awaken any comforting expectations for the future in the midst of the desolation and exhaustion of contemporary culture? In vain we look for a single vigorously developed root, for a spot of fertile and healthy soil: everywhere there is dust and sand; everything has become rigid and languishes. One who is disconsolate and lonely could not choose a better symbol than the Knight with Death and Devil, as Dürer has drawn him for us, the armored knight with the iron, hard look, who knows how to pursue his terrible path, undeterred by his gruesome companions, and yet without hope, alone with his horse and dog. Our Schopenhauer was such a Dürer knight: he lacked all hope, but he desired truth. He has no peers.)
12. Evchen: a diminutive for Eva von Bülow (1867-1942). See Note 1 above.
13. Elizabeth Nietzsche housesat for the Wagner's while he was on a concert tour.
14. They returned on 03-16-1875.
15. There were 6 cildren in the Wagner household.
16. In April 1875, Wagner went on another concert tour.

 


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

Basel, April 17, 1875:
Letter to Carl von Gersdorff.

Finally, dearest friend, news is coming, finally! But you are not angry. How well we get along together is indeed so amazing that every time I think about it, it inspires admiration and a feeling of gratitude. I really do not think we can be mad at each other at all; we have become accustomed to the most beautiful familiarity with each other, so that everything that is sneaky, sullen, resentful is banished from our interactions, but that means especially the rats that otherwise tend to gnaw at the best friendships.

I am writing horribly today, my pen inspires me with the idea of blotting and smudging.

Many thanks for the letter and parcel,1 but above all for your visit;2 I got over those weeks as if in a very pleasant dream; then the Romundtic3 miracle and advice business broke out again; by losing all patience tempestuous evenings up to one hour became the rule; the bookseller's policy vanished in the wind after a three-week discussion, for I had to officially open a loan for Romundt with my inventiveness, because he could not even imagine anything upcoming or possible. Overbeck and I thought more about what he needed than he did himself, every moment he relapsed into carelessness; the utter indecisiveness of his nature came to an almost comical peak on the day of his departure,4 when, a few hours before his departure, he of course did not want to go; there were no reasons and so we managed to get him to travel in the evening; it was intensely sad and he knew and said it over and over that everything good and best that he had experienced was over now; he wept a great deal for forgiveness and did not know how to deal with his grief. The final moment brought me a peculiar horror; the porters locked the cars, and Romundt, in order to say something else to us, wanted to lower the glass windows of the coupé; they would not budge, he tried again and again and toiled away at that to make himself understood by us — unsuccessfully: — the train slowly left and we could do nothing but gesture with our hands. Like Overbeck (as he later admitted), the ghastly symbolism of the whole scene weighed heavily on my soul; it was almost unbearable. Moreover, I lay in bed the next day with a thirty-hour headache and much vomiting of bile.

So Romundt wants to become a high school teacher,5 I knew it, since according to the only law that reigns over him, that of gravity, that's how it must be.

I thought to myself that he would have learned something from your toughness in undertaking difficult and new things. —

I have not fared especially well in all of this; the disgustingly long winter-half of the year6 is not over yet! I will not get some freedom until next Thursday.

My work7 has almost not budged at all. But I am back at it and I want to make sure I absolutely use my days off.

My sister has been home since Easter.8 Just think that in Bayreuth no fewer than 7 people (three adults and four children) had to leave Wagner's house: namely the entire Berlin clan! Only the Bavarians have shown themselves to be good. For all these there is only a single person who has to get a new servant: since then Frau W[agner] has been dealing with the housekeeping herself from morning to evening.9

Concerts in Berlin10 etc. are coming up, you know that. The Götterdämmerung will be published on May 1st as a piano reduction.11 But that's nothing new either.

How are the love affairs going? Once in a while, you have to lend fate a hand.

Farewell, my dearly beloved friend. Overbeck and Frau Baumgartner greet you most warmly. On Saturday we were together with Mr. Cook,12 Proudhon's friend; it was terrific. Incidentally, he is the son of a noble Austrian and a Spaniard from the Balearic Islands. Lots of mystery.

[Unsigned.]

1. In his 04-02-1875 letter to Nietzsche, Carl von Gersdorff mentions sending Nietzsche some articles about Kapar Hauser (1812-1833) by Georg Friedrich Kolb (1808-1884), a German journalist and politician. The publisher of the articles is not known, although Kolb went on to publish another book about Hauser in 1883. Gersdorff also mentions a 3-part series on Hauser by an anonymous author that was published in Leipzig's Illustrirte Zeitung on 03-06-1875, 03-20-1875, and 03-27-1875. See Illustrirte Zeitung (1875) Bd. 64, Nr. 1653, 175-178; Nr. 1655, 211-214; Nr. 1656, 231-234.
2. Carl von Gersdorff visited Nietzsche in Basel from 03-06-1875 to 03-31-1875.
3. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919) was Nietzsche's and Erwin Rohde's friend, classmate, and member of the Classical Philology Club at the University of Leipzig. He wrote his initial doctoral thesis on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, and later earned another Ph.D on the theory of knowledge. In 1872, Romundt move to Basel where he was an unpaid lecturer in philosophy. In April 1873, he convinced his friend Paul Rée to attend Nietzsche's lectures in Basel. On 03-31-1874, Romundt became Nietzsche's and Franz Overbeck's housemate in Basel before leaving the city on 04-10-1875. He planned to become a Catholic priest but soon dropped that idea and became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg.
4. Romundt left Basel on 04-10-1875.
5. Romundt became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg in August 1875.
6. The university semester ended on 03-31-1875, while the pedagogium ended on 04-22-1875.
7. Probably referring to his "We Philologists."
8. She returned on March 25, 1875.
9. There were problems with the domestic help.
10. In April 1875, Wagner went on another concert tour.
11. Nietzsche acquired it.
12. Unknown reference.

 


Portrait of Richard Wagner.
Ca. 1878.
By: Franz Seraph von Lenbach.

Basel, May 24, 1875:
Letter to Richard Wagner.

My wishes come lagging behind,1 you must forgive me, beloved master. I mean by this my physical uncertainty and weakness, and I admire your vigor with which you have fought your way through the chaos of new tasks, afflictions, annoyances, fatigue over the last years; so that I do not even have the right to wish you anything in this respect. (If only I could rather learn something from you!) Whenever I think of your life, I always have the feeling that its course is dramatic: as if you were so much of a dramatist that you yourself could only live in this form and could die, in any case, only at the end of the fifth act. Where everything presses and rushes toward a goal, elusive chance is afraid, it seems. Everything becomes necessary and like bronze, with the greatest emotional turbulence: just as I find your expression on the beautiful medallion2 that I was recently presented with. We other people always flicker somewhat, and so not even health gets a bit steady.

Now I just want to tell you that I found a remarkably beautiful prophecy, which I would have liked to send you for your birthday.

It runs as follows:

O holy heart of the peoples, O fatherland!
All-forbearing like the silent mother earth,
And universally misunderstood, even though strangers have
Derived their best from your depths.

From you they harvest thought, the spirit,
They gladly pluck the grape, but they scoff
At you, shapeless vine, the fact that you
Trail across the ground and wander wildly.

You land of the lofty, more earnest genius!
You land of love! Though I am already yours,
I often wept angrily, that you always
Foolishly deny your own soul.

Still you delay and are silent, brooding a joyous work,
That testifies to your brooding a new creation,
Something unique, like yourself, that is
Born from love, and good as you are.

Where is your Delos, where your Olympia,
That we may all find each other at the highest feast?
But how can your son divine from you,
Immortal one, what you have long ago prepared? —3

Poor Hölderlin is the one saying all this, for whom it was not as good as it is for me and who only had the presentiment of what we are going to trust in and see.4

Truly, beloved master, writing to you on your birthday only ever means: wishing us luck, wishing us health, so that we can really be a part of you. For I am inclined to think: it is being sick and the egoism that lurks in the sickness, by which people are always forced to think of themselves: while the genius, in the fullness of his health, always thinks only of the others, involuntarily blessing and healing, wherever he just places his hand. Every sick man is a scoundrel, I recently read; and what a lot of things make people sick! On your travels through Germany you will have heard of some of them, e.g. of the very common sickness of "Hartmannianism."5

Farewell, revered master, and keep the health which we lack.

Devotedly
your
Friedrich Nietzsche.

1. Wagner's birthday was on May 22.
2. Cosima Wagner had sent Nietzsche a medaillion depicting Ricard Wagner created by the Viennese medalist Anton Scharff (1845-1904).
3. Excerpt from Friedrich Hölderlin, "Gesang der Deutschen" (Song of the German), lines 1-12, 53-60. In: Friedrich Hölderlin, Christoph Theodor Schwab (hrsg.), Friedrich Hölderlins ausgewählte Werke. Stuttgart: Cotta, 1874, 90f.
4. Namely, Ricard Wagner's operas in Bayreuth.
5. Eduard von Hartmann (1842-1906): German philosopher whom Nietzsche despised.

 


Edouard Schuré.
From b/w photograph, ca. 1880s.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Paris, End May 1875:
Letter from Edouard Schuré.1

Highly esteemed sir!

I am sending you my book2 that has just been published. You will find much that is familiar and little that is new in it. Nor should it be taken as a reply to your last important submission,3 or to the unusual suggestions and illuminating features which I owe to your most remarkable and extraordinary work on Greek tragedy.4 Please accept my book merely as a friendly greeting and best thanks, which was developed under different circumstances and was written for a completely different audience. And should you discover in these pages an aspiration related to yours, I shall be delighted.

As far as I can gather from your last letter,5 you were planning to come to Bayreuth this autumn. I, too, half intend (at the end of August) to revive and refresh myself there at the prelude to the great festival.6 Will my good fortune allow me to meet you there? I wish and hope so.

Farewell until then. My warmest wishes for your future life and work. With great respect

Most sincerely yours
E. Schuré

1. Edouard Schuré (1841-1929): French writer, notable music critic, and an admirer and acquaintance of Nietzsche. They first met at the 1876 Bayreuth Festival. For Schuré's account of the meeting, see Edouard Schuré, "L'individualisme et l'anarchie en littérature. Frédéric Nietzsche et sa philosophie." In: Revue des deux mondes. August 15, 1895, 775-805 (782ff.). Excerpt: "Je rencontrai Nietzsche à Bayreuth, en 1876, aux premières représentations de l'Anneau du Nibelung. Si ces mémorables fêtes scéniques marquent désormais un point capital dans l'histoire de l'art dramatique, elles furent peut-être aussi l'origine secrète de la nouvelle évolution de Nietzsche. Du moins m'a-t-il semble qu'il reçut là les premières atteintes du mal qui l'a poussé dans cette voie. / En causant avec lui, je fus frappé de la supériorité de son esprit et de l'étrangeté de sa physionomie. Front large, cheveux courts repoussés en brosse, pommettes saillantes du Slave. La forte moustache pendante, la coupe hardie du visage lui auraient donné l'air d'un officier de cavalerie, sans un je ne sais quoi de timide et hautain à la fois dans l'abord. La voix musicale, le parler lent, dénotaient son organisation d'artiste; la démarche prudente et méditative était d'un philosophe. Rien de plus trompeur que le calme apparent de son expression. L'oeil fixe trahissait le travail douloureux de la pensée. C'était à la fois l'oeil d'un observateur aigu et d'un visionnaire fanatique. Ce double caractère lui donnait quelque chose d'inquiet et d'inquiétant, d'autant plus qu'il semblait toujours rivé sur un point unique. Dans les momens d'effusion, ce regard s'humectait d'une douceur de rêve, mais bientôt il redevenait hostile. Toute la manière d'être de Nietzsche avait cet air distant, ce dédain discret et voilé qui caractérise souvent les aristocrates de la pensée. [....] Nietzsche assista donc sans enthousiasme aux scènes grandioses de la Walkyrie, de Siegfried et du Crépuscule des Dieux, dont il s'était promis tant de joie. Quand nous partîmes ensemble, aucune critique, aucune parole de blàme ne lui échappa, mais il avait la tristesse résignée d'un vaincu. Je me souviens de l'expression de lassitude et de déception avec laquelle il parla de l'oeuvre prochaine du maître et laissa tomber ce propos: 'Il m'a dit qu'il voulait relire l'histoire universelle avant d'écrire son poème de Parsifal!...' Ce fut dit avec le sourire et l'accent d'une indulgence ironique, dont le sens caché pouvait être celui-ci: 'Voilà bien les illusions des poètes et des musiciens, qui croient faire entrer l'univers dans leurs fantasmagories et n'y mettent qu'eux-mêmes!'" (I met Nietzsche in Bayreuth, in 1876, at the first performances of the Ring of the Nibelung. If these memorable scenic celebrations now mark a crucial point in the history of dramatic art, they were perhaps also the secret origin of Nietzsche's new evolution. At least it seems to me that he received the first attacks of the illness there that propelled him on this path. / While chatting with him, I was struck by the superiority of his mind and the strangeness of his physiognomy. Broad forehead, short hair brushed back, prominent Slavic cheekbones. The heavy drooping mustache, the bold cut of his facial features seemed to give him the look of a cavalry officer, with, at the same time, an indefinable sort of timidity and haughtiness. The musical voice, the slow way of speaking, bespoke of his artistic constitution; the cautious and meditative approach was that of a philosopher. Nothing could be more misleading than the seeming calm of his expression. The fixed eye betrayed the dolorous travail of his thinking. It was both the eye of an acute observer and a fanatical visionary. This double character gave him somewhat of an unquiet and disquieting aspect, especially since he always seemed riveted on one single point. In moments of effusion, his gaze softened with a dreamy gentleness, but soon became hostile again. Nietzsche's entire way of being had that distant look, that quiet and veiled disdain that often characterizes the aristocrats of thought. [....] Nietzsche therefore attended without enthusiasm the grandiose scenes of the Valkyrie, of Siegfried and of the Twilight of the Gods, from which he had promised himself so much joy. When we left together, no criticism, no word of censure escaped him, but he had the resigned sadness of a vanquished man. I remember the expression of lassitude and disappointment with which he spoke of the master's forthcoming work and dropped this remark: "He told me that he wanted to reread universal history before writing his tone poem of Parsifal!..." It was said with a smile and accent of an ironic indulgence, the hidden meaning of which could be this: "Here indeed are the illusions of poets and musicians, who believe they bring the universe into their phantasmagoria and only put themselves in it!")
2. The book Schuré refers to is his Le drame musical. Vol. 1: La musique et la poésie dans leur développement historique. Vol. 2: Richard Wagner. Son oeuvre et son idée. Paris, Sandoz et Fischbacher, 1875.
3. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 3. Schopenhauer als Erzieher, (Untimely Meditations, 3. Schopenhauer as Educator). German Text. Cf. Barr, 10-29-1874: Letter from Edouard Schuré to Nietzsche in Basel.
4. Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik. Leipzig: Fritzsch, 1872 (The Birth Of Tragedy Out of the Spirit of Music. Leipzig: Fritzsch, 1872).
5. The letter is lost.
6. Regarding rehearsals for the Bayreuth Festival in Summer 1875, which Nietzsche did not attend.

 


Portrait of Friedrich Hölderlin.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, June 24, 1875:
Petition to the Educational Authorities in Basel.

Greek Instruction at the Pedagogium1

p. 1. The time of all the Greek instruction that a pupil of the local institutions enjoys until his leaving for the University is at present very small; it includes three years of education and two years prior to admission, around 6 hours for each school week. It would be worth considering whether this period could not be extended, for example by adding an upper class, a Selecta; for an education, which does not succeed in inspiring the students with a deeper affinity for Hellenic life, and which does not ultimately leave them with the ability to easily read Greek writers — such an education has neglected its natural goal. A little more, in such cases, means a lot more, namely to reach the goal.

p. 2. It is deeply regretful that Greek is considered optional for medical students at our school. After all, the release from Greek instruction should be granted only in the rarest cases; for what young man, a few years before his university days, knows with adequate certainty that he will even study medicine? In addition, it is precisely the local professors of medicine who have spoken out as strongly as possible in favor of the Greek education of future medical students.

p. 3 Another request we want to articulate on this occasion relates to the introduction of the same Greek grammar [book] for all years of instruction, for example Koch's Grammar.2

p. 4. We request that the students, in order to be considered mature, read

a) the complete Homer
b) three works of tragic poets
c) a larger selection of selected pieces of Platonic dialogues
d) likewise selected parts of Thucydides, Herodotus, and Xenophon
e) speeches of Lysias or Demosthenes

In this list, not only school reading but also the private reading of the pupils is referred to.

p. 5. The first class is for: Xenophon's Anabasis or Hellenika. The Odyssey. Morphology and the syntax of the case in grammatical relation, with weekly written exercises.
The second class is for: Herodotus. The Orator. The Iliad. The syntax of tenses, infinitives and participles. Written exercises.
The third class is for: tragedians. Plato. Thucydides. Iliad. The syntax of the moods. Written exercises.

Prof. Dr. Nietzsche.
the 24th of June 1875.

1. Nietzsche taught six lessons of Greek a week at the pedagogium.
2. Ernst Koch, Griechische Schulgrammatik auf Grund der Ergebnisse der vergleichenden Sprachforschung bearbeitet von Dr. Ernst Koch, Oberlehrer an der K. S. Landesschule zu Grimma. 1. Aufl. Leipzig: Teubner, 1869.

 


Marie Baumgartner (1831-1897).
From b/w photo, 1866.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Steinabad, August 2, 1875:
Letter to Marie Baumgartner.

You have given me real pleasure every time, highly esteemed Frau; and I read your last letter about the Bonn trip with emotion, happily praising your son1 and firmly convinced that the most dangerous things do not gain any power over people where such love protects and comforts them. I have now also written to Adolf;2 you will not believe in what cozy and joyful light the winter rises before my soul, which will arrive in a few months. For the first time I feel more secure;3 I have a rich increase in love and as a result am more protected and no longer so easily vulnerable and so exposed as the fate of exile in Basel has previously brought with it. You must not believe that I was ever in my life spoiled by love, I believe you have noticed this about me, too. In this regard, ever since my earliest childhood I have carried about with me a kind of resignation. But it may be that I never deserved anything better. And now I have it better, no doubt about that! Sometimes I am more amazed than delighted about it, it is so new to me. Now many things are growing up in me and from month to month I see some things more clearly about my life's task, without as yet having had the courage to tell anyone. A calm but very resolute course from step to step — that is what assures me that I will still get pretty far. I feel as if I am a born mountain climber. — Look how proudly I can talk. —

My illness no longer bothers me at all, but only obliges me to live in certain ways for the future, which are not subject to any significant restrictions. In fact, I lay in bed again one day in the wicked Basel manner, on the day my friends run together in Bayreuth4 — a very definite hint to me indeed not to interrupt my cure. So I am staying here for two more weeks. A significant reduction in gastric dilatation has been diagnosed. But also Dr. Wiel,5 like Immermann,6 now thinks it's more of a nervous affliction of the stomach, which is always a chronic thing.

As far as I'm concerned, heartfelt thanks as well for your troubles over Bayreuth mouths and stomachs.7 It was a lot harder than I thought!! — Is my sister back in Basel now?8 The postal facilities are not good here, but your experience9 with the railway is shameful for me as a German.

I would ask you to give the translation of Grote's Plato a little more thought.10 The effort would be extraordinary to really raise the question of whether the work is felt to be necessary and welcome in France, and then — this is the main thing — Grote certainly reports for the most part on Plato's Greek text; and here what is always important to understand and have at hand is not only Grote's English, but also the underlying Greek of Plato — a difficult and tedious task even for philologists! Otherwise the work would certainly have been translated into German long ago. —

For now, farewell, esteemed Frau, and kindly accept the heartfelt assurances of my sincere devotion and gratitude.

Yours
Dr Friedrich Nietzsche.

Overbeck is doing very well, he is likewise in Bayreuth, as are Rohde and Gersdorff.

1. Nietzsche was replying to two letters from her written on 07-22-1875 and 07-31-1875. In February 1874, 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.
2. The letter is lost.
3. Nietzsche and his sister rented an apartment at Spalentorweg 48 in Basel.
4. From 08-01-1815 to 08-15-1875, Franz Overbeck, Erwin Rohde, and Carl von Gersdorff attended the rehearsals for the first Bayreuth Festival.
5. Nietzsche was in Steinabad for treatment of gastric problems by the physician and dietitian Josef Wiel (1828-1881). See his entry in Nietzsche's Library.
6. Hermann Immermann (1838-1899) was a doctor and professor of pathology in Basel.
7. In his 07-19-1875 letter to Marie Baumgartner, Nietzsche asked her to procure some sweets for Cosima Wagner.
8. She returned to Basel in early August 1875.
9. Her luggage was stolen. See Lörrach, 07-31-1875: Letter from Marie Baumgartner to Nietzsche in Steinabad.
10. Marie Baumgartner wanted to translate Georg Grote (1794-1871), Plato, and the Other Companions of Socrates. London: J. Murray. Vol. 1 (1865 ed.); Vol. 2; Vol. 3. But she eventually gave up on that idea.

 

Interior of a pharmacy.
By: Jos van Brée, 1860.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Steinabad, August 11, 1875:
Letter to Malwida von Meysenbug.

Highly esteemed friend

It is not ingratitude but necessity that has kept me silent for so long, surely believe me. I cannot think of anything better than thinking about how I have become richer and richer with love in the last few years; and in the process your name and your constant and deep sentiments always first come to mind. Now, when I lack the means to please those who love me, indeed even the belief in it, I feel poorer and more bereft than ever — and I have been in such a situation. Due to my health, I have felt so hopeless that I thought I would only have to crouch down and just sneak away beneath the oppressiveness and burden as on a hot, muggy day. All my plans changed after that1 and it always hurt me to think: your friends expected better things from you, they must now abandon their hopes and have no reward for their loyalty. — Do you know this condition? I have gotten over it again, but don't know for how long — but I am again making outline after outline and trying to make my life coherent2 — I do nothing better, nothing more important, as soon as I am once again by myself. With that I have a real barometer for my health. Such as we, I mean you and me, never suffer purely physically, but everything is profoundly permeated with spiritual crises, so that I have no idea how I could ever get well again just from pharmacies and kitchens. I think you know and believe this as firmly as I do, and I'm telling you something that is quite obvious!

The secret of all convalescence for us is to develop a really thick skin due to our great inner vulnerability and capacity for suffering. At any rate, nothing from the outside should be allowed to drift toward us and strike us so easily; at least nothing torments me more than being caught in the fire from both sides, from the inside and from the outside. — The domesticity that my good sister has arranged for me,3 which I will get to know in the next few days, should become a thick new skin for me, it makes me happy to put myself into my snail shell. You know, according to you and a few others I am forever stretching out my feelers for love, if you'll pardon the animal expression.

Wishing the best to you and everyone near and dear to you

Yours ever faithfully Friedrich Nietzsche.

1. Nietzsche was in Steinabad for treatment of gastric problems by the physician and dietitian Josef Wiel (1828-1881). See his entry in Nietzsche's Library.
2. und suche mein Leben in einen Zusammenhang zu bringen
3. Nietzsche and his sister rented an apartment at Spalentorweg 48 in Basel.

 


Jacob Burckhardt.
Rome, 1875.
From b/w photo by Guiseppe Felici (1839-1923).
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, September 26, 1875:
Letter to Carl von Gersdorff.

My beloved friend, the semester ended yesterday, my thirteenth semester, and from today there are two weeks of vacation. I would have liked to have made a short journey on foot, for in the autumn I always long to see the Pilatus1 once more before winter comes; the longer I am in Switzerland, the more personal and dear to me this mountain becomes; but outside it is terribly wet and like early November, I will have to wait or forgo — as so often in life. One can really tell that one's twenties are behind one. A certain kind of disappointment, but such a one that spurs on one's own activity, like the fresh air of autumn, accompanying me almost from each day to the next.

In the meantime I have settled in with the help of my sister2 and it has turned out well. So, since I was thirteen,3 I am finally in more intimate surroundings, and the more one has exiled oneself from everything that other people enjoy, the more important it is for the likes of us to have our own castle from which one can watch and where one no longer feels so pestered by life. As a result of my sister's happy nature, which perfectly agrees with my temperament, things have perhaps turned out more favorably than for many others; our Nietzsche character, which I was happy to discover even in all of my father's siblings, only finds joy in being by itself, knows how to occupy itself and gives to people rather than demanding a lot from them. At the same time, it is perfectly tolerable to live as a thinker and teacher — to which one simply feels condemned.

To this praise of the domesticity I have begun, I join in the praise of your decision, or rather the cordial expression of my joy at seeing you confident and determined to make a good marriage. But settle the entire matter by this autumn with a trip to Berlin; I advise you only with the wish that you may not suffer too long from the most terrible element of life, from uncertainty.

Can I believe that when you visit me4 before the start of your semester, you will bring me happy news?5 Otherwise, I imagine that a new Berlin winter season could seriously endanger your plans.6 — But I do not understand much about that.

Our friend Rohde, who is always in the habit of reaching into life's unlucky hat and pulling out something unpleasant, was here with me7 and finally said it was the only place on earth where he still felt at home.8 I would prefer not to say anything in a letter about the dreadful situation9 in which he found himself; he was hit in a particularly vulnerable spot and was very distressed by a letter10 from the lady's father. He traveled from here to Munich and there heard Tristan, with excessive emotion.11 For the next few days he will probably be in Rostock, where he will take part in the philologists' conference and give a lecture "on the novella among the Greeks."12 — I got more from being together with R[ohde]. this time than from all previous meetings, he was to a rare degree confiding and affectionate, so that it did my heart good to be able to be there for him in his absurd situation, now that his life revolves around a young girl — heaven protect you and me from the same fate! —

Now our Baumgartner13 is coming back soon, he will be the occupant of my former lodging. He returns home reproved and instructed in many ways, he has had many mishaps: recently he had a very dangerous fall with his beloved horse, was himself unhurt, but had to shoot the horse immediately.

J. Burckhardt is as well as ever. I heard yesterday that he had spoken about me in Lörrach, very favorably, to a trusted old friend,14 they did not tell me what exactly. I only found out one thing: he had said that the people of Basel would never get such a teacher again.

They are changing our summer vacation rules again. In the worst case, it is possible that the Bayreuth festivals15 will not see me next year and the following years; at the most, I get a few days' leave. But it can also be better than it is now: if the entire month of August were specified as vacation time. Come what may, I want to see that I am not going to be entirely cheated out of it like this year.16

I have good hopes for my health if I continue the new way of life that I have been following on the prescribed advice of Dr. Wiel17 since my vacation. I eat every 4 hours: at 8 in the morning an egg, cocoa and biscuits; at 12 noon a beefsteak or some other meat; at 4 in the afternoon soup, meat and a few vegetables; at 8 in the evening cold roast and tea. Recommended for everyone! A balance has been reached which saves one from suffering with digestive fevers after a usual dinner.

But there are recurrences of my stomach ailment; and I must have a great deal of good will to get well.18

Thank you very much for taking care of the letters19 that I sent to Bayreuth; both have arrived, and replies have come from both sides. —

Very good news from Romundt!20 How glad I am! A letter arrived with a complete change of attitude, as from a convalescent. He has more to do and toiling away than ever in his life, but he feels the beneficial effect and says himself that something must have changed in him in the meantime. He is a gymnasium teacher in Oldenburg21 and until now has been charged with all the Greek instruction for grades ten and eleven and from now on he will teach German for grade thirteen. And it works! His address is c/o Frau Oberjustizrath Mencke, Petersstr. 17. Oldenburg im Grossherzogthum.

So Miaskowski is going to Hohenheim at Easter,22 so the matter is settled after it had been pending for a long time.

My address is: Spalenthorweg 48.

Dearest friend, I do not do literature, my disgust with publications is increasing every day. But when you come, I will read you something that you will enjoy, something from the unpublished Meditation No. 4 entitled "Richard Wagner in Bayreuth."23 — Silence requested.

Farewell, my most loyal
and beloved one,
Your F N.

Best regards also from my sister.

Please commend me to your most respected parents. — Be in good spirits. You should be.

1. Mountain near Lucerne.
2. Nietzsche and his sister rented an apartment at Spalentorweg 48 in Basel.
3. When he had left Naumburg to attend Schulpforta.
4. Carl von Gersdorff would visit Nietzsche in Basel from 10-12-1875 to 10-21-1875.
5. Gersdorff was attending the Agricultural Academy at Hohenheim, and talking about getting engaged.
6. Gersdorff was courting two women in Berlin.
7. Erwin Rohde visited Nietzsche in Basel from 08-31-1875 to 09-07-1875.
8. See Munich, 09-09-1875: Letter from Erwin Rohde to Nietzsche in Basel.
9. Rohde was involved with a married woman, who eventually decided to stay with her husband.
10. The letter is lost.
11. On 09-08-1875, Rohde attended a performance of Wagner's Tristan und Isolde in Munich.
12. Erwin Rohde, "Über griechische Novellendichtung und ihren Zusammenhang mit dem Orient." In: Verhandlungen der dreissigsten Philologen-Versammlung deutscher Philologen und Schulmänner in Rostock vom 28. September bis 1. October 1875. Leipzig: Teubner, 1876, 55-70.
13. In February 1874, 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. The reference in this letter refers to Baumgartner having completed his miltary service and planning to live at Schützengraben 45, Nietzsche's former apartment in Basel.
14. Eduard Kaiser (1813-1903): a physician in Lörrach and a friend of Jacob Burckhart.
15. The first year of the Bayreuth Festival was 1876.
16. Nietzsche was unable to attend rehearsals in the summer of 1875.
17. In Steinabad, Nietzsche's gastric problems were treated by the physician and dietitian Josef Wiel (1828-1881). See his entry in Nietzsche's Library.
18. Nietzsche's stomach ailment finally improved in February 1876.
19. Letters to Malwida von Meysenbug and Edouard Schuré.
20. See Oldenburg, 09-19-1875: Letter from Heinrich Romundt to Nietzsche in Basel.
21. Since August 2, 1875.
22. August von Miaskowski (1838-1899): professor of economics in Basel, and friend of Nietzsche. In 1876 he took a position at the Hohenheim Agricultural Academy (where Carl von Gersdorff was studying), but only stayed one year.
23. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, (Untimely Meditations, 4. Richard Wagner in Bayreuth). German Text. It was published on 07-10-1876. This is the first time Nietzsche mentions the title. 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.

 



Paul Rée.
From b/w photo, ca. 1876-77.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, October 22, 1875:
Letter to Paul Rée.

Dear Doctor, I had too much pleasure from your psychological observations for me to take quite seriously your Dead Man-Incognito ("posthumous writings").1 I recently found your work while rummaging through all sorts of new books, and immediately recognized some of the thoughts as your property, and the same experience was had by Gersdorff, who just recently quoted to me this thought from former times: "To be able to be comfortable in silence with one another may indeed be a greater sign of friendship than to be able to comfortably talk with one another, as Ree said."2 You are, therefore, living on in me and my friends, and when I had your so highly esteemed manuscript in my hands, nothing was more regretable than to be forced by a serious eye condition to swear off writing letters completely.

Far be it from me to presume praising you, nor do I wish to vex you with any "hopes" that I place in you. No! If you never publish anything other than these spirit-forming3 maxims, if this work is and remains your actual legacy, then all is well and good: whoever lives and walks so independently has the right to request that one spare him from praise and hopes. In the event that you intend to publish anything else, I would just like to draw your attention to the fact that you can always count with certainty on my publisher, Mr. E. Schmeitzner in Schloss-Chemnitz. I say this especially because the only thing about your work I am not happy with is the last page, upon which the writings of Mr. E. von Hartmann4 parade back and forth; the work of a thinker, however, should not even on its posterior part remind one of the writings of a pseudo-thinker.

With very good wishes for your well-being and the request to kindly accept my gratitude for having given your maxims at all to the public — with which you demonstrate that you have the spiritual welfare of your fellow man at heart,

I am and remain
Yours
Friedrich Nietzsche.

1. Nietzsche refers to the title of Paul Rée's anonymously published work, Psychologische Beobachtungen. Aus dem Nachlaß von * * *. [Psychological Observations. From the Postumous Writings of * * *.] Berlin: Duncker, 1875.
2. The actual Rée quote is: "Behaglich mit einander sprechen können ist ein geringeres Zeichen von Sympathie, als behaglich mit einander schweigen können." (To be able to be comfortable talking with one another is a lesser sign of sympathy than to be able to be comfortable in silence with one another.) Psychologische Beobachtungen, p. 105.
3. geistbildenden
4. Eduard Von Hartmann (1842-1906), whom Nietzsche despised.

 


Title page:
Paul Rée, Psychologische Beobachtungen.
Berlin: Duncker, 1875.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Paris, October 31, 1875:
Letter from Paul Rée.

Dear Herr Professor!

I seek in vain for words to express the joy that you have given me with your letter.1 I am also glad that you did not see the expression of my joy: since you would have seen a man jumping up and down in his room like a satyr,2 and at the same time gesticulating with his hands like a maniac. There are two reasons for this joy: firstly, I had grown so extremely fond of you in Base[l]3 and at the same time placed you so high up that I was almost inconsolable that my numerous childish pranks (but they happen sometimes!) were the reason that I could not get as close to you as I felt I would have wanted. I could not be forgiven by you that I behaved tactlessly towards you4 (the sentence: Whoever feels that he behaved tactlessly towards us does not forgive us,5 — arose just then through reflection on myself). I had an unfortunate affection for you! Since then, I have thought of you so often, and always complained over and over that I could not think of you as a friend. But from now on, if you won't be angry about it, I will do so. — The recognition you subsequently expressed in your letter is so extraordinary, so highly valuable to me: I have already heard considerable praise and criticism about my book,6 but some of it has come from people whom I would not consider as competent judges, parts of one thing like the other make me suspicious of personal relationships, — and oneself is, on the one hand, certainly the best, but on the other hand also the worst critic there is. Only from now on do I feel completely confident in myself. —

Farewell for this time! How much I wish that things would be quite well with you. Kind regards from H[erren]. Overbeck and Gersdorf[f]

Your
gratefully devoted
Paul Rée

1. See 10-22-1875: Letter to Paul Rée.
2. Satyrs were companions of the Greek god Dionysus.
3. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919), Nietzsche's friend and classmate at the University of Leipzig, became Nietzsche's and Franz Overbeck's roommate in Basel in October 1874. In April 1873, Romundt convinced Paul Rée to come to Basel and attend Nietzsche's lectures. 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.
4. The context of these remarks is unknown.
5. Anon. [Paul Rée], Psychologische Beobachtungen. Berlin: Duncker, 1875, 37.
6. Anon. [Paul Rée], Psychologische Beobachtungen. Berlin: Duncker, 1875.

 



Walter Scott (1788-1864).
By: John Watson Gordon.
Ca. 1830.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, December 8, 1875:
Letter to Erwin Rohde.

Ah beloved friend, I did not know what to say to you, I was silent, I feared for you and worried for you, I could not even ask how things were going, but how often, how often my most sympathetic thoughts ran to you! Everything has now become as bad as possible, and only one thing1 could even be worse: if the matter were not so terribly clear as it now is. The most unbearable thing is really the doubt, the ghostly, half-real one: and at least you are relieved of this condition, from which you suffered so terribly here.2 What shall we do now! I am racking my brains for what could now be of any use to you. For a long time I had imagined that a change of place for you would happen, which is very important, and that you would be appointed to Freiburg im Breisgau. But afterwards it seems to me as if that had not occurred to them at all. Then of course the publication of your works3 is always the most salutary thing, it is not without some joy and in any case it concentrates the mind; this work is also steady and may help you through this terrible winter. I will tell you how things are with me. As far as my health is concerned, not as I actually expected it to be when I completely changed my way of life here.4 I lie in bed every 2 to 3 weeks for about 36 hours, quite tormented, in the way you indeed know. Perhaps it is gradually getting better, but I constantly think that I have never had such a difficult winter. The day goes by so arduously, with new lectures,5 etc., that by the evening my zest for life is over and I am actually amazed at how difficult living is. It does not really seem to be worth it, all this torment; one neither helps oneself nor others compared to the hardship one inflicts on oneself and others! This is the opinion of a man who is just not tormented by his passions — although he is not happy about them either. During the hours I rest my eyes, my sister reads to me, almost always Walter Scott,6 whom I would readily call, as Schopenhauer does, an "immortal":7 I like his artistic calm, his andante so much, that I would like to recommend him to you; but your spirit cannot always be gotten hold of by such methods that work for me: because you think more sharply and quickly than I do; and I will not say anything about the treatment of the sensibilities by novels, especially since you are already forced to help yourself with your own "novel."8 But perhaps you will now read Don Quixote9 again — not because it is the most cheerful, but because it is the most harsh reading I know; I took it out during my summer vacation, and all personal suffering seemed so much smaller to me, indeed even worth laughing about quite naturally and not even grimacing over. All seriousness and all passion and everything that captures people's hearts is Don Quixotic; it is good to know this in some cases; otherwise it is usually better not to know.

Gersdorff wants to take steps to get engaged during the Christmas vacation.10 Friend Krug has had a boy,11 Dr. Fuchs has been invited to make use of my sister's patron's ticket for a cycle of performances in Bayreuth next year.12 Two good young musicians and composers13 are studying here this winter in order to hear my lectures; they are friends of Schmeitzner's. I am trying to encourage publishers and orientalists to publish the Buddhist Tripitaka.14 Dr. Deussen is giving inspiring lectures15 on Schopenhauer all winter long, 3 each week, in Aachen, to more than 300 regular listeners. Baumgartner16 is now studying philology here under my guidance. I have 13 fellows in my philological seminar,17 some of them talented people. My student Brenner is ailing and had to go to Catania;18 I have sent with him greetings for Frl. v. Meysenbug. Dr. Rée, very devoted to me, has anonymously published an excellent little book,19 "Psycholog. Observations"; he is a "moralist" with the keenest vision, gifted with something very rare among Germans. Arnim's work "Pro nihilo" was instructive to me.20 The Wagners are staying in Vienna until the end of January.21 I live completely secluded, with my sister, and am content, like a hermit who has no further wishes other than that it would be quite nice if everything were over.

Now farewell, live tolerably, most beloved friend, remember that we always think of you here as if by doing so we could make you feel our friendship. Unfortunately, that is not the case, and so be satisfied with these wretched lines. My sister and Overbeck send you their most sympathetic greetings, and I remain your

Friend F. N.

1. Erwin Rohde was involved with a married woman, who eventually decided to stay with her husband.
2. Rohde visited Nietzsche in Basel from 08-31-1875 to 09-07-1875.
3. Erwin Rohde, Der griechische Roman und seine Vorläufer. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1876.
4. Nietzsche and his sister rented an apartment at Spalentorweg 48 in Basel.
5. In WS1875-76, Nietzsche's lectures included: Geschichte der griechischen Litteratur III (History of Greek Literature III); Der Gottesdienst der Griechen (The Religious Worship of the Greeks); and a seminar on Diogenes Laertius.
6. Walter Scott (1771-1832): Scottish writer.
7. In his Parerga and Paralipomena, Arthur Schopenhauer praises Walter Scott. However, the reference to "immortal" by Nietzsche is unfounded. A possible passage could be one in which Schopenhauer calls Scott "incomparable": "Selbst in einer Allen zugänglichen Sphäre sehn wir den unvergleichlichen Walter Scott bald durch unwürdige Nachahmer aus der Aufmerksamkeit des großen Publikums verdrängt werden." (Even in a sphere accessible to all, we soon see the incomparable Walter Scott being ousted from the attention of the general public by unworthy imitators.) See Parerga und Paralipomena. Kleine philosophische Schriften. Bd. 2. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1874, 489.
8. Erwin Rohde, Der griechische Roman und seine Vorläufer. Leipzig: Breitkopf und Härtel, 1876.
9. Although Nietzsche's personal library does not contain a copy of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), there are numerous references to the novel in Nietzsche's writings. See the entry for Cervantes in Nietzsche's Library.
10. Gersdorff's engagement was called off.
11. Gustav Krug (1844-1902), Nietzsche's friend since childhood, and his wife Therese, had their first child, Walther Krug, who was born on 09-23-1875.
12. Nietzsche, his sister Elisabeth, and Carl Fuchs all attended the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876.
13. Paul Widemann and Heinrich Köselitz.
14. The texts of the Buddhist canon.
15. In WS1875/76, Paul Deussen delivered a lecture called "Hauptfragen der Philosophie." Cf. Paul Deussen, Erika Rosenthal-Deussen (hrsg.), Mein Leben. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1922, 174-177.
16. In February 1874, 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.
17. Nietzsche's seminar on Diogenes Laertius.
18. Nietzsche's student Albert Brenner (1856-1878) spent the winter of 1875/76 with Malwida von Meysenbug in Rome.
19. Nietzsche refers to the title of Paul Rée's anonymously published work, Psychologische Beobachtungen. Aus dem Nachlaß von * * *. [Psychological Observations. From the Postumous Writings of * * *.] Berlin: Duncker, 1875.
20. Harry Graf von Arnim (1824-1881), Pro nihilo! Vorgeschichte des Arnim'schen Prozesses. Erstes Heft. Zürich: Verlags-Magazin, 1875. [Written under the pseudonym Wilhelm Eichhoff.]
21. He returned to Bayreuth on 12-17-1875.

 


Title page:
Sir Mutu Coomáraswámy, Sutta Nipáta: Or, Dialogues and Discourses of Gotama Buddha. London: Trübner, 1874.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, December 13, 1875:
Letter to Carl von Gersdorff.

Yesterday, my beloved friend, your letter1 came, and this morning, right at the beginning of a difficult week of work, your books:2 one should be of good cheer when one has such sympathetic, kind friends! Really, I admire the fine instinct of your friendship — I hope the expression does not sound too animal to you — that you had to hit upon precisely these Indian sayings while just in the last 2 months I have been taking a look around India with a kind of growing thirst. From Schmeitzner's friend, Herr Widemann, I borrowed the English translation of the Sutta Nipáta, something from the sacred books of the Buddhists; and I have already adopted for personal use one of the strong closing passages of a sutta: "Thus I wander alone like the rhinoceros."3 The conviction of the valuelessness of life and the illusiveness of all goals often imposes itself on me so strongly, especially when I lie sick in bed, that I insist on hearing a bit more about it, but not combined with Judeo-Christian sayings, which at some time or another have filled me with disgust so that I have to guard against being unjust toward them. You can see how things now stand with life by the enclosed letter4 from our friend Rohde, who is suffering unspeakably; one should not hang one's heart on the same thing, that is clear, and yet what can one endure if one actually no longer wills anything! I think that will to knowledge remains as the ultimate region of the will to life, as an intermediate realm between willing and no longer willing,5 a piece of purgatory, insofar as we look back on life dissatisfied and with contempt; and a piece of Nirvana, insofar as the soul thereby approaches a state of pure contemplation. I am training myself to unlearn the haste of the will to knowledge; all scholars indeed suffer from this and moreover miss the glorious calm of all insight gained. Now I am still a little too tightly bound with the various demands of my profession so that I have had to be hasty, too often, and against my will: gradually I will put everything right. Then my health will also become more stable; which I shall not attain until I also deserve it, until I have found the state of my soul which is, as it were, promised to me, the state of health in which the soul has only retained but one drive, the will to knowledge, and has become free from all other drives and desires. A simple household, a quite regular daily routine, no tantalizing prospect for honors or for society, living together with my sister6 (which makes everything around me so completely Nietzschean and is strangely calming), the awareness of having very excellent, kind friends, the possession of 40 good books from all ages and peoples (and of even several not exactly bad ones), the constant joy of having found in Schopenhauer and Wagner educators, in the Greeks the daily objects of my work, the belief that from now on I shall no longer lack good students — this is what makes my life at present. Unfortunately, there is in adddition the chronic torment, which seizes me for almost two whole days every two weeks, sometimes even longer — well, that ought to come to an end one day.

Later on, when you have established your house securely and carefully, you will also be able to count on me staying as a guest for long vacations; I often take delight in visualizing your later life and think that one day I can also be of use to you and your sons as well. Up until now, loyal old friend Gersdorff, we have shared a good portion of our youth, experience, education, proclivities, hatreds, aspirations, and hopes; we know that we are sincerely happy just to sit beside one another; I think we have no need to promise or pledge anything to ourselves because we have very good faith in one another. You help me where you can, I know this from experience; and whenever I am pleased about anything, I think "How pleased Gersdorff will be!" For, let me tell you this, you have the magnificent ability to share joy; I think it is even rarer and nobler than that of sharing suffering.7

Now farewell and cross over into your new year of life the same person as you were in the old one, I know nothing else to wish for you. As such a man you have gained your friends; and if sensible women still exist, then you will not much longer

"wander alone like the rhinoceros."

Faithfully yours
Friedrich Nietzsche.

Warm greetings and congratulations from my sister. My regards to your esteemed father.

I sent you Rütimeyer's program,8 I hope you got it.

1. See Hohenheim, 12-10-1875: Letter from Carl von Gersdorff to Nietzsche in Basel.
2. For a Christmas present, Carl von Gersdorff sent Nietzsche a copy of Otto Böhtlingk (1815-1904), Indische Sprüche. Sanskrit und Deutsch. Th. 1-3. Leipzig: Voss, 1870-73. See the entry for Böhtlingk in Nietzsche's Library.
3. Cf. Sir Mutu Coomáraswámy, Sutta Nipáta: Or, Dialogues and Discourses of Gotama Buddha. London: Trübner, 1874, 11ff. Cf. Morgenröthe, §469 (Dawn, §469).
4. A lost letter, probably about Erwin Rohde's affair with a married woman, who eventually decided to stay with her husband.
5. Ich meine, das Erkennen-Wollen bleibe als letzte Region des Lebens-Willens übrig, als ein Zwischenbereich zwischen Wollen und Nichtmehrwollen
6. Nietzsche and his sister rented an apartment at Spalentorweg 48 in Basel.
7. Nietzsche juxtaposes Mitfreude (shared joy) with Mitleiden (shared suffering, or compassion).
8. Ludwig Rütimeyer (1825-1895): Swiss zoologist and paleontologist. Unknown reference. Possibly L. Rütimeyer, Die Veränderungen der Thierwelt in der Schweiz seit Anwesenheit des Menschen. Basel: Schweighauserische Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1875.

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