Nietzsche's Letters | 1880This page in German© The Nietzsche Channel

Nietzsche's Letters


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Richard Wagner.
Munich, 1880.
From b/w photo by Joseph Albert.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Marienbad, August 20, 1880:
Letter to Heinrich Köselitz.

Friend Köselitz, in my harvest, indeed harvest-festival mood, your letter chimed in, though a bit somberly, but so well and powerfully that today I again, as always, conclude and rest my reflections about you with the chorale

"What K. does, is rightly done,
His will is just forever!"

You are made of sterner stuff than I am, and are free to cultivate for yourself higher ideals. For my part, I suffer terribly when I am deprived of sympathy; and, for example, nothing can compensate me for the fact that in recent years I have been deprived of Wagner's sympathy. How often I dream of him, and always in the style of our former intimate togetherness. There was never an angry word spoken between us, not even in my dreams, yet very many encouraging and cheerful ones, and with no one perhaps have I laughed so much. That's over now — and what good is it to be in the right, in many respects, against him! As if that could wipe this forlorn sympathy from my memory! — And I have experienced similar things before, and will probably experience them again. They are the hardest sacrifices that my path through life and thought have demanded of me — even now my whole philosophy falters after an hour of sympathetic conversation with total strangers; it seems to me so foolish to want to be right at the cost of love, and not be able to communicate what is most worthwhile about it, for the sake of preserving sympathy. Hinc meae lacrimae.2

I'm still in Marienbad: the "Austrian weather" has kept me here! Bear in mind that it has rained every day since July 24, and often all day long. Cloudy and rainy skies, but nice walks in the woods. My health took a turn for the worse here; in summa, however, I have been content with Venice and Marienbad. There has not been so much contemplation here since Goethe,3 and even Goethe did not let so [many] essential things pass through his head — I really outdid myself.4 One time, in the woods, a gentleman who was passing by stared very hard at me: I felt at that moment that the expression on my face must have been one beaming with joy, and that I had been walking around with it for 2 hours. I am living incognito as the most inconspicuous of all spa guests; in the registry for foreigners I am listed as "Mr. Nietzsche, teacher." There are many Poles here and they — it's strange — keep taking me for a Pole, greeting me in Polish and — do not believe me when I make it known that I'm a Swiss. "He is of the Polish race, but his heart has wandered God knows where" — so one of them said to me in parting, quite sad.

I am in Naumburg in early September. The Overbecks are also coming. Also Frau von Wöhrmann (she is dissolving her household in N[aumburg] and is moving to Venice). The son of Frau W[öhrmann] and likewise his friend Count Werthern, who attended the Naumburg Gymnasium, are going to be at our house.5 Do you have the "Menschen des 18. Jahrhunderts" by St. Beuve?6 It contains superb portraits of people and St. B[euve] is a great artist. But I can still see above every figure a curved line that he does not see, and this advantage gives me my philosophy. My philosophy? Let the devil take it! And you may summon the dear Lord — he takes delight in all things Köselitz.

Faithfully yours

1. Cf. the first stanza of "Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan" by Samuel Rodigast: "Was Gott thut, das ist wohlgethan, / Es bleibt gerecht sein Wille; / Wie er fängt meine Sachen an / Will ich ihm halten stille. / Er ist mein Gott, der in der Noth / Mich wohl weiss zu erhalten: / Drum lass' ich ihn nur walten." See Marian Van Til, George Frideric Handel. A Music Lover's Guide to His Life, His Faith & the Development of Messiah and His Other Oratorios. Youngstown: WordPower Publishing, 2007, 273: "What God does, that is rightly done, / His will is just forever; / Whatever course he sets [for] my life / I will trust him with calmness. / He is my God, who in [my] distress / Knows well how to support me: / So I yield him all power." Rodigast's words and melody were also used by Bach (Cantatas 12, 98-100).
2. "Hence my tears." Cf. Terence, Andria, i:i (v. 99). Or: Publii Terentii Afri, Andria....London: Walton & Mayberly, 1858, 17.
3. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) stayed in Marienbad in August 1823.
4. "ich war über mich selber weit hinaus."
5. Emma von Wöhrmann, b. von Budberg (1839-1881); Sidney von Wöhrmann (1862-?); Otto von Werthern.
6. Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beuve (1804-1869): French writer. Ida Overbeck was the anonymous translator of: Menschen des XVIII. Jahrhunderts nach den Causeries du lundi von Sainte-Beuve. Chemnitz: Schmeitzner, 1880.


Gustav Krug.
Ca. 1900.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Genoa, November 16, 1880:
Letter to Gustav Krug.

Here in Genoa, my dear Gustav, I came across your sad news;1 I am quickly writing a few lines extemporaneously, as we travel, and more as a sign of my sympathy than an expression of it. In that it is, as I now see from the calendar, your birthday — you will look back upon your life today with particular melancholy! We are growing older and thus lonelier: precisely that love abandons us, which loved us like an unconscious necessity, not because of our particular qualities, but often in spite of them. Our past draws to a close when our mother dies: then for the first time our childhood and youth become nothing more than a memory. And then on it goes, the friends of our youth die, our teachers, the ideals of those days — ever more solitude, ever more cold the winds blowing about us. You were right to plant another garden of love around you, dear friend!2 I think that you will be particularly grateful for your lot today. Furthermore, you have remained true to your art; I listened to everything that you reported to me about it with sincere satisfaction, and perhaps in the course of time my body will reach a more favorable age than the present one, when we shall once again sit together and see the past resurrected out of your [musical] notes, indeed just as with the music of our youth, when we had both dreamed together of our future.3

I dare not say more, my afflictions (which still, as in the past, have their own daily history) have laid their dictatorial hand upon me. When you think of me (as you did on my birthday, which, this time, I had even forgotten), you must believe that I do not lack the courage and the patience, even the way things now stand and are going, to aspire to high, very high goals. —

You must also firmly believe that I am and remain your friend

Devotedly, with heartfelt love
Friedrich Nietzsche.

1. The death of Clementine Krug (1811-1880): Gustav Krug's mother.
2. Krug's marriage. See Nietzsche's 11-14-1873 letter to Krug.
3. Nietzsche and Krug were friends since childhood, a friendship strengthened by the fact that Krug's father was an excellent musician and composer. See Nietzsche's autobiographical work, "From My Life." In: Nietzsche's Writings as a Student, 11.

Nietzsche's Letters | 1880This page in German© The Nietzsche Channel

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