Naumburg, [Early January 1880]:
Heartfelt thanks!2 Just now I was thinking of you, I want to talk to you again; there is nobody more trustworthy than you. But to dare to write a letter, I have to wait an average of 4 weeks until a bearable hour comes — and afterwards I have to pay for it! Therefore, forgive me if everything remains the same with me as before — — staying silent, but with love.
My existence3 is a terrible burden: I would have thrown it off long ago if I had not done the most instructive tests and experiments in the intellectual-moral field precisely in this state of suffering and almost absolute renunciation — this joy in thirst for knowledge brings me to heights where I conquer all torment and all hopelessness. On the whole, I am happier than ever before in my life: and yet! constant pain, for several hours a day a feeling of semi-paralysis closely related to seasickness, which makes it difficult for me to speak, alternating with furious attacks (the last one made me vomit for three days and nights: I thirsted after death). Cannot read! Write very rarely! No socializing with people! Cannot listen to music! Am alone and go for walks; mountain air; milk and egg diet. All internal methods for alleviation have proven useless; I no longer have need of anything. The cold is very bad for me.
I want to head south in the next few weeks in order to begin a life of walking.4
My thoughts and perspectives are my consolation. I scribble a bit here and there on a sheet of paper as I walk; I don't write anything at a desk; friends decipher my scribblings.5 The last thing6 my friends finished will follow by the way, take it kindly, even if it is less welcomed by your own way of thinking. (I myself am not seeking "followers" — do you believe me? — I enjoy my freedom and wish this joy to all those entitled to intellectual freedom)
Your dear wife stands before me as a noble and strong soul who wishes me well.7 I am and will remain yours
Faithfully F. Nietzsche
I've already had lengthy periods of unconsciousness several times. Last spring they gave up on me in Basel
Since the last [eye] examination, my vision has again deteriorated significantly.
1. Otto Eiser (1834-1898): Frankfurt doctor, and admirer of Nietzsche and Richard Wagner. He examined Nietzsche in October 1877, and disclosed to him a letter from Richard Wagner opining on the cause of Nietzsche's poor health namely, masturbation. According to a friend of Eiser, Eiser admitted that this was the real cause of Nietzsche's break with Wagner. See Sander L. Gilman, "Otto Eiser and Nietzsche's Illness: A Hitherto Unpublished Text." In: Nietzsche Studien (2009) 38:396-409. Dr. Eugen Kretzer. "Erinnerungen an Dr. Otto Eiser." (Memories of Dr. Otto Eiser.) Ca. 1912. Excerpt: "Auf meine Veranlassung hat die Witwe Dr. Eisers einem der Briefe Richard Wagners an ihren verstorbenen Gatten besondere Fürsorge zugewendet. Den Inhalt dieses Briefes kennt, wie sie mir sagte, außer mir nur Hr Geheimrat Dr. Henry Thode, sonst niemand. Sie hat ihn dem Hause Wahnfried übersandt, und dort ist und bleibt er fortan deponiert. Ich billige das durchaus. Er sollte der Öffentlichkeit stets vorenthalten werden. Richard Wagner schrieb diesen Brief, als er erfuhr, daß Dr. Eiser seinen jungen Freund kennen gelernt hatte und ärztlich beriet. In treu besorgter, wahrhaft väterlicher Weise teilt er darin dem gemeinsamen ärztlichen Freund seine Hypothese über die Ursache von Nietzsches Erkrankung mit. 'Warum Nietzsche von Wagners abfiel?,' meinte Eiser einst: – 'ich weiß es allein, denn in meinem Hause, in meiner Stube hat sich dieser Abfall vollzogen, als ich Nietzsche jenen Brief in wohlmeinendster Absicht mitteilte. Ein Ausbruch von Raserei war die Folge, Nietzsche war außer sich: – die Worte sind nicht wiederzugeben, die er für Wagner fand. – Seitdem war der Bruch besiegelt.'" (At my instigation, Dr. [Otto] Eiser's widow took special care of one of Richard Wagner's letters to her deceased husband. As she told me, "The contents of this letter are known only to me, privy councilor Dr. Henry Thode, no one else." She sent it to the Wahnfried house [Wagner's villa in Bayreuth], and it is and will be deposited there from now on. I absolutely approve of that. It should always be withheld from the public. Richard Wagner wrote this letter when he learned that Dr. Eiser had met his young friend [Nietzsche] and gave him medical advice. In a faithful, truly fatherly way, he shares his hypothesis about the cause [i.e., masturbation] of Nietzsche's illness with his mutual medical friend. "Why did Nietzsche break away from Wagner?" Eiser once said: – "I alone know, because this break took place in my house, in my [examining] room, when I informed Nietzsche about that letter with the best of intentions. The result was an outbreak of rage, Nietzsche was beside himself: – the words that he found for Wagner cannot be repeated. – At that moment the break was sealed.")
Malwida von Meysenbug.
From b/w photo, 1880.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.
Naumburg, January 14, 1880:
Although writing is one of the most forbidden fruits for me,1 you, whom I love and esteem like an older sister, must nevertheless have a letter from me — but it will probably be the last! For the terrible and almost unremitting martyrdom of my life makes me thirst after the end,2 and, according to a few symptoms, the stroke to provide relief is close enough to grant me hope. As far as torture and renunciation are concerned, the recent years of my life can measure up to that of any ascetic of any era; nevertheless, in these years I have gained a lot for purifying and polishing the soul — and I no longer need either religion or art for this purpose. (You will notice that I am proud of this; in fact, complete abandonment [of everything] first allowed me to discover my own resources[.]) I believe that I have done my life's work, admittedly like someone who was not given time. But I know that I have poured out a drop of good oil for many and that I have given many a hint for self-elevation, peaceableness and a right mind. I will write this to you afterwards, it should actually be pronounced at the completion of my "humanity."3 No pain has or should be able to seduce me into false testimony about life, [life] as I know it.
To whom might I say all this if not to you? I think — but is it immodest to say so? — that our characters have many similarities. E.g.: we are both courageous, and neither distress nor contempt can force us off the road that we recognize as the right one. Also, we have both experienced some things inside of us and outside of us, the radiance of which few people of the present age have seen — we have hopes for humanity and offer ourselves as modest sacrifices, don't we? — —
Have you heard news of the Wagners? I have heard nothing from them for three years: they too have abandoned me,4 and I knew long ago that from the moment W[agner] noticed the rift between our efforts, he too would no longer stand by me. I was told that he was writing against me.5 May he continue doing so: the truth must come to light in every way! I think of him with constant gratitude, because I am indebted to him for some of the most powerful stimuli for intellectual independence. Frau W[agner], as you know, is the most congenial woman I have met. — But I am completely unsuitable for associating with them, let alone resuming relations. It is too late.
To you, my dear sisterly esteemed friend, greetings from a young old man who bears no grudge against life, though he must soon want it to end.
1. A result of Nietzsche's poor eyesight.
Das Recht zu leben und die Pflicht zu sterben. Socialphilosophische Betrachtungen, anknüpfend an die Bedeutung Voltaire's für die neuere Zeit.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.
Leipzig, January 19, 1880:
Dear Herr Professor!
Delighted that the views of the author of "The Right to Live etc"2 have met with your approval, and I have the honor to give you the exact address you requested of the same:
With my best wishes
1. Erich Koschny, German publisher in Leipzig, replying to an unknown letter from Nietzsche.
View from the balcony of Nietzsche's apartment in Venice.
Engels & Völkers, 2016.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.
Today I move into the new apartment,1 located in such a way that I can take a long walk in the shade along the bank (approx. 20 minutes) and look out over the sea from the window (I was too depressed in the city2). My room is 22 feet high, 22 feet wide and 23 feet long, with beautiful marble, a grand staircase leads to it, and at the same time oddly plain. It is my discovery. Send me the chest right away and put the following books in it: Spencer (Data of Ethics);3 Baumann (Ethics);4 Martensen (Ethics);5 then Stendhal, 2 vol.;6 Gsell Fels Southern France;7 the little book about the Greek islands,8 dear Lisbeth; then the thick volume about Byron9 (in the Köselitziana, which I left in Basel; send me the list10 of them too); gloves, towels, a glass and plate and egg cups, etc.). Not yet recovered from a bad attack. — Visited Lido because of the sea baths in summer: good! Thank you very much for your letter.
Please! A full can of ground coffee.! and Maizena. Day before Easter. — Köselitz's address.
1. The current address of his apartment: Calle Berlendis, 6294 30121 Venezia Italy.
Nietzsche's apartment in Venice.
Engels & Völkers, 2016.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.
[Venice, April 11, 1880]:
The valuable letter1 came into my hands finally and cheaply [10 ct.], many thanks! Dear friend, we've had rainy weather and scirocco for weeks. — My apartment is 22 feet high and quiet, like the end of the world.2 I think with great pleasure of St. B[euve] becoming German.3 (If you want a comical travesty of his style, then read Balzac,4 les caprices de Claudine.) Do you perhaps know where my Stendhal5 volumes are? You wrote to me once about a list of books.6 Please subscribe for me to the weekly list of new books in the Festersen's bookstore that was sent to me before.7 But I always want to have a quarterly, thus the first volume of this year. Kös[elitz]'s address.8 K[öselitz] advises that he has a lot to do, we see each other just in the evening, he reads aloud from Stifter.9
Your Fr N.
1. Overbeck sent Nietzsche his pension.
George Sand, Histoire de ma vie.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.
[Venice, April 28, 1880]:
The correct title of the recently mentioned book by Balzac is un prince de la Bohême.1 I found [something] very noteworthy about St. Beuve in George Sand, Histoire de ma vie, 6th chapter of the last part [cinquième partie].2
Everything from the bookseller has arrived.3 Thank you very much.
I would like the catalog of books which the socialist bookstore in Zurich sells. What is their exact address?4
Warmest regards to you and your dear wife.
1. Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850), Un prince de la bohème. In: Oeuvres complètes XI. Paris: Lévy, 1879, 21. See the entry for Balzac in Nietzsche's Library.
Venice, May 24, 1880:
Dear revered Frau Professor, Thank you very much but I did have a bit of remorse: it seemed to me that I should have prevented in every way such an act of kindness by you,1 and I did nothing!
The essay2 is not adequate "for the subject" just like others by the same author, but I am grateful to anyone who even touches on the subject. To know how higher cultural ages than ours have come to terms with the bitterest pain that is very important, and one would have to expend a great deal more strength and knowledge on this than Ms[sr]. A[lbert] had at his disposal then. Nor should one combine such concerns too much with Christian concerns, otherwise one gets false colors.
The objections3 to Seneca's way of consoling as if he had just wanted to evoke it? He did not like to say the word that mattered to him; he said that such grief was no longer decent for a woman of this rank (in every sense) what did he then advise? What had he meditated on all his life, what is the ever present thought in his writings, even if there is not a word of it suicide. Only with this word do the objections disappear; and that noble soul should discover it for itself!4 Instead, Ms[sr]. A[lbert] wanted to pluck the laurel for Christianity. Perhaps I am doing an injustice to both of them with this hypothesis.
Say thanks especially to my friend for everything he recently gave me through Hr. Köselitz5; it is so refreshing to know one another from a distance and yet in such proximity to one another. E.g. we both don't need a word anymore for understanding about Jews and Jewish proselytes.6 I confess that all news from Germany is annoying and alien to me, and my health almost forces me to solder myself like a can for the sake of preservation.
From Venice, the city of rain, wind and dark alleys.
Don't believe George Sand about Venice7 (the best part of it is tranquillity and beautiful pavement)
1. She translated an essay by Paul Albert (1827-1880), "Les consolateurs." In: Variétés morales et littéraires. Paris: Hachette, 1879, 1-63. See the entry for Albert in Nietzsche's Library.
[Venice, May 28, 1880]:
Alas dearest friend, that you of all people would be stricken with such wounds!1 You, for whom I I can't even say how much wish a consistently warm, peaceful sun, from morning to evening of life, so that the whole abundance of noble fruits may become ripe and perfect without pungency and tartness. But the god of cannibals and ascetics is happy when precisely people, people such as you, suffer, it is pure cruelty. And at the same time you still think of me and give me another drink of the best milk! That is and remains for me W. Scott2 and and I thank you very much for it.
With heartfelt love Your
1. Rée's foster sister, Mary Sellin Harper (1852-1880), died at the age of 27 while giving birth to her third child.
[Venice, June 15, 1880]:
If I could write letters like your dear wife writes them,1 I would then answer her (despite both of my eyes); but I am so ashamed and prefer to express my heartfelt thanks to you, dearest friend. I also have to do this later for the catalog of your writings, which is now being sent to me from Naumb[urg] and which will be useful to me. Siebenlist's book2 is a piece of Schopenhauerian philology, against which nothing (or everything!) could be objected. Selected three seaside resorts. I am thinking of leaving soon and would like to see if I receive the money3 here beforehand (250 + 750, please just like last time, 2 French notes of 500 each, no declaration of value, but address to Köselitz,4 not to me, I have such difficulty proving my identity)[.] For the moment maybe send only 500 frs. here, then hold back the rest. Departure is urgent, it is very warm.
1. See Basel, 05-28-1880: Letter from Ida Overbeck, in which she modestly summarizes her translation of Paul Albert's "Les consolateurs." See Nietzsche's 05-24-1880 letter to Ida Overbeck, footnote 1.
[Venice, June 22, 1880]:
Dearest friend, the money1 has arrived, quickly to my astonishment. I wasn't sure yet where to travel; even today I don't know yet, probably not far away, in forests whose shade is guaranteed (in Carniola2) to be precise as soon as possible! along with the new address. Would it be possible for you to do without 2 theolog[ical] books for 4 weeks? namely Lüdemann's anthrop[ology] of Paul3 and the book about Justinus,4 which you have often mentioned to me. Then I would like Wackernagel's printed article on the Bramans5 and his other (unprinted?) one on Buddhism.6 Do you see him occasionally? I have reread your "Christianity"7 again, with a lot of joy in the astonishingly rich content and the excellent arrangement, I have become a little more worthy of this reading, because I have now thought about many things, namely right and left.
I am very glad that J. Bur[c]khardt is still thinking of me.8
(Continued.) When you wrote the book, as I now realize with shame, I believed I understood only nine tenths. There are so many fine lines in it that one has to look very carefully to enjoy everything. — I don't hear a word of my writings; don't think I'm dissatisfied with that! — Schm[eitzner]'s latest venture9 that you write about disgusts me; I'm angry that he didn't say a word about it to me. — My health was better in Venice than in Naumburg and Riva,10 my complexion is good. At any rate, still very much the same. — Troubling news from Dr. Rée.11 — Sending you and your dear wife the warmest and most grateful greetings
1. Overbeck sent Nietzsche his pension.
[Marienbad, July 7, 1880]:
Dear friend, after a very unpleasant and disappointing trip,1 I am finally here in Marienbad (in Bohemia), my eyes almost drove me to despair at all the alleged "forest places" that I saw in the meantime. It's better here. I live in the forest: it's called "Hermitage." I dream that maybe we'll see each other again this summer? If you can do without the books I recently wrote about,2 please send them; I've thought about "Christian morality" so often by now that I'm ravenously hungry for some material for my hypotheses.3
The good wishes of a water drinker4 and forest ranger to you and your dearest dear companion.
1. Around 06-29-1880, Nietzsche left Venice and arrived in Marienbad on 07-05-1880.
Marienbad, July 18, 1880:
My dear friend, I still think several times a day about the pleasant pampering in Venice1 and of the even more pleasant pamperer, and I say only that one should not be allowed to have it so good for long and that it is quite right to be a hermit again and, as such, to go walking for ten hours a day, to drink fatal waters and await their effects. Meanwhile I am digging zealously in my moral mines2 and sometimes feel quite subterranean in the process — it now seems to me as if I have found the main tunnel and way out, but something like this can be believed and rejected a hundred times. Every now and then I hear an echo of Chopin's music, and you have now achieved such a thing,3 so that I always think of you and lose myself in thinking about possibilities. My confidence has become very strong; you are much more solidly built than I assumed, and apart from the detrimental influence that Herr Nietzsche has occasionally had on you, you are in every respect well conditioned. Ceterum censeo4 mountains and forests are better than cities, and Paris better than Vienna.5 But that does not matter.
On the way [here] I came into contact with an important ecclesiastic, who seemed to be among the first promoters of old Catholic music; he was a match for any detailed questions. I found him very much taken with Wagner's work on Palestrina;6 he said that the dramatic recitative (in the liturgy) was the seed of church music, and insisted afterward that the recital be as dramatic as possible. Regensburg[, he said,] was now the only city on earth where you could study the old music, but above all, could hear it (especially during Passiontide).
Have you heard about the fire at Mommsen's house? And that his notes were destroyed, the most voluminous preparatory work ever made by a living scholar? He supposedly rushed into the flames repeatedly, covered with burns, and eventually they had to restrain him by force. Such undertakings as M[ommsen]'s must be very rare, because a colossal memory, and a corresponding acumen in the criticism and organization of such material seldom come together, but rather work against one another. — When I heard the story, it was heartwringing, and even now I suffer physically when I think about it. Is that pity? But what is M[ommsen] to me? I am not at all favorably inclined towards him. —7
Here alone in the forest in The Eremitage,8 whose Eremit I am, there has been great distress since yesterday: I don't really know what happened, but the shadow of a crime lies on the house. Somebody buried something, others discovered it, one could hear terrible wailing, many gendarmes were there, a search of the house took place, and at night I heard someone moaning in anguish in the room next to me, so that sleep fled from me. Also in the dead of night there seemed to be digging again in the forest, but a surprise happened and there were tears and shouting again. An officer told me it was a "banknote affair" — I'm not curious enough to know as much about it as everyone around me probably knows. Suffice it to say, the forest solitude is eerie.
I have been reading a novella by Mérimée, in which H[enri] Beyle's character is said to be portrayed: "The Etruscan Vase"; if this is true, it would be the character called St. Clair. The whole thing is derisive, pretentious9 and deeply melancholic.10
Lastly, a reflection: one ceases to love oneself properly when one ceases to exercise oneself in loving others: wherefore the latter (the ceasing) is very much advised against.11 (From my own experience.) Farewell my beloved and very much valued friend, may things go well with you by day and by night.
Faithfully your F.N.
In your conduct toward the deserter,12 Schopenhauer would see a proof of the immutability of character13 — and be wrong about it, as he almost always is.
1. Nietzsche stayed in Venice with Heinrich Köselitz from March 13-June 29, 1880.
[Marienbad, July 19, 1880]:
My dear friend, your parcel1 and surprise had the most delightful effect. Your own treat[ises]2 are very fine things, such a fine philological air blows within them that I find it very difficult to be silent. Judging by the suppleness of the style, I would like to believe you felt the same as well. — But what an awful guy is Engelhart! Since he knows everything so much better than Justin, he probab[ly] doesn't understand it out of arrogance. Lüdemann's work, on the other hand, is a masterpiece in a very difficult field: unfortunately he is no writer. (I want to write a word of thanks to Wackern[agel].) It is of course very bad with my eyes, I can no longer spare them when I spare them, and yet they actually withstand neither reading nor writing; occasionally finding a quarter of an hour is the trick. — Wonderful thought: See you in Naumburg. My warmest greetings to your dear wife and esteemed relatives in Zurich.
1. Containing books Nietzsche requested. See Nietzsche's 06-22-1880 postcards to Franz Overbeck.
[Marienbad, July 19, 1880]:
My sweet dear sister, your cheerful blue letter was really well received: the next day I had the best day so far. Now we have trouble in the house,2 the owner has suddenly been taken to prison, gendarmes came and dug up a printing press for counterfeit banknotes, searched the house, and there was considerable lamentation afterwards. The poor woman was beside herself with profound desperation for 3 days. As I said: I want to go to Ruhla next month, hopefully the forests there are as good as here.3 But to stay here in the long run — that won't work for me. I can't eat well here on a single guilder. Everything is 3-5 times more expensive than in Venice.4 Summer, I notice, is really my best season. Will we see you in Ruhla? The warmest greetings to our good mother.
1. Colorized from b/w photo, GSA 101/161.
[Marienbad, August 2, 1880]:
Here, dear friend, a line of thanks for your last letter that moved me in many ways, and also troubled me; I also urge you to cross out the word "indulgent"1; you still do not know how I think of you, neither with care nor with indulgence2 — you have my confidence, and I wish at this point to at least have yours. But it is strange to observe: whoever deviates from the conventional everyday path early on in order to walk his right path always has a semi- or a complete feeling of an exile, someone condemned by and escaped from people: this kind of bad conscience is the suffering of the self-reliant good man. The cure is — what do you think? — a great success with those who have recently been avoided. — Please, don't miss 3 essays in your Free Press: (4 weeks ago) George Sand and A. de Musset.3 (8 days ago[)] Stifter as a landscape painter,4 and Hect[or] Berlioz in his letters.5 — Recently always in an irrepressibly lofty mood! Tomorrow departure6 — Very faithfully your friend F. N.
1. See 07-21-1880 letter from Heinrich Köselitz.
I am still, my dear ones, in Marienbad,1 day after day and for weeks, the weather has been hideous, constant rain and gray skies. My condition has slowly worsened, there were violent attacks with vomiting again, etc. — But I don't want to write about this misery any more. How long have I been deprived of what is so noticeably good for me, pure air and sun! I will probably stay here until the end of the month, I am too suspicious of changing locations and so seldom find anything suitable for me. Here I still have the forest and the good paths in it, which I often walk amidst the rain. At the beginning of September I will be coming to you two and reckon that I will find a quiet, pleasant autumn life there. In mid-October, however, I will be heading south again, it's no use — right now I still can't stand Germany. I think of you with much love.
1. Nietzsche eventually decided not to go to Ruhla, a town in the Thuringian forest, but instead spent seven weeks from 09-02-1880 to 10-08-1880 at "home" in Naumburg.
Marienbad, August 18, 1880:
An hour ago, dear Frau Professor, I received "Personalities of the 18th Century";1 I browsed through it and saw an assortment of good words, and behind each one, so much, much more! I was delighted by it, and at the same time seized by a feeling of profound, ineffable privation. I believe I wept, and it would be strange if this excellent little book did not arouse such a sensation in many others.
Why haven't I written? Because for 3 weeks I have been flapping my wings to get away from Marienbad — and because three weeks of constant rainy weather clung to me, was detrimental to my health and myself due to constant change from expectation to disappointment, depriving me of almost all capability to make decisions. Now I will patiently hold out until the end of the month, and again try to achieve a moderate level of wellbeing that I owe to the forest, the sun, the clear sky and the fatal little sips of water in the first few weeks of my stay here. Had it stayed that way, I would have spent my August near Dresden2 — that was my plan and I did not write in order to write anything specific about the time of arrival.
But nevertheless! There remains the beautiful hope for the Naumburg reunion!3 right? — And this [plan] shall not fall through! —
Today they celebrated the Kaiser's birthday4 here, but in the midst of the black and yellow colors I can always think something terrible, about the birthday of the plague.5 — I glanced again in Sainte Beuve. He has perceived very fine things: p. 19 he speaks of the informality of (Font[enelle]'s) expression which — looks like a secret ruse against the grandeur of things[.]"6 This is perceived in the style of Pascal.
Best wishes to my dear friends and the entire esteemed circle
1. 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. Nietzsche suggested and oversaw the completion of the publication. In his 11-18-1879 postcard to Ernst Schmeitzner, Nietzsche wrote: "Geehrtester Herr, die Sainte-Beuve-Übersetzung ist fertig: wollen Sie sich an Hr. Prof. Overbeck ihretwegen wenden? (Frau Prof. O[verbeck] wünscht dringend, vollständig aus dem Spiele zu bleiben, also bitte, stellen Sie Sich als wüßten Sie nichts von ihrer Mitbetheiligung[.]) Titel vielleicht: 'Sainte Beuve. Menschen des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts. Erste deutsche Übersetzung.' (Es sind 8 Personen; es giebt einen kleinen netten Band zum Anbeißen[.])" (Dearest sir, the Sainte-Beuve translation is finished: would you like to contact Mr. Prof. Overbeck about it? (Mrs. Prof. O[verbeck] desperately wishes to be kept completely out of it, so please, pretend you don't know anything about her participation[.]) Title perhaps: "Sainte Beuve. Personalities of the Eighteenth Century. First German translation." (There are 8 personalities; it is a nice little volume to get your teeth into[.]))
Marienbad, August 20, 1880:
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
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.
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).
[North America, Summer 1880]:
Dearest friend —
Just a greeting from the New World,1 which is unfortunately still the old one for me, — except for one point: The long sea voyage (almost always calm or contrary winds) has at least strengthened my philosophical muscles, and [made me] plus philosophe que jamais2 (nothing can be less American!) I'm dying to return to Europe and work. Even the Niagara Falls, for which I am leaving tomorrow, I will see almost more out of duty than inclination.
If only I could get any news from you here! More from Niagara — today just this sign of life.
Warmest regards to your family!
1. See his 06-17-1880 letter to Franziska Nietzsche.
[Stresa, October 31, 1880]:
Perhaps, dearest friend, you have returned home1 and saved yourself and your philosophy from the dangers of the sea and of Americanism. I think of you with true longing, without having any prospect of satisfying it; for I had to retreat to the south again2 and this time, as I have promised myself, for longer. As a prescription as well as a natural passion, solitude seems to me more and more clearly the perfect one — and the state in which we can accomplish our best has to be established and many sacrifices have to be made for it. For such a solitary person, however, "the friend" is a more priceless thought than the crowd here.3 — My respects to your parents.
1. For Paul Rée's trip to America, see his 06-17-1880 letter to Franziska Nietzsche.
Genoa, November 16, 1880:
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
1. The death of Clementine Krug (1811-1880): Gustav Krug's mother.
[Genoa, November 17, 1880]:
Cherished friend, I'm just sending news that I have finally reached1 the Ligurian coast and will be living not very far from Genoa for the time being. Since our last exchange of cards and letters, I have been besieged by every malady and insalubrious thing, so that I hardly remember a worse time;2 I have suffered like a bear in a tight spot,3 and timidity and bitterness were also nestled in my heart — extremely hibernal, as in nature. Meanwhile I think of the ashes and the phoenix: upwards! Think of me with love!
(Under all circumstances: Genova poste restante.)
[Genoa, second half of November 1880]:
You will be deep in work, dear friend, but a few words from me will not disturb you. It always does me good to think of you at your work, it's as if a healthy force of nature worked, as it were, blindly through you, and yet it is a [kind of] reason that works in the subtlest and most intertwined material and by which we have to abide when it behaves impatiently and doubtfully, and sometimes to our despair. I owe you so much, dear friend, for the fact that I was able to watch the spectacle of your life so closely: in fact, Basel bestowed upon me your image and that of Jakob Burckhardt; I think that it is not only with regard to knowledge that I have made great use of these images. The dignity and the grace of a distinctive and essentially solitary way of living and knowing: this spectacle was "presented at my door"1 by the favor of my destiny, which cannot be revered enough — and consequently, I left that house differently than I entered it.
Now all my writings and endeavors are aimed at realizing an ideal attic solitude in which all those necessary and most elementary demands of my nature, as many, many pains have taught me, come into their own. And perhaps I will succeed! The daily struggle against my headaches and the ridiculous variety of my distresses requires such attention that I run the risk of becoming petty as well — well, it is the counterweight to very general, very ambitious urges that have such control over me that I would have to make a fool of myself without great counterweights. I have just come round from a very vicious attack, and no sooner had I shaken off my distress of the past two days when my folly again pursued quite incredible things, from the moment I wake up, and I do not think that any attic occupants will see the dawn illuminate more lovely and desirable things. Help me to hold onto this hiddenness, deny my existence in Genoa, — for a good period of time I have to live without people and in the middle of a city whose language I do not know, I must — I repeat; have no fears on my account! I live as if the centuries were nothing and pursue my thoughts without thinking of the date or the newspapers.
I also want to have nothing more to do with the aspirations of the current "idealism," especially the German one[.] — Let us all do our work, posterity may then rank us such and such, or it may not do it: I merely want to feel free and not to have to say yes! or no! e.g., to such a typically idealistic booklet2 like the one I am sending you. It's the last thing I want to get to know about the current "German mind" — equally touching, presumptuous, and in unspeakably bad taste: just read it once, together with your wife, of course! And then burn it and read Plutarch's life of Brutus and Dion3 to purge yourself of this German bombast. — Farewell, dear friend! Did I congratulate you on your birthday?4 No. But I congratulated myself for it.
With all my love.
Genova, poste restante.
1. Nietzsche and Overbeck were housemates in Basel.
[Genoa, December 5, 1880]:
My dear Lisbeth, our messages have crossed: I go to the post office once a week. Go! Yes, there is a lot going on! Also going up! For in order to get to my garret, I have to climb 164 steps inside the house, and the house itself is very high up, on a steep palace street,2 which is very quiet because of its steepness and because it leads to a big flight of steps with some grass between the stones. — My health is in a hideous disorder, including my stomach. But the air of the sea does me unspeakable good. Do not disclose my hermitage. Patience! How often do I think of your kindness from the autumn!3 Your F.
1. Colorized from b/w photo, GSA 101/161.