Nietzsche's Letters | 1881This page in German© The Nietzsche Channel

Nietzsche's Letters

1881

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The Cliffs at Nervi, Genoa, Liguria, Italy.
Picture postcard, undated.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, January 8, 1881]:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

Dear dear friend, I have nothing to write about, but I was just thinking of you for quite some time; I was lying still by the sea again, like a lizard in the sun, the snow glistening for the first time on the distant mountain peaks (it has not yet come near).1 Your letter, as well as everything I have heard from you, shows me again that I am causing you more trouble than I would like. Let us put up with one another in silence! In later life, when we have grown closer and closer together like stalwart old trees, we shall laugh again about the early years of our companionship! Keep yourself close to me in the new decade too — I am afraid that at the end of the same I will be even more solitary than I am now (I am afraid and I am almost proud of it for the time being!) But you must stick with me, and I will stick with you!

Loyally your friend F.N.

1. Cf. excerpt from Genoa, 01-08-1881: Postcard to Franziska Nietzsche und Elisabeth Nietzsche: "An den ferneren Bergen der Küste ist der Schnee auf den Spitzen. Wir hatten drei bis vier Tage Regenwetter (Novemberwetter) Wenn die Sonne scheint, gehe ich immer auf einen einsamen Felsen am Meer und liege dort im Freien unter meinem Sonnenschirm still, wie eine Eidechse; das hat mehrere Male meinem Kopfe wieder aufgeholfen. Meer und reiner Himmel! Was habe ich mich früher gequält! Täglich wasche ich den ganzen Körper und namentlich den ganzen Kopf, nebst starkem Frottiren." (The snow is on the peaks of the more distant mountains from the coast. We had three to four days of rainy weather (November weather). When the sun is shining, I always go to a solitary rock by the sea and lie there in the open under my parasol like a lizard; this has helped my head several times. Sea and pure sky! What have I tormented myself with in the past! Every day I wash my entire body and especially my entire head, along with vigorous toweling.) Cf. excerpt from Genoa, 01-08-1881: Postcard to Franz Overbeck: "Ich denke so oft an Dich und namentlich, wenn ich nach Mittag, fast Tag für Tag, auf meinem abgeschiedenen Felsen am Meere sitze oder liege, wie die Eidechse in der Sonne ruhe und mit den Gedanken auf Abenteuer des Geistes ausgehe. Meine Diät und Vertheilung des Tages sollte mir doch auf die Dauer gut thun! Meerluft und viel reiner Himmel — das sehe ich nun ein ist mir unentbehrlich!" (I think of you so often and especially when at noon, almost day after day, I sit or lie on my isolated rock by the sea, like the lizard resting in the sun and thinking about adventures of the spirit. My diet and arrangement of my day should be good for me in the long run! Sea air and a lot of pure sky — I now see that it is indispensable to me!)

 




Title page:
Morgenröthe. 1881.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.
 

[Genoa, January 25, 1881]:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

Dear friend, I will be launching my Genoese ship1 to you! The winter has become harsh, and since then my health has taken a turn for the worse — I am happy that I have nothing more to do with the manuscript.2 — Well, to say it again: "Friend, I commend my spirit into your hands!" And even more: "I commend my hands into your spirit!"3 I write too poorly and see everything distortedly. If you cannot guess what I am thinking, then the manuscript is indecipherable. (From your last two letters, however, I see with great delight how our thoughts are contiguous — unfortunately I cannot reply as I would like,4 forgive me!) — Now I want to see whether "life" can be recovered; I have solved my task and am thinking of what is to come with a good conscience — even how it will come! That so much pain will be bestowed upon me! Ridiculous economy of my body! May you be well in body and heart, my dear dear Köselitz!

Faithfully F.N.

Please reply: poste restante!

1. By "Genoese ship," Nietzsche is referring to his manuscript for Morgenröthe (Dawn).
2. Köselitz prepared the manuscript for publication.
3. An allusion to Luke 23:46, "And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost." Nietzsche's pun is the double meaning of Geist, i.e., "spirit" or "mind." Nietzsche is entrusting his "mind" (through his manuscript) to Köselitz's hands (through his proofreading skills).
4. Due to his increasingly poor vision.

 


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

[Genoa, January 29, 1881]:
Letter to Franziska Nietzsche.

My dear good mother,

Well, may the New Year put on a cheerful face for you!1 And if while doing so it reveals a face that is not too different from that of the Old Year, then let us be satisfied with it! Because basically, my dear mother, you have your tolerable and virtuous measure of material well-being, of which I convince myself with great pleasure with every visit. The fact that "happiness" with drums and trumpets is still to come one day, we all no longer really believe in that; everyone has his task and must hustle every day and see how it turns out — and if it turns out, then one is in good spirits; in the worst case one puts on a good face, as I now grin and bear the winter.

Well, I'm going for a walk! For the room cannot be endured for long, and at present I still don't have a heated room to step into. Nevertheless, I'm not upset, although my health has definitely turned for the worse since the onset of the harsh winter. Hopefully it won't last too long. In such a state of health it takes such careful and painstaking deliberation to navigate all the cliffs every day that I am glad to do it alone, for it looks so finicky, even unmanly. But I have my bravery and masculinity in other things and I just have to struggle along in order to still achieve something reasonable in my way, despite every bad illness. I'm eating more meat this winter to keep warm and for easier digestion. On the other hand, I did not even dare to start eating eggs again: I still have the crushed sugar from Naumburg. For breakfast I eat stale white bread, with tea or coffee. I'm regular like a clock. I walk around for six to eight hours. Actually, I have the life I longed for earlier, when I dreamed of Rothenburg an der Tauber2 — remind our Lisbeth of it! — indeed, I have done it more thoroughly and more proficiently than I imagined back then (I was not yet independent enough in spirit, as I am now, and had not yet struggled through due to experience and suffering — because, my dear mother, whether you can tell it from me or not, I've experienced a lot in the last intractable 10 years.)

And now once again! Peace and joy around thee! With devotion and love

Your son F.

1. Franziska Nietzsche's upcoming 55th birthday was February 2.
2. In May 1874, Nietzsche came up with a plan to give up his professorship and retire to Rothenburg ob der Tauber because, with its intact city walls, it was still very old German.

 


Heinrich Köselitz.
From b/w photo, Venice, 1878.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, February 3, 1881]:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

Oh my dear friend, how well you know how to ease my conscience — for it was very difficult for me to make my request to you, on whom such great tasks rest.1 — We've had a winter of 30 days, assuming it's over. Since January 31st I've been lying in the sun every day and yesterday it was too hot for me. Venice has the flaw of not being a city for a walker — I need my 6-8 hours of walking in the great outdoors. Have you not thought of Bologna for the summer? Or Albano and Ariccia near Rome? I need you so much. Have you heard anything about the condition of Frau v. Wöhrmann?2 — Your duel history3 shows that you are very superior to me — I admire and laugh at that. In warm friendship, your F.N.

1. Nietzsche is referring to his manuscript for Morgenröthe (Dawn), which Köselitz was preparing for publication.
2. Emma von Wöhrmann (1839-1881): an acquaintance of the Nietzsche family from Naumburg, who had moved to Venice for her health, but died there on 11-01-1881. Her eldest son was a boarder of Franziska Nietzsche.
3. See Venice, 01-26-1881: Letter from Heinrich Köselitz to Nietzsche in Genoa.

 


Heinrich Köselitz.
By: Fritz Schumann.
From b/w photo, ca. 1890.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, February 9, 1881]:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

Oh, what a surprise that was! To see the beauty and manly grace of this manuscript1 of yours — it is like the feeling after a Roman-Turkish bath, not only washed clean, but rejuvenated and improved. I read and walked for a few hours, full of heartfelt thoughts toward you and nature. It seems to me a book of substance: but it is difficult. In the early hours of this glorious February I made an addendum so that everything would come out quite unambiguously. — I think you will be satisfied with it. Can I send this addendum? — I also want to change the title;2 you gave me the idea of using as the motto the verse you wrote down fortuitously from the hymn to Varuna:3 shouldn't the book be called: "A Dawn.4 Thoughts on Moral Prejudices, etc." There are so many bright and especially red colors in it! Take this into consideration! (The title page, with simple, unadorned decorations, is also recommended to you, being to your taste and way of thinking!)

The most grateful happy one.

1. Nietzsche is referring to his manuscript for Morgenröthe (Dawn), which Köselitz was preparing for publication.
2. The original title was Die Pflugschar. Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurtheile. (The Plowshare. Thoughts on Moral Prejudices.) See Nachlass, Winter 1880-81 9[1] (From Nietzsche's Notebooks, Winter 1880-81 9[1]).
3. A verse from the Rig Veda that Köselitz added to the manuscript title page: "Es giebt so viele Morgenröthen, die noch nicht geleuchtet haben." (There are so many dawns that have not yet glowed.) Cf. "Varuna. 2.28.9." In: Wendy Doniger (ed., trans.), The Rig Veda. An anthology of one hundred and eight hymns, selected, translated and annotated by Wendy Doniger. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England; New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, 1981, 218. "9 Abolish the debts for the things I have done, O king, and do not make me pay for what has been done by others. So many more dawns have not yet risen, Varuna; make sure that we will live through them."
4. The indefinite article was eventually dropped, so instead of "A Dawn," the title became "Dawn." For Nietzsche's reasons for making the change, see Genoa, 03-20-1881: Letter to Heinrich Köselitz in Venice.

 


Heinrich Köselitz.
By: Fritz Schumann.
From b/w photo, ca. 1890.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, February 12, 1881]:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

Dear poor friend, forgive me! The addendum to the manuscript1 has increased more than is fair for you! I implore you to help me this time and don't hold it against me for doing something that looks like gross impertinence! Make my business yours for once — more had to be put into the book, the horizon of the book was meant to be rounded, and I was in the right frame of mind during this glorious early springtime! So it happened, which in view of your friendship should perhaps have been omitted! But, as I said, take it as your business; having suffered, who knows if you might not at some point be found complicit in the making of this book — let's see that we both can still enjoy it together now. But for that a word of forgiveness is necessary! Just one word on a card, and, I implore you, no more than at the most three words!!!!! Only one word! But immediately, cherished poor friend!

1. Nietzsche is referring to additions to his manuscript for Morgenröthe (Dawn), which Köselitz was preparing for publication.

 


Elisabeth Nietzsche.
By: Carl Bräunlich (1850-1900).
From b/w photo, Jena 1881.1
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, February 13, 1881]:
Postcard to Franziska and Elisabeth Nietzsche.

My dears, I have such beautiful, detailed news from the two of you1 — and I myself keep waiting for news! Above all: we have the winter behind us! It lasted just 30 days. From January 31st it has been very pleasant; I lie by the sea for a few hours almost every day. I got news about Frau v. W[öhrmann]2 from Mr. Köselitz: she doesn't want to go to Corfu. Some say she suffers from a lung ailment, others call it another ailment. A painter3 I know is painting her little daughter.4 — How long will she be staying in Venice? Write to me about it. Prince Liechtenstein5 is there now, he also paid Mr. Köselitz a visit, and Gersdorff is still there. — Dear Lisbeth, for reading amongst company I recommend Voltaire's Mahomet, translated by Goethe (in all Goethe editions)[.]6 I was very pleased to hear that Frau von Sévigné had been chosen,7 indeed, I was waiting to hear it. Accept, my dearly beloved ones, my heartfelt and grateful greetings[.] Exact address, not like the last time! Your F.

1. In an unknown letter from them.
2. Emma von Wöhrmann (1839-1881): an acquaintance of the Nietzsche family from Naumburg, who had moved to Venice for her health, but died there on 11-01-1881. Her eldest son was a boarder of Franziska Nietzsche.
3. Robert Rascovich (1857-1905): Yugoslavian-born artist, who was a watercolorist while in Venice. A prize-winning artist, Rascovich emigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Chicago, where he died in 1905. View one of Rascovich's Venetian watercolors; and a photograph of Rascovich in his studio in Chicago.
4. Dina von Wöhrmann (1863-1899). In 1879-1881, she was a pupil of Nietzsche's friend Meta von Salis (1855-1929), who lived in Naumburg and Venice with the von Wöhrmanns as a governess.
5. Prince Rudolf of Liechtenstein (1833-1888): a friend of Richard Wagner.
6. Voltaire's play "Mahomet" (1736). Translated in: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Goethe's sämmtliche Werke in vierzig Bänden. Bd. 35. Stuttgart und Augsburg: Cotta, 1858, 163-244. Nietzsche first read Voltaire's play while staying with Malwilda von Meysenbug in Sorrento in 1877. It's uncertain which edition he read at that time.
7. Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, Marquise de Sévigné (1626-1696): French writer of epistles.

 


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

[Genoa, February 22, 1881]:
Letter to Heinrich Köselitz.

Is it true, dear friend, that you have good confidence in the entire thing?1 Or did you just want to encourage me a bit? I am so broken by constant pain that I can no longer evaluate anything; I wonder if I am not finally allowed to cast off the entire burden; my father died when he was my age.2 — I should have responded to your penultimate card and I would have liked to — but I couldn't! it was inspired by a refined and friendly spirit; Madame de Sévigné3 would have complimented you on it. — Title! The second "A Dawn" is a degree too effusive, oriental and of less good taste: but that is outweighed by the advantage that people assume a more joyful tone in the book than with the other title, they read it in a different frame of mind; it stands the book in good stead, which, without that little glimpse of the morning, would really be too gloomy! — The other title also sounds presumptuous, oh, what does it even matter! A little pretension more or less in such a book!4 — The orthography and the grammatical correctness, dear friend, are your business again, I have no orthography other than the Köselitzian. Sometimes I make solecisms e. g. in the construction of the subjunctive: correct me in every detail without further ado!

Behind this entire book I hear my music for Manfred5 — just imagine! — What is friend Widemann doing? From Dr. Rée I hear the saddest things: his father died in the aftermath of an operation, his mother gravely ill. Are you really still going to be in Venice this summer? Frau v. Wöhrmann6 is staying, so I hear. — And Mr. Racowitz [sic]?7 — Thank my old comrade Gersdorff most cordially for his greeting, nothing has changed between us.8 (If he only wanted to free himself! But he is so stubborn, especially in regard to others, e.g., his relatives! Imagine, G[ersdorff]'s father shot himself,9 something that I learned from a reliable source and that one shouldn't reveal.)

Well, my dear sole reader and scribe, we must finish off well what we have undertaken, Mr. Schmeitzner and Oschatz must be prodded too.10 In the meantime there is no one whom I think of with such warm and grateful sentiments than you!

Faithfully yours
F.N.

Do you know anyone in Bologna? But perhaps I'll get to Venice around the middle of April, I have to withdraw from myself, my thoughts are eating me up. I want to row — who has a boat? But alone. — And my apartment? —

1. Nietzsche is referring to his manuscript for Morgenröthe (Dawn), which Köselitz was preparing for publication.
2. Carl Ludwig Nietzsche (1813-1849) died of a brain tumor at age 35. Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche propagated the legend that he died by falling down the stairs.
3. Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, Marquise de Sévigné (1626-1696): French writer of epistles.
4. The original title of Morgenröthe (Dawn) was Die Pflugschar. Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurtheile. (The Plowshare. Thoughts on Moral Prejudices.) See Nachlass, Winter 1880-81 9[1] (From Nietzsche's Notebooks, Winter 1880-81 9[1]). The Plowshare is the "gloomy" title to which Nietzsche refers. The indefinite article of the new title was eventually dropped, so instead of "A Dawn," the title became "Dawn." For Nietzsche's reasons for making the change, see Genoa, 03-20-1881: Letter to Heinrich Köselitz in Venice.
5. Nietzsche's April 1872 piano composition, Manfred Meditation. See his 1872 correspondence with Hans von Bülow; and, Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music. The Nietzsche Channel, 2012, 23f., 100-111.
6. Emma von Wöhrmann (1839-1881): an acquaintance of the Nietzsche family from Naumburg, who had moved to Venice for her health, but died there on 11-01-1881. Her eldest son was a boarder of Franziska Nietzsche.
7. Robert Rascovich (1857-1905): Yugoslavian-born artist, who was a watercolorist while in Venice. A prize-winning artist, Rascovich emigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Chicago, where he died in 1905. View one of Rascovich's Venetian watercolors; and a photograph of Rascovich in his studio in Chicago.
8. Their friendship was severed in 1877 by Gersdorff's affair with a woman, Nerina Finochietti, an Italian countess from a disreputable family. He was introduced to her by Malwida von Meysenbug, who later discovered and broadcast her true origins. Gersdorff responded by castigating Meysenbug in his correspondence with her, to which Nietzsche took great offense.
9. Gersdorff's father, Carl Ernst August von Gersdorff, died at the age of 67. Nothing further is known about the circumstances of his death.
10. In late July 1881, Morgenröthe was published by Ernst Schmeitzner in Chemnitz. The printing was done by B. G. Teubner in Leipzig, not Richard Oschatz in Chemnitz.

 


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

[Genoa, February 22, 1881]:
Postcard to Franz Overbeck.

Yes, dear friend, I am still in Genoa, and hopefully I have the hardest part of the winter behind me. For the first time without a stove in the winter, often enough with frozen limbs. I am again suffering more than before Christmas, and I can hardly get rid of the headaches, sometimes I get very weary of all things. Please forward my next payment to Mr. Schmeitzner,1 likewise the 50 frcs you wrote about. Do not worry, compared to the previous winter, I am doing all right, and perhaps spring will do me good again. — My eyes are so rarely at my command! Forgive my appearance of ingratitude, dear good friend. Greeting you and your dear wife from the bottom of my heart

F.N.

1. Nietzsche had allowed Schmeitzner to invest his money.

 




Title page:
Morgenröthe. 1881.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.
 

[Genoa, February 23, 1881]:
Letter to Ernst Schmeitzner.

Most worthy publisher

I thank you most sincerely for all your arrangements,1 I believe in your sincere benevolence toward me and therefore I also believe in everything you do for me in things of which, as you know, I am inexperienced. As for money, I understand only one thing: to spend little and to save. Who is living as philosophically and as well (and yet by no means ascetically) as I am here in Genoa? And yet I don't need more than 60 marks each month for everything, that also includes the most incidental things.2

Therefore, because of my almost extinguished vision, I have no prospect of any source of support in my later life. So let's keep saving and accumulating! But right now this is only a minor matter. —3

I am inquiring whether you want to take on the publication of a new book,4 which lies before me transcribed by Mr. Köselitz. My conditions in regard to the layout and honorarium are the same as before. But this time I demand that Mr. Oschatz5 surpass himself in quality and punctuality — it has to be an exemplary book.

The title is:

A Dawn.6
Thoughts on Moral Prejudices.
By
Friedrich Nietzsche.

"There are so many dawns
that have not yet glowed." Rig Veda.7

This book is what one would call "a decisive step" — more a destiny than a book.

Give me an answer to my request, here, to Genova (Italia) poste restante.

Know that I always have the most sincere wishes for you and remain

Your Dr F. Nietzsche.

1. Unknown reference.
2. Nietzsche's pension was 2,400 marks per year.
3. Nietzsche had allowed Schmeitzner to invest his money.
4. Nietzsche is referring to his manuscript for Morgenröthe (Dawn), which Köselitz had prepared for publication.
5. According to a 03-18-88 letter from Ernst Schmeitzner to Heinrich Köselitz, Schmeitzner had stopped using Richard Oschatz in Chemnitz as his printer.
6. The indefinite article was eventually dropped, so instead of "A Dawn," the title became "Dawn." For Nietzsche's reasons for making the change, see Genoa, 03-20-1881: Letter to Heinrich Köselitz in Venice.
7. A verse from the Rig Veda that Köselitz added to the manuscript title page: "Es giebt so viele Morgenröthen, die noch nicht geleuchtet haben." (There are so many dawns that have not yet glowed.) Cf. "Varuna. 2.28.9." In: Wendy Doniger (ed., trans.), The Rig Veda. An anthology of one hundred and eight hymns, selected, translated and annotated by Wendy Doniger. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England; New York, N.Y.: Penguin Books, 1981, 218. "9 Abolish the debts for the things I have done, O king, and do not make me pay for what has been done by others. So many more dawns have not yet risen, Varuna; make sure that we will live through them."

 


Heinrich Köselitz.
From b/w photo, Venice, 1878.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, February 24, 1881]:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

Today, one after the other, a strong laxative, a good day, and bright sun! I immediately arranged the entire thing1 (en masse) — it spread out easily and naturally in 4 piles,2 each with its basic color, and of similar size. The success cheered me up. When I saw the whole thing put together again, I had to laugh — it won't be a big book, but there aren't many books with so much content (am I now speaking as the father of the book? I don't think so)[.] It seems to me that my three Genoese patron saints, Columbus, Mazzini, and Paganini,3 had some hand in it. — In the autumn I despaired that I would ever find the mood and strength and passion for the entire thing again — it had flown through my head in Marienbad.4 And today! — Thanks to your great great kindness!

F.N.

1. The manuscript for Morgenröthe (Dawn), which Köselitz had prepared for publication.
2. The final version contained 5 parts, or "books."
3. All three were born in Genoa: the explorer Christopher Columbus (1451-1506), the only one of the three mentioned in the book; the politician Giuseppe Mazzini (1805-1872), whom Nietzsche met in February 1871; and the violinist and composer Niccolò Paganini (1782-1840).
4. In 1880, Nietzsche stayed in Marienbad for two months, from July 5th to the end of August. He began writing Morgenröthe (Dawn) in the autumn of 1880. After arriving in Genoa around 11-10-1880 (where he stayed until the end of April 1881), he continued working on the manuscript until sending it to Heinrich Köselitz on 01-25-1881. The book was finally published in July 1881.

 


Tunisian street scene.
By: Roberto Roscovich.1
Watercolor on paper, undated [ca. 1880s].
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, March 13, 1881]:
Letter to Heinrich Köselitz.

That is not right, dear friend! You make me a confidante of your destitution — and such destitution! — after it's over! And this time I feel as I did in Marienbad2 — I feel as if you are fleeing from me and want to punish me for something. I am always ashamed to think about these concerns. Ah, a small card and a few words about it and a hundred fr[anc]s or more will fly to you. — Well, no offense! But you are too good to me.

Your news about your work3 is very good. To me, Prince L[iechtenstein] has always been praised, according to a very credible and discerning opinion (Frau C[osima] Wagner), as a distinguished man, I am pleased that he also revealed a liking for you. For, dear friend, you are to be discovered.4

Today the m[anu]s[cript]5 shall be sent to Mr. Schmeitzner. What I have been through in the meantime for the sake of this book! After a brief, brief pleasure! Enough, I now feel upon open seas again, and the old bitter determination so well known to me has returned. —

Ask my old comrade Gersdorff6 if he would like to go to Tunis with me for a year or two. Excellent climate, not too hot — very short crossing from Livorno via Cagliari, living there is cheap. I want to live a good while among Muslims, and namely in a place where their faith is now the strictest: this will certainly sharpen my judgment and my vision for everything European. I think such an evaluation is not beyond my life's work. — A German-Swiss trading company in Tunis will provide us with lodgings. But first the book has to be finished: I want a copy to be in your hands by the end of April.

I ask you and Mr. G[ersdorff] to remain silent about my travel plans for the time being. — A painter of the genre will find his promised land in Tunis: only then will I make this proposal to my friend.7

Dear dear friend, why can't I hear your music! I need all kinds of healthiness — it went a bit too deep into my heart, this "heartbreaking nihilism"!8

Well, let's stay strong!

Loyally F.N.

1. Robert Rascovich (1857-1905): Yugoslavian-born artist, who was a watercolorist while in Venice. A prize-winning artist, Rascovich emigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Chicago, where he died in 1905. View one of Rascovich's Venetian watercolors; and a photograph of Rascovich in his studio in Chicago. The watercolor is signed at bottom-right: "R. Rascovich," followed by his stylized monogram. Also see Note 7.
2. In 1880, Nietzsche stayed in Marienbad for two months, from July 5th to the end of August. He began writing Morgenröthe (Dawn) in the autumn of 1880. After arriving in Genoa around 11-10-1880 (where he stayed until the end of April 1881), he continued working on the manuscript until sending it to Heinrich Köselitz on 01-25-1881. The book was finally published in July 1881.
3. Köselitz's comic opera, Scherz, List und Rache.
4. Prince Rudolf of Liechtenstein (1833-1888): a friend of Richard Wagner. See Cosima Wagner, Die Tagebücher. Bd. 2. 1878-1883. München; Zürich: Piper, 1877, 517-528 (April 1880). In his commentary to Nietzsche's Collected Letters, Köselitz wrote: "'Fürst Liechtenstein' war im Winter 80/81 in Venidig und musicirte öfters mit mir." (In Winter 80-81, "Prince Liechtenstein" was in Venice and often played music with me.) See Friedrich Nietzsche, Peter Gast (Hrsg.), Friedrich Nietzsches gesammelte Briefe. 2. Auflage. Bd. 4. Leipzig: Insel, 1908, 449.
5. Morgenröthe (Dawn).
6. Their friendship was severed in 1877 by Gersdorff's affair with a woman, Nerina Finochietti, an Italian countess from a disreputable family. He was introduced to her by Malwida von Meysenbug, who later discovered and broadcast her true origins. Gersdorff responded by castigating Meysenbug in his correspondence with her, to which Nietzsche took great offense.
7. It seems that Nietzsche's decision to visit Tunisia (he never went) was influenced by his acquaintance with Roberto Rascovich (1857-1905), the painter he met through Heinrich Köselitz in Venice in 1881. Rascovich was in Tunisia either shortly before or after he met Nietzsche. Also see Note 1.
8. In his 03-10-1881 letter to Nietzsche, Köselitz stated that Carl von Gersdorff told him that the French music critic Éduord Schuré (1841-1929) had written a letter to Richard Wagner, in which he described Nietzsche's "jetzigen Meinungen als 'herzbrecherischen Nihilismus' (nihilisme écoeuré)" (current opinions as "heartbreaking nihilism" (nihilisme écoeuré).) Écoeuré actually means "disheartening" or "nauseating." See Cosima Wagner, Die Tagebücher. Bd. 2. 1878-1883. München; Zürich: Piper, 1877, 467. Excerpts from Cosima Wagner's Diaries, 12-28-1879.

 


Morgenröthe. Chemnitz: Schmeitzner, 1881.
Front and Back Covers.
© Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, Klassik Stiftung Weimar.1
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Genova March 13th 1881:
Letter to Ernst Schmeitzner.

Most worthy sir,

Here is the manuscript2 — at the cost of a bitter decision to let it slip from my hands. —

There will be around 16-18 sheets.

After the title page is a page with the title: Book One. — There are five books. —3

I consider "Human All-Too-Human"4 as the norm for spacing. Don't make the printing so compressed! Already a flaw of the book is the fact that the most important ideas follow one another too closely.

But hurry now! Hurry! Hurry! I want to leave Genoa as soon as I have finished the book, and I'll be on pins and needles until then. Please help! Prod Mr. Oschatz!5 Can't he give me a written guarantee that the book will be here in my hands by the end of April6 at the latestfinished and complete? —

At the same time send a [proof-]sheet to Mr. Köselitz in Venice and a [proof-]sheet to me in Genova (poste restante).

The [large] and small pages of the m[anu]s[cript] are numbered in red. The overleaf also has writing in four or five places.

Dear Mr. Schmeitzner, we all want our job done as well as possible this time. The content of my book is so important! It is a question of honor to us not to let anything be done poorly, so that it comes into the world worthy and flawless. —

I beseech you, for the sake of my name, to omit any advertising.7 And many other things are self-explanatory once you have read the book yourself.

With the warmest wishes (but some palpitations)

Yours most sincerely
Dr. F. N.

1. View the book at HAAB: front cover; back cover.
2. Morgenröthe (Dawn).
3. In Nietzsche's 02-24-1881 letter to Heinrich Köselitz, he mentions four parts.
4. Nietzsche's Menschliches Allzumenschliches was published by Schmeitzner in 1878. View the 1878 edition at HAAB.
5. According to a 03-18-88 letter from Ernst Schmeitzner to Heinrich Köselitz, Schmeitzner had stopped using Richard Oschatz in Chemnitz as his printer.
6. In late July 1881, Morgenröthe was published by Ernst Schmeitzner in Chemnitz. The printing was done by B. G. Teubner in Leipzig, not Richard Oschatz in Chemnitz.
7. Nietzsche did not want Morgenröthe (Dawn) to contain any advertising for anti-Semitic writings from Schmeitzner's publishing house. In a series called Antisemitische Hefte (Anti-Semitic Pamphlets), Schmeitzner began reprinting the reprehensible writings of the anti-Semitic agitator, Wilhelm Marr (1819-1904). The series only lasted for one year with three issues: Wilhelm Marr, Der Judenkrieg, seine Fehler und wie er zu organisieren ist. "Der Verkauf findet zum besten des antisemitischen Agitationsfonds statt." Chemnitz: Ernst Schmeitzner, 1880. Aus: Der Sieg des Judentums über das Germanenthum. - [1879] Series: Antisemitische Hefte Nr. 1; Wilhelm Marr, Goldene Ratten und rothe Mäuse. "Der Verkauf findet zum besten des antisemitischen Agitationsfonds statt." Chemnitz: Ernst Schmeitzner, 1880. Series: Antisemitische Hefte Nr. 2; Wilhelm Marr, Oeffnet die Augen, Ihr deutschen Zeitungsleser. Ein unentbehrliches Büchlein für jeden deutschen Zeitungsleser. "Der Verkauf findet zum besten des antisemitischen Agitationsfonds statt." Chemnitz: Ernst Schmeitzner, 1880. Series: Antisemitische Hefte Nr. 3.

 


Heinrich Köselitz.
From b/w photo, Venice, 1878.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, March 14, 1881]:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

Here, dear friend, is the m[anu]s[cript].1 An attack of my headaches will make me "unfit for service" for a few days — and perhaps Gersdorff2 will help glue the pieces of paper together. Please ask him to do it on my behalf! (Make him aware that the overleaf also has writing in 5 or 6 places[.]) There are 5 books. After the title page is a page with the title: Book One (etc.)[.] I do not like symbols for the title page. Simple, strong and bold lines with text that is very readible! —

Faithfully your friend
Nietzsche.

1. Morgenröthe (Dawn).
2. Carl von Gersdorff moved to Venice in November 1880, but his friendship with Nietzsche had been severed since 1877, and they had not communicated since that time.

 


Naumburg Cathedral.
By: Hermann Ruckwardt (1845-1919).
Photograph, 1879.
© Kunstbibliothek der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin-Preußischer Kulturbesitz.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, March 14, 1881]:
Postcard to Franziska and Elisabeth Nietzsche.

My dear ones, thank you very much for the letters. I was not and still am not well. Bad weather. — Forgive me for having spoken of B[aden-]Baden — I wasn't thinking about it at all for myself!1 But only that our mom would have a pleasant, mild, entertaining, and idyllic place in her old age, so that she wouldn't be left alone in the dull, bureaucratic town of N[aumburg] (this N[aumburg] is abominable in winter and summer — I have never had a nostalgic feeling for it even when I really tried to put up with it there). I do not have any good news about the condition of Frau von W[öhrmann]2 in Venice. — Don't think that I'm writing in an angry mood. From the bottom of my heart I wish you well, and think a lot about what might delight you.

Your F.

1. In an unknown letter from Nietzsche.
2. Emma von Wöhrmann (1839-1881): an acquaintance of the Nietzsche family from Naumburg, who had moved to Venice for her health, but died there on 11-01-1881. Her eldest son was a boarder of Franziska Nietzsche.

 


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

[Genoa, March 18, 1881]:
Postcard to Franz Overbeck.

Dear, dear friend, just a word today! There is something about which you must be the first to find out — a new manuscript1 of mine is in the works in Chemnitz. This is the book that will probably cling to my name. — What a burden I have had on my shoulders! And which I have only now put on myself! Now, forward and looking neither backward nor sideward! I am very moved and would like to be able to grasp your loyal hand. From now on, my few real friends will have to bear even more through life, I will cause trouble for them and you, but it's inevitable!2

Your friend from the heart.

1. Morgenröthe (Dawn).
2. aber es hilft nichts! [but it's no use, or, but nothing can be done about it].

 


Torn Postcard from Nietzsche to Schmeitzner.
March 19, 1881.
© Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Goethe- und Schiller-Archiv.1
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

[Genoa, March 19, 1881]:
Postcard to Ernst Schmeitzner.

[+ + +] [th]e first book already [+ + +] fortunate too! — [+ + +], most worthy sir! [+ + +] books, namely:2

Lecky Geschichte des Ursprungs der Aufklärung. Deutsch.3
Lecky Sittengeschichte Europas. Deutsch.4
(Both by C.F. Winter, Leipzig)
Grabbe's Collected Works edited by O. Blumenthal.5
(Not the other more recent edition by Gottschall!)

Always Genova, poste restante.

Due to [the size of] the correction sheets, please review the Universal Postal Regulations again!6

Sincerely yours F. N.

1. View the original postcard at GSA 71/BW 306,3 Bl 37.
2. The upper-left front side of the card was torn causing a gap in the text on the reverse side. The first sentence seems to be Nietzsche discussing the corrections to Book One of Morgenröthe (Dawn). The second sentence is Nietzsche requesting a few books he needs.
3. William Edward Hartpole Lecky (1838-1903): Geschichte des Ursprungs und Einflusses der Aufklärung in Europa [History of the Rise and Influence of the Spirit of Rationalism in Europe]. Deutsch von H. Jolowicz. Leipzig: Winter, 1873. For links, see the entry for Lecky in Nietzsche's Library.
4. William Edward Hartpole Lecky (1838-1903): Sittengeschichte Europas von Augustus bis auf Karl den Grossen [History of European Morals from Augustus to Charlemagne]. Nach der 2. verbesserten Auflage mit Bewilligung des Verfassers übersetzt von Hermann Jolowicz. Zweite, rechtmässige Auflage, mit den Zusätzen der 3. englischen vermehrt, und durchgesehen von Ferdinand Löwe. Bd. 1-2. Leipzig; Heidelberg: Winter, 1879. For links, see the entry for Lecky in Nietzsche's Library.
5. Christian Dietrich Grabbe (1801-1836): Sämmtliche Werke und handschriftlicher Nachlaß. Erste kritische Gesammt-Ausgabe. Herausgegeben und erläutert von Oskar Blumenthal. Bd. 1; Bd. 4 ([Ursprünglich:] Detmold 1874; Berlin: Grote, 1875. For links, see the entry for Grabbe in Nietzsche's Library.
6. Nietzsche probably had to pay additional postal charges due to the large size of the package of correction sheets.

 


Heinrich Köselitz.
From b/w photo, Venice, 1878.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Genova March 20, 1881]:
Letter to Heinrich Köselitz.

But, dear friend, your strict friendship will at least not be able to prevent me from paying off a debt: I think of the countless expenses for letters, corrections, parcel-postage, and paper et hoc genus omne and am trying to compensate you for some of them today.1 The moment seems to me well chosen, for this parcel gives me the satisfaction of a bit of mischief, considering that I answer your last letter precisely this way. So I will take pleasure in thinking that you will now be staying in Venice for a few weeks longer.

I am in good spirits today, for the headache that lasted from Sunday2 afternoon until last night has gone again.

Thank Gersdorff for the prospect which he has put forth.3 I like fixed dates: is it possible to regard September 15 as such? —

Let's drop the title page affair!4 It's even something to laugh about! To wit: I only wanted to satisfy you, since the last time you were so outspoken with your anger about Mr. Schmeitzner's and Mr. Oschatz's5 bad taste — I myself wasn't that displeased and thought to myself: "Friend Köselitz understands this better[.]" Well, I think, let's restrict ourselves to letting Mr. Oschatz come up with a few more trial titles — and you choose the relatively most bearable one! — Moreover: we don't want to burden Mr. Schmeitzner with any more expenses — he will in the end be ruined by my unsaleable books.6 I would like to know how such a book will actually be received; I have the worst suspicion, when, e.g., making further asumptions after Rohde's letter,7 I think of the most unwilling reader — which basically, regarding the new book, everyone will be!

On the other hand, of course, the author of Bismarck's Era [published by Schmeitzner]8 called me "the German Montaigne Pascal and Diderot." All at the same time! How little refinement is in such praise, thus: how little praise! —

At least the book won't have a damaging effect — except that I'll have to atone for it myself! I give an opportunity not only to the highly moral, but to all decent and good people to enjoy their morality and bravery at my expense. I want to see how I get away with it; I know better than anyone can know that everything is still to be done, and that I myself only have for days or hours the character that is necessary to even ever think of another deed in this regard.

Oh, friend, I am being vague because I am too busy with these necessities of myself and perceive too much in a single word.

Tell me that you are okay with me, even in spite of today's maliciousness — but don't write it on stationery, but on a postcard so that it takes as little of your time as possible.

Yours from the heart:
loyally F. N.

Every title must above all be quotable: so we need to change it! Not "A Dawn," but just: Dawn. So it does not sound so pretentious.9

1. The expenses associated with Nietzsche's manuscript for Morgenröthe (Dawn), which Köselitz had prepared for publication since 01-25-1881.
2. Sunday's date was 03-13-1881.
3. According to a 03-16-1881 letter from Heinrich Köselitz, Gersdorff responded to Nietzsche's 03-13-1881 idea about living together in Tunisia by telling Köselitz that he proposed they travel to Tunisia in the autumn. Notice that they still had not reconciled their differences with each other, and were using Heinrich Köselitz as a go-between to communicate with each other.
4. The title of the manuscript for Morgenröthe (Dawn) had not been finalized.
5. Richard Oschatz, Ernst Schmeitzner's printer in Chemnitz.
6. According to a 07-01-1886 letter from Schmeitzner to Nietzsche, of the 1,000 printed copies of Morgenröthe (Dawn), less than 250 copies were sold.
7. See 12-20-1879 letter from Erwin Rohde, in which he denigrates Nietzsche's Menschliches Allzumenschliches (Human, All Too Human) with such honeyed glibness that it is difficult not to admire his sincerity. Excerpt: "ich denke immer an dich, wenn ich die besten und reinsten und folgereichsten Momente meiner Jugend – und meine Jugend fing eigentlich erst mit meinem zwanzigsten Jahre an — mir ins Gedächtniß heraufsteigen lasse. Ich kann dich nie verlieren, mögest du die fernsten Gedankengebirge erklettern; was man im vorigen Jahrhundert die 'Sympathie' nannte, zieht mich mit, ein Verständniß, das nicht nur aus dem Kopfe, sondern aus der ganzen Composition des Wesens stammt und sich fast wie ein Zwang auferlegt . Ich sollte dich trösten in all deinen Qualen: aber ich kann nichts andres sagen, als daß ich aus deinen nuesten Büchern, bei aller Beruhigung des Geistes, die sie mittheilen, eine fortwährende Mitqual gewinne: das quillt nicht über wie eine Überfülle der Lebensempfindung wie ein Buch sollte – ein überreicher Strom von Gedanken aller Art ergießt sich, aber er fließt über so viel persönliches Leiden und Entsagung aller Art hin, daß dem Freunde, der sich mittragen läßt, wehe dabei ums Herz wird. So viel Muth und Klarheit und Feinheit und ein so hoher Adel des Sinnes, daß er wagen kann, freiwillig allem adligthuenden Geberdenwesen zu entsagen, ein so freier und reiner Blick in die Welt – aber aus einer solchen Ferne von allem irdisch Derben und Trivialen; wie mit geschlossenen Augen siehst Du die ganze Fülle der Welt und des menschlichen Treibens, richtig aufgefaßt, aber ohne selbst von ihm umgetrieben und gestoßen zu werden, und das thut dem Leser wehe, wenn er dich lieb hat und (hierin den thörichten Weibern gleich) aus jedem Worte seinen Freund reden hört, statt auf den bloßen Gedanken an und für sich zu hören. Aber in Wahrheit wollen wir uns mit einander freuen, daß deine Schatten-gespräche dich so hoch und ferne von allem Persönlichen forttragen: so lange du deine Gedanken concipirst und ausbildest muß dich ja die Befriedigung, so etwas zu finden und zu können, ganz ausfüllen, um so mehr als alle deine Gedanken ebenso viele Kämpfe und Siege über die weichmachende Krankheit sind. Was du dem wenigen Lesern deines Buches für ein Geschenk machst kannst du selbst kaum recht beurtheilen, denn du wohnst oben in deinem eignen Geiste, wir andern aber hören solche Stimmen sonst nie, nicht gesprochen, nicht gedruckt: und so geht es mir, wie von jeher, wenn ich mit Dir zusammenwar, auch jetzt: ich werde für eine Zeit lang in einen höheren Rang erhoben, als ob ich geistig geadelt würde." (I always think of you when I let the best, purest and most consequential moments of my youth well up in my memory — and my youth actually only began in my twentieth year [i.e., when he first met Nietzsche at the University of Leipzig]. I can never lose you, even while you climb the most remote mountains of thought; what was called "sympathy" in the previous century draws me along, an understanding that stems not only from the head, but from the entire composition of one's being, and is imposed almost like a compulsion. I should console you in all your torments: but I can say nothing other than that, with all the calming of the spirit that they convey, I constantly agonize over your most recent books: they do not overflow like an overabundance of sensations of life like a book should — an overflowing stream of all kinds of thoughts pours out, but it overflows over so much personal suffering and renunciation of all kinds that the heart of a friend, who lends his support, becomes sore. So much courage and clarity and refinement and such a lofty nobility of mind that he can dare to voluntarily renounce all inherently noble gestures, such a free and pure look into the world — but so remote from all earthly crude and trivial things; as if with closed eyes you see the whole fullness of the world and human activity, properly understood, but without being worried and crushed by it, and it hurts the reader if he loves you and (like foolish women in this regard) hears his friend uttering every word instead of listening to the pure thoughts in and of themselves. But in truth we want to rejoice with each other that your shadowy discourses carry you so high and far away from everything personal: as long as you conceptualize and develop your thoughts, the satisfaction of finding and being able to find something like that must completely fulfill you, all the more so since all your thoughts are just like many battles and victories over your weakening illness.)
8. Bruno Bauer (1809-1882), Zur Orientierung über die Bismarck'sche Ära. Chemnitz: Schmeitzner, 1880, 287. See the entry for Bauer in Nietzsche's Library.
9. Nietzsche finally settles on the title for Morgenröthe (Dawn)
.

 




Paul Rée.
From b/w photo.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Sils-Maria, July 8, 1881:
Postcard to Paul Rée.

So let's just carry on!1 In the end, my dear brave friend, we're a pair of capable swimmers. All the world thinks we've already drowned, but we come to the surface again, and even bring something up from the depths, something which, in our opinion, is valuable and which for once, perhaps, other people will also find lustrous. I have just put a dangerous time behind me, and am back in the Engadine, my old haven of salvation:2 "still not bereft of the body,"3 and as for the soul, well, read the book that our publisher has sent you.4 Sometimes I feel as if I gaze upon things and people like someone long-dead — they move me, frighten and delight me, but I am quite remote from them. Eternally bereft and yet

So close to you: —
Faithfully F.N.

1. Unknown reference, probably to a letter from Rée.
2. Nietzsche's first visit to the Engadine for recuperation was from June 21 to Sept. 17, 1879, when he stayed in St. Moritz. He stayed in Sils-Maria for the first time from July 4 to October 1, 1881.
3. "des Leibes noch nicht ledig": cf. Gottfried August Bürger, "Lenore": "Geduld! Geduld! Wenn's Herz auch bricht! / Mit Gott im Himmel! hadre nicht! / Das Leibes bist du ledig; / Gott sei der Seele gnädig!" (Patience! Patience! Though your heart is breaking! / Quarrel not with God in heaven! / Bereft of your body, / God have mercy on your soul!)
4. Ernst Schmeitzner had just published Nietzsche's Morgenröthe (Dawn).

 


Heinrich Köselitz.
From b/w photo, Venice, 1878.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Sils-Maria, 21. Juli 1881:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

It occurred to me, dear friend, that in my book1 the constant inner debate with Christianity must be foreign, indeed even embarrassing to you; but it is the best part of ideal life that I have really got to know; from childhood on I pursued it into many corners, and I believe I have never been mean toward it in my heart. Ultimately, I am the descendant of entire generations of Christian clergymen — forgive me this limitation! —

Frau Lucca: a very good idea!2 She can speak and do comedy. She once delighted me too, 18 years ago. Would she be young enough? —

I am full of silent respect for you and the way that you compose, and watch just like I watch a good goldsmith. Do not be mistaken about my feelings!

Here, even here, I suffer; so far 4 severe two- or three-day attacks. The summer is too hot for the Engadine; I don't even dare to think of summer there in Venice.

Mr. Schmeitzner forgot, to send me my book3; I am fed up with him. (But he has all of my savings!)4

In faithful memory of you
F. N. in Sils

1. Morgenröte (Dawn).
2. Pauline Lucca (1841-1908): Austrian opera soprano whom Köselitz wanted for the role of Scapine in his comic opera, Scherz, List und Rache.
3. Morgenröte (Dawn).
4. Nietzsche had allowed Schmeitzner to invest his money.

 


Franz Overbeck.
By: Jacob Höflinger.
From b/w photo, Basel, ca. 1880.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Sils Maria, July 23, 1881:
Postcard to Franz Overbeck.

I am very pleased, my dear friend, that in this matter1 our friendship has stood firm as well, indeed has been re-sealed — I sometimes think with apprehension of all the trials by fire and ice that people dearest to me are exposed to because of my "frankness." As far as Christianity is concerned, you will probably believe me this one thing: I have never been mean to it in my heart, and from childhood on I have taken much inner pains for its ideals, ultimately, of course, always resulting in sheer impossibility. — Even here2 I have to suffer a lot; this time the summer is hotter and more saturated with electricity than usual, to my disadvantage. Nevertheless, I don't know anything more appropriate to my nature than this stretch of upper earth. — Frau Baumgartner wrote to me very nicely and cordially. — I myself do not yet have my book.3 — Hellwald received with thanks; it is a compendium of a group of opinions.4

With heartfelt affection to you and your dear wife
F.N.

I absolutely no longer know with which views I still do good, with which I hurt.

1. Nietzsche's concern about Overbeck's reaction to Morgenröte (Dawn) proved to be unfounded.
2. Nietzsche stayed in Sils Maria for the first time from July 4 to October 1, 1881.
3. Morgenröte (Dawn).
4. Friedrich Anton Heller von Hellwald (1842-1892): geographer, anthropologist und cultural historian. In his 07-08-1881 letter to Overbeck, Nietzsche asked him to send two books by Hellwald: Die Erde und ihre Völker. Ein geographisches Hausbuch. Stuttgart: Spemann, 1877; and, Kulturgeschichte in ihrer natürlichen Entwicklung von den ältesten Zeiten bis zur Gegenwart. Ausburg: Lampart, 1875. In 1875, Nietzsche was already familiar with Hellwald's latter work (see Nachlass, Frühjahr-Sommer 1875 5[58]). Nietzsche had a low opinion of Hellwald, whom he lampooned as a specialist with "eine Froschnasen-Weisheit" (the wisdom of a frog's nose). See Nachlass, Herbst 1881 11[299] (From Nietzsche's Notebooks, Fall 1881 11[299]). Also see the entry for Hellwald in Nietzsche's Library.

 


Title page of Kuno Fischer's
Geschichte der neuern Philosophie. Bd. 1. Descartes und seine Schule. T. 2. Descartes' Schule. Geulinx. Malebranche. Baruch Spinoza.
Heidelberg: Bassermann, 1865.

Sils Maria, July 30, 1881:
Postcard to Franz Overbeck.

I am really amazed, really delighted! I have a precursor and what a precursor! I hardly knew Spinoza:1 my desire for him now was an "act of instinct." Not only the fact that his overall tendency is the same as mine — to make knowledge the most powerful passion — I find myself again in five main points of his doctrine, this most abnormal and solitary thinker is closest to me precisely in these things: he denies free will —; purposivness —; the moral world order —; the nonegoistical —; evil —; when, of course, the differences are enormous, these lie more in the differences of time, culture, and science. In summa: my lonesomeness, which, as on very high mountains, often, often left me breathless and made my blood gush forth, is now at least a twosomeness. — Strange! Incidentally, my health is not at all according to my hopes. Exceptional weather here too! Constant change in the atmospheric conditions! — that will even drive me out of Europe! I must have clear skies for months at a time, otherwise I will get nowhere fast. Already 6 severe attacks lasting two to three days!! — With heartfelt love

Your friend.

1. Benedictus de Spinoza (1632-1677): Dutch philosopher. Nietzsche was reading Geschichte der neuern Philosophie von Kuno Fischer. Erster Band. Descartes und seine Schule. Zweiter Theil. Descartes' Schule. Geulinx. Malebranche. Baruch Spinoza. Heidelberg: Bassermann, 1865. See the entry for Spinoza in Nietzsche's Library.

 


Hotel Edelweiss.
Sils Maria.
From b/w photo, 1885.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Sils Maria, August 14, 1881:
Letter to Heinrich Köselitz.

Well my dear good friend! The August sun is above us, the year is running out, it's getting quieter and more peaceful on the mountains and in the forests. Thoughts have arisen on my horizon the like of which I have not yet seen — I do not want to reveal any of them, and will maintain an unflappable calm in myself.1 I will probably have to live a few more years! Oh, friend, sometimes the suspicion runs through my head that I am actually living an extremely dangerous life, for I belong to those machines that can explode! The intensities of my emotions make me shudder and laugh — already a couple of times I have been unable to leave my room for the ridiculous reason that my eyes were inflamed — from what? Each time I had wept too much on my wanderings the day before, and in fact not sentimental tears, but tears of exultation; during which I sang and talked nonsense, filled with a new vision, which I was the first to have had ahead of all men.

Ultimately — if I could not draw my strength from within myself, if I had to wait for cheers of encouragement and comfort from outside, where would I be! what would I be! There were truly moments and entire periods in my life (e.g. the year 1878) when I would have felt an invigorating encouragement, an affirmative handshake like the comfort of all comforts — and it was precisely then that everyone on whom I thought I could rely, and who could have done me this good deed, left me in the lurch. Now I no longer expect it and only feel a certain gloomy astonishment when, e.g., I think of the letters I get now — everything is so insignificant, no one has experienced anything through me, no one has thought about me — what people say to me is respectable and benevolent, but distant, distant, distant. Even our dear Jacob Burckhardt wrote such a sheepish, disheartening little letter.2

On the other hand, I take it as a reward that the year showed me two things that belong to me and are intimately related to me — that is your music and this landscape. This is neither Switzerland nor Recoaro, something completely different, at any rate something much more southern — I would have to go to the plateaus of Mexico on the calm ocean to find something similar (e.g. Oaxaca) and there, however, with tropical vegetation. Well, I will try to keep this Sils Maria for myself. And I feel the same way about your music, but don't even know how to get hold of it! I had to discard reading music and playing the piano once and for all from my occupations. The purchase of a typewriter3 is on my mind, I am in contact with its inventor, a Dane from Copenhagen.

What are you doing next winter? I assume that you will be in Vienna?4 But let's come up with a meeting for the following winter, if only a short one — for I now know that I am not suitable for your company and that you will be freer and more fruitful when I have flown away again. On the other hand, the ever-greater liberation of your feelings and the acquisition of an intimate and proud being-at-home, in summa your fortunate, all-too-fortunate work and maturation is so indescribably important to me that I will easily adapt myself to any situation which arises from the requirements of your nature. I never have any ugly feelings towards you, trust in that, dear friend! —

Tell me, by the way, how one now sells German M[ark] paper money in Italy (for Ital[ian] paper), I mean what the rate is.

I don't have the address of Fräulein von Meysenbug in my head either; now she will probably be sitting somewhere together with the Monods,5 I think Mr. Schm[eitzner] may send the copy6 to Paris. — With Mr. Schm[eitzner] everything has been very carefully smoothed over; I have made up my mind not to let him suffer for jumping to conclusions and expecting something from him that is not part of his nature.7

In heartfelt friendship and gratitude
Your F. N.

(I have often been ill.)

1. Cf. Nietzsche's notes for his discovery of the "Recurrence of the Same." Nachlass, Herbst 1881 11[141] (From Nietzsche's Notebooks, Fall 1881 11[141]).
2. See 07-20-1881 letter from Jacob Burckhardt.
3. Nietzsche eventually received a typewriter. See his 03-21-1882 letter to Paul Rée.
4. Köselitz was trying to get his comic opera, Scherz, List und Rache, produced in Vienna.
5. Malwida von Meysenbug's foster-daughter Olga Herzen (1851-1953) was married to the French historian Gabriel Monod (1844-1912).
6. A copy of Nietzsche's recent book, Morgenröte (Dawn).
7. The publication of Nietzsche's recent book, Morgenröte (Dawn) was fraught with many misunderstandings between Nietzsche and his publisher, Ernst Schmeitzner. One complaint was that Nietzsche's aphoristic books were not selling. Cf. Sils Maria, End-August 1881: Letter to Heinrich Köselitz in Venice: "Unser Schmeitzner hat ganz gut verstanden, mich an diesem Punkt empfindlich zu berühren, indem er in jedem seiner letzten Briefe betonte, daß „meine Leser keine Aphorismen mehr von mir lesen wollten." (Our Schmeitzner understood quite well how to touch me sensitively on this point, emphasizing in each of his recent letters that "my readers no longer wanted to read aphorisms by me.")

 



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

Sils Maria, September 18, 1881:
Postcard to Franz Overbeck.

Thank your dear wife for her equally kind and exact information. No, such a pot is not suitable for my household: it has to be portable and transportable, just like myself (likewise as small as the typewriter I mentioned1) Forget about the newspapers! The sought-after essays are also in Liebmann's "Analysis."2 Ceterum, missis his jocis, dicam quod tacere velim, sed non jam tacere possum. Sum in puncto desperationis. Dolor vincit vitam voluntatemque. O quos menses, qualem aestatem habui! Tot expertus sum corporis cruciatus, quot in caelo vidi mutationes. In omni nube est aliquid fulminis instar, quod manibus me tangat subitis infelicemque penitus pessumdet. Quinquies mortem invocavi medicum, atque hesternum diem ultimum speravi fore — frustra speravi. Ubi est terrarum illud sempiternae serenitatis caelum, illud meum caelum? Vale amice.3

1. Nietzsche eventually received a typewriter. See his 03-21-1882 letter to Paul Rée.
2. Cf. Otto Liebmann, Zur Analysis der Wirklichkeit. Eine Erörterung der Grundprobleme der Philosophie. Straßburg: Trübner, 1880. Nietzsche's copy. See the entry for Liebmann in Nietzsche's Library.
3. Written in Latin, presumably to prevent Overbeck's wife from reading it: "I shall say what I wanted not to say but cannot withhold. I am desperate. Pain is vanquishing my life and my will. What months, what a summer I have had! My physical agonies were as many and various as the changes I have seen in the sky. In every cloud there is some form of electric charge which grips me suddenly and reduces me to complete misery. Five times I have called for Doctor Death, and yesterday I hoped it was the end — in vain. Where is there on earth that perpetually serene sky, which is my sky? Farewell friend."

 


Title page of Pierre Foissac's
Meteorologie mit Rücksicht auf die Lehre vom Kosmos.
Deutsch von A. H. Emsmann. Leipzig: Wigand, 1859.

Genoa, October 28, 1881:
Postcard to Franz Overbeck.

Will you, dear friend, send me the following book in a postal wrapper (through your Leipzig bookseller, perhaps arranged so that I can contact him directly with my book orders, and that payments can be made at the same time as yours)?

Foissac, Meteorologie, Deutsch von Emsmann.
Leipzig 1859.1

(It is due to the terrible effects of atmospheric electricity on me — they will yet drive me over the earth, there must be better living conditions for my nature. E.g. on the high plateaus of Mexico, on the Pacific Ocean side (Swiss colony "New Bern"). Very, very, very tormented, day after day.

Your Fr.

1. Pierre Foissac (1801-1885), physician and natural scientist: Meteorologie mit Rücksicht auf die Lehre vom Kosmos und in ihren Beziehungen zur Medicin und allgemeinen Gesundheitslehre. Ein von dem Institute zu Paris gekröntes Werk von P. Foissac Professor der Medicin an der medicinischen Facultät zu Paris, Ritter etc. Mit Zustimmung des Verfassers deutsch bearbeitet und mit Anmerkungen versehen von Dr. A. H. Emsmann Professor in Stettin. Leipzig: O. Wigand, 1859. VIEW BOOK.

 



Gotthard Tunnel breakthrough.
Göschenen, March 1, 1880.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Genoa, November 14, 1881:
Letter to Franz Overbeck.

My dear friend, what is this our life? A boat that swims in the sea, and all one knows for certain about it is that one day it will capsize. Here we are, two good old boats that have been faithful neighbors, and above all your hand has done its best to keep me from "capsizing"! Let us then continue our voyage — each for the other's sake, for a long time yet, a long time! — we should miss each other so much! Tolerably calm seas and good winds and above all sun — what I wish for myself, I wish for you, too; and am sorry that my gratitude can find expression only in such a wish and has no influence at all on wind or weather!

Foissac1 arrived, fast and cheap, procured from your bookseller: this medical meteorology, although crowned by the academy, unfortunately is but a science in its infancy and for my personal affliction only a dozen questions more. Perhaps we know more now — I should have been at the electricity exhibition in Paris, partly to learn the latest findings, partly as an item of the exhibition: for as one who senses electrical changes and as a so-called weather prophet I am a match for the monkeys and am probably a "specialty." Could Hagenbach2 possibly tell us what clothing (or chains, rings, etc.) would be the best protection against these excessive effects? After all, I cannot always hang in a silken hammock! Better really hang oneself! And quite radically!

When is the Gotthard tunnel going to be finished? When can it be used? It will bring me to you and to the doctors (ophthalmologists and dentists included); I have caught sight of a long consultation. (This tunnel is built at the gates of the Genoese, they are very grateful, indeed, they are now on that account courteous towards any Swiss.)3

My eyesight is failing more and more — the extraordinary painfulness of the briefest habits keeps me absolutely removed from scholarship (not to mention my severe weak-sightedness). For how long have I been unable to read! I have not read Romundt's book4 — but after a critical glance I think it is sneakiness5 on forbidden, forbidden to us, pathways — I don't like that! —

Paesiello's masterpiece is the matrimonio segreto6: then came Cimarosa and once again he composed music for the same text, and behold! it was his masterpiece too.7 And now comes Köselitz and — this is the latest one — he composed music for it for the third time and is essentially finished. What the text deserves — that daring and boldness of thought — has given me pause. As well as I know K[öselitz], I am pleased with this character trait: presumptuousness and audacity are very foreign to him. — — "Nacht o holde" has affected you perhaps somewhat differently than me, judging by your words — and so it is natural.8 Enough, both times it was an impression, which ended in honor of the composer. —

With a request from me to present your dear wife with the most heartfelt greetings, I remain your friend

Friedr. Nietzsche.

1. Pierre Foissac, Meteorologie mit Rücksicht auf die Lehre vom Kosmos. Deutsch von A. H. Emsmann. Leipzig: Wigand, 1859. VIEW BOOK.
2. Eduard Hagenbach-Bischoff (1833-1910): Professor of Physics at Basel University.
3. The completion of the Gotthard Tunnel increased commercial traffic through the port of Genoa at the expense of Marseille. Full train service started in May 1882.
4. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919), their friend and former housemate who left to become a Catholic priest, but soon dropped those plans and became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg. The book referred to is Antäus: neuer Aufbau der Lehre Kants über Seele, Freiheit und Gott. Leipzig: Veit, 1882.
5. "Schleicherei": hypocrisy.
6. Giovanni Paesiello (1740-1816): Italian composer of the comic opera "Il matrimonio inaspettato" (1779).
7. Domenico Cimarosa (1749-1801): Italian composer of the comic opera "Il matrimonio segreto" (1792).
8. On October 7, 1881, Köselitz sent Overbeck a piano reduction of the introduction to Act IV and its duet from his opera Scherz, List und Rache. On October 14, Overbeck sent him a detailed analysis of it. See Frederick R. Love, "Appendix D: 'Nacht, o holde' Notturno and Aria from Peter Gast's Scherz, List und Rache." In: Nietzsche's Saint Peter. Genesis and Cultivation of an Illusion. Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 1981.

 


Cover of:
Carmen. Dramma lirico in 4 atti. Di Giorgio Bizet. Riduzione per canto e pianoforte.
Milano; Paris: Sonzogno, n.d.
Enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Genoa, November 28, 1881:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

Hurray! Friend! Have again come to know something good, an opera by François Bizet (who is that?): Carmén.1 Sounded like a novella by [Prosper] Mérimée,2 witty, strong, here and there deeply moving. A genuinely French talent for comic opera, in no way disoriented by Wagner, but a real student of H[ector] Berlioz.3 I had [no] idea something like this was possible! It seems the French are on a better path in dramatic music; and they have a big lead over the Germans in one essential point: for them passion is not so far-fetched (as e.g. all Wagner's passions).

A little sick today, due to bad weather, not bad music: perhaps I would be even sicker if I had not heard it. Good things are my medicine! That explains my love for you!!

1. Georges Bizet (1838-1875): French composer of the opera Carmen. On January 5, 1882, Nietzsche sent Köselitz a marked-up edition of Bizet's score, with 75 marginal notes in pencil. See "Nietzsche's Marginal Glosses to Georges Bizet's Carmen." In: Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music: 121-141.
2. Prosper Mérimée, Carmen. Novelle. Deutsch von Rudolph Weiß. Berlin: Freund & Jeckel, 1882. See Mérimée's entry in Nietzsche's Library.
3. Hector Berlioz (1803-1869): French composer.

 


Heinrich Köselitz.
Ca. 1875.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Genoa, December 8, 1881:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

At last it came to mind (my memory now and then is blocked) that there really is a novella "Carmen" by Mérimée,1 and that the schema and the concept and also the tragic conclusion of this artist still survives in the opera.2 (Even the libretto is admirably good[.]) I am almost inclined to think Carmen is the best opera that there is; and as long as we live, it will be in all the repertoires of Europe.

Mr. O. Busse3 promises to publish his thoughts on "human reproduction" (oh I [am] the unfortunate one! —); for the time being he recommends in his missive4 the abandonment of children in the Spartan manner. I can't find the words and the feelings to answer him.

A Latin treatise on Epicurus will be dedicated to me: bravo!5

I live bizarrely, as upon the wave peaks of existence — like a kind of flying fish.6 You are always in my thoughts, my dear friend!

F.N.

1. Prosper Mérimée (1803-1870): French writer, archaeologist, historian, and the author of Carmen, on which Bizet's opera is based. Read the original in French; an English translation. It was translated into German as Carmen. Novelle. Deutsch von Rudolph Weiß. Berlin: Freund & Jeckel, 1882. See Mérimée's entry in Nietzsche's Library.
2. Georges Bizet (1838-1875): French composer of the opera Carmen. On January 5, 1882, Nietzsche sent Köselitz a marked-up edition of Bizet's score, with 75 marginal notes in pencil. See "Nietzsche's Marginal Glosses to Georges Bizet's Carmen." In: Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music: 121-141.
3. Otto Busse was a German admirer of Nietzsche from Berlin.
4. At the end of 1879 to early 1880, Busse wrote six letters to Nietzsche, four of them from 1878-1880.
5. Hermann Pachnicke (1857-1935): German politician and writer. He dedicated his De Philosophia Epicuri to Nietzsche: "Prof. Dr. Friderico Nietzsche / has primitias dat dicat dedicat / auctor." See Pachnicke's entry in Nietzsche's Library.
6. Cf. Nachlass, Herbst 1881 15[56]; Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, §256.

 



The Peabody Institute.
Baltimore. 1866.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Baltimore, End 1881:
Letter from Elise Fincke.1

44 W. Madison Street Baltimore
Maryland U S.

Esteemed Herr Doctor,

It may be of little concern to you that 3 people here in America (Professor Fritz Fincke (Peabody Institute) — Mr. Charles Fischer,2 our friend and I) often sit together and are sincerely edified by Nietzsche's writings — but I do not see why we should not even tell you. It is a credit to the profundity of your thoughts and your perfect diction that we will no longer be able to read anything else and like it.

We only have "Untimely Meditations," and I would now like to request, esteemed Herr Dr, that you specify on a card the name and title of the publisher of your other works. In a country where so little good German is spoken — your writings and thoughts and language should absolutely be obtained. Please kindly excuse the trouble and bother that I cause you and please fulfill my request.

Accept the assurance of my deepest gratitude and greatest admiration, yours

Elise Fincke,
born Fischer.3

1. Elise Fincke was the wife of Fritz Fincke (1836-1900). Fritz Fincke studied at the Leipzig Conservatory from 1851-53, and was a piano and violin virtuoso. He returned to his hometown of Wismar, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, where he was a director of a musical society, a violinist, and an organist at the St. Georg church. In 1880, Fincke was appointed a professor of vocal music at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland. There he led the Peabody Chorus, and conducted the Oratorio Society from 1882-94. According to an article in the Musical Courier, Fincke attended a performance of Richard Wagner's Parsifal in Bayreuth in 1891. Fincke's son, the physician Fred H. Fincke, resided in Baltimore at 37 W. Preston Street. He died of heart failure in Chicago in 1899 at the age of 30. An Elise Fincke, probably Fred H. Fincke's daughter, was the valedictorian of the 1890 class of Western Female High School in Baltimore. See Andrew S. Kerr, "Report of the Prinipal of Western Female High School." In: Sixty-second Annual Report of the Board of Commisioners of the Public Schools, to the Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, for the Year Ending December 31st, 1890. Baltimore: Cox, 1891, 158.
2. It's uncertain who Fischer was, and if he was a relative of Elise Fincke, possibly her brother. However, a Charles Fischer & Co. was advertising in the nineteenth century in Baltimore, and doing business as a purveyor of German fancy goods, with a warehouse at 338 Market Street.
3. On the back of the letter, Nietzsche wrote: "Erster amerikanischer Brief. initium gloriae mundi." (First American letter. Beginning of world fame.) See Nietzsche's reply, [Genoa, 03-20-1882]: Letter to Elise Fincke.

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