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Nietzsche's Letters


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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.


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 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

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!


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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