Nietzsche's Letters | 1882© The Nietzsche Channel

Nietzsche's Letters


Previous | Next

COPYRIGHT NOTICE: The content of this website, including text and images, is the property of The Nietzsche Channel. Reproduction in any form is strictly prohibited. © The Nietzsche Channel.


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

Genoa, January 19, 1882:
Letter to Ida Overbeck.

My dear and revered Frau Professor, when I add a recently arrived letter1 from America to your letter,2 which gave a festive atmosphere to my New Year, I have to say: I am indebted to two women for the most eloquent way of expressing that my thoughts are actually thought about and considered and not just read (or more accurately: "and not just not read!"). That letter came from the wife of a professor at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore; who, on behalf of her husband and a friend, thanks me, as you thanked me, for being a thoughtful guy! Well, these are exceptions, and I enjoy them entirely as exceptions; until now, the rule was: no effect or a thoughtless effect! You should believe me that I therefore do not think less of people, and that of all the ideas about me, the idea of a "misunderstood genius" seems the most ludicrous. A very slow and lengthy orbit shall be the destiny of my thoughts — indeed, to put it somewhat blasphemously, I shall believe in my life only after my death and in my death during my life. Thus it is proper and natural! —

When I see you again, I will tell you some curious details — now a word about the possibilities of this "When I see you again." I am bound to Genoa by a work that here alone can come to an end because it has a Genoese character in itself — well, why should I not tell you? It is my "Dawn," conceived in 10 chapters and not merely in 5;3 and very much of what is in the first half is only the foundation and preparation of something more weighty, something more lofty (indeed! there are also some "dreadful things" that still need to be said, dear Frau Professor!).4 In short, I do not know if I can fly north in the summer: but if I travel, I will come over to Basel and to your home.

This time I will "shine" in Bayreuth5 by my absence — unless Wagner still invites me personally (which according to my notions of "higher decorum" would be quite well sent!) I want my right6 to a seat entirely put to bed. Confidentially: I would rather hear "Scherz List und Rache"7 than Parsifal.8

So you know what's going on between Herr Köselitz and me, and how I continue "to corrupt the youth" (— I will probably not escape the hemlock!),9 I enclose the last letter10 of Herr Köselitz: it will perhaps cause some "astonishment" in you, but certainly no "shivers"!

The weather the past few months was such that I had no objections to anything more beautiful and beneficial in my entire life — crisp, pure, mild: how many hours have I lain by the sea! How many times have I watched the sunset!

Dear Frau Professor, "friends share everything in common" — say the Greeks:11 may life still give us* many things in common! — I thought as I read your letter.

Sincerely grateful and devoted to you
Dr. F. Nietzsche.

* the three of us!12

1. End 1881: Letter from Elise Fincke.
2. 12-30-1881: Letter from Ida Overbeck.
3. Nietzsche changed his plans to expand Morgenröthe (Dawn) from five chapters to ten, and instead used the material for Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (The Joyful Science).
4. An allusion to Nietzsche's concept of eternal recurrence.
5. For the premiere of Wagner's Parsifal.
6. Nietzsche's patron's certificate entitled him to a seat.
7. The comic opera by Heinrich Köselitz.
8. Nietzsche objected to the moralizing Christian content in Richard Wagner's Parsifal.
9. An allusion to the charges brought against Socrates, and his subsequent death by drinking hemlock.
10. 01-07-1882 letter from Heinrich Köselitz discussing 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.
11. A maxim by Pythagoras. See Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, VIII, 1, 10. Cf. 05-29-1882: Letter to Paul Rée.
12. Namely, Nietzsche, and Franz and Ida Overbeck.


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

Genoa, January 29, 1882:
Postcard to Heinrich Köselitz.

Dear friend, Hr. von Bülow1 has the inherently bad manners of a Prussian officer, but is an "honest fellow" — that he no longer wants anything to do with German opera music is due to all kinds of secret reasons; it occurs to me that he once told me "I do not know Wagner's latest music." — Go to Bayreuth in the summer;2 there you will find all of Germany's theatrical people, and even Prince Lichtenstein,3 etc., likewise Levy [sic].4 I think all of my friends will be there, also my sister, after your letter of yesterday (and that pleases me very much!).

If I were with you, I would acquaint you with Horace's satires and epistles — I think we are both ready for them. When I took a look at them today, I found all the expressions charming, like a warm winter's day.5

My last letter to you was "frivolous," wasn't it? Have patience! In regard to my "thoughts," it's nothing to me to have them, but to get rid of them, if I want to be rid of them, is always devilishly difficult for me! —

Oh what days! Oh the wonders of this beautiful Januarius!6 Let us be of good cheer, dearest friend!

1. When Köselitz sent the score of his comic opera ("Scherz, List und Rache") to Hans von Bülow, it was summarily dismissed as fodder for the servile herd of Wagnerian acolytes. According to Köselitz, "[Bülow] hatte die ihm zugeschickte Partitur von 'Scherz, List und Rache' gar nicht angesehen und mir, dem Allegro-Musiker, gleichwohl einen Brief geschrieben, der erkennen ließ, daß er mich für einen der imitatores aus dem servum pecus Wagneri hielt. Sein Brief begann: 'R. W. ist ein Phänomen, — Phänomene machen keine Schule'. Ich dankte ihm für die nicht erbetene Auskunft über ein Phänomen R. W. und schickte ihm den Brief mit den Worten zurück, ich wisse meine Verehrung vor ihm nicht besser zu bezeugen, als indem ich seinen Brief als ungeschrieben betrachte. Nietzsche fand diese Behandlung des Falles 'ganz angemessen'." ([Bülow] did not even look at the score sent to him of "Scherz, List und Rache" and to me, the allegro-musician, he nonetheless wrote a letter, letting it be known that he thought I was one of the imitatores from the servum pecus Wagneri. His letter began: "R. W. is a phenomenon, and phenomena don't create schools." I thanked him for the unsolicited information about the R. W. phenomena and returned his letter to him, saying I know no better way to show my respect for him than to regard his letter as unwritten. Nietzsche found this treatment of the matter 'entirely appropriate'.") In 1872, Nietzsche was also the subject of Bülow's withering criticism.
2. For the premiere of Wagner's Parsifal.
3. Johann II, Prince of Liechtenstein (1840-1929). Köselitz made his acquaintance in Venice.
4. Hermann Levi (1839-1900) conducted the premiere of Parsifal in Bayreuth.
5. See the entry for Horace in Nietzsche's Library.
6. An allusion to the fourth book of The Joyful Science.


Title page of Die Sonne sinkt. Ein Lied Zarathustras von Friedrich Nietzsche für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte componirt von Gustav Krug. Berlin: Ries & Erler, n.d. [ca. 1901].

Genoa, March 10, 1882:
Typewritten letter to Gustav Krug.

Dear friend your songs left me with a strange feeling. One fine afternoon, I was thinking about all your music and musicality — and finally I asked myself: Why doesn't he ever publish anything? Then a line from Jung Niklas1 rang in my ears. The next morning my friend Rée arrived in Genoa and handed me your first book — and when I opened it, my eyes fell upon the same Jung Niklas.2 This would be a tale for the spiritualists! —

Your music has virtues which are rare at present —: I now consider all new modern music as suffering from an ever increasing atrophy of the sense of melody. Melody, as the ultimate and most sublime art of arts, has laws of logic, which our anarchists would like to decry as servitude —: I am certain that they are just incapable of reaching up to these sweetest and ripest of fruits. I recommend to all composers the most delightful asceticism: for a while to treat harmony as yet to be invented and to create collections of pure melodies, for example, from Beethoven and Chopin. — I hear much of the excellent past in your music and as you can see also a bit of the future.

Your friend F.N.

1. "Jung Niklas fuhr auf's Meer." An 1865 ballad by Robert Radecke, text by Robert Reinick.
2. Gustav Krug, Sieben Lieder für eine Singstimme mit Begleitung des Pianoforte. Leipzig: Kahnt, [1881]. The songs include:
No. 1. Mailied: "Wie herrlich leuchtet mir die Natur."
No. 2. Wandrers Nachtlied: "Ueber allen Gipfeln ist Ruh."
No. 3. Rückblick vom Berge: "Freud, o Freud."
No. 4. Blumengruss: "Der Strauss den ich gepflücket."
No. 5. "Jung Niklas fuhr auf's Meer."
No. 6. Gefunden: "Ich ging im Walde so für mich hin."
No. 7. Sehnsucht: "Das wird die letzte Thrän' nicht sein.


Nietzsche's notation on the back
of a letter1 from Elise Fincke.

[Genoa, March 20, 1882]:
Typewritten letter to Elise Fincke.2

Yes, dear lady, there are still a few things by me to read — what's more: you still have everything by me to read.3 I count these Untimely Meditations as youthful writings: since I made a provisional account of what had hindered and benefited me the most in life up to that point, since I tried to get away from some things, by vilifying or glorifying them as is the nature of youth —: Alas, gratitude, for good or for ill, has always bothered me a lot! After all — I have gained some confidence as a result of these firstborns, including you and the excellent comrades4 of your studies! You will need all this confidence in order to follow me upon my new and not undangerous paths, and finally — who knows? who knows? — you may not be able to stand it any longer and will say what many have already said: May he run wherever he likes and break his neck if he likes.5

Well, dear lady, at least now you have been warned?

If you are surprised that my reply is so late — I am just about blind, and only since I got this typewriter, i.e. three weeks ago, can I answer a letter again. My place of residence is Genoa. —

Your humble servant
Dr. F. Nietzsche.

1. © Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Goethe-und Schiller-Archiv. End 1881: Letter from Elise Fincke. The notation by Nietzsche reads: "Erster amerikanischer Brief. / initium gloriae mundi." (First American letter. / Beginning of world fame.)
2. 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.
3. Fincke wrote in her 1881 letter that she only had a copy of Untimely Meditations.
4. Fritz Fincke and a Mr. Charles Fischer referred to in her letter. 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.
5. It's uncertain if Nietzsche wrote this in jest, or was alluding to actual critics.


Nietzsche's typewriter.
Photo by Dieter Eberwein.1

Genoa, March 21, 1882:
Typewritten letter to Paul Rée.

My dear friend, what pleasure your letters give me! — They take me away in all directions, and in the end always back to you! — Yesterday I bathed in the sea, right at the famous spot where - - - imagine, last summer one of my closest relatives2 was so overtaken by a seizure while bathing, and since, coincidentally, nobody was around, he drowned. I had a good laugh about your 30 frs.3 — the post office gave me this letter without even asking for my passport — and the young officer sends his regards to you — ecco!4Overbeck has sent me my money5 — now I'm provided for, for a few months. — Give my regards to that Russian girl, if there's any point in doing so: I am lusting for this kind of soul.6 Yes, I will soon go on the prowl for one — considering what I will do in the next 10 years, I need it. Marriage is a completely different story — I could agree to, at the most, a two-year marriage, and even this much only in view of what I have to do in the next 10 years. — After the experiences that I just had with Köselitz, we will never get him to accept money from us — be it in the most bourgeois form of buying and selling. I wrote to him yesterday whether he would sell me and two of my friends the Matrimonio score —: I offered him 6000 francs, payable in four annual installments of 1,500 frs. I think this proposal is elegant and a snare —. When he says yes, I will let you know; and then you will be so good as to make a deal with Gersdorff. —7

Farewell! The typewriter no longer works, it's right at the spot of the mended ribbon.8

I wrote to Frl. von M also in regard to Pieve.9

My heartfelt wishes for your health, at both day and night

Your faithful friend F N.

I am sending the letter for Frl. von M to Rome poste restante, because I do not have her address.10

No! I am going to send the letter to Frl. von M. to your address, dear friend.

1. Read about the restoration of Nietzsche's typewriter by Eberwein.
2. His uncle, Theobald Oehler (1828-1881).
3. Rée was reimbursing him for a train ticket.
4. In this context, the closest English equivalent would be, "No kidding!"
5. Overbeck sent Nietzsche his pension.
6. Lou Salomé, with whom Rée was in love, and in fact proposed to in March.
7. The idea to purchase Köselitz's score was probably Rée's, since Nietzsche was not on good terms with Carl von Gersdorff at the time.
8. See note 1 above. According to Eberwein, "the ribbon is torn and twisted with various kinks and folds."
9. Pieve di Cadore: birthplace of Titian.
10. This sentence was crossed out and replaced by the following one.


Lou Salomé.
From b/w photo taken by:
Heinrich Wirth. Zürich, Switzerland.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Naumburg on the Saale, May 24, 1882:
Letter to Lou Salomé.

Dear friend Lou,

Please visit Professor Overbeck — their residence is 53 Eulergasse. —1

Here in Naumburg I have so far been quite silent in regard to you and to us.2 Thus I remain more independent and always at your service. —

The nightingales sing all night long outside my window. —

Rée is, in every respect, a better friend than I am and can be; note well this distinction! —

When I'm all alone, I often, very often, say your name aloud — to my very great pleasure!

Your F. N.

1. As a way of introduction to his closest friend. Franz Overbeck and his wife Ida were impressed with Salomé. Unfortunately, Overbeck's eight-page letter expressing these favorable sentiments is lost. However, Ida Overbeck recorded her own observations on Salomé's visit of May 30 in her diary entry of June 2, 1882.
2. To avoid the disapproval of his family, especially his mother.


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

Naumburg on the Saale, May 28, 1882:
Letter to Ida Overbeck.

Esteemed Frau Professor

At our last meeting1 I was all too exhausted: thus I left you and my friend2 in a state of worry and anxiety, for which actually no reason exists; rather reason enough for the opposite! At bottom, fate always strikes me as a blessing and at least one of wisdom — how could I fear fate particularly when it confronts me in the wholly unexpected form of L3?

Consider the fact that Rée and I are devoted with the same feelings to our brave and high-minded friend — and that he and I have very great trust in one another also on this point. Also, we are counted among neither the dumbest nor the youngest. — Here, so far, I have kept quiet about all these things. Nevertheless, this will be impracticable in the long run, and that only because my sister and Frau Rée4 are in contact with one another. However, I want to keep my mother "out of the game" — she already has enough cares to bear — why yet another unnecessary one? —

Fräulein Lou will arrive at your place this Tuesday afternoon (also returning the book "Schopenhauer as Educator," which in fact was put into my trunk by mistake). Please speak about me with complete freedom, esteemed Frau Professor; you know and indeed can guess what I am most in need of in order to achieve my goal — you know, too, that I am not a "man of deeds" and unfortunately remain behind my best intentions. I am also, precisely because of the aforementioned goal, an evil evil egoist — and friend Rée is in every respect a better friend than I (which Lou does not want to believe).5

Friend Overbeck should not be present for this privatissimum. Right? —6

Meanwhile, I am feeling quite good; you will find that I have never been so cheerful in my life. What might be the reason for this?

In gratitude and fidelity

1. May 16.
2. i.e., Franz Overbeck.
3. Lou Salomé.
4. Jenny Rée (née Jonas, 1825-?), the mother of Paul Rée.
5. Salomé visited the Overbecks on May 30. See Ida Overbeck's diary entry for June 2, 1882. In: Overbeckiana. Basel: Helbing & Lichtenhahn, 1962: 122f. [Series: Studien zur Geschichte der Wissenchaften in Basel, 13]: "den 2. Juni ... Ich habe mit Fraulein S. gesprochen, was ich mir vorgenommen hatte zu sagen stimmte mit Anweisungen überein die mir Nietzsche noch im letzten Augenblick brieflich zukommen liess. Ich ergründete zuerst ihre Stellung zu ihrer Familie. Sie ist von ihr materiell und gesetzlich vollständig abhängig und hat um ihren Hang nach Wissen und Erkenntniss zu befriedigen die wohlbegründeten bürgerlichen Vorurtheile derselben zu berücksichtigen. Hang zur Abenteuerlichkeit scheint bei ihr gar nicht vorhanden, sondern viel schöne, hingebende Weiblichkeit. Ich machte sie auf die Schwierigkeiten der Aufgabe aufmerksam, der sie sich unterzieht. Erstens auf die Anstrengung ihrer ziemlich zarten Gesundheit und das was ich ihr in Bezug auf die Meysenbug'schen Kapitel zart, aber bestimmt andeutete. Die äußeren Schwierigkeiten sind zahlreich, da sie wenig Beziehungen hat und keine äußere, nur innere Selbständigkeit entwickeln kann. Mein Eindruck ist der, daß ich ihre Gesundheit für zu zart halte, sie für zu jung, zu sehr im Anfang ihrer Bildung. Wie schön wäre es aber, wenn dieses ernste Wesen alles überwände und die große Achtung gewönne, die eine derartige überwundene Aufgabe verdiente. Meine guten Wünsche sind mit ihr, mehr als Theilnahme und einige kleine Bemühungen kann ich nicht helfen. Sie hat einen Blick für Nietzsche's zweideutiges Wesen, wohl ihr. Er hatte ihr über das Verhältniß zur Schwester die unrichtigsten, schwärmerischsten Vorstellungen erregt. Da er mich früher aufgefordert hatte, ihr auch darüber Klarheit zu geben, die ihm selbst nicht fehlt, die sich voll und in jedem Augenblick zuzugestehen er die Energie, den Muth nicht hat — that ich es dem Mädchen und der Sache wegen. Auch da schien sie rasch und scharf zu fassen und zu fühlen, dass es darauf ankomme Frl. N[ietzsche] draus zu lassen. // Es wird mir in dieser Sache nie Jemand einen Vorwurf machen dürfen, ich habe im höhern Interesse aller dabei betheiligten Personen gedacht und gesprochen und auf bestimmteste Aufforderung von Nietzsche. Dr. Rée blieb draus, vielleicht erwartete das Mädchen auch über ihn Andeutungen. Ihn kenne ich aber nicht. —" (June 2 ... I have spoken with Fraulein S., what I had planned to say was in accordance with instructions that Nietzsche had sent to me by letter at the last moment. First, I figured out her position with her family: she is completely dependent on herself, financially and legally, and has to consider well-established bourgeois prejudices in order to satisfy her propensity for knowledge and wisdom. Propensity for adventurousness seems non-existent in her, but rather a lot of beautiful, devoted femininity. I made her aware of the difficulty of the task to which she was subjecting herself. First, the strain on her rather delicate health, and what I delicately but firmly suggested to her regarding the Meysenbugian chapter. The external difficulties are numerous, since she has few connections and her independence can only develop inwardly and not outwardly. My impression is that I consider her health too delicate, she too young, too much at the initial stage of her education. How nice it would be if this serious creature overcomes everything and gains the great respect that such a conquered endeavor deserves. My best wishes are with her, I cannot assist her with more than sympathy and a few small efforts. She has an eye for Nietzsche's ambiguous nature, good for her. He gave her the most inaccurate, fanciful ideas about his relationship with his sister. Since he had asked me before as well to make it clear to her what he failed to make clear himself, what he didn't have the energy or the courage to admit to completely at the time — I did so for the girl and the matter in question. Here too she seemed to understand and to sense quickly and keenly that Frl. [Elisabeth] N[ietzsche] should be left out of it. // I would never dare to reproach anyone in this matter, I have thought and spoken in the best interest of all persons involved in it and at the most particular request of Nietzsche. This doesn't apply to Dr. Rée, perhaps the girl expected suggestions about him too. I, however, don't know him. —)
6. Franz Overbeck's eight-page letter about meeting Salomé is lost (in all likelihood, Elisabeth Nietzsche destroyed it), and only Nietzsche's reaction to it survives.


Lou Salomé, Paul Rée, Friedrich Nietzsche.
May 1882.
From b/w photo taken by:
Jules Bonnet. Lucerne, Switzerland.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Naumburg on the Saale, May 28, 1882:
Letter to Lou Salomé.

My dear friend,

The things you wrote1 to me [went] straight to my heart (and also to my eyes)! Yes, I believe in you: help me so that I always believe in myself and do honor to you and to our motto

"to wean ourselves from the half,
and to live resolutely
in the whole, the good, the beautiful" —2

My latest plan to talk with you is this:

I want to travel to Berlin at the time when you will be in Berlin, and from there I will immediately withdraw into one of the beautiful, deep forests that are in the vicinity of Berlin — close enough so that we can meet when we like, when you like. Berlin itself is an impossibility for me. Therefore: I'll stay in the "Grunewald"3 and sit tight all the time, while afterwards you spend time in Stibbe.4 Then I will be at your disposal for any further plans: maybe I'll find a decent forester's cabin or vicarage in the forest itself where you can live for a few days close to me. Because, frankly, I very much wish as soon as possible to be, for once, all by ourselves. Such solitary people, like myself, need to grow accustomed gradually, even to the people whom they hold most dear: be indulgent with me here or rather be a bit accommodating! But if you would like to continue travelling, we could find not far from Naumburg another sylvan hermitage (in the vicinity of Altenburg's castle; there I could, if you want, summon my sister.5 (As long as all plans for summer are still up in the air, I will do well to maintain a total silence when it comes to my family — not due to a desire for secrecy, but due to "knowledge of people"). My dear friend Lou, I shall explain to you in person about "friends" and our friend Rée especially: I know very well what I'm saying when I take him to be a better friend than I am or can be. —

Oh, that naughty photographer! And yet: what a lovely silhouette perches there on that delightful little cart!6 — We will spend the autumn, I think, in Vienna? Which performance do you want to be at in Bayreuth?7 Rée has a ticket for the first, as far as I know. — After Bayreuth, should we look for an intermediate place for the benefit of your health? Now is not the time to discuss my own.

Heartfelt greetings Your F. N.

People say that never in my life have I been as cheerful as I am now. I trust in my destiny.

1. Unknown letter.
2. Cf. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, "Gesellige Lieder. Generalbeichte." In: Goethe's sämmtliche Werke in vierzig Bänden. Bd. 1. Stuttgart; Augsburg: Cotta, 1855:103. "Willst du Absolution / Deinen Treuen geben, / Wollen wir nach deinem Wink / Unabläßlich streben, / Uns vom Halben zu entwöhnen, / Und im Ganzen, Guten, Schönen, / Resolut zu leben." (From Goethe's "General Confession": If your faith would grant / absolution to your faithful / we would take your cue / to strive unindulgently, / to wean ourselves from the half, / and to live resolutely / in the whole, the good, the beautiful.)
3. The forest west of Berlin.
4. To visit Paul Rée and his family.
5. To act as a chaperone.
6. Photograph by Jules Bonnet.
7. For the premiere of Wagner's Parsifal.


Parsifal poster.
Bayreuth, July 26-28, 1882.

Naumburg, May 29, 1882:
Letter to Paul Rée.

My dear friend, how's it going? Where's it going? And is it going at all? — What are the plans for the summer?1 Yesterday I disclosed my latest plan2 to L[ou]: to wit, in one of the next few weeks, I will move to the Grunewald near Charlottenburg, and stay there as long as L[ou] is with you at Stibbe;3 then to receive and accompany her, perhaps to a place in the Thuringian forest, where my sister could possibly come. (E.g. Castle Hummelshayn.) So far, as long as everything is undecided, I have found it necessary to remain silent.4

Have you given away your seat at Bayreuth? Perhaps to Lou? That would be the first performance? — My sister will be there on the 24th of July.5

Yesterday Romundt was with me, who, in fact, is one of the fortunate people.6

I've been feeling fine, and I am cheerful and industrious. — The m[anu]s[cript] proves itself strangely "uneditable."7 This stems from the principle of "mihi ipsi scribo."8 — !

I often laugh about our Pythagorean friendship, with the very rare "filoiV panta koina."9 It gives me a better conception of myself, to be truly capable of such a friendship. — But it remains amusing, doesn't it?

Lots of love Your F. N.

Sincere greetings from me and my sister to your esteemed mother.

1. Their plan to live and work with Lou Salomé.
2. See above.
3. Rée's family home in West Prussia (now Zdbowo, Poland), where his father was a wealthy landowner.
4. Nietzsche was wary of disclosing his plans to his mother and sister.
5. For the premiere of Wagner's Parsifal.
6. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919), his former housemate who left to become a Catholic priest, but soon dropped those plans and became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg.
7. The Joyful Science (illegible manuscript due to his handwriting).
8. "I write for myself."
9. "Friends share everything in common." A maxim by Pythagoras. See Diogenes Laertius, Lives of Eminent Philosophers, VIII, 1, 10. Cf. 01-19-1882: Letter to Ida Overbeck.


Friedrich Nietzsche.
September 1882.
From b/w photo taken by:
Gustav Schultze, Naumburg,
and reproduced by Carl König, 1898.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Gustav Dannreuther.

Boston, May 29, 1882:
Letter from Gustav Dannreuther.

Dear sir,

I trust that you will not take it quite amiss that I, an entire stranger to you, venture to intrude myself upon your notice when you are doubtless engrossed with your work and thoughts, or probably endeavouring to enjoy a short interval of leisure. I have nothing to offer by way of apology beyond a desire to express to you my most humble thanks for the benefit I have derived from your works, and the wish (which I have long entertained) to possess a likeness, be it ever so small, of the man I have learned to adore for the greatness of his mind and the sincerity of his utterances. I have several times tried to obtain through book agencies both here and abroad a photograph of your face, but I am sorry to say always in vain. Whether nothing of the kind exists I know not, but if such a thing is really to be had, I beg that you may put me in the way of obtaining it without regard to the matter of expense to me. —1 Your acquaintance as a writer I was fortunate enough to make some years ago when I was living in England, and I assure you I prize it no less than that of the great Schopenhauer himself, which thanks to my my brother2 in London I had made some years before my attention was first called to your "Inopportune reflections."3 Being then engaged as a professional violin-player, I nevertheless found time enough to translate your pamphlet on Schopenhauer4 no less than three times, not so much with a view to publishing my feeble reproduction, as to that of becoming more intimate with your work and that of exercising myself in the use of the Queen's English. But in spite of my efforts, my version fell so far short of an adequate rendition of the original, that I was only too glad for the sake of your reputation to keep the manuscript in my desk. Since then I have quite destroyed it, but the memory of exalted moments remains, and I am sure that my work was at least not wasted upon myself.— Although but an indifferent German scholar I nevertheless possess a sufficient knowledge of my mother tongue to read without effort and to grasp in the main the import of such writings as those of Schopenhauer, Wagner and yourself. That I have at least brains enough to enable me to perceive the true greatness of such men is at all events something, and compensates me in a measure for the want of such an education as would otherwise have enabled me to preach the gospel of thruth [sic] myself. My mind is only receptive, not productive, and I heartely [sic] wish ma[n]y others could convince themselves what folly it is for fools to "rush in where angels fear to tread" — then we should surely see less paper made unsaleable than is unfortunately the case now-a-days.

Pray do not think it incumbent upon yourself to answer this, except it be to point out to me some work of yours which I have not yet in my possession. Those that I have include your "Geburt der Tragödie," "Inopportune reflections" and "Menschliches, Allzumenschliches." If there are any other writings from your pen which are published and you think are likely to interest a mere lover of good books, you will confer a favour, (for which you have my best thanks in anticipation) if you will call my attention to them so that I may add them to my little library.

The coveted photograph I hope I may receive at your hands, but I shall feel no less grateful if you will only let me know where and in what way I may be able to obtain one.

Once more I beg that you pardon this intrusion, and with my best and heartiest wishes for your personal welfare, believe me with the greatest admiration for your works and genius

Your most humble and obliged servant
Gustav Dannreuther

To Dr. Fried. Nietzsche. —

1. Nietzsche had a series of photographs taken in Naumburg in September and forwarded them to his publisher.
2. His brother Edward (1844-1905), a pianist, was a professor at London's Royal College of Music, and a friend of Richard Wagner.
3. Untimely Meditations.
4. Schopenhauer as Educator.


Franz Overbeck.
Zürich, 1876.
From b/w photo by Louis Zipfel.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Naumburg on the Saale, June 5, 1882:
Letter to Franz Overbeck.

My dear friend,

Sick for several days; it was an extremely painful attack. I am recovering slowly. — Now your letter! — One receives such a letter only once in a lifetime; I thank you with all my heart and will never forget it.1 I am happy to see my plan,2 which must shimmer quite fantastically to uninitiated eyes, gained an altogether human and friendly understanding from you and your dear wife. The truth is: in the manner I intend to act and will act here, for once I am entirely the man of my thoughts, indeed my innermost thinking: this correspondence does me as good as the image of my existence in Genoa, in which I also did not remain behind my thoughts. There are a lot of my life's secrets wrapped up in this new future, and there remain problems here for me to solve, which can only be solved by deeds. — By the way, I am possessed of a fatalistic "devotion to God"3 — I call it amor fati4 — so that I would step into the jaws of a lion, not to mention — —

In regard to the summer everything is still uncertain.5

I keep silent6 here on and on. In regard to my sister, I am quite determined to keep her out of it; she could only confuse [things] (and [confuse] herself first of all)

Romundt was here, brave and a little more upon a reasonable course.7

To you and your dear wife affectionately

1. See above.
2. His plan to live and work with Paul Rée and Lou Salomé.
3. einer fatalistischen "Gottergebenheit."
4. Love of fate. Cf. The Joyful Science, §276: "I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer! —."
5. See note 2.
6. Nietzsche was wary of disclosing his plans to his mother and sister.
7. 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.


Title page:
Die fröhliche Wissenschaft. 1882.

Naumburg, presumably June 10, 1882:
Letter to Paul Rée.

Meanwhile, my dear dear friend, I was sick — indeed, I still am. Therefore today, too, just a few brief words!

I think it is now apparent that Frl. Lou will be in Stibbe1 until the time of Bayreuth2 — anyway that she will remain with you and your mother until the specified date? Is this the correct understanding of the situation?

How will she be transported to Bayreuth? Or does she deduce plans that perhaps lead southward (Engadine?)?

I myself have in mind to make my way to Vienna around the beginning of July: that is, to try to stay in Berchtesgaden this summer — assuming that my services are not needed beforehand. I implore you to remain silent to everyone about everything concerning our project for the winter: we should say nothing about whatever is to come. As soon as something is said about it too soon, there will be opponents and counterproposals: the danger is not a slight one. —

I have noticed, unfortunately, that it is difficult for me to live incognito in Germany. I've given up on Thuringia altogether.

I would like to hear as soon as possible what I have, and will be allowed, to do, so that I can have the summer at my disposal. Naumburg is a horrible place for my health.

Address, dearest friend, your next lines to Leipzig, poste restante.

Forgive this scribbling suffused with the spirit of sickness!

In summa, both of us, after all, are doing very well; who has plans like us for such a lovely project?

M[anu]s[cript]3 practically finished: but still uneditable. Mihi ipsi scripsi.4


Your F. N.

1. To stay at the family home of Paul Rée.
2. For the premiere of Wagner's Parsifal.
3. Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (The Joyful Science) was finished on June 15, and published on September 10, 1882.
4. "I have written for myself."


Paul Rée.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Naumburg, June 18, 1882:
Letter to Paul Rée.

My dear old friend, this German cloud-weather has doomed me to a kind of sickliness, so that my reason is sometimes no longer reasonable — witness my last letter, for whose quick reply my heart goes out to you.1

Witness secondly my trip to Berlin, in order to see L[ou] and the Grunewald; but I only achieved the latter — and I never want to see it again!2 The next day I returned to Naumburg — half-dead. — Also nothing of the projected stay in Leipzig; I only considered it for a day.

In spite of everything I am full of confidence in this year and its enigmatic toss of the dice for my fate.

I will not travel to Berchtesgaden and in general am no longer in any condition to undertake anything alone. In Berlin, I was like a lost penny that I myself had lost and thanks to my eyes was unable to find, although it lay right at my feet, so that all the passersby laughed.

Simile! —

What about after Bayreuth? Now I join in that my mother could also extend an invitation to Frl. Lou, so that they could spend time around the month of August in Naumburg, and that we, in September, could make our way to Vienna. Please give your opinion.

I enclose a ticket3 for our remarkable and very gracious friend; I don't know where she is. —4

My greetings and thanks to your venerable mother — you indeed know why I owe her such a debt of gratitude right now.

Heartfelt greetings your
friend N.

1. Unknown letter from Rée.
2. In his mind, Salomé stood him up. Meanwhile, the Grunewald was crowded and disappointing.
3. For the premiere of Wagner's Parsifal.
4. Salomé was with Rée and his family in Stibbe.


Lou Salomé.
Pontresina, ca. 1885.
Detail from a b/w photo by:
Alexander Flury.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Tautenburg, July 3, 1882:
Letter to Lou Salomé.

My dear friend,

How bright the sky above me is now! Yesterday at noon it was like a birthday party around here: you said yes,1 the loveliest gift anyone could have given me at this moment; my sister sent cherries; Teubner2 sent the first three proof sheets of the "Joyful Science"; on top of all that, I had just finished the very last part of the manuscript,3 thus ending six years' work (1876-1882) — all my "free-spiritedness"! Oh what years! What tortures of every kind, what periods of loneliness, of disgust with life! And as an antidote to all that, to both death and life, as it were, I brewed my own potion, those ideas of mine with their little patches of unclouded sky above them: — oh dear friend, whenever I think of all that I feel shattered and touched, and cannot understand how it could possibly have succeeded: self-compassion and a triumphant feeling permeate me. For it is a victory, and a total one — even my physical health has returned, I have no idea how, and everyone tells me I look younger than ever. Heaven protect me from follies! — But from now on, when you advise me, I shall be well advised and need have no fear. —

As far as the coming winter is concerned, I have seriously and exclusively thought of Vienna4: my sister's winter plans are quite independent of mine, in this respect there are no ulterior thoughts. The south of Europe is now banished from my mind. I don't want to be lonely any more and wish to rediscover how to be human. Ah, this is a lesson I will have to learn almost from scratch! —

Accept my gratitude, dear friend! Everything will go well, just as you said.

Heartiest greetings to our Rée!

Wholly yours

1. Salomé agreed to come to Tautenburg after Bayreuth.
2. Nietzsche's printer in Leipzig.
3. Book 4 of The Joyful Science.
4. The plan to live and work in Vienna with Salomé and Rée.


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

Tautenburg, July 11, 1882:
Letter to Franziska Nietzsche.

My dear mother,

Sunday I was ill. — There is much to do. Long delay of the printing. —1

Recently, when I left you, I met the chief pastor at the train station with Susie; much laughter.2

Today, a request and one that is a bit urgent!

The Beautification Society here has erected two new benches in the parts of the woods where I like to walk by myself. I have promised to make and affix two plaques to them. Would you be so kind as to take care of this? And immediately? Talk about it with an expert on such things, what kind of plaque and inscription would last longest.


On one3 should be:
The Dead Man. 

On  the other:
The Joyful Science. 

It must be something elegant and handsome, that will do me honor. With hearty greetings

Your son Fritz.

1. Printing of The Joyful Science.
2. Friedrich August Wenkel (1832-1894): chief pastor of the St. Wenzel church in Naumburg (1865-1894); and his daughter Susanne Wenkel (1866-?).
3. "Dead Man Woods": the old name of the part of the forest where he liked to walk. The name stems from the Thirty Years War.


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

Tautenburg, possibly July 13, 1882:
Draft of a Letter to Malwida von Meysenbug.

May you now have a calm and comforting sunshine close to Olga1 and her children; in particular, may your being together with this beloved soul dispel or alleviate all those fears, which you expressed to me in Rome; I would like to wish you this and nothing else — indeed, you have everything else!

I am sitting here in the middle of deep woods2 and have just got to correct my latest book; it bears the title "The Joy[ful] S[cience"] and constitutes the end of the chain of thoughts that I really started to make back then in Sorrento,3 I was always such a book-scorner and am now myself "nothing but sin," as Gretchen says,4 right?— with 10 books!5 The next years will not bring forth any books — but I want to study again, like a student. (At first in Vienna.)

My life now belongs to a higher goal, and I no longer do anything that does not benefit it. Nobody can guess it and [I] am not allowed to betray it myself yet! But that it requires a heroic way of thinking (and absolutely not any religious resignation), I would like to confess to you, and most of all, to you. If you discover p[eople] with this way of thinking, then give me a hint: as you did with the young Russian girl.6 This girl is now linked to me through a firm friendship (as firmly as one can establish such a thing on earth); I haven't had a better accomplishment in a long time. Indeed, I am extremely grateful to you and Rée for having helped me with this. This year, which signifies a new crisis in several chapters of my life (epoch is the right word, an intermediate state between 2 crises, one behind me7 and one ahead of me) has been made much more beautiful for me thanks to the radiance and grace of this young, tru[ly] heroic soul. I wish to acquire a student in her, and if my life should not last long, an heir and advanced thinker.8

Incidentally: Rée should have married her (in order to eliminate the various difficulties of her situation); and it certainly was not for lack of encouragement on my part. But it now seems to me a labor lost. He is an unshakable pessimist on one last point, and how he has remained true to himself in this regard, against all the objections of his heart and my reason, has in the end gained a great deal of my respect. The thought of the procreation of mankind is unbearable to him: he cannot get over his feelings about adding to the number of the unfortunate. For my taste he has too much pity and too few hopes at this point. Everything privatissime!

In Bayreuth,9 some of my friends10 will meet you and will probably reveal to you their ulterior motives about me one day; tell all these friends that they will have to wait for me and that there is no reason to despair.

Do you think that I am very pleased not to have to hear the Parsifal music. Apart from 2 pieces (the same ones which you also mentioned to me) I don't like this "style" (this laborious and laden little piece of work): that is Hegelei11 in music: and moreover just as much a proof of great poverty of invention as a proof of tremendous pretension and cagliostricity12 of its author. Sorry! Rigorous on this point. — I am unrelenting in morality.

1. Malwida von Meysenbug's foster-daughter Olga Herzen (1851-1953) was married to the French historian Gabriel Monod (1844-1912).
2. That is, in Tautenburg.
3. In the winter of 1876-77, Nietzsche, Paul Rée (1849-1901), Albert Brenner (1856-1878), and Malwida von Meysenbug (1816-1903) were together in Sorrento, when Nietzsche was working on Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (Human, All-Too Human).
4. Cf. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, 1:3584: "Und bin nun selbst der Sünde bloß!" (And am now myself nothing but sin!)
5. Nietzsche's Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik (1872), his 4 Unzeitgemäße Betrachtungen (1873-76), Menschliches, Allzumenschliches (1878), Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche (1879), Der Wanderer und sein Schatten (1880), Morgenröthe (1881), and Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (1882).
6. Lou Salomé.
7. His break with Richard Wagner.
8. Fortdenkerin.
9. For the premiere of Wagner's Parsifal.
10. Franz Overbeck, Erwin Rohde, and Carl von Gersdorff.
11. Hegelry. In Parerga and Paralipomena, 1, Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) likened champions of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) to "intellectually castrated" people "full of the most ludicrous presumption."
12. Allusion to Alessandro Cagliostro (1743-1795): one of the world's first con artists, who claimed to possess the fictitious philosopher's stone. Cf. Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, §99 (The Joyful Science, §99).


Lou Salomé, Max Heinemann, Paul Rée.
By: Alexander Flury.
From b/w photo, Pontresina, ca. 1885.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Tautenburg, August 8/24, 1882:
Letter to Lou Salomé.

Toward the Teaching of Style 1


Of prime necessity is life: a style should live.


Style should be suited to the specific person with whom you wish to communicate. (The law of mutual relation.)


First, one must determine precisely "what-and-what do I wish to say and present" — before you may write. Writing must be mimicry.


Since the writer lacks many of the speaker's means, he must in general have for his model a very expressive kind of presentation; of necessity, the written copy will appear much paler.


The richness of life reveals itself through a richness of gestures. One must learn to feel everything — the length and retarding of sentences, interpunctuations, the choice of words, the pausing, the sequence of arguments — like gestures.


Be careful with periods! Only those people who also have long duration of breath while speaking are entitled to periods. With most people, the period is a matter of affectation.


Style ought to prove that one believes in an idea; not only thinks it but also feels it.


The more abstract a truth which one wishes to teach, the more one must first seduce the senses.


Strategy on the part of the good writer of prose consists of choosing his means for stepping close to poetry but never stepping into it.


It is not good manners or clever to deprive one's reader of the most obvious objections. It is very good manners and very clever to leave it to one's reader alone to pronounce the ultimate quintessence of our wisdom.

Good norning to you,
my dear Lou!

1. Cf. Nachlass, Tautenburger Aufzeichnungen für Lou von Salomé. Juli-August 1882 1[45]; [109].


A slip of paper to Lou Salomé.
Tautenburg, August 25, 1882.

Tautenburg, August 25, 1882:
A slip of paper to Lou Salomé.

In bed. The most terrible attack. I despise life.


Tautenburg, August 26, 1882:
A slip of paper to Lou Salomé.

My dear Lou,

Sorry about yesterday! A terrible attack of my stupid headaches — today all gone.

And today I see a few things with new eyes. —

At 12 clock I will take you to Dornburg: — but before then I have to talk with you for about a half hour (soon, I mean as soon as you get up).





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

Leipzig, September 9, 1882:
Letter to Franz Overbeck.

My dear friend, so once again I am based in Leipzig, the old book town, in order to acquaint myself with a few books before heading off again.1 Probably nothing will come of my German winter campaign:2 I need clear weather, in every sense. Yes, this German cloud-weather has character, rather like, it seems to me, the Parsifal music has character — but a bad one.3 Lying before me is the first act of matrimonio segreto — golden, glittering, good, very good music!4

The weeks in Tautenburg5 did me good, especially the last ones; and for the most part I have a right to talk of recovery, even though I am frequently reminded of the unstable equilibrium of my health. But, let the sky above me be clear! Otherwise I lose all too much time and strength!

If you have read the Sanctus Januarius,6 then you will have noticed that I have passed a tropic. All that lies before me is new, and it will not be long before I get to see the terrifying face of my distant life-task. This long, rich summer was for me a testing time; I took leave of it very bravely and with pride, for I felt that during this time at least the otherwise so ugly chasm between willing and achievement had been bridged. There were hard demands made on my humanity, and I have grown equal to the most difficult situations. This entire intermediate state between what used to be and what will be, I call "in media vita";7 and the demon of music, which has haunted me again after many years, has compelled me to express this in tones8 as well.

But the most useful thing I did this summer was talking with Lou. Our intellects and tastes are profoundly related — and there are, at the same time, so many differences that we are the most instructive objects and subjects of observation for one another. I have never gotten to know anyone who knows how to extract such an amount of objective insights from his experiences, anyone who knows how to draw so much from everything they have learned. Yesterday Rée wrote to me "Lou has definitely grown several inches in Tautenburg" — well, maybe I have too. I want to know whether there has ever existed such a philosophical candor like the one that exists between us. L[ou] is now completely engrossed in books and work; the greatest service that she has done me thus far, is to have persuaded Rée to recast9 his book10 on the basis of one of my main ideas. — Her health, I fear, will only last another 6-7 years.

Tautenburg gave Lou an objective.— She left me a moving poem "Prayer to Life."11

Unfortunately, my sister has become a deadly enemy of L[ou]'s; she was full of moral indignation from start to finish and now claims to know what my philosophy is all about. She wrote to my mother: "she has seen my philosophy come to life in Tautenb[urg] and was shocked: I love evil, but she loves the good. If she were a good Catholic, she would enter a convent and do penance for all the harm that will arise from it." In short, I have Naumburg "virtue" against me, there is a real break between us — and even my mother was so far out of her mind that she said something12 that made me pack my bags and leave early the next morning for Leipzig. My sister (who did not want to come to Naumb[urg] as long as I was there and is still in Tautenburg) quoted ironically about it, "Thus began Zarathustra's downgoing."13 — In fact, it is the start of a beginning. — This letter is for you and your dear wife; don't think of me as misanthropic. Most cordially

Your F.N.

The heartiest greetings to Frau Rothpletz14 and her family!

I have not yet thanked you for your cordial letter.

1. Nietzsche graduated from the University of Leipzig. He was now residing at 26 Auenstrasse with his landlord, Wilhelm Janicaud (1837-1895), a teacher at the Second District Leipzig School (school for the poor). It's not known which books he read at the university library. For further information about Nietzsche's stay with Janicaud and his family, see the recollections of his son Walter, in Sandor L. Gilman (Hrsg.), Begegnungen mit Nietzsche, 2. Auflage. Bonn: Bouvier, 1985, 451-453. Translated in Sandor L. Gilman (ed.), David J. Parent (trans.), Conversations with Nietzsche. A Life in the Words of His Contemporaries. New York; Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987, 141-143. The recollections include the following statement: "Dort, wo einst Zarathustra-Manuskripte lagen, hat mancher Musensohn sich für das 'Zarathustra-Kolleg' vorbereitet oder im 'Zarathustra' studiert." (At the spot [on a desk] where Zarathustra manuscripts once lay, many a son of the Muses has prepared for the "Zarathustra course" or studied "Zarathustra.") It's not certain if Nietzsche was researching Zarathustra at that time, but the "few books" with which he was acquainting himself at the library were possibly related to the Persian prophet.
2. Tentative plans to spend time with Rée and Salomé in Leipzig.
3. Nietzsche objected to the moralizing Christian content in Richard Wagner's Parsifal.
4. Opera composed by Heinrich Köselitz.
5. August 7-26, 1882 with Lou Salomé.
6. Book 4 of The Joyful Science, with its prefatory poem, "Sanctus Januarius" (Saint Januarius): "Der du mit dem Flammenspeere / Meiner Seele Eis zertheilt, / Dass sie brausend nun zum Meere / Ihrer höchsten Hoffnung eilt: / Heller stets und stets gesunder, / Frei im liebevollsten Muss: — / Also preist sie deine Wunder, / Schönster Januarius! / Genua, January 1882." (You who with the flaming spear / Split the ice of my soul, / So that with a boom it now / Rushes to the sea of its highest hope: / Ever clearer and healthier, / In the most loving necessity still free: — / Thus it praises your wonders, / Fairest month of January! / Genoa, January 1882.) The title refers to the martyred saint whose vial of congealed blood purportedly becomes liquified once a year in January.
7. "in mid-life": the title of aphorism 324 in The Joyful Science.
8. In August 1882, Nietzsche composed for voice/piano "Gebet an das Leben" (Prayer to Life), Lou Salomé's poem ("Lebensgebet") set to an arrangement of his 1874 "Hymnus auf die Freundschaft" (Hymn to Friendship). See Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music: 25.
9. "Reform."
10. Paul Rée's Die Entstehung des Gewissens, was published in 1885.
11. See note 8 above.
12. See 02-10-1883 letter to Franz Overbeck: "So ist es mir zum Beispiel noch nicht Eine Stunde aus dem Gedächtnisse weggeblieben, daß mich meine Mutter eine Schande für das Grab meines Vaters genannt hat." (So, for instance, not for a moment have I been able to forget that my mother called me a disgrace to the grave of my father.)
13. The end of aphorism 342, and the conclusion of the first edition of The Joyful Science.
14. Louise Rothpletz, Overbeck's mother-in-law.


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

Leipzig, September 10, 1882:
Postcard to Franziska Nietzsche.1

My dear mother, headache attack and 2 sleepless nights so far, also trouble with my eyes. But at least found accommodations, with great effort and searching! Romundt2 is traveling; I was in his apartment one night. Thus the address for Schmeitzner's letter:3

Leipzig, Auenstrasse, 26, 2nd floor c/o

Teacher Janicaud.4

Near the Rosenthal.5 The inner city has almost made me pass out so far.

Your F.
Otherwise poste restante.
Completely studential, 15 marks per month. Quiet.

1. A reply to a lost letter from Franziska Nietzsche.
2. Heinrich Romundt (1845-1919), his former housemate in Basel who left to become a Catholic priest, but soon dropped those plans and became a high-school teacher in Oldenburg.
3. Franziska wanted to forward an unknown letter from Ernst Schmeitzner, Nietzsche's publisher at the time.
4. Nietzsche was now residing at 26 Auenstrasse with his landlord, Wilhelm Janicaud (1837-1895), a teacher at the Second District Leipzig School (school for the poor). It's not known which books he read at the university library. For further information about Nietzsche's stay with Janicaud and his family, see the recollections of his son Walter, in Sandor L. Gilman (Hrsg.), Begegnungen mit Nietzsche, 2. Auflage. Bonn: Bouvier, 1985, 451-453. Translated in Sandor L. Gilman (ed.), David J. Parent (trans.), Conversations with Nietzsche. A Life in the Words of His Contemporaries. New York; Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987, 141-143. The recollections include the following statement: "Dort, wo einst Zarathustra-Manuskripte lagen, hat mancher Musensohn sich für das 'Zarathustra-Kolleg' vorbereitet oder im 'Zarathustra' studiert." (At the spot [on a desk] where Zarathustra manuscripts once lay, many a son of the Muses has prepared for the "Zarathustra course" or studied "Zarathustra.") It's not certain if Nietzsche was researching Zarathustra at that time, but the "few books" with which he was acquainting himself at the library were possibly related to the Persian prophet.
5. Rosenthal: At the time, a forest park on the outskirts of Leipzig.


Friedrich Nietzsche.
September 1882.
From b/w photo taken by:
Gustav Schultze, Naumburg.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Leipzig, September 16, 1882:
Letter to Jenny Rée.1

Esteemed Frau,

Look at this picture2 and don't be startled: that's me. For a long time I have been looking for an opportunity to give you an indication of how often I have felt obliged and grateful to you — for many years now and recently more and more. The photographer sent pictures today; and the first one should have the honor to be dispatched to you, esteemed Frau. Your son Paul and [I], we have remained fond [of one another] for a good length of time,3 and now that our friendship has become a kind of trinity,4 we have one more reason to stay good friends with each other, to make life around our beloved third member5 a little more bearable and to give it a more dignified character. All the confidence you have shown us in this is something for which I feel the greatest respect: — I thank you with all my heart for it.

Dr F. Nietzsche.

1. Jenny Rée (née Jonas, 1825-?), the mother of Paul Rée. For a detailed summary of the Rée family, see Ruth Stummann-Bowert, Malwida von Meysenbug, Paul Ree. Briefe an einen Freund. Würzburg: Königshausen & Neumann, 1998, 67-72.
2. Nietzsche had a series of photographs taken in Naumburg in September. The picture shown here is probably the one Nietzsche sent.
3. Their friendship began in the spring of 1873.
4. Nietzsche, Paul Rée, and Lou Salomé.
5. Lou Salomé.


Lou Salomé.
Ca. 1906.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Leipzig, presumably September 16, 1882:
Letter to Lou Salomé.

My dear Lou, your idea of a reduction of philosophical systems to personal records of their originators is quite an idea from the "sibling brain": I myself in Basel related the history of ancient philosophy in this sense and liked to tell my audience: "this system is refuted and dead — but the person behind it is irrefutable, the person really cannot be killed" — for example, Plato.1

Today I enclose a letter2 from Professor Jacob Burckhardt, whom you wanted to meet one day. He also has something irrefutable in his personality; but since he is a very authentic historian (the foremost of all living ones), it is precisely that type and person which is eternally incorporated within him that gives him no satisfaction; he would gladly like to see for once through other eyes, for example, as the strange letter reveals, through mine. Incidentally, he believes in an imminent and sudden death, from a stroke, a death typical in his family; perhaps he would like me to be his successor in his professorship? — But my life has already been decided. —

Meanwhile Professor Riedel3 here, president of the German Musical Association, is fired with enthusiasm for my "heroic music" (I mean your "Prayer to Life")4 — he absolutely wants to have it [performed], and it is not impossible that he will arrange it for his splendid choir (one of the best in Germany, called the Riedel Society). That would be just one little way in which we could both together reach posterity — other ways excepted. —

As far as your "characterization of myself" is concerned, which is true, as you write: it reminded me of my little verses from the Joyful Science — p. 10, with the title "Request."5 Can you guess my dear Lou, what I am asking for? — But Pilate says: "What is truth!"6

Yesterday afternoon I was happy; the sky was blue, the air mild and pure, I was in Rosenthal, where Carmen-Music7 had lured me. There I sat for three hours, drinking the second cognac of that year, in memory of the first (ha! How horrible it tasted!), and reflected in all innocence and wickedness, whether I had any propensity to madness. In the end I said No. Then the Carmen-Music began, and I foundered for half-an-hour under tears and palpitations of the heart. — But when you read this, you will say Yes! and jot down a note "characterizing my very self." —

Come very very soon to Leipzig! Why only on October 2? Adieu, my dear Lou!

Your F.N.

1. Cf. Die Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen.
2. Cf. 09-13-1882 letter from Jacob Burckhardt.
3. Carl Riedel (1827-1888): German conductor and composer.
4. In August 1882, Nietzsche composed for voice/piano "Gebet an das Leben" (Prayer to Life), Lou Salomé's poem ("Lebensgebet") set to an arrangement of his 1874 "Hymnus auf die Freundschaft" (Hymn to Friendship). See Friedrich Nietzsche in Words and Pictures. Appendix 2. Chronology of Nietzsche's Music: 25.
5. Cf. "Bitte."
6. Cf. John 18:38, "'What is truth?' said Pilate. With this he went out again to the Jews gathered there and said, 'I find no basis for a charge against him.'"
7. Carmen by Georges Bizet. 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. See Nietzsche's 11-28-1881 letter to Heinrich Köselitz.


Gottfried Keller.1
Zürich, ca. 1885-88.
From b/w photo taken by Rudolf Ganz.
Colorized and enhanced image © The Nietzsche Channel.

Leipzig, September 16, 1882:
Letter to Gottfried Keller

Highly esteemed sir,

I wish you already knew from somewhere or other that you are for me — a very highly esteemed person, man and poet. Then I wouldn't need to apologize today for having sent you a book2 recently.

Perhaps, despite its joyful title, this book has offended you? And really, whom would I like to offend less than especially you, the rejoicer of hearts!3 I am so gratefully disposed toward you.4

Sincerely yours
Dr. Friedrich Nietzsche
(formerly Professor at the University of
Basel and three-quarters Swiss)

1. Gottfried Keller (1819-1890): Swiss poet and writer.
2. The Joyful Science.
3. "dem Herz-Erfreuer!"
4. The feeling wasn't exactly mutual, as we can see from Keller's correspondence and other material. In a November 18, 1873 letter to Emil Kuh, Keller gives his opinion of Nietzsche's first Untimely Meditation on David Strauss: "Das knäbische Pamphlet des Herrn Nietzsche gegen Strauss habe ich auch zu lesen begonnen, bringe es aber kaum zu Ende wegen des gar zu monotonen Schimpfstiles ohne alle positiven Leistungen oder Oasen." (I've also started to read the childish pamphlet of Mr. Nietzsche against Strauss, but can hardly finish it because of the all too monotonous abusive style without any constructive criticism or oases.) In addition, we have the personal observations of Robert Freund, a pianist and composer who studied under Franz Liszt. He recounts Nietzsche's meeting with Keller in September 1884: "Nietzsche, der Keller sehr verehrte, ihn aber noch nicht persönlich kannte, sagte mir einmal, daß er Keller am nächsten Vormittag besuchen werde. Nachdem der Besuch stattgefunden, ging ich am Nachmittag mit Nietzsche spazieren und frug ihn, wie es bei Keller gewesen sei. Es sei sehr nett gewesen, antwortete Nietzsche, nur entsetzte ihn das entsetzliche [sic] Deutsch, das Keller spreche und die mühsame Art, mit der sich der große Schriftsteller mündlich ausdrücke. Am nächsten Sonntag frug ich dann Keller, ob Herr Nietzsche ihn besucht habe. Keller bejahte und setzte hinzu: 'ich glaube, dä Kerl ischt verruckt.'" (Nietzsche, who greatly admired Keller, but still didn't know him personally, once told me that he would be going to Keller's the next morning. After the visit took place, I went for a walk with Nietzsche in the afternoon and asked him how it went with Keller. It was very nice, Nietzsche answered, only he was appalled by the terrible German that Keller spoke, and the laborious way the great writer expressed himself orally. The next Sunday, I asked Keller whether Herr Nietzsche had visited him. Keller said yes, and added: "I think the guy is crazy.") Cf. Robert Freund, "Memoiren eines Pianisten." In: Neujahrsblatt der Allgemeinen Musikgesellschaft. Bd. 139. Zürich: Hug, 1951.


Poem to Lou Salomé.1

[Leipzig], early November 1882:
Poem to Lou Salomé.

Friend! — spoke Columbus — keep
Trust in a Genoese no more!
He always stares into the blue deep,
Is drawn out there too far!


He likes to lure the one he loves
Farther out into space and time — —
Star upon star shine above us,
Eternity rushes around us.


To my dear Lou.
      Early November 1882.
                        F. Nietzsche.

1. Probably meant as a dedication to be tipped-in to her copy of The Joyful Science. See the 1884 version of this poem.


Paul Rée.
May 1882.
From b/w photo taken by:
Jules Bonnet. Lucerne, Switzerland.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Rapallo, last week of December 1882:
Draft of a Letter to Paul Rée.

I write this under clear skies: do not confuse my sanity with the nonsense of my recent opium-induced letter.1 I am not at all crazy and also do not suffer from delusions of grandeur. But I should have friends who will warn me at the right time of such dire affairs, like those of this summer.

Who could have guessed that her2 heroic words "fighting for a principle," her poem "To Pain,"3 her stories about the struggle for knowledge, were just fraudulent. (Her mother wrote to me this summer: L[ou] has had the greatest freedom imaginable.)4

Or is it something else? The Lou in Orta was a different creature than the one whom I rediscovered later on. A creature without ideals, without goals, without duties, without shame. And on the lowest level of p[eople], despite her good mind!

She told me herself that she had no morality — and I thought she had, like myself, a more severe morality than anybody! and she often sacrificed something of herself every day and every hour.

In the meantime, I can only see that it is out of amusement and entertainment: and when I think that this also includes questions of morality, then, to put it mildly, I am seized with pure indignation. She has quite resented the fact that I denied her the right to the phrase "heroism of knowledge" — but she should be honest and say: "I am just worlds apart from that." While heroism is a matter of sacrifice and duty and in fact daily and hourly, and thus much more, the whole soul must be replete with one thing, and life and happiness indifferent about it. I thought I saw such a nature in L[ou].

Listen, friend, how I view the matter today! It is a complete disaster — and I am its victim.

In the spring I thought I had found a person capable of helping me: which of course requires not only a good intell[ect] but a first-rate morality. Instead of this, we have discovered a creature who wants to amuse herself and is shameless enough to believe that the most distinguished minds on earth are just good enough for this purpose.

The result of this mistake for me is that I lack more than ever the means to find such a p[erson] and that my soul, which was free, is tormented by an abundance of disgusting memories. For the entire dignity of my life's work has been compromised by [a] superficial and immorally frivolous and soulless creature like Lou and also that my name

my reputation is tarnished

I believed you had persuaded her to come to my aid.

to P[aul] R[ée]

1. See Rapallo, around December 20, 1882: Fragment of a Letter to Lou Salomé and Paul Rée.
2. Lou Salomé.
3. Lou Salomé's poem:
An den Schmerz To Pain
Gewiß, so liebt ein Freund den Freund,
Wie ich Dich liebe, Rätselleben —
Ob ich in Dir gejauchzt, geweint,
Ob Du mir Glück, ob Schmerz gegeben.
Surely, a friend loves his friend the way
That I love you, enigmatic life —
Whether I rejoiced or wept in you,
Whether you gave me joy or pain.
Ich liebe Dich samt Deinem Harme;
Und wenn Du mich vernichten mußt,
Entreiße ich mich Deinem Arme,
Wie Freund reißt sich von Freundesbrust.
I love you with all your harms;
And if you must destroy me,
I tear myself from your arms,
The way a friend leaves his friend's breast.
Mit ganzer Kraft umfaß ich Dich!
Laß Deine Flammen mich entzünden,
Laß noch in Glut des Kampfes mich
Dein Rätsel tiefer nur ergründen.
I hold you tight with all my strength!
Let all your flames ignite me,
Let me in the ardor of the struggle
Probe your enigma ever deeper.
Jahrtausende zu sein! zu denken!
Schließ mich in beide Arme ein:
Hast Du kein Glück mehr mir zu schenken —
Wohlan—noch hast Du Deine Pein.
To live and think millennia!
Enclose me now in both your arms:
If you have no more joy to give me —
Well then—there still remains your pain.

4. Unknown letter.

Nietzsche's Letters | 1882© The Nietzsche Channel

Not to be reproduced without permission. All content © The Nietzsche Channel.