Genoa, January 19, 1882:
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
* the three of us!12
1. End 1881: Letter from Elise Fincke.
Genoa, January 29, 1882:
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.
Genoa, March 10, 1882:
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.
[Genoa, March 20, 1882]:
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
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.)
Genoa, March 21, 1882:
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!4 — Overbeck 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.
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.
Naumburg on the Saale, May 24, 1882:
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.
Naumburg on the Saale, May 28, 1882:
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.
Naumburg on the Saale, May 28, 1882:
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,
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.
Naumburg, May 29, 1882:
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
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.
Boston, May 29, 1882:
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
To Dr. Fried. Nietzsche. —
1. Nietzsche had a series of photographs taken in Naumburg in September and forwarded them to his publisher.
Naumburg on the Saale, June 5, 1882:
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.
Naumburg, presumably June 10, 1882:
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
1. To stay at the family home of Paul Rée.
Naumburg, June 18, 1882:
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.
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
1. Unknown letter from Rée.
Tautenburg, July 3, 1882:
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!
Tautenburg, July 11, 1882:
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.
It must be something elegant and handsome, that will do me honor. With hearty greetings
Your son Fritz.
1. Printing of The Joyful Science.
Malwida von Meysenbug.
From b/w photo, 1880.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.
Tautenburg, possibly July 13, 1882:
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).
Tautenburg, August 8/24, 1882:
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.
Tautenburg, August 25, 1882:
In bed. The most terrible attack. I despise life.
Tautenburg, August 26, 1882:
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 means as soon as you get up).
Leipzig, September 9, 1882:
My dear friend, so once again I am based in Leipzig,1 the old book town, in order to acquaint myself with a few books before heading off again. 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.
My dear friend, so once again I am based in Leipzig,1 the old book town, in order to acquaint myself with a few books before heading off again. 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
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.
Leipzig, September 16, 1882:
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.
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.
Leipzig, presumably September 16, 1882:
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!
1. Cf. Die Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen.
Leipzig, September 16, 1882:
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
1. Gottfried Keller (1819-1890): Swiss poet and writer.
[Leipzig], early November 1882:
Friend! spoke Columbus keep
He likes to lure the one he loves
To my dear Lou.
1. Probably meant as a dedication to be tipped-in to her copy of The Joyful Science. See the 1884 version of this poem.
Rapallo, last week of December 1882:
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.