Nietzsche's Letters | 1884© The Nietzsche Channel

Nietzsche's Letters

1884

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Erwin Rohde.
As an older man.
Colorized image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Nice, February 22, 1884:
Letter to Erwin Rohde.

My dear old friend

I don't know how it happened: but when I read your last letter1 and especially when I saw the charming picture of your children,2 it was to me as if you squeezed my hand while giving me a melancholy look: mournfully, as if you were about to say "How is it simply possible that we have so little in common now and how do we now live in such different worlds! Yet at one time — —"3

And that's how it is, my friend, with all the people I care about: it's all over, in the past, forbearance; we still see each other, we talk so as not to be silent — we still write letters, so as not to be silent. But the truth is expressed in their eyes: and it says to me (I hear it well enough!) "Nietzsche, my friend, now you are all alone!"

I've now actually come to this point. —

Meanwhile, I continue on my way, in fact it's a voyage, a sea voyage — and not in vain have I lived for years in the city of Columbus.4 — —

My "Zarathustra" is finished, in three acts: you have the first, I hope to be able to send you the other two in 4-6 weeks. It is a kind of abyss of the future, something hair-raising,5 especially in its rapture. Everything in it is me alone, without prototype, parallel, or precursor; whoever has once lived in it returns to the world with a different vision.6

But one should not speak about it. From you, as a homo litteratus, I will not hold back a confession: — I fancy that, with this Z[arathustra], I have brought the German language to its perfection. After Luther and Goethe there was still a third step to take —; see for yourself, old bosom friend, if power, suppleness, and euphony have ever been together like this before in our language. After reading a page of my book, read Goethe — and you will feel that the "undulatory" Goethe adhered to as a draftsman did not remain foreign to the shaper of language as well. I have the advantage of a stronger, manlier line than him, but without turning boorish like Luther. My style is a dance, a play of symmetries of all kinds and a leaping over and mockery of these symmetries. That goes as far as the choice of vowels. —

Forgive me! I will be careful not to confess this to anyone else, but you did once — I think you are the only one — express delight in my language. —

By the way, I have remained a poet within every limit of this term, despite having already browbeat myself thoroughly with the antithesis of all poetry. Ah friend, what a crazy, secluded life I live! So alone, alone! So without "children"!

Remain good to me, as I am truly yours!

Your
F. N.

1. In his 12-22-1883 letter, Rohde gives a critique of Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and states "Der persische Weise bist zwar Du, aber es ist eine ganz andre Sache, ob man höchst persönliche Meinungen direct als solche ausspricht oder sich ein Idealwesen erschafft, damit dieses sie als seine Meinungen vortrage [....] Gewiß darum schuf sich Plato seinen Sokrates, und so Du nun Deinen Zarathustra." (The Persian sage is, to be sure, yourself, but it is quite a different thing to express highly personal opinions in such a direct way or to create an ideal character for this who lectures with his opinions [....] Surely that's why Plato created his Socrates and you your Zarathustra.)
2. Bertha and Franz Rohde. In his December letter, Rohde pours salt on Nietzsche's wounds in regard to his loneliness by affirming the putative wisdom that "In der That, meine Kinder sind mein und meiner guten kleinen Frau alleiniges Gut und Glück auf der Welt und ich weiß kein höheres." (In fact, my children and my good little wife are the only good thing and my sole happiness in the world and I know no higher.)
3. Rohde thought Nietzsche should have remained a classical philologist.
4. Genoa, Italy.
5. Schauerliches.
6. Gesichte.

 


Ernst Schmeitzner's "Liebesgabe zum Antisemitischen Agitationsfond." 1
Ca. 1880.

Nice, April 2, 1884:
Postcard to Franz Overbeck.

My dear friend, most recently I forgot to ask you to send2 me another 500 frc. here. —

The latest news is that great fears have cropped up regarding my publisher. You know that he wanted to repay my available funds with him to my mother by April 1st. But now! But [more] about that another time.3

The accursed anti-Semitism spoils all my accounts for pecuniary independence, students, new friends, influence, it made R[ichard] W[agner] and me enemies, it is the cause of a radical break between me and my sister4 etc. etc. etc. Oh! Oh!

Here I found out how much I was reproached in Vienna for [having] such a publisher.5

1. "'Liebesgabe zum Antisemitischen Agitationsfond' is a stamp proving payment of fees (Beitragsmarke) produced by the entourage of Wilhelm Marr and Ernst Schmeitzner, around 1880. Producing stamps and using sovereign signs was for the fragmented antisemitic movement a mean to appear publicly as an authority. The price of the stamp is stated to be a 'gift of love' (Liebesgabe) for a fund for antisemitic agitation." Isabel Enzenbach, "Stamps, Stickers and Stigmata. A Social Practice of Antisemitism Presented in a Slide-show." In: Quest. Issues in Contemporary Jewish History. Journal of Fondazione CDEC, n.3 July 2012.
2. Overbeck sent Nietzsche his pension.
3. Ernst Schmeitzner had fallen into financial misfortune through his anti-Semitic dealings and agitation. From the onset of their relationship, Nietzsche had allowed Schmeitzner to invest his savings (in government bonds), but this arrangement was short-lived, as it appears Schmeitzner invested in long-term real estate schemes, and probably in anti-Semitic enterprises. When Schmeitzner failed to fulfill Nietzsche's request to redeem his savings, a long drawn-out negotiation and legal wrangling occurred. Schmeitzner finally paid off his debt with the assistance of his father. For further information, see William H. Schaberg, "The Lawsuit against Schmeitzner." In: The Nietzsche Canon. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1995, 109-119.
4. On May 22, 1885, Elisabeth Nietzsche married the anti-Semite Bernhard Förster. Cf. Richard Frank Krummel, "Josef Paneth über seine Begegnung mit Nietzsche in der Zarathustra-Zeit." In: Nietzsche-Studien 17 (1988). 478-495. "Dann gieng ich zu Nietzsche ... Nach einigen einleitenden Bemerkungen kamen wir auf den Antisemitismus. Ich fragte ihn, wieso er seine 'Idyllen aus Meßina' in einer Zeitschrift zur Bekämpfung des Judenthums habe erscheinen laßen. Die Zeit schrift hätte damals noch nicht den Character gehabt; sie sei im entgegengesetzten Sinne, im Sinne derer, die gute Europäer sein wollten, gegründet worden und sie, sowie sein Verleger, seien erst später Antisemiten geworden. Ihm liege diese Feindseligkeit ganz ferne; er habe sich von Jugend auf von Race- und Religionsvorurtheilen frei zu halten gesucht. Er wünsche von mir zu wißen, was denn unter den Juden für Hoffnungen da wären? Worauf ich ihm sagte, daß ich, und die so wie ich dächten, gar nicht als Juden, als Raße angesehen sein wollten, sondern Jeder als Individuum; daß der Glaube an das auserwählte Volk mit dem Glauben an die fünf Bücher Mosis stehe und falle; daß es für das Judenthum nirgends eine Einheit, ein Centrum gäbe; daß es aber ganz unmöglich sei, sich jetzt nicht als Jude zu bekennen, ohne den Vorwurf der Feigheit auf sich zu laden. Er wollte anfangs den Einfluß der Raße vertheidigen, gab es aber dann auf und stimmte mit mir vollstaendig überein, daß es reine Raßen nicht gäbe; am allerwenigsten hätten die Deutschen Anspruch darauf, eine solche zu sein. [....] Allmählich kam dann heraus, daß ihm im Lauf der letzten Zeit hart zugesetzt worden sei, sich dieser 'Schweinerei' in die Arme zu werfen, daß seine Existenz davon bedroht gewesen sei; daß seine eigene Schwester und ein naher Freund seines Hauses Dr Bernhard Foerster dieser Richtung angehörten; ja wenn er in den letzten Jahren einen Selbstmord verübt hätte, so hätten diese Quälereien, denen ihn gerade der Antisemitismus aussetzte, sehr viel Anteil daran gehabt. Man habe ihm das Leben damit schrecklich verbittert. Auch hätten sich einige Menschen jüdischer Abstammung schlecht gegen ihn benommen, das sei als Argument gegen die Raße benützt worden." (Then I went to [see] Nietzsche ... After a few introductory remarks, we came to [the subject of] anti-Semitism. I asked him why he had permitted his "Idylls from Messina" to appear in a periodical combating Judaism. At the time, the periodical did not yet have that [anti-Semitic] character; it had been founded for the opposite purpose, for the purpose of those good Europeans, and it[s contributors], as well as its publisher, had only later become anti-Semites. This hostility was entirely remote from him; from the time of his youth on, he had tried to steer clear of racial and religious prejudices. He wanted to know from me what were the hopes of the Jews at the time? Whereupon I told him that I, and those who thought as I did, did not want to be viewed as Jews, as a race, but each person as an individual; that the belief in the chosen people stands and falls with the belief in the five books of Moses; that nowhere is there an entity, a centrality for Judaism; but that now it was quite impossible not to acknowledge being a Jew, unless one wanted to be accused of cowardice. He wanted to defend the influence of race initially, but then conceded and completely agreed with me that there were no pure races; and Germans least of all were entitled to be one. [....] Gradually it came out that he had been hard pressed in recent times to throw himself into the arms of this "swinishness," that his existence had been threatened by it; that his own sister and a close friend of those at home, Dr Bernhard Foerster, belonged to this movement; indeed, if he had tried to commit suicide in recent years, then these tortures, which had exposed him to anti-Semitism, would have had a very considerable part in it. They had embittered his life so horribly. Also, some people of Jewish descent had behaved badly towards him, which had been used as an argument against the race. [An allusion to Paul Rée and Lou Salomé.])
5. The source is probably Josef Paneth (1857-1890): Austrian physiologist. In the 1870s, Paneth was a member of the student organization at the University of Vienna, the "Leseverein der deutschen Studenten Wiens." Amidst that group, he belonged to the "Pernerstorfer circle," or the so-called "Nietzsche Society." Overtures by the group to Nietzsche were started in April and June 1876 by another member, Joseph Ehrlich. For more information on the "Pernerstorfer circle," see Aldo Venturelli, "Nietzsche in der Berggasse 19. Über die erste Nietzsche-Rezeption in Wien." In: Kunst, Wissenschaft und Geschichte bei Nietzsche. Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 2003, 257-290 (also in Nietzsche-Studien, 13 (1984): 448-480). William J. McGrath, "Mahler and the Vienna Nietzsche Society." In: Jacob Golomb, ed., Nietzsche and Jewish Culture. London: Routledge, 1997, 218-232. Reinhard Gasser, "Kontakte mit Nietzsche-Verehrern in der Studentenzeit." In: Nietzsche und Freud. Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 1997, 7-29. Cf. 10-15-1877 letter from Siegfried Lipiner to Nietzsche.

 


Helene Druskowitz.
Unknown date.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Zürich, October 21, 1884:
Letter to Friedrich Nietzsche.

Esteemed Herr Professor,

Would you like to take a walk this afternoon and let's choose the city museum1 as a meeting and starting point, where you would meet me (namely, in the second reading room) between 2-3 o'clock?

With special respect

Very truly yours
H. Druskowitz2

1. Druskowitz seems to have made a mistake: there was no city museum. However, she was probably referring to the "Museumsgesellschaft" reading rooms.
2. Helene Druskowitz (1856-1918): early feminist writer who earned a PhD in philosophy in 1878 from the University of Zürich. It's likely that Nietzsche learned of Druskowitz through his visits to Zürich, which began in the 1870s. In a 07-18-1882 letter to Franz Overbeck, he asked for the address of "Frl. Helene Truschkowitz." On 08-01-1885, Nietzsche asked Heinrich Köselitz to send her a copy of part 4 of Also sprach Zarathustra. Three weeks later, he regretted the decision (see 08-25-1885 letter to Köselitz), but learned that she would only read and not keep the copy. In 1886, Druskowitz began writing — disapprovingly — about Nietzsche's philosophy and Also sprach Zarathustra. See Moderne Versuche eines Religionsersatzes. Ein philosophischer Essay. Heidelberg: 1886. TNC reprint of pp. 45-59. This led to Nietzsche making some disparaging remarks about her in a postscript to a 09-17-1887 letter to Carl Spitteler: "Die kleine Litteratur-Gans Druscowicz ist Alles Andere als meine 'Schülerin'." (The little literature-goose Druscowicz is anything but my "pupil.") For books by Druskowitz that Nietzsche actually owned, see her entry in Nietzsche's Library.

 



Friedrich Hegar.
Unknown date.
Colorized image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Zürich, October 22, 1884:
Letter to Elisabeth Nietzsche.

Yesterday, my dear Lama, was a beautiful day, and your letter1 came to hand amidst nothing but good things. In the morning, the weather glorious in Nicean splendor. At 9 o'clock I went to the concert hall and refreshed myself with Beethoven and Bizet. Then the German proprietor of the Hôtel des Etrangers2 announced to me in the most deferential way his joy that I was thinking of coming to his house for the winter and guaranteed the same conditions as before in Nice. Then Hegar3 came and brought the Köselitzian score:4 every autumn, he makes himself and his orchestra available and offered of his own accord to hand over to Mr. Peter Gast half an hour from each of his own orchestral rehearsals, at which time K[öselitz] could thus "take control" of the orchestra himself and rehearse his stuff. After this proposal I stated the now fulfilled request of K[öselitz]: to come over here to H[egar] in order to live in close proximity to an orchestra — in short, everything fits together well and I believe I have brought to the fore K[öselitz]'s destiny with this stay in Zurich. — In the afternoon I took a long walk with my new friend Helene Druscowicz,5 who lives with her mother a few houses away6 from the Pension Neptune: of all the women I know, she has, by far, dealt with my books in the most serious manner,7 and not in vain. Just take a look and see what you think of her latest works ("Drei englische Dichterinnen,"8 among them Elliot [sic], whom she admires a lot) and a book about Shelley.9 She is now translating the English poet Swineburne.10 I think she is a noble and righteuous creature who does my "philosophy" no harm.11 After that, read the novellas of my Berlin admirer Miss Glogau: they praise her a lot due to her "psychological acuity."12 In the evening I was at the first concert in the Concert Hall, to which H[egar] had invited me: and thus I spent the evening of this fine day with "Arlésienne"13 and laid myself to sleep. This morning a cordial and extremely tactful letter14 arrived from my old friend Overbeck, which essentially expresses his utter joy that I have not lost "such a portion of loyal and original attachment as is mine in my mother and sister." — Since I did not have your addresses where you're traveling, I sent a letter to you to Naumburg.

Faithfully Yours
F.

Long live independence! — this is my daily thought. Have nothing to do with getting married!15

My regards to all the relatives who have remained dear to me.

1. 10-10-1884 letter from Elisabeth Nietzsche.
2. An establishment in Mentone.
3. Friedrich Hegar (1841-1927). Hegar, whom Nietzsche had met while visiting Richard Wagner, was the founder and director of the music conservatory in Zurich, the conductor of the Zurich Symphony, and a close friend of Johannes Brahms.
4. "Der Löwe von Venedig" (The Lion of Venice), a composition by Heinrich Köselitz.
5. Helene Druskowitz (1856-1918): early feminist writer who earned a PhD in philosophy in 1878 from the University of Zürich. It's likely that Nietzsche learned of Druskowitz through his visits to Zürich, which began in the 1870s. In a 07-18-1882 letter to Franz Overbeck, he asked for the address of "Frl. Helene Truschkowitz." Ten months after their 1884 meeting, Nietzsche asked Heinrich Köselitz to send her a copy of part 4 of Also sprach Zarathustra. Apparently Druskowitz, in a now lost letter to Nietzsche that thanked him for sending it, had announced her intention to write about or critique Nietzsche's work. We can try to glean what she said from the draft of Nietzsche's response, but we know that whatever she wrote did not meet with Nietzsche's approval, since he expressed his regrets in a 08-25-1885 letter to Heinrich Köselitz. Nietzsche's draft to Druskowitz states that he should not be included among those who "produce lit[erature]." Her "sincere" but not very "modest" response could be rectified with "a half-hour conversation" to set her straight, according to Nietzsche. In 1886, Druskowitz wrote — disapprovingly — about Nietzsche's philosophy and Also sprach Zarathustra. See Moderne Versuche eines Religionsersatzes. Ein philosophischer Essay. Heidelberg: 1886. TNC reprint of pp. 45-59. This led to Nietzsche's disparaging remarks about her in a postscript to a 09-17-1887 letter to Carl Spitteler: "Die kleine Litteratur-Gans Druscowicz ist Alles Andere als meine 'Schülerin'." (The little literature-goose Druscowicz is anything but my "pupil.") For books by Druskowitz that Nietzsche actually owned, see her entry in Nietzsche's Library.
6. She resided at Stadelhoferstrasse 14.
7. For a discussion of Druskowitz's philosophical works and her relationship with Nietzsche, see Carol Diethe, Nietzsche's Women: Beyond the Whip. Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 1996, 95-100. Cf. Curt Paul Janz, Friedrich Nietzsche Biographie. Munich; Vienna: Hanser, 1979. Bd. 2, 351-356.
8. Drei englische Dichterinnen. Essays von H. Druskowitz Dr. phil. Verfasser von "Percy Bysshe Shelley." Berlin: R. Oppenheim, 1885. [Essays on Joanna Baillie (1762-1851), Elizabeth Barrett-Browning (1806-1861), and George Eliot (1819-1880)]. PDF.
9. Perce Bysshe Shelley von H. Druskowitz, Dr. phil. Berlin: Robert Oppenheim, 1884. PDF.
10. The translation was never published.
11. Druskowitz's subsequent publications disparaged Nietzsche's writings. See her entry in Nietzsche's Library.
12. Bertha Glogau (1849-?): German writer. Glogau published two books under the name, "B. Glogau." It's uncertain to which one Nietzsche was referring. 1. Novellen. Von B. Glogau. Berlin: Verlag von Wilhelm Hertz (Bessersche Buchhandlung), 1880; 2. Neue Novellen. Zweite Folge. Leipzig: B. Schlicke, 1883. [CONTENTS: An der letzten Roulette. Das Opfer.] The following review of her writings appeared in 1881: "In den 'Novellen' von B. Glogau fällt zunächst die feuilletonistische Behandlung auf. Einige darunter, zum Beispiel, die 'Frau Pfarrerin' oder 'Sitzen geblieben,' sind geradezu Skizzen, in denen eigentlich gar nichts vorgeht. Aber sie sind lebendig und mit allen jenen Pointen geschrieben, die man von dem Feuilletonisten verlangt. Daß Glogau auch ein eigentliches Erzählertalent ist, daß er gut erfinden und kräftig schildern kann, das beweisen die erste und die letzte seiner Novellen. 'An der polnischen Landstraße' heißt die eine, 'Im Exil' die andere. Der Osten Europas ist neuestens in der deutschen Literatur stark in die Mode gekommen, und auf unserem Parnaß tanzen freiwillige Sarmaten Krakowiak. Wir lieben diese exotische, nach dem Parfum der Uncultur duftende Poesie nicht sonderlich und lassen uns durch ihren seltsamen Reiz nicht blenden; aber Glogau's Novelle ist spannend und mit großer Gewandtheit entworfen. Dennoch ziehen wir ihr die einfache Geschichte von dem deutschen Manne vor, den ein Brustleiden an fernerer wissenschaftlicher und politischer Thätigkeit verhindert und an die Riviera zu übersiedeln zwingt. Dort wird der hochgebildete Mann — Wirth und trägt seiner Familie zuliebe den neuen Beruf wie ein Held bis zu seinem Tode. Die Erzählung, die leicht lächerlich werden konnte, ist sehr hübsch durchgeführt, und wir bewundern den herrlichen Charakter des tapferen Dulders ebenso wie der Verfasser, ja wir sind von seiner Schilderung so überzeugt, daß wir meinen, der wackere Mann müßte wirklich gelebt haben." (In B. Glogau's "Novellas," the first thing that strikes you is the feuilletonist treatment. Some of them, for example, the "Frau Pastor" or "Have a Seat," are frankly sketches in which nothing really happens. But they are lively and written with all the lines one expects from a feuilletonist. The first and last of her novellas prove that Glogau is also a real storyteller, that she can weave and depict powerfully. "On the Polish Country Road" is one of them, "In Exile" another. Eastern Europe has recently become very fashionable in German literature, and Sarmatians freely dance the Krakowiak on our Parnassus. We do not particularly love this exotic poetry, which smells of the perfume of the uncultured, and let us not be dazzled by its strange charm; but Glogau's novella is exciting and crafted with great skill. Nevertheless, we prefer to it the simple story of the German man prevented by a lung disease from further scholarly and political activity and forced to move to the Riviera. There the highly educated man becomes a landlord and for the sake of his family he carries on his new profession like a hero until his death. The story, which could easily become ridiculous, is very nicely done, and we admire the marvelous character of the brave sufferer just as much as the author; indeed, we are so convinced of his description that we think the brave man must really have existed.) See K. v. Th., "Literatur-Blatt. Neue Novellen." In: Neue Freie Presse. Nr. 5897. 1881-01-28. Page 4.
13. Composed in 1872 by Georges Bizet (1838-1875).
14. The letter is lost.
15. Elisabeth had written that Nietzsche's friend Bertha Rohr was possibly coming to Nice. Bertha Rohr (1848-1940) lived in Basel, and was also a friend of Malwida von Meysenbug. Nietzsche met her in 1873. She was seen as a marriage prospect.

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