Nietzsche's Letters | 1886© The Nietzsche Channel

Nietzsche's Letters


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

Sils Maria, July 14, 1886:
Letter to Franz Overbeck.

Dear friend,

I too would have liked very much to see you again this year: but I see that it will come to naught. My intention to spend the summer in the Thuringian Forest, and the autumn in Munich,1 is foundering on the force majeure (or mineure) of my health. Life in present-day Germany is to me completely unbearable, it seems poisoning and crippling to me; and my contempt for people grows to dangerous proportions each time I'm there. I am therefore in complete agreement with your goodwill for the "outside" and "a side," as is clear from your plans to change your residence: your location in Basel, certainly not to be envied, but at least not to be lamented, has something safe and nice about it that you could not easily find elsewhere. Too bad that, for me, this place has such an impossible climate: for whom can I talk to about things except to you and Burckhardt? Also, I'm really well disposed to the people of Basel and am always happy to meet a Baseler (as again was the case today: and each time I notice how everyone who's from there is impregnated with the spirit and taste of Burckhardt: of course assuming that, etc., etc.) But, in the end, I thank God (more correctly: my illness and, to a very good extent you, dear friend!) that I am no longer there. Living in a false milieu and avoiding one's life's work, as I did while I was a philologist and university teacher, ruins me physically without fail; and any progress on my path has up to now brought me closer to health in a more physical sense. Any trip to Germany was thus hitherto always a regression, a weakening of my strength: unfortunately, these trips for one reason or another were always necessary. On the other hand, I am satisfied with my latest trip (the severe repercussions I have not yet overcome until now), because due to it, several things, though not routine, have nevertheless been made clear (and because, hopefully, such travel shall henceforth always be less frequent —). My mother, I found, to my great relief, cheerful, active and more self-confident than ever in her small nest: let us arrange a little rendezvous, perhaps in Switzerland, as opposed to Naumburg (unfortunately, the same objection can be made, as opposed to Basel — Naumburg has been detrimental to me from childhood on). Incidentally: my next locale will probably be, for spring and summer, Göschenen.2

So far Fritzsch has not yet been able to come to an agreement with Schm[eitzner], but maybe that will still happen, since F[ritzsch] seems to place great value on having in his publishing house the "complete Nietzsche," as well as the complete Wagner: a togetherness that also thoroughly pleases me.3 For, taking everything into account, up to now R. W. was the only one, at least the first, who has had a sense of what I am all about. (Of which e.g. Rohde, to my regret, seems not to have the faintest idea, let alone a sense of obligation towards me.) In this university atmosphere the best people degenerate: I continually sense as a background and ultimate authority, even in such natures as R[ohde], a damned general indifference and complete lack of faith in their affairs. That a person (like me) from an early age has been living among problems diu noctuque incubando4 and then has his distress and happiness alone — who would have any empathy for that! R. Wagner, as I said, did; and that's why Tribschen5 was such a recreation for me, while now I no longer have any place or people suitable for my recreation. — My negotiations with all publishers have finally shown me one way out, which I am now taking. I'm trying to make something appear on my expenses: assume there are 300 copies sold, then I figure out the cost, and can repeat the tentative experiment. The company CG Naumann gives its very commendable name to it. This is between us. The neglect by Schm[eitzner] was enormous: distributed no copies to retail booksellers for 10 years, nor editorial copies, not even a Commission warehouse in Leipzig, no ads, — in short, my writings from "Human, All Too Human" on are "anecdota." Of "Zarathustra" 60-70 copies each have been sold etc., etc. Schm[eitzner]'s excuse is always: that for 10 years none of my friends has had the courage to stand up for me. He wants 12,500 marks for my writings. He hopes to sell yours in Dresden, according to Fritzsch. — Money arrived safely.6

Faithfully your friend

Köselitz has just given notice to me his move to Nice in the autumn as very likely, Herr Lanzky7 did the same a few weeks ago. I'll stay here until mid-September, where there are plenty of old acquaintances, Mansouroff,8 the 2 Fynns,9 Miss Helen Zimmern,10 etc. etc. From Munich, the two countesses Bothmer.11 Please, do not let Schmeitzner realize that I know of his negotiations with Fritzsch, also of the bad reputation of Ehrlecke:12 he uses the like as a way of bringing pressure against me. Of course he wants me to purchase my books from him (letter last week).

1. Nietzsche's friends Reinhart von Seydlitz and his wife Irene lived in Munich. In the draft of this letter, Nietzsche wrote that when he was "on the hunt for good original books," he "came across something good from Munich," Carl Wilhelm von Nägeli's Mechanisch-physiologische Theorie der Abstammungslehre (München; Leipzig: Oldenbourg, 1884), "a work sheepishly put aside by the Darwinists." See the entry for Nägeli in Nietzsche's Library.
2. A small village in Switzerland. He wound up not going there.
3. Nietzsche's former publisher Ernst Wilhelm Fritzsch and his current one Ernst Schmeitzner. Nietzsche would decide to self-publish his future works with the printer C. G. Naumann.
4. Incubating day and night. See "New Sources of Nietzsche's Reading: Eugène Fromentin." In: Nietzsche's Library.
5. The residence of Richard Wagner from 1866-1872.
6. Overbeck sent Nietzsche his pension.
7. Paul Lanzky (1852-a. 1940): German poet and former editor of La Rivista Europea. See his entry in Nietzsche's Library.
8. Zina de Mansouroff (1830-1889).
9. Mrs. Emily Fynn and her daughter Emily.
10. Helen Zimmern (1846-1934): English writer and translator of Nietzsche's Schopenhauer as Educator.
11. Clothilde and Wilhelmine von Bothmer.
12. Albert Erlecke was a corrupt Social Democrat and a convicted pornographer.


10-26-1886 letter to Reinhart von Seydlitz.
First page.
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

Nice, October 26, 1886:
Letter to Reinhart von Seydlitz.

Dear friend,

Many thanks! — But I do not want to go to Paraguay, to where I've been invited.1 Much more likely to Munich: provided that I again become more cheerful and more "humane" than I am right now.

What a gloomy autumn! Lead weights everywhere, no one who brightens me up one bit — and nothing around me but my old problems, the old raven-black problems! — Did you treat yourself to my "Beyond"?2 (It is a kind of commentary on my "Zarathustra." But how well must one understand me in order to understand to what extent it is a commentary!) A book for the most comprehensively educated people, e.g., Jacob Burckhardt and Henri Taine,3 whom I, for now, consider to be my only readers: and ultimately not even a book for them — they have in common with me neither the same adversity nor the same will. — This is loneliness: — I have nobody with whom I have in common my No and my Yes!

I gave up the journey to Corsica, because the person4 who was to accompany me there completely disgusted me on closer inspection. My three-quarters blindness forced me to experiment with everything and quickly flee to Nice, which my eyes have "memorized." Yes indeed! It has more light than Munich! So far, apart from Nice and the Engadine, I know of no spot where I can stand to work for a few hours every day with my eyes. But even that may come to an end this winter. — Just be patient: I'll be back in Munich.5

Perhaps there is a very merry female creature with whom I can laugh there? I have to catch up on laughter.6

From Paraguay the warmest greetings to you and your dear wife,7 to whom I wish to be well commended.

Your Nietzsche.

To the Wagnerians in Munich8 (Levi9 in particular) all my best compliments, sincères et tendres!10

1. See 09-05-1886 letter from Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche.
2. Jenseits von Gut und Böse.
3. Hippolyte Taine (1818-1897): French historian and critic. See his entry in Nietzsche's Library.
4. Paul Lanzky (1852-a. 1940): German poet and former editor of La Rivista Europea. See his entry in Nietzsche's Library.
5. To visit Reinhart and Irene von Seydlitz.
6. An allusion to his wife, Irene von Seydlitz, who was trying to be a matchmaker for Nietzsche.
7. See postscript to 09-05-1886 letter from Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche: "Warme Grüße an Seydlitzens."
8. At the time, Seydlitz was president of the Richard Wagner Society in Munich.
9. Hermann Levi (1839-1900) conducted the premiere of Richard Wagner's Parsifal in Bayreuth.
10. Nietzsche wrote the French words, "compliments, sincères et tendres!"

Nietzsche's Letters | 1886© The Nietzsche Channel

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