Nietzsche's Letters | 1888© The Nietzsche Channel

Nietzsche's Letters


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Die fröhliche Wissenschaft.
Leipzig: E. W. Fritzsch, 1887.
Title page.

Turin, April 14, 1888:
Letter to Ernst Wilhelm Fritzsch.

Dear Herr Fritzsch,

In the enclosed letter, which I ask you to read, a New York-based admirer1 of my Zarathustra reports that he is willing to "provide the proper respect" due to my writings in general by writing an English essay in his country. The enclosed list of his own writings,2 its literary and cultural-historical contents, seems to give some guarantee: it even signifies that we are dealing with a major international literary personage. Decide entirely at your discretion whether to consent to his request. Basically, all my experience suggests that my effectiveness begins peripherally and only from there will flow back to the "Fatherland." I was just informed that they have made a very extensive general survey of recent German historical-literature in the Florentine Archivio Stor[ico]3 that does much honor to my point of view in the 2nd Untimely M[editation]. — Tell me briefly what should be done. In the corresponding case, I will still write a few words to New York.

Sincerely your
most humble
Prof. Dr Nietzsche

Address until June 4: Turin (Italia) ferma in posta

from then on: Sils-Maria, Upper Engadine, Switzerland.

1. Karl Knortz. See June 21, 1888 letter below. Unfortunately, Knortz's letter along with his attached list, is lost.
2. Knortz's writings up to 1887 include:
— "Geschichte, Wesen und Literatur der Stenographie." In: Deutsch-Amerikanische Monatshefte für Politik, Wissenschaft und Literatur. Herausgegeben von Caspar Butz. Jhg. 2. Bd. 1: Mai: ?; Jhg. 2. Bd. 2: Dec: 481-93. Chicago: Gross, 1865.
— "William Hickling Prescott." In: Deutsch-Amerikanische Monatshefte für Politik, Wissenschaft und Literatur. Herausgegeben von Caspar Butz. Nov.: 385-396. Chicago: Gross, 1865.
— "Die fonografische Literatur in den Vereinigten Staaten Nordamerikas." (1. Juni 1870.) In: Panstenographikon. Zeitschrift für Kunde der stenographischen Systeme aller Nationen. Bd. 1, 3-4 Lieferung: 279-303. Dresden: Dietze, 1874.
Märchen und Sagen der nordamerikanischen Indianer. Jena: Costenoble, 1871.
Evangeline. Amerikanische Idylle von Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Uebersetzt von Karl Knortz. Leipzig: Reclam, [ca. 1871].
Der sang von Hiawatha von H.W. Longfellow. Uebersetzt, eingeleitet, und erklärt von Karl Knortz. Jena: Costenoble, 1872.
Lieder und romanzen alt-Englands. Cöthen: Schettler, 1872.
— "Deutsch-Pennsylvanisch." In: Der Deutsche Pioneer. Heft V, 1873: 66-70.
Die Brautwerbung des Miles Standish. Von Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Uebersetzt von Karl Knortz. Leipzig: Reclam, Philipp jun., [1874?]. [Series: Universal-Bibliothek, 540.]
Gedichte. Leipzig: P. Reclam jun., [Reclam., 1874]. [Series: Universal bibliothek, 578.]
Schottische Balladen. Deutsch von Karl Knortz. Halle: Buchhandlung des Waisenhauses, 1875.
Amerikanische Skizzen. Halle: Gesenius, 1876.
An American Shakespeare Bibliography. Boston: Schoenhof & Moeller, [1876].
Humoristische Gedichte. Baltimore: Rossmässler und Morf [1877].
Epigramme. Lyck: Wiebe, 1878.
Longfellow. Literar-historische Studie. Hamburg: Grüning, 1879.
Zwei amerikanische Idyllen. Elisabeth. Von Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Snow-Bound (Eingeschneit) von John Greenleaf Whittier. Uebersetzt von Karl Knortz. Berlin: Bohme, 1879.
Aus dem Wigwam. Uralte und neue Märchen und Sagen der nordamerikanischen Indianer. Wiedererzählt von Karl Knortz. Mit vier anfangsvignetten und sechs tonbildern. Leipzig: Spamer, 1880.
Kapital und Arbeit in Amerika. Vortrag gehalten in der Zionskirche zu Johnstown, Pa. Zürich: Schmidt, 1880.
Modern American lyrics. Edited by Karl Knortz and Otto Dickmann. Leipzig: Brockhaus, 1880.
Aus der transatlantischen gesellschaft. Nordamerikanische kulturbilder. Mit dem bildnisse James A. Garfield's. Leipzig: Schlicke, 1882.
Mythologie und Civilisation der nordamerikanischen Indianer. Zwei Abhandlungen. Leipzig: Frohberg, 1882.
Shakespeare in Amerika. Eine literarhistorische Studie. Berlin: Hofmann, 1882.
Staat und kirche in Amerika. Vortrag gehalten in der Zionskirche zu Johnstown, Pa. Gotha: Stollberg, 1882.
Amerikanische Gedichte der Neuzeit. Frei ins Deutsche übertragen von Karl Knortz. Leipzig: Wartig (Hoppe), 1883.
Amerikanische Lebensbilder. Skizzen und Tagebuchblätter von Karl Knortz. Zürich: Verlags Magazin, J. Schabelitz, 1884.
Neue Epigramme. Zürich: Verlags-Magazin (J. Schabelitz), 1884.
Neue Gedichte. Glarus: Vogel, 1884.
Eines deutschen Matrosen Nordpolfahrten. Wilhelm Nindemann's Erinnerungen an die Nordpolexpedition der "Polaris" und "Jeanette." Herausgegeben von Karl Knortz. Zürich: Verlags-Magazin (J. Schabelitz), 1885.
Goethe und die Wertherzeit. Ein Vortrag. Zürich: Verlags-Magazin (J. Schabelitz), 1885.
Representative German poems, ballad and lyrical. Original texts with English versions by various translators. Edited with notes by Karl Knortz. New York: Holt; Boston: Schoenhof, 1885.
Brook Farm und Margaret Fuller. Vortrag gehalten im Deutschen Gesellig-Wissenschaftlichen Verein von New York am 11. März 1885. New York: Bartsch, 1886.
— Gustav Seyffarth. Eine biographische Skizze. New York: Steiger, 1886.
The literary life of Gustavus Seyffarth. New York: Steiger, 1886.
Irländische märchen. Wiedererzählt von Karl Knortz. Zürich: Verlags-Magazin (J. Schabelitz), 1886.
Walt Whitman. Vortrag gehalten im Deutschen Gesellig-Wissenschaftlichen Verein von New York am 24. März 1886. New York: Bartsch, 1886.
Lieder aus der Fremde. Freie uebersetzungen von Karl Knortz. ("Aus dem amerikanischen Dichterwalde"; "Fremdes und Eigenes.") Glarus: Vogel, 1887.
Nokomis. Märchen und Sagen nordamerikanischer Indianer. Wiedererzählt von Karl Knortz. Zürich: Verlags-Magazin (J. Schabelitz), 1887.
3. Lodovico Zdekauer (1855-1924: a lawyer from Prague, who wound up in Italy teaching the history of Italian law at the universities of Siena and Macerata) told his erstwhile friend Heinrich Köselitz about mentioning Nietzsche in a piece for the Archivio storica italiano. See Lodovico Zdekauer, "Germania. Storia della civiltà, e specialmente del diritto." In: Archivio storica italiano. Quinta Serie. Tomo II. Anno 1888. Firenze: Vieusseux, 1888: 204-220 (220).


Karl Knortz.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Sils-Maria, June 21, 1888:
Letter to Karl Knortz.

Esteemed sir!

The arrival of two works by your pen, for which I am much obliged to you, seems to me to vouch that my literature has now come into your possession.1 The task of giving you a picture of myself, whether as a thinker, or as a writer and poet, seems to me extremely difficult. The first major attempt of this kind was made last winter by the distinguished Dane Dr. Georg Brandes, who may be known to you as a literary historian. He held a long cycle of lectures about me at the University of Copenhagen, under the title "The German Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche," the success of which, according to all that has been reported to me from there, must have been brilliant. He has produced a lively interest in the boldness of my posited problems in an audience of 300 people and has, as he himself says, made my name popular throughout the North.2 Apart from that, I have a more secretive audience and group of admirers to which some Frenchmen also belong, like Mr. Taine.3 My deepest conviction is that these problems of mine, this entire position of an "immoralist" is still too premature for the present time, much too unprepared. The thought of propaganda is completely remote from my mind; I have not yet lifted a finger in that regard.

Of my Zarathustra, I believe that it is about the most profound work that exists in the German language, also, linguistically, the most perfect. But to empathize with4 this will also require entire generations who first have to gain5 the inner experiences by virtue of which this work was able to develop. I would almost recommend to start with the latest works, which are the most far-reaching and important ("Beyond Good and Evil" and "Genealogy of Morality"). To me, the most sympathetic are my middle books, "Dawn" and "The Joyful Science" (they are the most personal).

The "Untimely Meditations," youthful writings in a certain sense, deserve the greatest attention for my development. In "Times, Nations and Men" by Karl Hillebrand6 are some very good essays about "Untimely." The work7 against Strauss caused a great storm; the work8 about Schopenhauer, whose reading I particularly recommend, shows how an energetic and instinctively affirmative mind knows how to retain the most beneficent stimuli even from a pessimist. For a few years which belong to the most valuable ones of my life, I was a close confidant of Richard Wagner and Frau Cosima Wagner and on most intimate terms with them. If I now belong to the opponents of the Wagnerian movement, there are, as is self-evident, no mesquine8 motives behind this. In the Collected Works of Wagner, Volume IX (if I recall correctly) is a letter to me, which testifies to our relationship.9

Please accept, esteemed sir, the most sincere regards of

Professor Dr. Nietzsche.

1. See above letter to E. W. Fritzsch. On May 7, 1888, Nietzsche advised C. G. Naumann to send copies of his writings to Knortz in New York. Two works by Knortz are in Nietzsche's library, ostensibly sent by Knortz: Amerikanische Gedichte der Neuzeit. Frei ins Deutsche übertragen von Karl Knortz. Leipzig: Wartig (Hoppe), 1883; Walt Whitman. Vortrag gehalten im Deutschen Gesellig-Wissenschaftlichen Verein von New York am 24. März 1886. New York: Hermann Bartsch, 1886.
2. In April-May 1888 (April 10, 17, 24, May 1, 5), Brandes held five lectures on Nietzsche. The lectures were reported with notices (presumably by Brandes) in the Danish newspaper Dagbladet Politiken, which also published a biographical article on Nietzsche (again, presumably by Brandes) on April 20.
3. Hippolyte Taine (1828-1893): French historian and critic. See his entry in Nietzsche's Library.
4. nachzufühlen.
5. nachholen (to catch up with).
6. Karl Hillebrand (1829-1884). See his entry in Nietzsche's Library.
7. Untimely Meditations I: David Strauss: the Confessor and the Writer. 1873.
8. Untimely Meditations III: Schopenhauer as Educator. 1874.
8. French for "petty" or "mean."
9. Richard Wagner, "An Friedrich Nietzsche." In: Norddeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, June 23, 1872. Reprinted in Richard Wagner, Gesammelte Schriften und Dichtungen. Bd. 9. Leipzig: Fritzsch, 1873, 350.


Reinhart von Seydlitz.
Ca. 1875.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Sils-Maria, June 28, 1888:
Letter to Reinhart von Seydlitz.

Dear friend,

Nothing is more stupid than stupidity — namely mine. The notion that a letter of yours still has to seek me out southeasterly has not for a moment risen on the horizon.1 And how nice it would have been if we had all been together for a few days in Turin! For there my disposition was such as it had not been for 20 years, and I sparkled like a dragon with wit and malice. Even the heat did nothing to me: and I cannot help weighing in that Turin's coffee house culture has risen to truly dizzying heights! I felt I was a connoisseur in gelati, spumoni, pezzis duri, but now look ...

That you were in Nice, makes me downright sad.2 And in Rapallo, at the sacred spot where Zarathustra, the "book of books," was born!3

— Here I have to do something good again. Just yesterday the thought occurred to me to wander pleasantly once more "among people": given that I will always be more like a "monster," more like an "unsheltered" animal.4 Return to Munich in the second half of September??? But now you are certainly not there. —

For your dear wife, who is inclined to amusement, I include a letter from my sister, in which she describes moving into her new residence. The same is actually addressed to my mother and transcribed by her for me. It seems to me a pleasant document humain, as the Parisians say. —

This day my excellent friend and maestro of Venice Heinrich Köselitz has arrived in Munich: the creature5 who makes the only music which still finds favor in my most discriminating ear. The first modern opera (cheerful, sensitive, masterful, not dilettantish à la Wagner ...) is his work that's called "The Lion of Venice." He has just finished producing a profoundly beautiful [string] quartet — depicting a "Provençal Wedding."6 If said marvelous creature7 should present himself to you, receive him with cordialness8 — [+ + +]

I would like to express my most humble thanks to your esteemed mother for her greetings.

Friend Nietzsche.

1. Seydlitz acknowledged receiving Nietzsche's May 13 letter from Turin, when it finally "tracked him down" in Munich after an "unsuccessful and breathless chase through the continents." Seydlitz had spent the previous winter in Greece and Egypt. He wrote a travel serial about his journey, entitled "Wo die Sonne scheint, ziellose Reisebriefe eines Malers" for the art journal Die Kunst für Alle. For further information, see Nietzsche's Library: Research Material. Reinhart von Seydlitz (1850-1931).
2. Seydlitz arrived in Genoa in April and decided to visit Nietzsche in Nice. However, despite being aware of his friend's plans, Nietzsche left Nice in April for Turin just before Seydlitz's arrival.
3. Nietzsche began writing Thus Spoke Zarathustra in Rapallo around January-February 1883.
4. "among people" (unter Menschen); "monster" (Unmensch); "the unsheltered" (Unbehauster). Cf. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust, lines 3348-3351: "Bin ich der Flüchtling nicht? der Unbehauste? / Der Unmensch ohne Zweck und Ruh', / Der wie ein Wassersturz von Fels zu Felsen brauste / Begierig wütend nach dem Abgrund zu?" (Am I not the fugitive? the unsheltered? / The purposeless, restless monster, / Who has roared like a waterfall from cliff to cliff / Greedily raging down to the abyss?)
5. "Menschenkind" (see 7).
6. GSA 102/138: "Provençalische Hochzeit Streichquartett" (a/k/a "Minnesängers Brautfahrt").
7. "Wunderthier." One would expect to be called a musical "Wunderkind" (prodigy), but Nietzsche takes a different tack.
8. They never met.

Nietzsche's Letters | 1888© The Nietzsche Channel

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