Turin, April 14, 1888:
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.
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.
Sils-Maria, June 21, 1888:
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.
Sils-Maria, June 28, 1888:
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.
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).
Nueva Germania, September 6, 1888:
My dear Fritz of my heart,
Surely a letter has been lost by you or me because a huge gap in our correspondence has arisen. I think I must have last written to you in June, but I do not know exactly, nevertheless it seems to me ages ago, and, in any case, it has been even longer since we have heard from you.2 Through mom, I now hear many things about your increasing fame,3 and as much as it pleases me, I have since given up any hope that you will ever come over to [see] us,4 for fame is a sweet potion! Of course, good mama must also remain there, even if I have to accept that she would be more comfortable and carefree there than here. But notions about comfortable living are so different; to me, e.g., being a landlady for young men would be such an abomination that I would rather do anything else to evade it; but her taste is different, and it seems to me that this keeping house for young men gives good mama some enjoyment.
Next week, a dear Danish friend is coming to [visit] us, at which time I hope he will bring me some Danish newspapers5 and translate for me what they say about you. Personally, I would have wished a different apostle for you than Mr. Brandes, he has peeked into6 too many pots and eaten off too many plates, but one cannot choose one's admirers and it's quite certain that he will make you fashionable, because that's what he understands. But I cannot suppress a well-intentioned piece of advice: better not meet with him personally, write your congenial feelings, but do not look at him closely. Two friends of ours, Mr. Johannsen and Mr. Haug, know him personally and are not exactly enthusiastic, but everyone agrees that he has an excellent sense for the most interesting phenomena of all time and makes himself interesting through them.
It does my heart unlimited good that now there can no longer be any talk of deadly silence and that through Brandes the genuine good admirers who are congenial to you may now hear from you.
My dear Fritz of my heart, now it is your dear birthday7 once again and one thinks of how many years we have already been together and, unfortunately, have now wandered through life so far from each other. How much joy and sorrow has already gone by for us: is it actually worthwhile to live? For people who are just as sensitive as we are, life has more sorrow than joy, and it has to go altogether wildly well in order for us to forget the sorrow entirely. But some things one never really overcomes, e.g., a warm, indeed at times utterly indescribable longing to see you again. May this reunion be granted to us in the not too distant future. I can no longer wish for you to come over here now, since the weather conditions here this year seem quite unfavorable to me. As much fluctuation and low barometric pressure as there has been in any of the past few years. Of course all over the world it does not seem that the weather is so special. Mom writes you were snowed-in; well, you need not fear that here.
Dear Fritz of my heart, may life's new year bring you so much joy that you have no time for painful feelings and may your health be strengthened! I always think that you will or should become healthier from year to year. As an old man you will surely still be just as lively and cheerful. Now you know we would very much like to provide for your old age and so we want to sign over to you a beautiful piece of land, which will perhaps one day be worth a pretty penny. We will send you a purchase contract with the next mailing which will tell you all the details; I will send it to our dear mama because she always knows where you are. I consider as purchase money the 1000 marks that good mama paid for my furniture back then, the 600 m[arks]. that she donated and the 300 m[arks]. that you donated, but we say that it is fully paid. There are eight lots. But you must not forget to appoint us, i. e., my husband, as your agent and trustee.8
Since I will be writing to you so soon, I will now stop today for we have so much to do with the land register and the execution of the deeds of sale.
So farewell you dear heart! Bern[hard] wholeheartedly wishes you happiness and all the best!
1. Nietzsche received this letter after writing to Elisabeth on September 14, 1888. For his response, see his draft of a mid-November 1888 letter to Elisabeth.
Turin, December 17, 1888: Letter to Helen Zimmern1.
You would do me a great service if you wished to translate for one of the big review-journals the enclosed essay2 by Mr. Peter Gast under the title "Nietzsche contra Wagner." At present, it's absolutely imperative that I become known in England: for my next writings3 — they are completely ready to print — should appear simultaneously in English, French and German. The horned-cattle-race — forgive me for the severe term! — of the Germans is completely alien to me; they will retaliate against me with confiscations and other police measures. Therefore, for my task, which is one of the greatest that a man can undertake — I want to destroy Christianity — I need America, England and France — freedom of the press in every sense ...
I remember reading in an issue of the Journal des Débats that an English journal (Century Review or the like) has very forcefully initiated the fight against Wagner.4 If you feel like it, I will send you my work.5 It is venomous and could have been written by a Parisian.
Just now, published by me, something extremely radical, Twilight of the Idols. Or: How One Philosophizes with a Hammer.* I will send it to you — you may introduce this piece in England. It is anti-German and anti-Christian par excellence — should it not, therefore, be very appealing to the English? My arguments are quite different from those ever employed — I am not a man, I am dynamite.6
Hopefully my letter finds you in a courageous and warlike mood? —
— Mr. Peter Gast is one of our first-rate musicians, or, if you will believe me, by far the first-ranked — he can achieve what is rarest at all times, perfection. I'm honored to have such a "disciple."
— Mr. Taine has written an invaluable letter7 to me about the Twilight of the Idols, full of admiration for "toutes mes audaces et finesses."8 On Mr. Taine's advice, I am negotiating with Mr. Bourdeau,9 the excellent editor-in-chief of the Journal des Débats and the Revue des deux Mondes, whom he has recommended to me as one of the most intelligent and influential Frenchmen: he shall prepare the steps for the translation of the work.
* You could simplify the title: Hammer of the Idols
1. Helen Zimmern (1846-1934): English writer, and translator. They first met in Bayreuth in 1876, and became better acquainted in Sils-Maria. Nietzsche wanted Zimmern to translate Götzen-Dämmerung (Twilight of the Idols), and Ecce Homo. Although that never happened, Zimmern would go on to translate Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Beyond Good and Evil) for Oscar Levy's edition of Nietzsche. See her comments in Anon., "Nietzsche Erinnerungen." In: Frankfurter Generalanzeiger. Nov. 16, 1926. Reprinted as Anon., "Memories of Nietzsche." In: The Living Age, 331 (Nov. 1926), 272.
2. Heinrich Köselitz's anonymous review of Der Fall Wagner (The Case of Wagner). See Anonymous, "Nietzsche-Wagner." In: Der Kunstwart. 2. Jahrg. 2. Heft. November 1888, 52-56.
[Florence], Dec. 30, : Postcard from Helen Zimmern1 to Nietzsche in Turin.
Happy New Year. Please send me the Wagner booklet:2 I want to see if I can do something with it. The essay3 by Peter Gast is not suitable in tone and concept for the English public. They would not print it for me. Kind regards. How are you?
1. Helen Zimmern (1846-1934): English writer, and translator. They first met in Bayreuth in 1876, and became better acquainted in Sils-Maria. Nietzsche wanted Zimmern to translate Götzen-Dämmerung (Twilight of the Idols), and Ecce Homo. Although that never happened, Zimmern would go on to translate Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Beyond Good and Evil) for Oscar Levy's edition of Nietzsche. See the anonymous "Nietzsche Erinnerungen." In: Frankfurter Generalanzeiger. Nov. 16, 1926; "Memories of Nietzsche." In: The Living Age, 331 (Nov. 1926), 272 (reprinted above).