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1877 Correspondence
Translated, annotated, and illustrated.

 



Erwin Rohde.
From b/w photo, ca. 1875.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Jena, June 29, 1877:
Letter from Erwin Rohde.

My dear friend!

I recently met your mother and sister in Kösen1 and found out that you are currently seated in the mountains, at a high altitude, which hopefully will do you good once again. I often think of you with concern, my friend, and know how much you carry your worries and thoughts within you. What shall I say to console you? I do not know anything but that this terrible illness, which suddenly arose from a hidden source, can be reabsorbed just as suddenly. Hopefully you have withdrawn your plan, that Rée told me about,2 to resign from your professorship in the near future. Endure the agony of insufficient performance of your duties for a while longer, and maintain the opportunity to return to your duties — and is it not your apparent duty to use and cultivate your great impactful talent upon young people! —; you can leave at any time, but then probably never enter again. Surely no one in Basel is asking you to give up your job so hastily. — So, look past your current misery, look more at the entirety of your life and hold out for a while longer. Interim aliquid fiet.3 I am still rolling my barrel here,4 not dissatisfied with my position, but often enough with myself. I do not know if things will change once I have brought my little bride home:5 I am such a wild person that I cannot usually predict anything definite about myself. But the little woman loves me so much, and has such a sincere, quietly receptive nature, that I hope we will get along very well with each other. — Rée traveled to his father's estate, Stibbe near Tüz, West Prussia, to do his habilitation thesis there, since his writing6 inspired the curator7 and Saint Eucken8 with horror. Hopefully he will come back: I really want him here. I sent him your letter.9 — Nothing came of Heidelberg;10 I regret it. — I am getting married in August and will probably go to Paris.11

Apropos! A Mr. Siegfried Lipiner12 was here recently, a friend of Volkelt,13 the local private docent of philosophy. One of the most bandy-legged of all Jews, but with some not unsympathetic, shyly sensitive features in his dreadfully Semitic face.14 He is a great admirer of your writings,15 a member of a Viennese "Nietzsche Society," raves about you, and claims to have sent you a book, "Prometheus Unbound."16 I am supposed to ask whether you got it: if not, he wants to send you a second copy as soon as possible. Please write to me soon and possibly make p[ater]p[atriae] Prometheus-Lipiner with a letter the happiest of all bandy-legged Jew-boys. He himself has the advantage of not wanting to habilitate despite poor circumstances. Address: Castle Ethersberg (a spa) in Thuringia.

Addio, my beloved friend. If only I could be near you from time to time and be ennobled by your character and your words!

I love you, and remain bound to you in the most faithful friendship for all time.

your E. Rohde.

1. On 06-17-1877.
2. Paul Rée was in Jena from 05-10-1877 to 06-11-1877.
3. "In the meantime something will happen." See Terence, Andria: "interea fiet aliquid."
4. An allusion to the poem "Genialisch Treiben" (Genius Activities), by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832): "So wälz ich ohne Unterlaß, / Wie Sankt Diogenes, mein Faß." (So I roll my barrel incessantly, / Like Saint Diogenes.) In: Goethe's sämmtliche Werke in vierzig Bänden. Bd. 2. Stuttgart; Tübingen: J. G. Cotta, 1853, 245.
5. After their engagement in July 1876, Erwin Rohde and Valentine Framm (1859-1901), the daughter of a lawyer from Rostock, were married on 08-08-1877. They spent their honeymoon in Paris.
6. Paul Rée, Der Ursprung der moralischen Empfindungen. Chemnitz: Schmeitzner, 1877. See the entry for Rée in Nietzsche's Library.
7. Karl Julius Moritz Seebeck (1805-1884): classiscal philologist at Jena.
8. Rudolf Eucken (1846-1926): at the time, professor of philosophy at the University of Jena.
9. See Mid-June 1877: Letter to Paul Rée.
10. Erwin Rohde was hoping to obtain a position there. In 1886 Rohde accepted a professorship at the University of Leipzig, but after just one semester, he went to the University of Heidelberg to replace Curt Wachsmuth (1837-1905).
11. See Note 5 above.
12. Siegfried Lipiner (born Salomo Lipiner, 1856-1911): Jewish Viennese writer, and author of Der entfesselte Prometheus. Eine Dichtung in fünf Gesängen. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1876. According to a lost letter from Franziska Nietzsche in Naumburg to Nietzsche in Sorrento, Lipiner, trying to meet Nietzsche, turned up in Naumburg sometime in the first third of July 1877. Lipiner was a member of the student organization at the University of Vienna, the "Leseverein der deutschen Studenten Wiens" (the group existed from 1872-1878). Amidst its members, he had assumed leadership of the "Pernerstorfer circle," or the so-called "Nietzsche Society." Earlier overtures by the group to Nietzsche were made 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. For more details on Lipiner, see Siegfried Mandel, "The Lipiner Interlude." In: Nietzsche & the Jews. Exaltation & Denigration. Amherst: Prometheus, 1998, 123-136. Cf. 04-02-1884 letter to Franz Overbeck.
13. Johannes Volkelt (1848-1930): at the time, a private docent of philosophy in Jena, and later (1883-1889) a professor in Basel.
14. Cf. Jena, 07-30-1877: Letter from Erwin Rohde to Valentine Framm. "Wahrscheinlich bringe ich einen neuen Hochzeitsgast mit: Herrn Lipiner, einen Studenten, c. 21 Jahre alt, von einer erstaunlichen Begabung für Philosophie und Verwandtes, einen Juden, entsetzlich jüdisch aussehend, aber von einer großen Liebenswürdigkeit des Herzens und des Temperamentes. Seit einigen Wochen hier, hat er mich, mir selbst überraschend, in sein Herz geschlossen, und ich selbst empfange dieses Geschenk umso lieber, weil er einer von den Menschen ist, wie ich sie liebe: nämlich mir entschieden überlegen." (I will probably bring a new wedding guest: Herr Lipiner, a student, c. 21 years old, with an astonishing aptitude for philosophy and the like, a Jew, horribly Jewish-looking but with a great kindness of heart and temperament. Here for a few weeks, he has taken me into his heart, surprising even me, and I myself am all the more happy to receive this gift because he is one of those people I love: namely decidedly superior to me.)
15. The Birth of Tragedy, and the four "Untimely Meditations."
16. Siegfried Lipiner, Der entfesselte Prometheus. Eine Dichtung in fünf Gesängen. Leipzig: Breitkopf & Härtel, 1876.

 


Siegfried Lipiner.
From b/w photo.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Baden bei Wien, September 10, 1877:
Letter from Siegfried Lipiner.1

Nietzsche, my cherished Nietzsche, how can I find words to thank you?2

You call yourself powerless? If you had only seen me as I returned home from a long crazy hiking trip, gloomy, tired, needy beyond all expression, sitting there and reflecting on a principle newly acquired through experience, the fact that inner turmoil cannot be warded off by an outer one, as my sweet lady friend3 then approached me and handed me your letter (which due to my frequent change of location could not be forwarded), how I then read and re-read and with teary eyes lingered on those prophetic words of your caring love, how I was then awakened "from wild weaving fear,"4 strengthened and encouraged, cradled by the blessed thought that perhaps I was now no longer alien and indifferent to the heart of my Nietzsche — you would have truly praised your power, not regretted your powerlessness.

What you fear is already — overcome. Do not scoff! O, I well know that someone not yet 21 years old has not triumphed. But I was in a heated battle and looked terror in the eye, without being turned to stone. So what can still happen to me? I can — I will suffer, bleed, doubt; I will never ever perish.

[....]

 

Malwida von Meysenbug.
From b/w photo, 1880.
Colorized and enhanced image ©The Nietzsche Channel.

Basel, September 3, 1877:
Letter1 to Malwida von Meysenbug.

Esteemed, dear friend

How glad we are that we shall see you here, how sorry we are that the M[onod]s2 will only partake of Basel on the way through! In any event, we would like to be at the station — so when? Presumably at five o'clock? —

— Well here I am, the last days in Rosenlaui were bad for me; I left there at 4 o'clock in the early morning, alone, in the darkness, with a violent headache. —

Apartment, surroundings and my good sister3 — I find everything around me charming, stimulating, stabilizing. — But many a worm of anxiety crawls within me.

For 2 nights, I slept so well, so well!

There were also nice letters4 from Overbeck, Frau Ott and Dr. Eiser,5 who as my doctor demands that I come to Frankfurt soon for a new consultation.

The things you say about Sorrento! Recently, in Rosenlaui, I spent a sleepless night reveling in lovely pictures of nature and wondering whether I could somehow live up on Anacapri. But I always sigh at the realization that Italy discourages me, renders me powerless (what a person you discovered in me this May!6 I am ashamed; I have never been like that!)

In Switzerland I am more myself, and since I base ethics on the greatest possible manifestation of the "self" and not on its vaporization,7 then — — — — — — — —

I am invincible in the Alps, especially when I am alone and have no enemy other than myself.

I have undertaken my studies on Greek literature8 — who knows what will come of it?

Farewell. Did you find the little female fairy who will free me from the pillar to which I am chained?9

1. The first letter from Nietzsche's new apartment at Gellertstrasse 22 in Basel.
2. The French historian Gabriel Monod (1844-1912), who was married to Malwida von Meysenbug's foster-daughter Olga Herzen (1851-1953). The "we" presumably means Nietzsche and his sister.
3. Nietzsche and his sister rented an apartment at Gellertstrasse 22 in Basel, where they both lived until June 1878.
4. See: Frankfurt, 09-01-1877 letter from Otto Eiser to Nietzsche in Basel; Zürich, 09-01-1877 letter from Franz Overbeck to Nietzsche in Basel; and Montmorency, 09-01-1877 letter from Louise Ott to Nietzsche in Basel.
5. Otto Eiser (1834-1898) was a Frankfurt doctor, and admirer of Nietzsche and Richard Wagner. He examined Nietzsche in October 1877, and disclosed to him a letter from Richard Wagner opining on the cause of Nietzsche's poor health — namely, masturbation. According to a friend of Eiser, Eiser admitted that this was the real cause of Nietzsche's break with Wagner. See Sander L. Gilman, "Otto Eiser and Nietzsche's Illness: A Hitherto Unpublished Text." In: Nietzsche Studien (2009) 38:396-409. Dr. Eugen Kretzer. "Erinnerungen an Dr. Otto Eiser." (Memories of Dr. Otto Eiser.) Ca. 1912. Excerpt: "Auf meine Veranlassung hat die Witwe Dr. Eisers einem der Briefe Richard Wagners an ihren verstorbenen Gatten besondere Fürsorge zugewendet. Den Inhalt dieses Briefes kennt, wie sie mir sagte, außer mir nur Hr Geheimrat Dr. Henry Thode, sonst niemand. Sie hat ihn dem Hause Wahnfried übersandt, und dort ist und bleibt er fortan deponiert. Ich billige das durchaus. Er sollte der Öffentlichkeit stets vorenthalten werden. Richard Wagner schrieb diesen Brief, als er erfuhr, daß Dr. Eiser seinen jungen Freund kennen gelernt hatte und ärztlich beriet. In treu besorgter, wahrhaft väterlicher Weise teilt er darin dem gemeinsamen ärztlichen Freund seine Hypothese über die Ursache von Nietzsches Erkrankung mit. 'Warum Nietzsche von Wagners abfiel?,' meinte Eiser einst: – 'ich weiß es allein, denn in meinem Hause, in meiner Stube hat sich dieser Abfall vollzogen, als ich Nietzsche jenen Brief in wohlmeinendster Absicht mitteilte. Ein Ausbruch von Raserei war die Folge, Nietzsche war außer sich: – die Worte sind nicht wiederzugeben, die er für Wagner fand. – Seitdem war der Bruch besiegelt.'" (At my instigation, Dr. [Otto] Eiser's widow took special care of one of Richard Wagner's letters to her deceased husband. As she told me, "The contents of this letter are known only to me, privy councilor Dr. Henry Thode, no one else." She sent it to the Wahnfried house [Wagner's villa in Bayreuth], and it is and will be deposited there from now on. I absolutely approve of that. It should always be withheld from the public. Richard Wagner wrote this letter when he learned that Dr. Eiser had met his young friend [Nietzsche] and gave him medical advice. In a faithful, truly fatherly way, he shares his hypothesis about the cause [i.e., masturbation] of Nietzsche's illness with his mutual medical friend. "Why did Nietzsche break away from Wagner?" Eiser once said: – "I alone know, because this break took place in my house, in my [examining] room, when I informed Nietzsche about that letter with the best of intentions. The result was an outbreak of rage, Nietzsche was beside himself: – the words that he found for Wagner cannot be repeated. – At that moment the break was sealed.") Cf. Naumburg, Early January 1880: Letter to Otto Eiser in Frankfurt. In German. In English.
6. Nietzsche left Sorrento quickly after attributing his increasing headaces to the hot climate.
7. An allusion to oppressively hot weather, which Nietzsche could not stand.
8. In WS1877-78, Nietzsche lectured on the "Religiöse Altertümer der Griechen" (Religious Antiquities of the Greeks) — to only six students. He also held a seminar on the Choephori of Aeschylus.
9. Feenweibchen: little female fairy. That is, only a magical being, as opposed to a usual wife, would be able to free him from his isolating work — which he saw as his higher purpose — and peripatetic existence. For six months, Malwida von Meysenbug had been searching for a wife for Nietzsche with no success — but in her reply to this letter, she states that she found one. See Spiez, 09-04-1877: Letter from Malwida von Meysenbug to Nietzsche in Basel. "Auch für das Feenweibchen habe ich eine Adresse." (I also have an address for the little female fairy.)

Nietzsche in the Arts: 1890-Present
Over 1,500 works of art.

 


Sonnenuntergang Mont Blanc.
By: Wenzel Hablik.1
Oil on canvas, 1906.2
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.


Wenzel Hablik.

"In eurem Sterben soll noch euer Geist und eure Tugend glühn, gleich einem Abendroth um die Erde: oder aber das Sterben ist euch schlecht gerathen." (In your dying your spirit and your virtue should still glow, like a sunset around the earth: or else your dying has turned out badly.)3

"Gestern Abend bei Koutnik Nietzsche vorgelesen — Zarathustra. — Martha war 'verloren' (?) und die anderen 'erleichtert['] wie ich fertig war — vielleicht Herr K. konnte dem Vortrag etwas folgen — Komisch waren die sehr! Ich las — die Heimkehr — v. Kind u. Ehe — v. Biss d. Natter — v. d. Erhabenen — v.d. verkleiner. Tugend — v. Wege d. Schaffenden — — ich las Marta zulieb — die es selbst nicht lesen darf. Und ich war so froh — dass sie wenigstens mir folgen konnte — leider las ich gerade gestern nicht besonders gut[.]" (Last night with Koutnik read Nietzsche — Zarathustra. Martha was "lost" and the others "relieved["] when I was finished — perhaps Herr K[outnik] could understand the recitation somewhat — it was very comical! I read: The Return Home; On Child and Marriage; On the Adder's Bite; On Those Who Are Sublime; On the Gift-Giving Virtue; On the Way of the Creator — — I read for Mart[h]a's sake — she can't read it herself. And I was so glad — that at least she could understand me — unfortunately I did not read very well last night[.])4

1. Wenzel Hablik (1881-1934): Czech-German artist. From 1902 to 1905, Hablik studied painting at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna under Felician Myrbach (1853-1940), and later was a student of the Austrian painter Carl Otto Czeschka (1878-1960). Hablik probably first read Nietzsche while a student in Vienna. His extant diaries from 1901-1917 mention Nietzsche in seven entries. Hablik's Nietzsche-related works include: a vignette (1903); an illustration (1905); a painting (1906); a painting (1913); and a painting (1918). Since the late 1960s, Hablik's works have become linked to Nietzsche through their use as cover art for Nietzsche's works in English paperback editions published by the imprint Penguin Classics. See, e.g.: "Mont Blanc Sunset," on Thus Spoke Zarathustra. London: Penguin, 1969; "The Path of Genius," on Beyond Good and Evil. London: Penguin, 1990; "Where from? Where to?" on Twilight of the Idols and the Anti-Christ. London: Penguin, 1990; and "Starry Sky, Attempt," on The Birth of Tragedy. London: Penguin, 1994.
2. VIEW LARGER IMAGE. 96 x 96 cm.
3. Excerpt from Also sprach Zarathustra, 1, "Vom freien Tode" (Thus Spoke Zarathustra, 1, "On Free Death").
4. Wenzel Hablik, Tagebuch. Excerpt from March 31, 1907 diary entry. Thanks to Janina Willems at the Wenzel Hablik Museum in Itzehoe for her kind assistance.

"Against Polish Law to Print a Picture of Nietzsche."
© Robert Ripley.1
Pen and ink, 1930.2
Enhanced image The Nietzsche Channel.

TEXT AT LEFT: "It is against the law to print a picture of this man [illustration of Nietzsche] / In Poland it is a crime to publish a portrait of NIETZSCHE — / because PILSUDSKI (Polish Dictator) LOOKS LIKE HIM!"

TEXT AT RIGHT: "Answer to Ripley's Cartoon / Explanation of Saturday's cartoon, Against Polish Law to Print a Picture of Nietzsche: The governnment of Poland, which is de jure a constitutional democracy, is dominated by Marshall Joseph Pilsudski, who exercises what is described as a 'benevolent dictatorship.' The portrait I drew is that of Nietzsche, the famous German philosopher, whom Marshall Pilsudski resembles to an extraordinary degree. Nietzsche is said to have died in an insane asylum. Pilsudski's political opponents in Poland attempted to use his resemblance and some derogatory facts from Nietzsche's past to attack the Marshall personally. / The Polish government, which (after the recent dissolution of Parliament) exercises legislative powers, enacted a law making it a crime to publish Nietzsche's picture. The story was copiously commented on by the newspapers of Germany and Czechoslovakia."3

1. LeRoy Robert Ripley (1890-1949): American cartoonist. Based on an 1899 etching by Hans Olde (1855-1917), published in: Pan, 5, no. 4 (1899-1900), 232.
2. LEFT: "Against Polish Law to Print a Picture of Nietzsche." In: Rochester Evening Journal and the Post Express. Vol. IX, No. 51. Saturday, Nov 8, 1930, p. 10. RIGHT: "Answer to Ripley's Cartoon." In: Rochester Evening Journal and the Post Express. Vol. IX, No. 52. Monday, Nov 10, 1930, p. 16.
3. Ibid.

Nietzsche. Late Prefaces.
Translated and annotated, with an introduction.

We wrote this in 2019 but hit a roadblock along the way. We have translated and annotated all the prefaces, and will finish the introduction soon. It will go on sale after that. It would make an interesting book for a class on Nietzsche.
The cover image is from a 1910 painting of the Hotel Edelweiss in Sils Maria, which Nietzsche frequented.

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