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Iv:vov:cn N:v+zscnv

APhilosophical Biography
!n this bcautilully writtcn account, Julian Young providcs thc most comprchcnsivc bio
graphy availablc today ol thc lilc and philosophy ol thc ninctccnthccntury Gcrman philos
ophcr Fricdrich Nictzschc. Young dcals with thc many puzzlcs crcatcd by thc conjunction
ol Nictzschcs pcrsonal history and his work: why thc son ol a Luthcran pastor dcvclopcd
into thc scllstylcd Antichrist, why this archctypical Prussian camc to loathc 8ismarcks
Prussia, and why this cncmy ol lcminism prclcrrcd thc company ol lcminist womcn. Sct
ting Nictzschcs thought in thc contcxt ol his timcs thc risc ol Prussian militarism, anti
Scmitism, arwinian scicncc, thc Youth and cmancipationist movcmcnts, as wcll as thc
dcath ol God Young cmphasizcs thc dccisivc inucncc ol Plato and ol Richard Vagncr
on Nictzschcs attcmpt to rclorm Vcstcrn culturc. Hc also dcscribcs thc dcvastating ccct
on Nictzschcs pcrsonality ol his unhappy lovc lor Lou Salom c and attcmpts to undcrstand
why, at thc agc ol lortylour, hc wcnt mad.
Tis book includcs a sclcction ol morc than thirty photographs ol Nictzschc, his lricnds,
and his work sitcs. Scvcntccn ol thc philosophcrs musical compositions, which arc kcy to
a dccpcr undcrstanding ol his intcllcctual projcct, arc availablc onlinc.
ducatcd at Cambridgc Univcrsity and thc Univcrsity ol Pittsburgh, Julian Young is Kcnan
Prolcssor ol Humanitics at Vakc Forcst Univcrsity, Prolcssor ol Philosophy at thc Uni
vcrsity ol Auckland, and Honorary Rcscarch Prolcssor at thc Univcrsity ol Tasmania. A
scholar ol ninctccnth and twcnticthccntury Gcrman philosophy, hc is thc author ol ninc
books, most rcccntly Nietzsches Philosophy of Feligion, and has bccn invitcd to spcak at uni
vcrsitics and conlcrcnccs throughout thc world.
Chaptcrs and scctions with hcadings in italics discuss Nictzschcs works. Tc
rcmaindcr discuss his lilc. Tcrc arc thus thrcc ways ol rcading this book. nc
can rcad about Nictzschcs lilc, about his works, or, bcst ol all, about both his lilc
and his works.
Scvcntccn ol Nictzschcs musical compositions, togcthcr with a com
mcntary, arc availablc on thc books Vcb sitc, http://www.cambridgc.org/
Iv:vov:cn N:v+zscnv

Jiii~x Yoixc
c~:nvi bcv ixi vvvsi :v vvvss
Cambridgc, Ncw York, Mclbournc, Madrid, Capc Town, Singaporc,
S ao Paulo, clhi, ubai, Tokyo
Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss
: Avcnuc ol thc Amcricas, Ncw York, xv +oo+:, is~
!nlormation on this titlc: www.cambridgc.org/8o:+8++
Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss :o+o
Tis publication is in copyright. Subjcct to statutory cxccption
and to thc provisions ol rclcvant collcctivc liccnsing agrccmcnts,
no rcproduction ol any part may takc placc without thc writtcn
pcrmission ol Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss.
First publishcd :o+o
Printcd in thc Unitcd Statcs ol Amcrica
catalog record for this publication is a.ailable from the British Library.
Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication data
Young, Julian.
Fricdrich Nictzschc : a philosophical biography / Julian Young.
p. cm.
!ncludcs bibliographical rclcrcnccs and indcx.
isnx 8o:+8++ (hardback)
+. Nictzschc, Fricdrich Vilhclm, +8+oo. !. Titlc.
n+6.v68 :o+o
+ dc:: :ooo::
isnx 8o:+8++ Hardback
Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss has no rcsponsibility lor thc pcrsistcncc or
accuracy ol ivis lor cxtcrnal or thirdparty !ntcrnct Vcb sitcs rclcrrcd to in
this publication and docs not guarantcc that any contcnt on such Vcb sitcs is,
or will rcmain, accuratc or appropriatc.
List of Illustrations page x
ckno.ledgments xiii
List of bbre.iations xv
cnav+vv +
a Capo
R ockcn,
Naumburg, +:
God, +8
cnav+vv :
Plorta :+
A ividcd Hcritagc, ::
Tc Curriculum, :6
Tc Germania Socicty, :
Rcligious oubt, :8
Tccnagc Rcbcllion, :
Ncw Fricnds, +
School, :
Literary !orks ::&,,
Tragedy, o
Poetry, +
Morality and Politics, 6
Homeland .ersus !orld
Fate and Freedom, o
8onn +
Frcc at Last, +
8ccrrinking on thc Rhinc,
Tc Colognc 8rothcl,

avid Strauss and thc Critiquc ol Christianity, 6
Lcaving 8onn, 6+
Lcipzig 6
Gctting Scttlcd, 6
Happy Timcs, 6
Tc Study ol Classics, 6
Var and
Politics, 6
Military Scrvicc, :
Rcturn to Lcipzig: First Mccting with
FairyTalcLikc and ScvcnLcaguc8ootish, 8
Schopenhauer 8+
Te !orld as !ill and Fepresentation, 8+
Nietzsches Con.ersion, 86
Impact of Kant and Lange, 8
Criticising Schopenhauer, o
Schopenhauer, +
cnav+vv 6
8ascl in +8o,
Univcrsity Lilc, +o+
Collcagucs and Fricnds, +o
8urckhardt, +o
vcrbcck, +o
!slc ol thc 8lcsscd, +o
Tc nd ol an
!dyll, ++o
cnav+vv y
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy ++:
Te !agnerian !orld.ie., ++
Te rt.ork of the Future, ++8
Te Impact of
Schopenhauer, ++
Te !isdom of Silenus, +:
Homers rt, +:6


Tragedy, +:
Te Fole of Myth, +o
Solution to the Fiddle of !agners Felation
to the Greeks, ++
Socrates and the Death of Tragedy, +:
!hat Is !rong .ith
Te !ay !e re No.?, +:
cnav+vv 8
Var and Altcrmath +
Tc FrancoPrussian Var, +6
Nictzschcs Var, +
Tc Altcrmath, +8
!iolence, +
Prussia, ++
On the Future of Our Educational Institutions, +:
cnav+vv q
Anal Philology +8
Rohdcs Highcr Advcrtising, +o
Vilamowitzs Countcrblast, ++
Alicnation ol Ritschl, +:
Vagncrs !ntcrvcntion, +
\on 8 ulow and thc
Manlrcd Mcditation, +
Rctrcat to thc Mountains, +
Compulsivc Philology, +6
xistcntial Philology, +6
Rclations with thc
Vagncrs, +
Fi.e Prefaces to Fi.e Un.ritten Books, +8
cnav+vv +o
Untimcly Mcditations +6
Fun in 8ascl, +6
Gloom in 8ayrcuth, +66
First Untimely Meditation:
Da.id Strauss, the Confessor and the !riter, +68
Rcst Curc in Flims, ++
Tc Rosalic Niclscn Aair, +:
Summons to thc Gcrmans, +
Untimely Meditation: Te Uses and Disad.antages of History for Life, +
from the Underground, +
cnav+vv ++
Aimczvous 8rahms: +8:
cprcssion, Marriagc, and ropping ut, +8:
!agner in the Balance, +8
Tc Homc Front, a Ncw Publishcr, Vomcn, +8
8crg un, ++
8anncd in 8ayrcuth, +:
Tird Untimely Meditation: Schopenhauer as
Educator, +
Christmas at Homc and thc Hymn to Fricndship, :oo
cnav+vv +:
Aul Vicdcrschcn 8ayrcuth :o+
!e Philologists, :o
A Rcvicw, a Farcwcll to Romundt, a 8irthday Grccting to
Vagncr, and a Hcalth Crisis, :o
Curc in Stcinabad, :o8
A Ncw
Apartmcnt and Ncw Fricnds: Paul R cc and Hcinrich K osclitz, :+:
Gcncva, and a Marriagc Proposal, :+
!agner in Bayreuth, :+
Tc First
8ayrcuth Fcstival, ::
Rcturn to 8ayrcuth and a Flirtation, ::6
cnav+vv +
Sorrcnto ::
Going South, :o
Malwida von Mcyscnbug, :o
Tc \illa Rubinacci,
Roscnlaui: Nictzschc and Shcrlock Holmcs, :
8ack in 8ascl, :8
Tc Shocking !ncidcnt ol thc Fricndly octor and thc octoring Fricnd, :
cnav+vv +
Human, AllTooHuman :+
Tc Turn to Positivism, ::
Tc Frcc Spirit: Nictzschc and thc LilcRclorm
Movcmcnt, :
Tc Monastcry lor Frcc Spirits, :
Human, ll-Too-
Human: Te ttack on Metaphysics, :
!hy Deconstruct Metaphysics?, :
Nietzsches Higher Culture, :6o
Te Teory of Cultural E.olution, :6+
Fational Li.ing: Sla.ery, Punishment, Euthanasia, Eugenics, Conser.ation, :6:
Feligion and rt in a Higher Culture, :6
Globalization, :66
Te Problem of
Free !ill, :6
On Mans Need for Metaphysics, :68

cnav+vv +
Tc Vandcrcr and His Shadow :
Rcccption ol Human, ll-Too-Human, :
ssorted Opinions and Maxims,
Lcaving 8ascl, :6
St. Moritz, :
Hcalth and picurus, :
!anderer and His Shado., :8+
Building !alden T.o, :8
!omen, :8
Nietzsche a Democrat?, :88
Naumburg, Riva, \cnicc, Maricnbad, Strcsa,
Gcnoa, Rccoaro, and Sils Maria, :
cnav+vv +6
Da.n :6
Book for Slo. Feaders, :6
Happiness, :
Te Teoretical Frame.ork,
Critique of Christian Metaphysics, oo
Critique of Christian Morality,
Te Counter-Ideal to Christianity, o
Self-Creation, o
Te Paradox
of Happiness, o
Te Heroic-Idyllic, o8
Bene.olent Egoism, o
d.ice, +:
Te Status of the Teoretical Frame.ork, +
cnav+vv +y
Tc Gay Scicncc +6
First Summcr in Sils Maria, +6
Enter Eternal Feturn, +8
Sccond Vintcr
in Gcnoa, :o
Carmen, St. Januarius, R cc, and Sarah 8crnhardt, :+
Mcssina, :
Idylls from Messina, :
Te Gay Science, :6
Te Main
rgument, :6
Cultural E.olution, :
Te !ay !e re No., :
Nietzsches Future, o
Life as an rt.ork,
Feality, Truth, and
cnav+vv +8
Tc Salom c Aair
Lou Salom c,
Nictzschc in Romc, o
Tc Mystcry ol Sacro Montc
and thc Vhip Photograph, :
Undcrhand calings,
Nictzschc in
lizabcth vcrsus Lou, 6
Shc Said Shc Said Hc Said,

Lou in Tautcnburg,
To Pain, o
Family Rupturc, :
Tc nd ol thc Aair,
cnav+vv +q
Rctrcat to Rapallo,
AntiantiScmitism, 8
Nictzschc as Vagncrs
Sccond Summcr in Sils Maria, 6o
Continuation ol thc Salom c
Aair, 6+
Tc Shadow ol 8crnhard F orstcr, 6
First Vintcr in Nicc,
Two isciplcs, 6
A Ncw 8iblc, 66
Tus Spoke Zarathustra:
Te Prologue, 6
Zarathustra Part I: Te Speeches of Zarathustra, 6
Zarathustra Part II,
Zarathustra Part III, 8o
Zarathustra Part I!,
Te ss Festi.al, 8
cnav+vv :o
Nictzschcs Circlc ol Vomcn 8
Joscph Pancth, 8
Rcsa von Schirnholcr, 88
Tc thcr Nictzschc,
Mcta von Salis, o
Tird Summcr in Sils Maria, o
Zimmcrn, +
Hcinrich von Stcin, :
Rcconciliation with lizabcth in
Hclcnc ruskowicz,
Sccond Vintcr in Nicc,
Fourth Summcr in Sils Maria, 6
Nictzschc and His Fcminist Fricnds,
Tc F orstcrs, oo
Tc Schmcitzncr Mis` crc, o+
Tird Vintcr in
Nicc, o:
Nietzsches Cosmopolitanism, o
Publishing Beyond Good and
E.il, o
ynamitc, Junkcr Philosophy, Pathological, o

cnav+vv :+
Beyond Good and E.il o
Te Heart of Darkness, o
Teoretical Philosophy: Te Prejudices of
Metaphysicians, ++
Te Metaphysics of Po.er, +
Epistemology, +6
Cultural Criticism, +
Ho. to O.ercome Diseased Modernity: Philosophers of the
Future, ::
Nietzsches Fepublic, :
Hierarchy, :
Te Sla.ery Issue,
!omen gain, :
Morality, Feligion, and rt in the Ne. !orld, :
cnav+vv ::
Clcaring thc ccks :
Filth Summcr in Sils Maria, :
xplosions 8clow,
Hymn to Lilc,

A Month in thc Country,
Fourth Vintcr in Nicc, 6
Prcparations lor Grcatncss, 6
Te Prefaces of :&,
Te Gay Science,
Book !: Being Scientic about Science,
Te !anderer Speaks,
Nietzsches Undisco.ered Land,
Communal Health,
Health, 6
Lo.ely Tought: !ia Sils to Greece!, 8
cnav+vv :
Tc Gcncalogy ol Morals o
Parsifal, ostoycvsky, and a Vcll!ntcntioncd arthquakc, o
Youths and
AntiScmitcs, :
!ntcrmczzo, :
cprcsscd in Chur,
Summcr in Sils Maria,
Filth and Final Vintcr in Nicc,
On the Genealogy of Morals, 6o
First Essay: Good and E.il,
Good and Bad, 6+
Te First Essays Contribution to a !ision of the Future,
Second Essay: Te Morality of Custom and the So.ereign Indi.idual, 6
Origins of the Bad Conscience, 68
Te Second Essays Contribution to a !ision of
the Future, o
Tird Essay: !hat Do scetic Ideals Mean?, +
!agner and the scetic Ideal, +
Sex and the Philosopher, :
and Objecti.ity,
Te scetic Ideal as Practised and Propagated by Priests,
Te scetic Ideal in Modernity, 8
!hat Is !rong .ith the scetic Ideal?,

Science and the scetic Ideal, 8o
Masters of the Uni.erse, 8:
Te Question of Method, 8
cnav+vv :
+888 8
Vintcr in Nicc, 8
First \isit to Turin, 86
Sic !ncipit Gloria Mundi,
Last Summcr in Sils Maria, 8
\isitors, o
!ritings in Sils
Maria: Tc Vagncr Casc, :
D ecadence,
Te Story of Tc Ring,

!ritings in Sils Maria: Twilight ol thc !dols,
!hat Is the Nature of
Feality?, 8
!hat Is Freedom?,
!hat Is Happiness?, oo
!hy Is
!illing the Eternal Feturn Dionysian?, o+
Ho. Can an Immoralist Deal
.ith Harmful ctions?, o
Isnt Selshness Harmful?, o
!hats !rong
.ith the Germans?, o6
!hat !ould You Like to See Feplace Modern Culture?,
!hat Is the Place of rt in Your Ne. Society?, o8
Last Stay in Turin,
Te ntichrist, o
Judaism and the Origin of Sla.e Morality, +o
Historical Jesus, ++
Pauls Per.ersion, +:
Te Charges against Christianity,
Te Great Noon, +
Feligion in Nietzsches Fepublic, +
Ecce Homo,
Ho. One Becomes !hat One Is, :o
!hat Nietzsche Became, ::
cploying thc Artillcry, :
Nictzschcs Mcntal Condition, :
cnav+vv :
Catastrophc :8
8ccoming God, :8
Tc Horsc Story, +

cnav+vv :6
Te Fise and Fall of Tc Vill to Powcr
Te Casaubon Impulse, 6
Te Explanation of ll E.ents,
Fe.aluation of
ll !alues,
History of a Failed Literary Project, o
Cleanliness, :
Te Cosmological Doctrine,
Te Biological Doctrine,

Te Psychological Doctrine, 6
!hat Femains of the !ill to Po.er?,

Te Problem of the Healthy Monster, 8
cnav+vv :y
Tc nd o
!n thc 8ascl Clinic, o
!n thc Jcna Asylum, +
!n Naumburg,
8ccoming a Star,
lizabcth Cashcs !n,
Tc Shrinc in
Vcimar, 6
Nictzschcs cath, 8
cnav+vv :8
Nictzschcs Madncss
Chronology 6
Notes 6
Bibliography of Secondary Literature 6
Index 6
Music of Friedrich Nietzsche .ith Commentary by !olfgang Bottenberg
(on thc Vcb sitc lor this book)
List ol !llustrations
Plates follo. page x.i
+. Karl Ludwig Nictzschc (Nictzschcs lathcr). Photo Klassik Stiltung Vcimar,
GSA |Gocthc und SchillcrArchiv| +o+/:.
:. Franziska Nictzschc (Nictzschcs mothcr), agcd about :. Photo GSA
. Tc vicaragc in R ockcn, whcrc Nictzschc was born, with his lathcrs church
bchind. Photo thc author.
. +8 Vcingartcn, Franziska Nictzschcs housc in Naumburg. Photo thc author.
. Nictzschc, agcd +. Photo GSA +o+/+.
6. Fricdrich Ritschl, Nictzschcs bclovcd prolcssor in Lcipzig. Photo GSA
. Paul cusscn, agcd about +. Photo GSA +o+/+.
8. Nictzschc, agcd :, at thc timc ol his military scrvicc. Photo GSA +o+/.
. Arthur Schopcnhaucr, thc hcavcnly picturc ol our mastcr by Julcs
Luntcnsch utz. ilpainting SchopcnhaucrArchiv, Univcrsit atsbibliothck,
Franklurt a.m.
+o. Franz vcrbcck. Photo GSA +o+/6:.
++. Tc Vagncrs housc at Tribschcn, Luccrnc. Photo thc author.
+:. Richard and Cosima Vagncr in May +8:, thc timc ol thcir translcr to
8ayrcuth. Photo (by F. Luckhardt) Richard Vagncr Muscum, 8ayrcuth.
+. Nictzschc with his lricnds rwin Rohdc (on lclt) and Carl von Gcrsdor,
ctobcr +8+. Photo GSA +o+/+.
+. Vahnlricd, thc Vagncrs housc in 8ayrcuth. Photo thc author.
+. Tc Fcstival Tcatrc in 8ayrcuth. Photo thc author.
+6. Malwida von Mcyscnbug. Photo GSA +o+/:.
+. lizabcth F orstcrNictzschc (Nictzschcs sistcr), agcd about o. Photo GSA
+8. Paul R cc. Photo GSA +o+/8.
+. Hcinrich K osclitz (Pctcr Gast). Photo GSA +o+/:+.
:o. Mathildc Trampcdach. Photo GSA +o+/:.
:+. Tc urisch housc in Sils Maria. Nictzschcs room top right, at thc back.
Photo thc author.
::. Nictzschcs room in thc urisch housc. Photo thc author.
:. Tc mighty pyramidal block ol stonc by Lakc Silvcrplana whcrc thc
thought ol ctcrnal rcturn rst camc to Nictzschc. Photo thc author.
:. Lou Salom c in +88:, thc ycar ol thc Salom c aair. Photo GSA +o+/:.

List of Illustrations

:. You arc going to womcn: Tcn dont lorgct thc whip. Lou Salom c, Paul
R cc, and Nictzschc, Luccrnc, May +88:. Photo (by Julcs 8onnct)
Vikimcdia Commons.
:6. Mcmorial to Nictzschc on Chast c pcninsula, with quotation lrom
Zarathustras !ntoxicatcd Song. rcctcd in +oo by Carl Fuchs and Valthcr
Lampc. Photo thc author.
:. Rcsa von Schirnholcr. Photo Privatc Collcction.
:8. Mcta von SalisMarschlins. Charcoal drawing (by V. Allcrs) R atischcs
Muscum, Chur.
:. Lakc Silvcrplana, looking towards Sils Maria. Photo thc author.
o. Tc Nictzschc Archivc, lormcrly \illa Silbcrblick, Vcimar. Photo thc
+. Nictzschc in May +8, shortly bclorc his dcath. Photo GSA +o+/.
:. lizabcth F orstcrNictzschc and Chanccllor Adoll Hitlcr. Photo GSA
~: bvvviv gratclul to thc lollowing: Curt Paul Janz lor an illuminating corrcspond
cncc conccrning thc inlamous whip photograph, Prolcssor Gcrhard Schaumann, who
spcnt an cntirc day showing mc round Tautcnburg, thc placc ol Nictzschcs t ctc` at ctc
with Lou Salom c, and his wilc, Karin, who introduccd mc to thc SaalcUnstrut wincs
with which Nictzschc grcw up, Frau Pctra orlm ullcr, thc archivist ol Schulplortc, who
gavc mc grcat insight into thc school as it was in Nictzschcs timc, r. Gudrun F ottingcr,
acting dircctor ol thc Vagncr Muscum in 8ayrcuth, who, in thc midst ol thc :oo Fcst
ival, talkcd to mc at lcngth about carly Vagncr productions, Prolcssor Mario Russo, who
cnablcd mc nally to track down what rcmains ol thc \illa Rubinacci in Sorrcnto, Vollgang
8ottcnbcrg, who, as wcll as producing thc rccordings ol Nictzschcs music availablc on thc
Vcb sitc lor this book, illuminatcd many aspccts ol his lilc and thought, Joanna 8ottcnbcrg
lor bcing similarly illuminating and lor wondcrlul hospitality in Montrcal, Pctcr Loptson,
who, as usual, kcpt mc up to thc mark philosophically, as wcll as corrccting mc on scv
cral points ol ninctccnthccntury history, Fricdrich \oit, as always my backstop on di
cult issucs ol translation, Christinc Swanton, who on countlcss occasions dircctcd mc away
lrom thc lalsc and towards thc truc, my proolrcadcr, Mary Montgomcry, who savcd mc
lrom numcrous grammatical solccisms, and my cditor, 8catricc Rchl, who has bccn con
sistcntly cnthusiastic and wisc. Abovc all, ! am gratclul to Anja van Polancn Pctcl: only a
supcrwoman could havc bornc, ycar altcr ycar, a husband vanishcd without tracc into thc
dcpths ol thc ninctccnth ccntury.
Tc complction ol this book has bccn madc possiblc by sabbatical lcavc lrom thc Univcr
sity ol Auckland in :oo6 and a Vriting Fcllowship in :oo, as wcll as a iscovcry Projcct
Grant lrom thc Australian Rcscarch Council lor :oo8. Parts ol Chaptcr appcarcd in
my cssay, Schopcnhaucr, Nictzschc, cath and Salvation in thc European Journal of Philos-
ophy \ol. +6 No. :, :oo8, pp. ++:, and parts ol Chaptcr in my Richard Vagncr and
thc 8irth ol Te Birth of Tragedy in thc International Journal of Philosophical Studies \ol. +6
No. :, :oo8, pp. :+. ! am gratclul to thc cditors ol thosc journals lor pcrmission to
rcusc this matcrial.

List ol Abbrcviations
wovxs nv N:v+zscnv
Tc works Nictzschc himscll publishcd arc citcd using thc lollowing abbrcviations: Roman
numcrals rclcr to major parts ol thc works, Arabic numcrals rclcr to scctions, not pagcs.
Rclcrcnccs to KGVand KSAcitc a volumc numbcr lollowcd by thc notcbook numbcr and,
in brackcts, thc notc numbcr (c.g., KSA + + |:o|). Rclcrcnccs to KG8 citc a volumc
numbcr lollowcd by a lcttcr numbcr (c.g., KG8 ii. ). Tc translations ol KG8, KGV,
and KSA arc cntircly my own. ! havc somctimcs modicd thc translations ol Nictzschcs
publishcd works that ! citc.
A Te ntichrist in Te nti-Christ, Ecce Homo, T.ilight of the Idols and Other !ritings cd.
A. Ridlcy, trans. J. Norman (Cambridgc: Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss, :oo). Hcrcaltcr
Ridlcy and Norman.
AM ssorted Opinions and Maxims in Human, ll-Too-Human cd. . Hcllcr, trans. R.
Hollingdalc (Cambridgc: Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss, +86). Hcrcaltcr Hcllcr and
8G Beyond Good and E.il cd. R.P. Horstmann and J. Norman, trans. J. Norman
(Cambridgc: Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss, :oo:).
8T Te Birth of Tragedy in Te Birth of Tragedy and Other !ritings cd. R. Gcuss and R.
Spcirs, trans. R. Spcars (Cambridgc: Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss, +).
Daybreak cd. M. Clark and 8. Lcitcr, trans. R. Hollingdalc (Cambridgc: Cambridgc
Univcrsity Prcss, +). Rclcrrcd to by mc as Da.n.
H Ecce Homo in Ridlcy and Norman.
! On the Future of Our Educational Institutions trans. M. V. Grcnkc (South 8cnd, !N:
St. Augustincs Prcss, :oo).
GM On the Genealogy of Morals cd. K. AnscllPcarson, trans. C. icthc (Cambridgc:
Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss, +).
GS Te Gay Science cd. 8. Villiams, trans. J. Naukho(Cambridgc: Cambridgc
Univcrsity Prcss, :oo+).
HH Human, ll-Too-Human in Hcllcr and Hollingdalc.
HKG Friedrich Nietzsche: !erke und Briefe: Historisch-kritische Gesamtausgabe, \ol. !!
cd. Hans JoachimMcttc (Munich: 8cck, +).
KG8 Nietzsche Brief.echsel: Kritische Gesamtausgabe (: vols.) cd. G. Colli and
M. Montinari (8crlin: dc Gruytcr, +:oo).
KGV Nietzsche !erke: Kritische Gesamtausgabe (: vols + Cs) cds. G. Colli and
M. Montinari (8crlin: dc Gruytcr, +6:oo6).
KSA Kritische Studienausgabe (+ vols.) cds. G. Colli and M. Montinari (8crlin: dc
Gruytcr, +).


List of bbre.iations
NCV Nietzsche Contra !agner in Te Portable Nietzsche cd. V. Kaulmann (NcwYork:
Pcnguin, +8:).
PTA Te Complete !orks of Friedrich Nietzsche, \ol. :, Early Greek Philosophy cd. . Lcvy,
trans. M. A. M uggc (NcwYork: Gordon Prcss).
S Nietzsche: !erke in Drei B anden ( vols.) cd. K. Schlcchta (Munich: Hanscr, +6).
T! T.ilight of the Idols in Ridlcy and Norman.
UM Untimely Meditations cd. . 8rcazcalc, trans. R. Hollingdalc (Cambridgc:
Cambridgc Univcrsity Prcss, +). Hcrcaltcr 8rcazcalc and Hollingdalc.
V8 !agner in Bayreuth in 8rcazcalc and Hollingdalc.
VC Te Case of !agner: Musicians Problemin Ridlcy and Norman.
VP Te !ill to Po.er cd. V. Kaulmann, trans. V. Kaulmann and R. Hollingdalc
(NcwYork: \intagc +68).
VS Te !anderer and His Shado.in Hcllcr and Hollingdalc.
Z Tus Spoke Zarathustra trans. and cd. G. Parkcs (NcwYork: xlord Univcrsity Prcss
o+nvv wovxs
8M On the Basis of Morality, Arthur Schopcnhaucr, trans. . F. J. Paync (NcwYork:
8obbsMcrill, +6).
C Friedrich Nietzsche: Chronik in Bildern und Texten, cds. R. 8cndcrs and S. cttcrmann
lor thc Stiltung Vcimarcr Klassik (Munich\icnna: Hanscr, :ooo).
J Friedrich Nietzsche: Biographie ( vols.), C. P. Janz (Munich\icnna: Hanscr, +8).
FR Te Fourfold Foot of the Principle of Sucient Feason, Arthur Schopcnhaucr, trans. . F.
J. Paync (La Sallc: pcn Court, +).
LN Te Lonely Nietzsche, lizabcth F orstcrNictzschc, trans. P. Cohn (London:
Hcincmann, ++).
PP Parerga and Paralipomena (: vols.), Arthur Schopcnhaucr, trans. . Paync (xlord:
Clarcndon Prcss, +).
VM !agner on Music and Drama, Richard Vagncr, cds. A. Goldman and .
Sprinchorn, trans. V. Aston llis (London: Gollancz, +6).
VN On the !ill in Nature, Arthur Schopcnhaucr, trans. . Paync (NcwYork: 8crg,
VPV Fichard !agners Prose !orks, \ol. , Richard Vagncr, trans. V. Ashton llis
(London: Kcgan Paul, Trcnch, Tr ubncr and Co., +86).
VR Te !orld as !ill and Fepresentation (: vols.), Arthur Schopcnhaucr, trans. . Paync
(NcwYork: ovcr, +6).
YN Te Young Nietzsche, lizabcth F orstcrNictzschc, trans. A. Ludovici (London:
Hcincmann, ++:).
+. Karl Ludwig Nictzschc (Nictzschcs
:. Franziska Nictzschc (Nictzschcs mothcr)
agcd about :.
. Tc vicaragc in R ockcn, whcrc Nictzschc was born, with his lathcrs church bchind.
. +8 Vcingartcn, Franziska Nictzschcs housc in Naumburg.
. Nictzschc, agcd +. 6. Fricdrich Ritschl, Nictzschcs bclovcd
prolcssor in Lcipzig.
. Paul cusscn, agcd about +. 8. Nictzschc, agcd :, at thc timc ol his
military scrvicc.
. Arthur Schopcnhaucr, thc hcavcnly pic
turc ol our mastcr by Julcs Luntcnsch utz.
+o. Franz vcrbcck.
++. Tc Vagncrs housc at Tribschcn, Luccrnc.
+:. Richard and Cosima Vagncr in May +8:, thc timc ol thcir translcr to 8ayrcuth.
+. Nictzschc with his lricnds rwin Rohdc (on lclt) and Carl von Gcrsdor, ctobcr
+. Vahnlricd, thc Vagncrs housc in 8ayrcuth.
Hcrc whcrc my VAHNFR! Namc this
dclusions lound housc.
+. Tc Fcstival Tcatrc in 8ayrcuth.
+6. Malwida von Mcyscnbug. +. lizabcth F orstcrNictzschc (Nictz
schcs sistcr), agcd about o.
+8. Paul R cc.
+. Hcinrich K osclitz (Pctcr Gast).
:o. Mathildc Trampcdach.
:+. Tc urisch housc in Sils Maria. Nictzschcs room top right, at thc back.
::. Nictzschcs room in thc urisch housc.
:. Tc mighty pyramidal block ol stonc by Lakc Silvcrplana whcrc thc thought ol
ctcrnal rcturn rst camc to Nictzschc.
:. Lou Salom c in +88:, thc ycar ol thc
Salom c aair.
:. You arc going to womcn: Tcn dont lorgct thc whip.
:6. Mcmorial to Nictzschc on Chast c pcninsula, with quotation lrom Zarathustras
!ntoxicatcd Song. rcctcd in +oo by Carl Fuchs and Valthcr Lampc.
:. Rcsa von Schirnholcr. :8. Mcta von SalisMarschlins.
:. Lakc Silvcrplana, looking towards Sils Maria.
o. Tc Nictzschc Archivc, lormcrly \illa Silbcrblick, Vcimar.
+. Nictzschc in May +8, shortly bclorc his dcath.
:. lizabcth F orstcrNictzschc and Chanccllor Adoll Hitlcr.
v~v: oxv
a Capo
R ocken
iv:zscnvs cvv~:vs: inspiration, hc bclicvcd, was thc idca that il onc is in a
statc ol pcrlcct mcntal hcalth onc should bc ablc to survcy oncs cntirc lilc and
thcn, rising ccstatically to oncs lcct, shout Da capo! ncc morc! ncc morc!
8ack to thc bcginning! to thc wholc play and pcrlormancc. !n pcrlcct hcalth onc would
cravc nothing morc lcrvcntly than thc ctcrnal rcturn ol oncs lilc throughout innitc timc
not an cxpurgatcd vcrsion with thc bad bits lclt out, but exactly thc samc lilc, down to thc
vcry last dctail, howcvcr painlul or shamclul. His own particular task was to bccomc ablc
to do this, to rcach a point whcrc hc could shout Da capo! to his own lilc. Lct us scc what
hc had to contcnd with bclorc rcaching that point.
Fricdrich Nictzschc, Fritz, was born (cxactly a wcck bclorc onc ol his divinitics, Sarah
8crnhardt) on ctobcr +, +8, in thc Saxon villagc ol R ockcn. Two lacts about this
birthplacc arc important.
Tc rst is that R ockcn lay in that part ol Saxony which had bccn anncxcd in +8+ by thc
rising powcr ol Prussia. Tis was a punishmcnt lor thc Saxon kings alliancc with Napolcon,
whom thc Prussians, togcthcr with thcir allics, thc Russians, Austrians, and Swcdcs, had
dclcatcd in thc battlc ol Lcipzig in +8+. (Nictzschc rccalls that, unlikc thc rcst ol thc lamily,
his patcrnal grandmothcr had bccn a grcat admircr ol Napolcon,
an attributc which, latcr
on, would bccomc an important part ol his own political outlook.)
As wc shall scc, Prussia looms largc in Nictzschcs intcllcctual landscapc. !n his youth
hc was intcnscly proud ol his Prussian nationality ! am a Prussian, hc dcclarcd in a
momcnt ol summary sclldcnition and was a strong admircr ol tto von 8ismarck,
Primc Ministcr ol Prussia and latcr Chanccllor ol thc unitcd Gcrman Feich. Altcr thc
horrors ol thc FrancoPrussian Var (+8o+), 8ismarcks war ol choicc initiatcd in ordcr
to compcl thc Gcrman statcs to unitc against a common cncmy, Nictzschc bccamc morc and
morc appallcd at thc usc madc ol Prussian powcr by thc blood and iron Chanccllor, and by
thc complaccnt, jingoistic philistinism growing up bchind its shicld. Yct, as a rcsult ol bcing
brought up in a passionatcly Prussian houschold and in thc Prussian cducation systcm, hc


vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
acquircd, ! shall suggcst, an archctypically Prussian pcrsonality. Tat thc philosophcr who
dcmandcd that onc organisc oncs lilc as a ramrod straight linc towards a singlc goal,
that onc achicvc a rankordcring in both thc soul and thc statc, should havc bccn claimcd as
thc godlathcr ol contcmporary postmodcrnism is a tributc to thc almost unlimitcd capacity
ol philosophcrs willully to misundcrstand cach othcr.
Tc sccond important lact about thc location ol Nictzschcs birthplacc is its position
in thc hcartland ol thc Protcstant Rclormation: R ockcn is about scvcnty kilomctrcs lrom
islcbcn, thc birthplacc ol Martin Luthcr, about twcntyvc kilomctrcs southwcst ol
Lcipzig, whcrc Johann Scbastian 8ach workcd and dicd, and about lty kilomctrcs lrom
Hallc, whcrc Gcorg Fricdrich H andcl was born and workcd. 8oth 8ach and Handcl thc
two grcat musical voiccs ol Gcrman Luthcranism and ol Nictzschcs homcland wcrc ol
grcat importancc to thc proloundly musical Fritz. Hc rccords that on hcaring thc Hallclu
jah Chorus lrom Handcls Messiah during his ninth ycar, hc lclt as il ! had to join in . . . thc
joylul singing ol angcls, on whosc billows ol sound Jcsus asccndcd to hcavcn and dccidcd
to try to writc somcthing similar (track + on thc Vcb sitc lor this book).

Tat thc luturc scllstylcd Antichrist should bc born into thc cradlc ol Protcstantism
crcatcs a paradox wc shall havc to try to rcsolvc. How was it, wc will nccd to ask, that
Gcrman Protcstantism nurscd such a vipcr in its bosom:

Fritz was christcncd Fricdrich Vilhclm bccausc hc was born on thc birthday ol thc King
ol Prussia, Fricdrich Vilhclm !\, and bccausc his lathcr, Karl Ludwig (scc Platc +), was
passionatcly K onigsstreu, a passionatc royalist.
Ludwig, as Nictzschcs lathcr was known, had bccn born in +8+, thc son ol Fricdrich
August (+6+86:), a supcrintcndcnt (roughly, archdcacon) in thc Luthcran church and
a writcr ol trcatiscs on moral and thcological subjccts. Ludwigs mothcr, rdmuthc, was
dcsccndcd lrom vc gcncrations ol Luthcran pastors. Tat Ludwig was a Prussian royalist
was at lcast partly a mattcr ol gratitudc. Having complctcd his thcological studics at Hallc
Univcrsity, hc bccamc tutor to thc thrcc daughtcrs ol thc ukc ol SaxAltcnburg, a small
principality which, likc R ockcn, lay in Prussian Saxony. !t was hcrc that hc acquircd a
somcwhat dandyish tastc in drcss lar rcmovcd lrom thc usual clcrical drabncss a tastc
his son would inhcrit. And it was hcrc that hc mct thc King ol Prussia, on whom hc must
havc madc a good imprcssion, sincc it was by royal dccrcc that, in +8:, hc rcccivcd thc
living ol R ockcn togcthcr with thc ncighbouring villagcs ol Michlitz and 8othlcld.
!n thc samc ycar thc twcntynincycarold Ludwig mct thc scvcntccnycarold Franziska
chlcr (scc Platc :), daughtcr ol avid rnst chlcr, pastor in thc ncarby villagc ol Poblcs.
His nc clothcs, courtly manncrs, and talcntcd piano playing a gilt again inhcritcd by his
son must havc madc a lavourablc imprcssion, sincc thcy wcrc marricd thc lollowing ycar.
Nictzschc was thus surroundcd by Luthcran pastors, wall to wall, as it wcrc. 8ut it would
bc a mistakc to scc his latcr attcmptcd assassination ol Christianity as a rcaction against a
lundamcntalist or puritanical background. His lamily was ncithcr ol thcsc, as hc himscll
arms in Ecce Homo, thc quasiautobiography hc wrotc at thc cnd ol his carccr: !l ! wagc
war against Christianity, ! am thc right pcrson to do so, sincc it ncvcr causcd mc pcrsonally
any grcat mislortunc or constrictcd my lilc committcd Christians havc always bccn wcll
disposcd towards mc.

Nictzschcs lathcr, that is to say, was a man ol widc cspccially musical culturc who
was unintcrcstcd in dogma and hcld thc nicctics ol thcological bclicl to bclong within thc
Da Capo

privacy ol individual conscicncc. And rdmuthc Nictzschc, as Fritzs sistcr, lizabcth,
rccollccts, had grown up at a pcriod ol dry rationalism. . . and conscqucntly lclt ill at casc
during thc orthodox rcvival ol thc +8os, whcn pcoplc wcrc bcginning to bc born again
and dcnouncc thcmsclvcs in public as dcspcratc sinncrs.

Tc samc antilanaticism was

truc ol Fritzs matcrnal grandlathcr, to whosc cosy |gem utlich| and indulgcnt houschold
thc young Fritz bccamc cxtrcmcly attachcd. avid chlcr was thc son ol a wcavcr who,
through intclligcncc, cducation, and marriagc, had clcvatcd himscll into thc landcd gcntry
and was thus ablc to livc thc lilc ol a country squirc. Hc lathcrcd clcvcn childrcn, cnjoycd
playing cards, and was a larmcr and a kccn huntsman. Hc was a giltcd musician who organ
iscd rcgular musical gathcrings to livcn up thc wintcr cvcnings and posscsscd a largc library
that bccamc onc ol Fritzs lavouritc haunts.
Tc Luthcran Church was, in lact, much likc thc Anglican. !t was a path to social
advanccmcnt and a lilc ol rclativc gcntility. Yct it would bc a mistakc to rcach lor thc adjcc
tivc Trollopian: to supposc that Christian laith mcant nothing to thc Nictzschc/chlcrs,
that thcy obscrvcd mcrcly its outward, social lorm. Tcir laith was gcnuinc and unqucs
tioncd, untroublcd lor thc most part by doubt.

!t was thc loundation ol thcir livcs. liza

bcth makcs this clcar:
Troughout our childhood Christianity and rcligion ncvcr sccmcd to contain any clcmcnt
ol rcstraint, but wc actually had cxamplcs ol both constantly bclorc us in thc most sublimc
manilcstations ol natural submission.
Tc Nictzschc/chlcrs surroundcd thc childrcn with authcntic Christian livcs, with thc
unlorccd manilcstation ol Christian virtuc.
Tis is what makcs thc lcrocity ol thc maturc Nictzschcs attack on Christianity a bio
graphical puzzlc. Christianity was thc matcrial and cmotional loundation ol an cxtcndcd
lamily that llcd his childhood with lovc and sccurity, a warmth hc ncvcr ccascd to valuc.
To his lathcr, in particular, Fritz was intcnscly attachcd. !n thc autobiographical rccctions
writtcn whcn hc was thirtccn, hc rccalls him as
thc vcry modcl ol a country parson! Giltcd with spirit and a warm hcart, adorncd with
all thc virtucs ol a Christian, hc livcd a quict, simplc, yct happy lilc, and was lovcd and
rcspcctcd by all who kncw him. His good manncrs and chccrlul dcmcanour graccd many a

Tcrc is onc rccordcd cxccption to this, which appcars in a lcttcr Nictzschcs unclc, dmund chlcr,
wrotc him in +86:: You will want to know how ! am. !m vcry wcll now, thank God. Tc mclan
choly, damp logs arc past and thcrc is again purc, lrcsh air . . . Altcr a timc ol dark night and grcat
inncr sucring a ncw day and a ncw lilc bcgins to brcak. Jcsus Christ, crucicd and rcsurrcctcd
and asccndcd into hcavcn, still livcs and rulcs today, hc is now my only Lord and thc king ol my
hcart, him alonc will ! lollow, lor him will ! livc and dic and work. For a considcrablc timc ! livcd
in doubt duc to lollowing mcn, my own rcason, and worldly wisdom. As you indccd know, thc
opinions ol mcn constantly canccl cach othcr out, which mcans that a scarching soul can nd no
rm loundation. Now, howcvcr, that Jcsus has bccomc lord ol my hcart thc timc ol doubt is past.
Now ! havc a rm loundation, lor Jcsus rcmains always onc and thc samc . . . My dcar Fritz, ! know
lrom our convcrsations that you too arc a scarching, struggling, conictcd soul. Follow my advicc
and makc Jcsus your Lord, whom alonc you lollow . . . not any human systcm. Jcsus alonc, Jcsus
alonc, and again Jcsus alonc . . . Jcsus alonc (KG8 +.+ To Nictzschc 8). Tis sccms to suggcst that
Nictzschcs unclc dmund, altcr a rcligious crisis, cmcrgcd into a born again Christianity which,
in thc main, thc Nictzschc/chlcrs lound quitc alicn.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
social occasion to which hc had bccn invitcd, and madc him straight away lovcd by all. His
lcisurc hours hc occupicd with thc dclights ol scicncc and with music. !n his piano playing
hc had achicvcd a notablc skill, cspccially in improvising variations on a thcmc . . .

a skill in which Fritz, too, would soon cxccl. lizabcth qualics this picturc ol thcir lathcr
with a slightly rcprcssivc nuancc, rccalling that no discord was allowcd to comc to his attcn
tion sincc
hc was an cxtraordinarily scnsitivc man, or, as was said ol him at thc timc, hc took
cvcrything so much to hcart. Any sign ol discord cithcr in thc parish or in his own lamily
was so painlul to him that hc would withdraw to his study and rclusc to cat or drink, or
spcak with anyonc.
Yct not lor a momcnt docs shc doubt Fritzs intcnsc dcvotion to him:
ur lathcr uscd to spcnd much ol his timc with us, but morc cspccially with his cldcst son,
Fritz, whom hc callcd his littlc lricnd, and whom hc allowcd to bc with him cvcn whcn
hc was busy, as hc |Fritz| kncw how to sit still and would thoughtlully watch his lathcr at
work. vcn whcn Fritz was only a ycar old hc was so dclightcd by his lathcrs music that
whcncvcr hc cricd lor no apparcnt rcason our lathcr was bcggcd to play thc piano to him.
Tcn thc child would sit upright in his littlc pram, as still as a mousc, and would not takc
his cycs o thc musician.

!n Ecce Homo, Nictzschc statcs that hc

rcgard|s| it as a grcat privilcgc to havc had such a lathcr, it cvcn sccms to mc that whatcvcr
clsc ol privilcgcs ! posscss is thcrcby cxplaincd . . . Abovc all, that it rcquircs no intcntion on
my part, but only a mcrc waiting, lor mc to cntcr involuntarily into a world ol cxaltcd and
dclicatc things |thc world ol books|: thcrc ! am at homc, only thcrc docs my inncrmost
passion bccomcs lrcc.
Vhatcvcr, thcrclorc, thc grounds lor Nictzschcs turn against Christianity, thcy arc not to
bc lound in any cdipal dcsirc to kill thc lathcr.

Tc R ockcn vicaragc (scc Platc ) was prcsidcd ovcr by womcn by Ludwigs widowcd
mothcr, rdmuthc, a kind but sickly woman scnsitivc to noisc, and by his spinstcr stcp
sistcrs: Augustc, who ran thc houschold and was a victim ol gastric troublcs, and Rosa
lic, who was mildly dominccring, sucrcd lrom ncrvcs, was intcrcstcd in politics, and
unusual lor a woman ol hcr timcs rcad thc ncwspapcrs. Fritz was lond ol thcm all.
Franziska, cightccn whcn shc gavc birth to Fritz, was a woman ol somc spirit, a warm
hcart, a modcst cducation, simplc laith, and thc narrow, conscrvativc outlook typical lor a
girl ol rural upbringing. To hcr tccnagc son shc would complain ol his dcsirc to bc dicr
cnt. Hc in turn would complain ol hcr, and lizabcths, Naumburg virtuc, a tcrmdcnoting
narrow, lcgalistic, opprcssivc smalltown morality takcn lrom thc namc ol thc town to
which thcy would soon movc.
Da Capo

Fritzs sistcr, lizabcth, born on July +o, +86, was christcncd lizabcth Tcrcsc Alcx
andra altcr thc thrcc princcsscs hcr lathcr had tutorcd at thc court ol SaxAltcnburg. liza
bcth, or Llama, as Fritz nicknamcd hcr, worshippcd hcr cldcr brothcr, who in turn patron
iscd hcr in a lordly, though kindly, manncr. lizabcth rccalls that altcr cntcring grammar
school hc startcd calling hcr littlc girl, cvcn though thcy wcrc lcss than two ycars apart,
and, in thc strcct, insistcd on walking vc paccs ahcad ol hcr and any lcmalc compan
ion shc might havc.

From an carly agc, shc dcvclopcd thc habit ol squirrcling away any
thing Fritz had writtcn, thc origin ol thc rcmarkably cxtcnsivc collcction ol unpublishcd
matcrial (thc Nachlass) that survivcd Nictzschcs dcath. cvoid ol any capacity lor abstract
thought and givcn to scntimcntality (hcr writing would bc so much bcttcr il shc could gct
ovcr all thc ohs and ahs, Nictzschc complaincd to thcir mothcr),
lizabcth noncthc
lcss dcvclopcd a capacity lor shrcwd (cvcntually criminal) cntrcprcncurship which, as wc
shall scc, cnablcd hcr to makc a good living lrom hcr brothcrs namc altcr his dcsccnt into
Sincc Franziska was not rcsponsiblc lor running thc houschold and sincc shc was almost
as closc in agc to hcr childrcn as to thc adults ol thc houschold, shc bccamc as much an
oldcr sistcr as a mothcr to Fritz and lizabcth.

Hcrc is how thc scvcntccnycarold Nictzschc rccalls thc villagc ol his birth in onc ol thc
ninc autobiographical lragmcnts hc wrotc during his tccnagc ycars:
! was born in R ockcn, a villagc which lics along thc high road and is ncar to L utzcn.
nclosing it arc woods ol willows as wcll as a lcw poplars and clms, so that lrom a distancc
only thc chimncys and thc towcr ol thc ancicnt church arc visiblc abovc thc trcc tops. !nsidc
thc villagc arc largc ponds, scparatcd lrom cach othcr only by narrow strips ol land. Around
thcm arc bright grccn, knotty willows. Somcwhat highcr lics thc vicaragc and thc church,
thc lormcr surroundcd by a gardcn and orchard. Adjaccnt is thc ccmctcry lull ol gravcstoncs
partially collapscd into thc carth. Tc vicaragc itscll is shadcd by thrcc nc, broadbranchcd
clms whosc statcly hcight and shapc makcs a plcasing imprcssion on thc visitor . . . Hcrc !
livcd in thc happy circlc ol my lamily untouchcd by thc widc world bcyond. Tc villagc
and its immcdiatc cnvirons wcrc my world, thc cvcrything bcyond it an unknown, magical
Trcc ycars carlicr his rccollcctions, though in thc main as sunny as this, arc touchcd by
somc gothic shadows:
Tc villagc ol R ockcn . . . looks quitc charming with its surrounding woods and its ponds.
Abovc all, onc noticcs thc mossy towcr ol thc church. ! can wcll rcmcmbcr how onc day

!n +86:, at thc agc ol sixtccn, lizabcth was scnt to rcsdcn, thc cultural capital ol Southcast
Gcrmany, to complctc hcr cducation. Tc lollowing lcttcr rcvcals both Fritzs acction lor and his
schoolmastcrly patronising ol his sistcr: car, dcar Lisbcth . . . ! think ol you almost always . . . cvcn
whcn !m aslccp ! oltcn drcam ol you and our timc togcthcr . . . You will survivc anothcr couplc ol
months in rcsdcn. Abovc all try to gct to know wcll all thc art trcasurcs ol rcsdcn, so that you
can gain somc rcal prot. You must visit thc art gallcrics at lcast oncc or twicc a wcck and it would
bc good il you look at only two or thrcc picturcs so that you can givc mc a dctailcd dcscription in
writing, naturally (KG8 +.+ o:).

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
! walkcd with my dcar lathcr lrom L utzcn back to R ockcn and how hall way wc hcard
thc uplilting ringing ol thc bclls sounding thc astcr lcstival. Tis ringing oltcn cchocs
in mc still and nostalgia carrics mc back to thc distant housc ol my lathcr. How oltcn
! intcrcstcd myscll in luncral bicrs and black cr cpc and old gravcstonc inscriptions and
mcmorials whcn ! saw thc old, old mortuary . . . ur housc was built in +8:o and so was in
cxccllcnt condition. Scvcral stcps lcd up to thc ground oor. ! can still rcmcmbcr thc study
on thc top oor. Tc rows ol books, among thcm many picturcbooks and scrolls, madc
it my lavouritc placc. 8chind thc housc lay thc gardcn and orchard. Part ol this tcndcd to
ood in spring as did thc ccllar. At thc lront ol thc housc lay thc courtyard with barn and
stalls which lcd to thc owcr gardcn. ! was usually to bc lound sitting in its shady spots.
8chind thc grccn wall lay thc lour ponds surroundcd by willows. To walk among thcm, to
scc thc rays ol thc sun rcccting o thcir surlaccs and thc chccrlul littlc shcs playing was
my grcatcst joy. ! havc yct to mcntion somcthing that always llcd mc with sccrct horror:
in thc gloom ol thc church stood on onc sidc an ovcrlilcsizc imagc ol St. Gcorgc, carvcd
in stonc by a skillul hand. Tc imprcssivc gurc, thc tcrriblc wcapon and thc mystcrious
twilight always causcd mc to shrink back whcn ! lookcd at it.

!t is said that, oncc, his cycs

ashcd so tcrrilyingly that all who saw him wcrc llcd with horror. Around thc ccmctcry
lay thc larmhouscs and gardcns constructcd in rustic stylc. Harmony and pcacc rcigncd
ovcr cvcry rool, wild cvcnts cntircly abscnt. Tc inhabitants scldom lclt thc villagc, at most
lor thc annual lair, whcn chccrlul throngs ol lads and lassics took o lor busy L utzcn to
admirc thc crowds and thc shiny warcs lor salc.
Tranquil though R ockcn was, thc outsidc world was in a quitc dicrcnt condition:
Vhilc wc in R ockcn livcd quictly and pcaccably carthshattcring cvcnts shook almost all
uropcan nations. Ycars carlicr thc cxplosivc matcrial |thc Frcnch Rcvolution ol +8| had
bccn sprcad cvcrywhcrc so it nccdcd only a spark to sct it on rc. Tcn onc hcard lrom
distant Francc thc rst clash ol wcapons and battlc songs. Tc tcrriblc Fcbruary Rcvolu
tion |ol +88| happcncd in Paris and sprcad with cvcrincrcasing spccd. Libcrty, quality,
Fratcrnity was thc cry in cvcry country, pcoplc, humblc and clcvatcd, took up thc sword,
somctimcs in dclcncc ol thc king and somctimcs against him. Tc rcvolutionary war in
Paris was imitatcd in most ol thc statcs ol Prussia. And cvcn though quickly supprcsscd,
thcrc rcmaincd lor a long timc a dcsirc among thc pcoplc lor a Gcrman Rcpublic. Tcsc
ructions ncvcr pcnctratcd to R ockcn, although ! can still rcmcmbcr wagons llcd with
chccring crowds and uttcring ags passing by on thc main road.
!n thc royalist houschold at R ockcn, thcrc was ol coursc no sympathy at all lor this
rcpctition ol thc Frcnch Rcvolution (a rcpctition that involvcd Richard Vagncr in rcsdcn
and Karl Marx in thc Rhincland). n hcaring that, in an cort to appcasc thc crowd, thc
Prussian king had donncd thc rcd cockadc ol thc socialist rcvolutionarics, Ludwig brokc
down and cricd.
All his lilc, as wc shall scc, Nictzschc rctaincd a hatrcd ol Rousscau (who
gavc thc Frcnch Rcvolution its battlccry ol Libcrty, quality, Fratcrnity), ol socialism, and

Tis is a mistakc. Tcrc has ncvcr bccn a statuc ol St. Gcorgc in thc R ockcn church. !nstcad thcrc
arc two wallrclicls dcpicting mcdicval knights, cach armcd with a largc sword.
Da Capo

indccd ol rcvolution ol any kind. And truc to his lathcrs royalism, hc always thought ol
monarchy as thc idcal lorm ol govcrnmcnt.

uring this, throughout uropc, tumultuous spring, Franziska gavc birth to hcr third child,
who was christcncd Joscph, in honour ol ukc Joscph ol SaxAltcnburg whom Karl Lud
wig had oncc scrvcd. Flcxing his prccocious litcrary talcnt, thc thirtccnycarold Nictzschc
takcs up thc story:
Up to now happincss and joy had shonc upon us always: our lilc owcd on unpcrturbcd,
likc a bright summcrs day. 8ut now black clouds pilcd up abovc us, lightning ashcd, and
hammcr blows wcrc scnt lrom hcavcn to strikc us. !n Scptcmbcr +88 my bclovcd lathcr
suddcnly bccamc mcntally ill. Vc consolcd oursclvcs and him, howcvcr, with thc hopc
hc would soon rccovcr. Vhcncvcr a bcttcr day did comc hc would prcach and hold his
conrmation lcssons, lor his activc spirit was incapablc ol slothlulncss. Scvcral physicians
cndcavourcd to discovcr thc naturc ol his illncss but in vain. Tcn wc scnt lor thc lamous
r. polccr, who was in Lcipzig at thc timc, and hc camc to R ockcn. Tis cxccllcnt man
immcdiatcly rccogniscd whcrc thc scat ol thc illncss was to bc lound. To thc horror ol
us all hc diagnoscd it as a soltcning ol thc brain, not yct hopclcssly advanccd, but alrcady
cxtrcmcly dangcrous. My lathcr had to sucr tcrribly, but thc illncss would not diminish, on
thc contrary it grcwworsc lromday to day. Finally thc powcr ol vision was cxtinguishcd, and
hc had to cndurc his sucrings in ctcrnal darkncss. Hc was bcdriddcn until July +8, thcn
thc day ol his rcdcmption drcw nigh. n July :6th hc sank into a dccp slumbcr lrom which
hc awokc only tlully. His last words wcrc: Fr anzchcn Fr anzschcn comc mothcr
listcn God! Tcn hc dicd, quictly and blcsscdly on July :th +8 |at thc agc
ol |. Vhcn ! wokc thc ncxt morning all around mc ! hcard loud wccping and sobbing.
My dcar mothcr camc to mc with tcars in hcr cycs and cricd out God! My good Ludwig
is dcad!. Although ! was vcry young and incxpcricnccd, ! still had somc idca ol dcath:
thc thought that ! would bc scparatcd lor cvcr lrom my dcar lathcr scizcd mc and ! wcpt
bittcrly. Tc ncxt lcw days passcd amid tcars and prcparations lor thc luncral. God! !
had bccomc a lathcrlcss orphan, my dcar mothcr a widow! n August :nd thc carthly
rcmains ol my bclovcd lathcr wcrc committcd to thc womb ol thc carth. Tc parish had
prcparcd lor him a stonclincd gravc. At onc oclock in thc altcrnoon thc scrvicc bcgan,
with thc bclls pcaling thcir loud kncll. h, ncvcr will thc dccpthroatcd sound ol thosc
bclls quit my car, ncvcr will ! lorgct thc gloomy surging mclody ol thc hymn Jcsu, my
trust! Tc sound ol thc organ rcsoundcd through thc cmpty spaccs ol thc church.
Sincc an autopsy rcvcalcd a quartcr ol thc brain to bc missing, it sccms ccrtain that
Nictzschc lost his bclovcd lathcr to somc kind ol brain discasc. Tough hc was only vc
ycars old, thc loss markcd him lor lilc. !n +88, having bccn awardcd scvcn thousand Swiss
lrancs in a court scttlcmcnt against his publishcr, thc rst thing hc purchascd altcr paying
o bookstorc dcbts was an cngravcd tombstonc lor his lathcrs gravc thirtysix ycars altcr
Ludwigs dcath.
!t appcars that it was Nictzschc himscll (by now in lull swing as thc
scourgc ol Christianity) who dcsigncd thc stonc on which is inscribcd a quotation lrom
St. Paul: Lovc ncvcr lailcth (! Cor, +, 8).
Tc dcath ol his lathcr, soon to bc lollowcd by thc loss ol thc !aterhaus |lathcrhousc|,
as Nictzschc always rclcrs to thc R ockcn vicaragc, was Nictzschcs rst loss ol sccurity. A

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
scnsc ol homclcssncss bccamc, and would rcmain, a obscssivc thcmc in his poctry. !n his
lourtccnth ycar, lor instancc, allowing lcclings to surlacc that hc could not casily cxprcss
outsidc poctry, hc composcd thc lollowing:
!here to?
Little bird in the air,
Fly a.ay .ith your song,
nd greet for me my dear,
My belo.ed Home.
O lark, take this blossom
Tender .ith you.
I plucked it as decoration
For my far-a.ay fathers house.
O nightingale y do.n to me
and take this rosebud
to my fathers gra.e.

Almost immcdiatcly, howcvcr, Fritzs dcsolation ovcr thc loss ol his lathcr was intcnsicd
by two lurthcr hammcr blows lrom hcavcn. Tc thirtccnycarold continucs:
Vhcn a trcc is dcprivcd ol its crown it withcrs and wilts, and thc tiny birds abandon its
branchcs. ur lamily had bccn dcprivcd ol its hcad. All joy vanishcd lrom our hcarts and
prolound sadncss ovcrtook us. Yct whcn our wounds had only just bcgun to hcal a ncw
cvcnt painlully torc thcm opcn. At that timc ! had a drcam that ! hcard organ music
in thc church, thc music ! had hcard during my lathcrs luncral. Vhcn ! pcrccivcd what
lay bchind thcsc sounds, a gravcmound suddcnly opcncd up and my lathcr, wrappcd in a
lincn shroud, cmcrgcd lrom it. Hc hurricd into thc church and rcturncd a momcnt latcr
with a child in his arms. Tc tomb yawncd again, hc cntcrcd it, and thc covcr closcd ovcr
thc opcning. Tc stcntorian sounds ol thc organ ccascd instantly and ! awokc. n thc day
that lollowcd this night, littlc Joscph suddcnly lcll ill, scizcd by scvcrc cramps, and altcr
a lcw hours hc dicd. ur gricl kncw no bounds. My drcam had bccn lulllcd complctcly.
Tc tiny corpsc was laid to rcst in his lathcrs arms. !n this doublc mislortunc, God in
hcavcn was our solc consolation and protcction. Tis happcncd |in| . . . thc ycar +8o.
Sincc thc vicaragc was nccdcd lor thc ncwpastor, Fritz nowlost not only lathcr and brothcr,
but also thc !aterhaus:
Tc timc approachcd whcn wc wcrc to bc scparatcd lrom our bclovcd R ockcn. ! can still
rcmcmbcr thc last day and night wc spcnt thcrc. Tat cvcning ! playcd with scvcral local
childrcn, conscious ol thc lact that it would bc lor thc last timc. Tc vcspcr bcll tollcd its
mclancholy pcal across thc watcrs, dull darkncss scttlcd ovcr thc carth, and thc moon and
shimmcring stars shonc in thc night sky. ! could not slccp lor vcry long. At oncthirty in
thc morning ! wcnt down again to thc courtyard. Scvcral wagons stood thcrc, bcing loadcd.
Tc dull glimmcr ol thcir lantcrns cast a gloomy light across thc courtyard. ! considcrcd it
absolutcly impossiblc that ! would cvcr lccl at homc in anothcr placc. How painlul it was
to abandon a villagc whcrc onc had cxpcricnccd joy and sorrow, whcrc thc gravcs ol my
Da Capo

lathcr and youngcr brothcr lay, whcrc thc villagc lolk always surroundcd mc with lovc and
lricndlincss. Scarccly had thc dawning day shcd its light on thc mcadows, whcn our wagon
rollcd out onto thc high road that took us to Naumburg, whcrc a ncw homc awaitcd.
Adicu, adicu, dcar !aterhaus.

arlicr, ! raiscd thc qucstion ol howit was that Christianitys grcat cncmy could havc grown
up in thc hcartland ol Gcrman Protcstantism, in a lamily that providcd him, to an cxcm
plary dcgrcc, with warmth and lovc. How was it that, in his maturity, hc camc to attack
thc loundation on which his childhood sccurity had bccn built: !t might bc, ol coursc, that
Nictzschcs philosophical commitmcnt to tclling thc truth without lcar or lavour simply
ovcrrodc all pcrsonal considcrations. 8ut it might also bc that, alrcady in carlicst childhood,
hc was awarc ol shadowy corncrs within thc sunlit world ol his Luthcran homcland, that
thc worm ol doubt was alrcady prcscnt in his carlicst cxpcricnccs. Rcad carclully, ! bclicvc,
thc autobiographical lragmcnts writtcn, it should bc cmphasiscd, by a stillcommittcd
Christian suggcst this to bc thc casc.
Tc adult philosophcr has an armoury ol polcmical dcscriptions ol Christianity: mad
housc, torturc chambcr, hangman God,
among othcrs. nc phrasc, howcvcr, is ol par
ticular intcrcst: Christian sick housc and dungcon atmosphcrc.
Sick housc is ol intcrcst
sincc, lromthc cnd ol Fritzs third ycar, thc Nictzschc houschold was, litcrally, a sick housc.
Tough thc rccollcctions ol his lathcr in Ecce Homo arc a culogy, thcy contain, noncthclcss,
an cmphasis on sickncss: My lathcr dicd at thc agc ol thirtysix: hc was dclicatc, lovcablc
and morbid, likc a bcing dcstincd only tcmporarily lor this world a gracious rcmindcr ol
lilc rathcr than lilc itscll .
And, in thc rcmark quotcd on p. 6 abovc what Nictzschc actu
ally says (a major qualication ! thcrc omittcd) is that hc owcs his lathcr cvcry privilcgc
ol his naturc sa.e for lilc, thc grcat Ycs to lilc |which is| not includcd in his dcbt. Putting
thcsc rcmarks togcthcr, wc can scc that Nictzschc rcmcmbcrs his lathcr as morbid not just
physically but also spiritually, rcmcmbcrs him as, in his latcr tcrminology, a lilcdcnicr
rathcr than a lilcarmcr: somconc low in cncrgy, withdrawn lrom lilc in thc hopc ol
nding his truc homc in anothcr, bcttcr world. Rccall, too, lizabcths rcmark that, cvcn
bclorc thc onsct ol his sickncss, Ludwig was so scnsitivc that at thc lcast sign ol discord hc
would withdraw to his study and rclusc to cat or drink, or spcak with anyonc (p. 6 abovc).
!t sccms to mc possiblc that onc ol thc things thc maturc Nictzschc hcld, at lcast uncon
sciously, against thc Christian worldvicw was that, with its rcduction ol this world to a cold
and draughty waitingroom wc sinncrs arc lorccd to inhabit prior to our dcparturc lor thc
truc world abovc, it dcprivcd his lathcr ol thc lullncss ol lilc hc might havc cnjoycd had
hc not bccn in its grips dcprivcd him cvcn, pcrhaps, ol lilc itscll.
As lor thc phrasc dungcon atmosphcrc, this puts onc in mind ol Fritzs horror (about
which hc could tcll no onc) bclorc thc thrcatcning gurc ol St. Gcorgc with his tcrriblc
wcapon and ashing cycs in thc gloomy church (p. 8 abovc). Could this, onc wondcrs,
bc an carly cncountcr with thc hangman God: And thcn thc mortuary, thc tombstoncs,
thc black cr cpc and thc luncral bicrs: thc immcdiatc cnvironmcnt ol Nictzschcs childhood
providcd daily cncountcrs with dcath and with thc tcrror ol its Christian mcaning. Tough
Fritzs autobiographical rccctions arc, lor thc most part, convcntionally sunny, thcy includc
cnough ol what ! callcd a gothic undcrtonc latcr, hc will spcak ol Christianity as a sunlcss
world ol grcy, lrosty, uncnding mist and shadow
to suggcst that somc ol thc sccds ol
thc latcr critiquc ol Christianity lic in thc carlicst tcrrors ol an imaginativc child.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
ompcllcd to vacatc thc R ockcn vicaragc, thc Nictzschcs movcd in April +8o to ncarby
Naumburg. !nitially thcy took lodgings in thc Ncugassc, in thc housc ol a railhaulagc
agcnt, Hcrr tto. (Tc railway connccting Naumburg to Lcipzig in onc dircction and Vcis
scnlcls in thc othcr had only just bccn complctcd.) Following thc dcaths ol Aunt Augusta
in +8 and Grandmothcr rdmuthc in thc lollowing ycar, howcvcr, Franziska movcd to
thc housc ol a lricnd and thcn, rclicvcd to cscapc thc dominion ol oldcr womcn, to hcr own
cstablishmcnt. !n thc autumn ol +88 shc movcd oncc again, to (today +8) Vcingartcn,
whcrc shc rcmaincd thc rcst ol hcr lilc (scc Platc ). !t was lrom this housc that Nictzschc
lclt lor boarding school in +88, and to it that hc rcturncd, insanc, thirtytwo ycars latcr,
to bc carcd lor by his mothcr until hcr dcath in +8.

Situatcd ncar thc conucncc ol two slowmoving rivcrs, thc Unstrut and thc largcr Saalc,
Naumburg is a small cathcdral town. 8ut, coming lrom a tiny hamlct, thc vcycarold
Fritz cxpcricnccd it as a vast and lrightcning mctropolis. Hcrc is his rccollcction ol his rst
ur grandmothcr togcthcr with Aunt Rosalic and thc scrvant girl wcnt on ahcad |lrom
R ockcn| and wc lollowcd latcr, lccling vcry sad . . . For us |Fritz and lizabcth| it was a
tcrriblc cxpcricncc altcr living lor so long in thc countrysidc. So wc avoidcd thc gloomy
strccts and sought thc opcn countrysidc, likc a bird that ccs its cagc . . . ! was amazcd by
thc unaccustomcd crowds ol pcoplc. And thcn ! was astonishcd whcn ! obscrvcd that nonc
ol thcm wcrc known to cach othcr, lor in thc villagc cvcryonc kncw cvcryonc clsc. Vhat !
lound most unplcasant wcrc thc long, pavcd strccts.
Fritz, wc saw, cxpcricnccd thc loss ol his lathcr as a wound. Tc loss ol R ockcn and thc
transplantation to a strangc and lrightcning cnvironmcnt was anothcr. Soon, ol coursc, it
bcgan to hcal as, with a hcalthy boys adaptability, hc bcgan to scttlc into lilc in Naumburg.
8ut though thc wound hcalcd, it lclt a scar. As alrcady rcmarkcd, thc ycarning lor thc
sccurity ol a rccovcrcd homcland rcmaincd an undcrtonc throughout Nictzschcs lilc.

ncc Fritz had adjustcd to thc changc ol scalc, onc thing that may havc hclpcd him acquirc
at lcast rclativc sccurity in Naumburg is thc lact that thc town was thcn cncloscd by a
mcdicval wall. Hcrc is lizabcths dcscription:
!t was surroundcd by walls, and lrom tcn oclock at night to vc oclock in thc morning
vc hcavy gatcs closcd it in on all sidcs lrom thc outcr world. !t was only by dint ol loud
ringing, and thc gilt ol a small donation, that thc gatckccpcr could bc induccd, oltcn altcr
a prolongcd wait, to allow thosc standing outsidc to cntcr, so that anyonc who spcnt thc
cvcnings outsidc thc city in thc vincyards on thc hills would hastcn his lootstcps whcn hc
hcard thc littlc bcll ring lrom thc towcr ol thc townhall, giving warning, a lcw minutcs
bclorchand, ol thc closing ol thc gatcs. All round thc town thcrc was a dccp moat, boundcd
on thc othcr sidc by a nc avcnuc ol clms, which in its turn was surroundcd by gardcns,
clds and vincclad hills.
Da Capo

At lcast until thc bcginning ol his nomadic modc ol lilc at thc cnd ol thc +8os, Nictzschc
hatcd largc citics. 8ut small towns whcrc onc was protcctcd lrom thc dangcrs ol thc widc
world by a wall, whcrc onc camc to know oncs ncighbours and rcmaincd in contact with
thc countrysidc, hc camc to lovc, particularly Gcrmanys old mcdicval towns. !n +8, lor
instancc, hc wrotc to his lricnd dwin Rohdc
that hc planncd to lcavc thc city ol 8ascl
and movc to thc wallcd (to this vcry day) mcdicval town ol RotcnburgobdcrTaubcr in
Franconia sincc, unlikc thc citics ol modcrnity, it was still altdeutsch |Gcrman in thc old
lashioncd way| and wholc.
Naumburg, too, spiritually as wcll as architccturally, was altdeutsch. !t was, as liza
bcth writcs, a thoroughly Christian, conscrvativc town, loyal to thc King and a pillar ol
Tronc and Church.
Hcrc is Fritz, thc thirtccnycarold royalist, rccollccting thc visit ol
his namcsakc, thc King ol Prussia:
ur dcar King honourcd Naumburg with a visit |in +8|. Grcat prcparations wcrc madc
lor thc occasion. All thc schoolchildrcn wcrc dcckcd out with blackandwhitc lavours
|ribbons or badgcs signilying allcgiancc to thc crown| and stood in thc markct placc lrom
clcvcn oclock in thc morning awaiting thc arrival ol thc lathcr ol thc country. Gradually
thc sky bccamc ovcrcast, rain pourcd down on us all thc king would not comc! Twclvc
oclock struck thc King did not comc. Many ol thc childrcn bcgan to lccl hungry. A
lrcsh downpour occurrcd, all thc strccts wcrc covcrcd in mud. nc oclock struck thc
impaticncc grcw intcnsc. Suddcnly about two oclock thc bclls bcgan to ring and thc sky
smilcd through its tcars upon thc joyously swaying crowd. Tcn wc hcard thc rattlc ol thc
carriagc, a boistcrous chccr roarcd through thc city, wc wavcd our caps in cxultation and
chccrcd at thc top ol our voiccs. A lrcsh brcczc sct ying thc myriad ags which hung
lrom thc rools, all thc bclls ol thc town rang out, and thc vast crowd shoutcd, hurrahcd,
and litcrally pushcd thc carriagc in thc dircction ol thc cathcdral. !n its alcovcs had bccn
placcd a largc numbcr ol young girls with whitc drcsscs and garlands ol owcrs in thcir
hair. Tc King alightcd, praiscd thc prcparations and cntcrcd thc rcsidcncc prcparcd lor
him. Tat cvcning thc wholc town was lit up. Countlcss numbcrs ol pcoplc throngcd thc
strccts. Tc pyramids ol garlands on thc town hall and cathcdral wcrc lit lromtop to bottom
with tiny lamps. Tousands ol banncrs dccoratcd thc houscs. Fircworks wcrc sct o in thc
cathcdral squarc so that lrom timc to timc thc dark shapc ol thc cathcdral was lit up by an
uncarthly light.

Shortly altcr arriving in Naumburg, Fritz was scnt to thc Knaben-B urgerschule, thc towns
primary school lor boys, rathcr than to a privatc school. Tc rcason, as lizabcth rccords,
was that Grandmothcr rdmuthc hcld thc startlingly modcrn idca that, up to thc agc ol tcn,
childrcn ol all social strata should bc taught togcthcr sincc thc childrcn ol thc highcr classcs
would thus acquirc a bcttcr undcrstanding ol thc attitudc ol mind pcculiar to thc lowcr
(Tis samc thought, onc supposcs, motivatcs thc 8ritish royal lamilys practicc
ol having thcir sons do military scrvicc.) 8ut though hc did acquirc his rst rcal lricnds,
thc cousins Vilhclm Pindcr and Gustav Krug, mixing thc shortsightcd, bookish Fritz
with thc rough boys lrom thc lowcr ordcrs did not work particularly wcll. Altcr a ycar,
thcrclorc, thc thrcc boys wcrc translcrrcd to thc privatc school ol a Hcrr Vcbcr, dcvotcd
to prcparing pupils lor cntry into grammar school. Tcy staycd hcrc until +8, whcn thcy
duly gaincd admission to thc Domgymnasium, thc Cathcdral Grammar School, a building

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
attachcd to thc cathcdral itscll. Hcrc, lor thc rst timc, Nictzschc bcgan to sucr lrom thc
blinding hcadachcs that would plaguc him lor thc rcst ol his lilc, and was oltcn abscnt lrom
school. Noncthclcss hc workcd cxtrcmcly hard, oltcn until clcvcn or twclvc at night, cvcn
though hc had to gct up at vc oclock thc ncxt morning.
As a rcsult hc won a scholarship
to thc prcstigious boarding school Plorta, to which hc translcrrcd in thc autumn ol +88.

Tough bookish, thc Fritz ol thc Naumburg ycars was also rathcr charmingly boyish. Hc
rccollccts thc lilc hc and his two lricnds lcd at Vcbcrs prcp school:
Hcrr Candidatc |lor ordination| Vcbcr, a diligcnt, Christian tcachcr, kncw ol our lricnd
ship and did not scck to scparatc us. Hcrc was laid thc loundation ol our luturc cducation.
For along with cxccllcnt rcligious instruction, wc rcccivcd our rst lcssons in Grcck and
Latin. Vc wcrc not ovcrloadcd with work, and had timc thcrclorc lor physical activity.
!n summcr wc oltcn madc small cxcursions into thc surrounding countrysidc. Vc visitcd
thc lovcly Sch onburg, castlc Goscck Fricburg, as wcll as Rudclsburg and Saalcck, usu
ally togcthcr with thc wholc !nstitutc. Valking togcthcr in a group always makcs onc lccl
chccrlul, patriotic songs soundcd out, cnjoyablc gamcs wcrc playcd, and whcn thc routc
wcnt through a lorcst wc dccoratcd oursclvcs with lcavcs and twigs. Tc castlcs rcsoundcd
with thc wild crics ol thc rcvcllcrs it put mc in mind ol thc carousing ol thc knights ol old.
!n thc courtyards and in thc lorcst, too, wc had horscback battlcs, imitating in miniaturc
thc most glorious timc ol thc middlc agcs. Tcn wc climbcd thc high towcrs and guard
posts and survcycd thc goldcn vallcy shimmcring in thc cvcning light, and whcn thc mist
dcsccndcd on thc mcadows wc rcturncd homcwards with our mcrry crics. vcry spring wc
had a lcast that was our vcrsion ol thc chcrry lcstival. Tat is, wc wcnt o to Rossbach,
a small villagc ncar Naumburg, whcrc two birds awaitcd out crossbows. Vc shot cnthusi
astically, Hcrr Vcbcr dividcd up thc spoils and a grcat timc was had by all. !n thc ncarby
woods wc playcd cops and robbcrs.

Apart lrom thc idca ol arming small boys with crossbows, thcsc may strikc onc as prctty
normal boys gamcs. !n lact, howcvcr, thc way Fritz playcd his war gamcs cvinccs a prcco
cious, crcativc intclligcncc.
!n +8, lollowing Russian succcsscs against thc Turks in thc 8lack Sca rcgion, thc 8rit
ish and Frcnch dcclarcd war on Russia, aiming to prcvcnt its lurthcr wcstward cxpansion,
which thrcatcncd thc Mcditcrrancan and thcir main ovcrland routcs to !ndia. Major battlcs
wcrc lought at thc Rivcr Alma, 8alaclava, and !nkcrman. !n spitc ol major 8ritish incom
pctcncc lamously, thc suicidal chargc ol thc Light 8rigadc thc lall ol thc coastal Russian
lortrcss ol Scbastopol in Scptcmbcr +88 lcad nally to pcacc ncgotiations. Tc thirtccn
ycarold Fritz rccalls how thc Crimcan Var was vicwcd lrom Naumburg:
Tc Frcnch and nglish cquippcd an army and cct and scnt thcm to hclp |thc Turks|. Tc
thcatrc ol war was in thc Crimca, and thc hugc army bcsicgcd Scbastopol whcrc thc grcat
Russian army undcr Mcnschiko madc a stand. Vc approvcd ol that, so wc immcdiatcly
took up thc Russian causc and angrily challcngcd anyonc who sidcd with thc Turks to battlc.
Sincc wc posscsscd tin soldicrs and a construction sct wc sparcd no cort in rccrcating thc
sicgc and thc battlc. Vc built walls ol carth, cvcryonc lound ncw mcthods ol making thcm
propcrly stablc. Vc all kcpt a small book which wc callcd war lists, had lcad balls pourcd
Da Capo

and incrcascd thc sizc ol our armics with ncw purchascs. Somctimcs wc dug a littlc pool
lollowing thc plan ol thc harbour ol Scbastopol, constructcd thc prccisc lortications, and
llcd our harbour with watcr. Vc lormcd a lot ol balls lrompitch, sulphur and saltpctrc and
whcn thcy wcrc alight hurlcd thcm at thc papcr ships. Soon bright amcs blazcd away, our
cxcitcmcnt grcw and it was rcally bcautilul sincc wc oltcn playcd latc into thc cvcning
to scc thc cry balls whistling through thc darkncss. !n thc cnd thc wholc cct as wcll as all
thc bombs wcrc burncd up, during thc conagration amcs oltcn rosc two lcct into thc air.
!n such a manncr ! had happy timcs, not just with my lricnds |Pindcr and Krug| but also
with my sistcr. Vc, too, constructcd lortications with our construction kit and through
much practicc lcarncd all thc ncr points ol building . . . Vc discusscd at lcngth cvcrything
wc could discovcr about thc scicncc ol war, so that ! bccamc prctty cxpcrt. Var lcxicons as
wcll as rcccntly publishcd military books cnrichcd our collcctions and alrcady wc wantcd
to writc a grcat military dictionary.

Anothcr gamc cxhibiting Fritzs lrcakish, multilacctcd intclligcncc, as wcll as his royalist
scntimcnts, is rccallcd by lizabcth:
My brothcr and ! . . . crcatcd an imaginary world ol our own in which tiny china gurcs
ol mcn and animals, lcad soldicrs, ctc., all rcvolvcd round onc ccntral pcrsonality in thc
shapc ol a littlc porcclain squirrcl about an inch and a hall high whom wc callcd King
Squirrcl ! . . . !t ncvcr lor a momcnt cntcrcd our hcads that thcrc is nothing rcgal about a
squirrcl, on thc contrary, wc considcrcd that it had a most majcstic prcscncc . . . this small
king gavc risc to all sorts ol joyous littlc ccrcmonics. vcrything that my brothcr madc
was in honour ol King Squirrcl, all his musical productions wcrc to glorily His Majcsty, on
his birthday . . . pocms wcrc rccitcd and plays actcd, all ol which wcrc writtcn by my brothcr.
King Squirrcl was a patron ol art, hc must havc a picturc gallcry. Fritz paintcd onc hung
round with Madonnas, landscapcs, ctc., ctc. A particularly bcautilul picturc rcprcscntcd a
room in an old monastcry in which an oldlashioncd lamp burnt in a nichc and llcd thc
wholc apartmcnt with a quaint glow.

Fritz had closc and acctionatc rclations with both his sistcr and mothcr. 8ut hc also
bccamc vcry closc to Vilhclm Pindcr and Gustav Krug, who wcrc, as obscrvcd, his rst
rcal lricnds. Tcy rcmaincd lricnds throughout thcir schooldays, though thcy bcgan drilting
apart whcn Vilhclm and Gustav lclt to attcnd univcrsity in Hcidclbcrg whilc Fritz wcnt to
8oth lricnds camc lrom lamilics ol highcr social standing than thc Nictzschcs. Vil
hclm, a gcntlc, somcwhat lragilc boy, livcd with his lathcr, a judgc, and his grandmothcr in
hall ol onc ol thc bcst houscs in town (thc othcr hall was occupicd by thc Krugs), a vc
storicd villa lacing thc markctplacc, whcrc both Frcdcrick thc Grcat and Napolcon wcrc
said to havc staycd. A good lricnd ol Fritzs grandmothcr, Grandmothcr Pindcr was onc
ol Naumburgs lcading ladics, hcr housc a gathcringplacc lor all who wcrc intcrcstcd in
litcraturc and thc arts. Shc and rdmuthc cncouragcd thc boys to bccomc lricnds. Judgc
Pindcr was ol a litcrary disposition, and it was hc who introduccd Fritz to thc works ol
Gocthc, whom Nictzschc would comc to admirc morc than any othcr human bcing. Poctry
was thc principal bond bctwccn Fritz and Vilhclm.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Gustav was ol a morc ruggcd disposition than Vilhclm. His lathcr, as Fritz rccalls,
was a grcat music cnthusiast and virtuoso. Hc had cvcn writtcn scvcral signicant composi
tions . . . Hc posscsscd a wondcrlul grand piano so that ! oltcn stood spcllbound in lront ol
his housc listcning to 8ccthovcns sublimc music. Mcndclssohn was a closc lricnd as wcll
as thc M ullcr brothcrs, thosc lamous violin virtuosi whom ! was oncc lucky cnough to hcar.
!n his housc thcrc oltcn asscmblcd a sclcct group ol lricnds ol music, and virtually cvcry
virtuoso who wantcd to pcrlorm in Naumburg sought Hcrr Krugs rccommcndation.
8rought up in such a houschold, Gustav dcvclopcd a passion lor music as strong as Fritzs,
and soon bccamc a violinist ol what must havc bccn considcrablc ability, sincc in cccm
bcr +86 hc writcs Fritz that hc is playing thc cxtrcmcly dicult Mcndclssohn violin
conccrto. Music was thc principal bond bctwccn him and Fritz, a bond that was nourishcd
by thc wondcrlully rich musical cnvironmcnt providcd not just by thc Krug houschold, but
by Naumburg in gcncral. Fritz rccalls that as a boy
! hcard many oratorios. Tc brcathcatching Rcquicm was what ! hcard rst how thc
words ics irac, dics illa touchcd mc at thc corc. 8ut oh thc truly hcavcnly 8cncdictus!
! oltcn attcndcd rchcarsals. Sincc thc rcquicmmass was usually pcrlormcd at luncrals many
ol thcsc occurrcd during thc loggy, autumn cvcnings. !n thc sacrcd, scmidarkncss ol thc
cathcdral ! sat and listcncd to thc noblc mclodics. At this point ! must mcntion thc cathc
drals music dircctor, Hcrr Vctig, an uttcrly committcd musician who both conductcd and
composcd. His small choir was always in rstratc ordcr, and hc rchcarscd thc choir ol thc
choral socicty in an cxcmplary manncr. n top ol this hc was accountcd thc bcst music
tcachcr in Naumburg. His wilc, a lormcr opcra singcr, also did much to improvc pcrlor
manccs. 8csidcs thcsc wc havc two lurthcr music dircctors in Naumburg, tto Claudius,
conductor ol thc lormcr Liedertafel, a diligcnt composcr though somcwhat vain and con
ccitcd, and Fuckcl, who dircctcd thc town choir. Also ! hcard Handcls Judas Maccabaeus
and, abovc all, Haydns Creation. And thcn ! was at thc pcrlormancc ol thc tcndcr and apt
Midsummer Nights Dream by Mcndclssohn.

Tis wondcrlul ovcrturc! !t sccmcd to mc as

though clvcs in a moonsparkling silvcr night wcrc dancing in airy rings.

8ccausc hc was shy and bccausc hc had high cxpcctations, Nictzschc lound it dicult to
makc lricnds. 8ut oncc madc hc valucd thcm dccply. Unsurprisingly, thcrclorc, lricndship
is much discusscd in his maturc writings. !n dicrcnt placcs hc proposcs two clcmcnts
ol lricndship, both ol which should cxist, to onc dcgrcc or anothcr, in a truc lricndship.
Tc rst ol thcsc, which may bc callcd thc agonistic clcmcnt, is bascd on his study ol
thc Grcck idcal ol agon aggrcssivc compctition containcd within ultimatcly coopcrativc
bounds. !n your lricnd, says Tus spoke Zarathustra, you shall nd your bcst cncmy.

lricndship with Krug sccms to havc bccn markcd by a strongly agonistic clcmcnt: Fritz
rccords that wc oltcn lookcd at a musical scorc togcthcr, ocrcd contrary opinions, tricd
this and that, playing altcrnatcly on thc piano.
As wc shall scc, it was Gustavs pcrsistcncc
which nally ovcrcamc Fritzs innatc musical conscrvatism and pcrsuadcd him to bccomc,
lor a latclul dccadc, an cnthusiast lor thc Zukunftsmusik |music ol thc luturc| ol Richard
Da Capo

Nictzschc did not bclicvc in cxposing oncs soul to thc othcr: onc should wcar oncs best
clothcs and not wish to appcar bclorc thc lricnd with no clothcs, says Zarathustra.
placc ol soultosoul intimacy, hc proposcs, as thc sccond clcmcnt in truc lricndship, sharcd
commitmcnt to a common goal. !t is this that constitutcs thc sharcd bounds to thc ago
nistic strugglc. Comradcship sccms to havc bccn strongly to thc lorc in thc lricndship with
Pindcr. Hc was, Nictzschc rccalls, mildcr than Gustav, cvcn thc oppositc, with thc rcsult
that wc workcd almost always in harmony so that our opinions and idcas almost always
!n thc lattcr part ol his crcativc lilc Nictzschc sucrcd acutcly lrom lonclincss. Likc his
altcr cgo, Zarathustra, hc lound himscll alonc on a (Swiss) mountain top. 8ut, intcllcctually
at lcast, hc acccptcd this condition. Sincc, hc rcasoncd, a radical social critic, a lrcc spirit
such as himscll, scts himscll cvcr morc in opposition to thc loundational agrccmcnts on
which social lilc dcpcnds, hc rcduccs thc pool ol possiblc comradcs, and so ol possiblc
lricnds, to vanishing point. 8ut in his youth hc was lar lrom bcing a social critic. Hc was,
rathcr, as wc will shortly scc, a social conlormist, indccd a passionate social conlormist. And
so hc by no mcans lackcd lricnds. Tc accusation oltcn madc that hc was constitutionally
incapablc ol lricndship is manilcstly mistakcn.

Vhat was Fritz rcally likc in thosc carly, prcpubcsccnt ycars in Naumburg: First, ol coursc,
hc was, though not a prodigy in thc Mozartian mould, noncthclcss prodigious. Vc havc
alrcady noticcd thc unusual crcativc intclligcncc bchind his boyhood gamcs. !n Naumburg
hc startcd piano lcssons and was alrcady playing thc casicr 8ccthovcn piano sonatas altcr
two ycars ol study. (!n 8ritish tcrms, that is, hc rcachcd Gradc 8 within two ycars.) !n
his autobiographical rccctions hc lists lortysix pocms writtcn bctwccn thc agcs ol clcvcn
and thirtccn (hc had a passion lor lists). And alrcady in prcpubcsccnt days hc likcd noth
ing bcttcr than lossicking around in Grandlathcr chlcrs library and visiting thc Lcipzig
bookshops with him.

As lizabcth rcports, it was in lact Grandlathcr chlcr who rst

spottcd Fritzs unusual gilts, tclling Franziska that hc was thc most talcntcd boy hc had cvcr
sccn, morc talcntcd than his own six sons put togcthcr.

Lcss oltcn noticcd, but cqually markcd, is thc lact that hc was an cxtrcmcly acctionatc
boy, acctionatc towards his cntirc cxtcndcd lamily, cspccially Grandlathcr chlcr, and
towards his lricnds. Vithout his two noblc, truc, lricnds, hc rccords,
! would pcrhaps ncvcr havc lclt at homc in Naumburg. 8ut sincc ! havc won such livcly
lricnds, bcing hcrc is dcar to mc, and it would bc cxtrcmcly painlul to havc to lcavc. For
wc thrcc arc ncvcr apart cxccpt whcn ! madc a holiday trip somcwhcrc clsc with Mamma
and my sistcr.

Vilhclm supports this, calling Fritz, in his own rccollcctions (also rccordcd in his tccnagc
ycars) a vcry dcar and loving lricnd to mc.
!t is truc that Fritz also nccdcd solitudc. Hcrc is his own, rctrospcctivc charactcr
! had, in my young lilc, alrcady sccn a grcat dcal ol tragcdy and sadncss and was thcrclorc
not as wild and jolly as childrcn usually arc. My schoollcllows uscd to tcasc mc on account
ol my scriousncss. Tis didnt just happcn in thc primary school but also in thc !nstitutc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
|ol Hcrr Vcbcr| and cvcn in grammar school. From childhood onwards ! sought to bc
alonc and lclt bcst whcn ! could bc undisturbcd by myscll. And this was usually in thc lrcc
tcmplc ol naturc, whcrc ! lound thc trucst joy. So a thundcrstorm always madc thc dccpcst
imprcssion on mc, thc rumblc ol distant thundcr and thc brightly ickcring lightning only
incrcascd my awc in thc lacc ol God.

Tc twin human nccds, lor solitudc and lor socicty, arc, prcsumably, univcrsal. 8ut thcrc
is no doubt that Nictzschc posscsscd thc lormcr to an abnormally high dcgrcc in his
maturity, largcly bccausc hc had a grcat many things to say and an incrcasing scnsc that thc
timc hc had to say thcm in was short. Solitudc, onc might suggcst, is thc latc ol thc writcr.
Yct in thc abovc scllasscssmcnt thcrc is surcly a dcgrcc ol adolcsccnt sclldramatisation.
For, as wc havc sccn, thcrc was a grcat dcal ol normal boyish sociability, cvcn boistcrousncss,
in Fritzs carly lilc. nc should not, morcovcr, bc tcmptcd to discovcr any hint ol misan
thropy in his dclight in cntcring thc lrcc tcmplc ol naturc. Tc rcason hc nds thcrc his
trucst joy is not that thcrc is no joy to bc lound among humans but rathcr that it is in thc
sublimity ol naturc that hc discovcrs God.
or most ol his youth, Nictzschc intcndcd to cntcr thc pricsthood. Trough, no doubt,
idcntication with his dcad lathcr, hc was givcn to pricstly momcnts at an carly agc.
lizabcth rccords that hc was nicknamcd thc littlc pastor sincc, alrcady in primary school,
hc could rccitc biblical tcxts and hymns with such lccling that hc almost madc onc cry.
Yct thcrc was morc to Nictzschcs picty than thcatrc. Tc lollowing privatc notc lrom his
thirtccnth ycar contains a startling intcnsity ol gcnuinc rcligious lccling, lccling bound up
with thc nccd to bclicvc that onc day hc would bc rcunitcd with his lathcr:
! had alrcady cxpcricnccd so much joy and sorrow, chccrlul things and sad things but
in cvcrything God has salcly lcd mc as a lathcr lcads his wcak littlc child . . . ! havc rmly
rcsolvcd within mc to dcdicatc myscll lorcvcr to His scrvicc. May thc dcar Lord givc mc
strcngth and powcr to carry out my intcntions and protcct mc on my lilcs way. Likc a child
! trust in his gracc: Hc will prcscrvc us all, that no mislortunc may bclall us. 8ut His holy
will bc donc! All Hc givcs ! will joylully acccpt: happincss and unhappincss, povcrty and
wcalth, and boldly look cvcn dcath in thc lacc, which shall onc day unitc us all in ctcrnal
joy and bliss. Ycs, dcar Lord, lct Ty lacc shinc upon us lorcvcr! Amcn!

An important armation hcrc is: All Hc givcs ! will joylully acccpt. Tis is an almost cxact
lormulation ol thc doctrinc ol Nictzschcs maturity which hc somctimcs calls amor fati |lovc
ol latc| and somctimcs willing thc ctcrnal rcturn ol thc samc: thc doctrinc that an idcal
ol human wcllbcing is bcing ablc to say a joylul Ycs to e.erything that has happcncd and
thus will its ctcrnal rcturn. Tis doctrinc was lormulatcd long altcr hc had ccascd to bclicvc
in thc Christian God. 8ut what thc closc similarity bctwccn it and Nictzschcs youthlul
Christian picty suggcsts is that at thc hcart ol his maturc thought is thc cort to rcdiscovcr,
cvcn in Gods abscncc, ccntral clcmcnts ol thc passionatc Christians stancc to cxistcncc.
Da Capo

Anothcr aspcct ol Fritzs Christian picty which is rccctcd in thc philosophy ol his adult
hood is his lovc ol Christmas. Partly, ol coursc, hc lovcs Christmas lrom a normal, boyish
dclight in high days, holidays and prcscnts, but partly, too, out ol somcthing morc. As a
thirtccnycarold hc asks himscll why it is hc lovcs Christmas cvcn morc than birthdays,
and answcrs that Christmas is thc most blcsscd lcstival ol thc ycar bccausc it docsnt con
ccrn us alonc, but rathcr thc wholc ol mankind, rich and poor, humblc and grcat, low and
high. And it is prcciscly this univcrsal joy which intcnsics our own mood.
Tis samc
dccply rootcd ycarning lor union and harmony bctwccn all mcn appcars in Fritzs rccord ol
a visit, in August +86o, to Gorcnzcn, a lorcstcncirclcd town not lar lrom Luthcrs birth
placc at islcbcn, on thc southcast lringc ol thc Harz mountains, whcrc his unclc dmund
chlcr was thc pastor:
And thcn it was Sunday. My unclc was vcry busy thc wholc morning. ! sawhimrst outsidc
thc cntrancc to thc church. Tc attcndancc was largc and rcgular. And what a wondcrlul
scrmon hc gavc. Hc spokc about rcconciliation, taking as his tcxt !l you bring your gilt to
thc altar, rst makc pcacc with your brothcr. !t was thc day lor Communion. !mmcdiatcly
altcr thc scrmon two ol thc villagc ocials, cducatcd mcn but cncmics ol long standing,
camc lorward and madc pcacc, cach rcaching out his hand to thc othcr.
cspitc his hostility to Christianity, thc maturc Nictzschc always rctaincd his dclight in
thc authcntic spirit ol Christmas. !t rcappcars in his philosophy as thc ycarning lor a timc
whcn all mcn . . . sharc thc cxpcricncc ol thosc shcphcrds who saw thc hcavcns brightcn
abovc thcm and hcard thc words n carth pcacc, good will towards all mcn.
Nictzschc could possibly combinc this ycarning lor world pcacc with his cclcbration ol thc
Grcck agon, not to mcntion thc will to powcr, is a mattcr wc shall havc to think about.

As wcll as pious, thc young Nictzschc was also good, somctimcs cxaggcratcdly so. !n hcr
mcmoirs, lizabcth wishcs shc could rccount at lcast onc incidcnt ol gcnuinc naughtincss
on his part but rcgrcts that shc rcmcmbcrs not onc. Tc ncarcst is hcr rctricval ol an incidcnt
in which thc two ol thcm wcrc praiscd lor donating thcir vcry bcst toys lor thc missionarics
to givc to thc black littlc hcathcns in Alrica, whcn, in lact, thcy had donatcd only rathcr
inlcrior oncs. Full ol shamc, Fritz says to hcr:
Lizzic, ! wish ! had givcn my box ol cavalry. Tcsc wcrc his ncst and lavouritc soldicrs.
8ut ! had still cnough ol thc scrpcnt and ol vc in mc to answcr with somc hcsitation:
ught God rcally to dcmand thc vcry bcst toys lrom us, Fritz: (Tc idca ol scnding
my bcstlovcd dolls to black and probably cxcccdingly savagc cannibals sccmcd uttcrly
impossiblc to mc.) 8ut Fritz whispcrcd in rcply: Ycs indccd, Lizzic.

Fritz was also dccply obedient, again in a somctimcs cxaggcratcdly incxiblc Prussian
manncr. lizabcth rccollccts a hcavy downpour ol rain causing all thc boys to run likc mad
on thcir way homc lrom primary school. All cxccpt Fritz, who was walking slowly with
his cap covcring his slatc and his littlc handkcrchicl sprcad ovcr thc wholc, oblivious to his
mothcrs instructions to Run, child, run!. Vhcn shc rcmonstratcd with him lor coming
homc soakcd hc rcplicd 8ut Mamma, thc school rulcs say that on lcaving school, boys

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
arc lorbiddcn to jump and run about in thc strcct, but must walk homc quictly and dcco

!n sum, on thc cvc ol his dcparturc lor boarding school, Fritz was a prccocious, shy,
acctionatc, pious, virtuous and obcdicnt boy, unconvcntional only in thc intcnsity ol his
dcvotion to thc convcntions ol his PrussianLuthcran upbringing. !t is hard to discovcr cvcn
thc rcmotcst hint ol thc Samson who would onc day pull down thc pillars ol thc Christian
x Svv:v:nvv +88 Franziska Nictzschc rcccivcd a lcttcr lrom thc rcctor ol Plorta
boarding school ocring Fritz a scholarship at thc bcst and most lamous sccondary
school in Gcrmany. According to lizabcth, ncws ol thc outstanding acadcmic promisc
hc had shown at thc Cathcdral Grammar School had rcachcd thc rcctors cars via Naumburg
rclativcs. Fritz had wantcd to go to Plorta sincc thc agc ol tcn, cxprcssing his dcsirc in
somcthing lcss than magniccnt vcrsc:
Tere, .here through her narro. door
Pfortas pupils e.ermore
Pass out into life so free
Tere in Pforta .ould I be!
And sincc thc scholarship would sccurc his nancial luturc lor thc ncxt six ycars it was an
ocr Franziska though bittcrly rcgrctting scvcrancc lrom thc child ol hcr hcart could
not rclusc. Tc lollowing month Fritz bccamc a Plorta pupil and would rcmain onc until
Scptcmbcr +86.
riginally a Cistcrcian abbcy callcd Porta Cocli (Gatc ol Hcavcn), Plorta (Gatc now
to cducation rathcr than hcavcn) had bccn translormcd into a school in + by thc Princc
lcctor Moritz ol Saxony, a dissolution and rccycling ol thc monastcrics that was a major
plank ol thc Protcstant Rclormation. (Tcn ycars latcr dward \!, in a similar spirit, lound
cd Christs Hospital on thc sitc ol thc lormcr Grcylriars lriary in thc City ol London.)
Plorta, or Schulplortc (Plorta School), as it is known today, is about an hours walk lrom
Naumburg Fritz somctimcs walkcd homc lor thc holidays. !t lics just south ol thc ambling
Saalc Rivcr in a woodcd vallcy that cxtcnds lrom thc wcstcrn cdgc ol Naumburg to thc
narrow gorgc ol K oscn. Tc school cstatc compriscs somc scvcntythrcc acrcs ol gardcns,
orchards, grovcs ol trccs, buildings, and cloistcrs, protcctcd lrom thc outcr world by a thick
twclvcloothigh wall, which lorms an almost pcrlcct rcctanglc. Abranch canal ol thc Saalc
ows through thc middlc ol thc cnclosurc, scparating thc work buildings and gardcns and


vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
most ol thc tcachcrs houscs lrom thc school itscll. Small and highly sclcct, thc school, in
Nictzschcs day, accommodatcd somc two hundrcd pupils.
A ivided Heritage
hat sort ol a placc was Plorta: First, as thc rcctor put it in +8, in a spccch ccl
cbrating thc ooth annivcrsary ol thc schools loundation, it was a scllcontaincd
scholastic statc, a statc within a statc in which all parcntal rights arc handcd ovcr to thc
alma matcr lor thc six most dccisivc ycars, lrom adolcsccncc until cntry into univcrsity, in
ordcr that that thc boys bccomc divorccd lrom all distractions associatcd with town lilc.
As wcll as in total isolation, Plorta pupils also cxistcd undcr a condition ol ncartotal
control. nc nccdcd pcrmission lor virtually cvcrything. Tc Nictzschc Nachlass contains
innumcrablc chits writtcn to his tutor rcqucsting pcrmission to go lor a walk, havc somc
pockct moncy, rcnt a piano, buy somc cakc, mcct his lamily, ctc. ctc. Givcn such control,
it was no idlc boast ol thc rcctors to claim that thc school lormcd thc totality ol a pupils
bcing, not just thc dcvclopmcnt ol thcir minds but also thc lormation ol thcir morals and
charactcr, with thc rcsult that cvcry Plorta boy, as a rulc, lcavcs thc institution with thc
dcnitc stamp ol a ccrtain sound diligcncc which lasts him throughout his lilc.
Sound diligcncc is typical Plorta modcsty. (lizabcth commcnts that though thc mas
tcrs kncw that Fritz was thcir most talcntcd pupil in living mcmory, hc was ncvcr allowcd
to suspcct a word ol this, lor Plorta undcr no circumstanccs attcrcd its giltcd schol

Vhat thc rcctor lails to mcntion is thc schools trcmcndous csprit dc corps. !ntcnscly
proud ol its lamous alumni Klopstock, Novalis, Fichtc, thc Schlcgcl brothcrs, almost a
roll call ol thc grcat namcs ol Gcrman romanticism, as wcll as thc grcat historian Lcopold
von Rankc it saw its rolc as that ol training young mcn lor thc geistige F uhrung des !olkes,
thc spiritual lcadcrship ol thc pcoplc,

lor thc intcllcctual, cultural, spiritual, and, ulti

matcly, morc or lcss dircct political lcadcrship ol thc nation. How was this Plorta stamp
on thc cultural aristocracy ol thc luturc to bc achicvcd: Trough, as thc rcctor put it, a virilc,
scvcrc, and powcrlul spirit ol disciplinc which taught thc pupils obcdicncc to thc command
and will ol thcir supcriors, thc scvcrc and punctual lullmcnt ol duty, scllcontrol, and
carncst work, whilc at thc samc timc cncouraging thc dcvclopmcnt ol original pcrsonal

Vhat this mcans will bc lamiliar to anyonc who has attcndcd, cvcn in rcccnt
timcs, a 8ritish boarding school: thc classical tcchniqucs ol Sparta cold baths, a hicr
archy ol prclccts and subprclccts with thc powcr ol lilc and dcath ovcr thcir subordinatcs,
a rcgimcntcd daily routinc, lack ol privacy savc in thc lavatorics and somctimcs not cvcn
thcrc (total obscrvation as Michcl Foucault calls it), corporal punishmcnt, and so on. All in
all, Plorta closcly rcscmblcd a Prussian military acadcmy savc lor thc lact that it produccd
occrs lor, in thc rst instancc, cultural rathcr than military lcadcrship
though, as wc
shall scc, it produccd thc lattcr too.
Fritz bcgins his dcscription ol thc daily routinc:
! will nowattcmpt to givc a picturc ol cvcryday lilc in Plorta. As carly as lour in thc morning
thc dormitory doors arc thrown opcn, and lrom that timc onwards anyonc is lrcc to risc
who wishcs to do so. 8ut at vc oclock (in wintcr at six) cvcrybody must bc out ol thc room:
as usual thc school bcll rings, thc dormitory prclccts pcrcmptorily shout, Gct up, gct up,

makc hastc and punish anyonc who docsnt nd it so casy to gct out ol bcd. Tcn all thc
boys scramblc into a lcw light garmcnts as quickly as possiblc, and hurry to thc washrooms
to sccurc a placc bclorc thcy gct too crowdcd. Rising and washing lasts tcn minutcs, altcr
which cvcryonc rcturns to thcir rooms whcrc thcy drcss propcrly. At twcntyvc past thc
rst praycrbcll sounds, and at thc sccond cvcryonc has to bc in hall lor praycrs. Hcrc thc
prclccts kccp ordcr until thc mastcr comcs . . . punctually at six (in thc wintcr scvcn) thc bcll
rings lor thc boys to go to thcir classrooms.

Ronald Haymans biography ol Nictzschc has littlc timc lor Plorta. Rclcrring to an cpi
sodc in which Fritz hcld a lightcd match to his hand to provc that his sclldisciplinc was
up to Roman standards, hc obscrvcs that thc sadism in authoritarian opprcssion always
tcnds to gcncratc masochism in thc dcsirc to cxccl through obcdicncc and suggcsts that
Plorta translormcd Nictzschc into a sadomasoch|ist|.
Tough clcvcr, this sccms to mc
to ignorc, rst, thc lact that somc pcoplc enjoy a lilc ol obcdicncc, and, sccond, thc warmcr
sidc ol Plorta.
To bcgin at thc most basic lcvcl, thc mcals at Plorta (comparcd, at lcast, to my own
boardingschool cxpcricncc) wcrc substantial, and, lrom a nutritional point ol vicw, sur
prisingly sound. Sincc, morcovcr, thc lruit and vcgctablcs wcrc all lrcshly gathcrcd lrom
thc schools own orchards and gardcns, thcy wcrc probably cnjoyablc. Fritzs dcscription ol
daily lilc continucs:
Tc mcnu lor thc |midday mcal| lor thc wcck is as lollows:
Monday: soup, mcat, vcgctablcs, lruit.
Tucsday: soup, mcat, vcgctablcs, brcad and buttcr.
Vcdncsday: soup, mcat, vcgctablcs, lruit.
Tursday: soup, boilcd bccl, vcgctablcs, grillcd kidncys and salad.
Friday: soup, roast pork, vcgctablcs, and brcad and buttcr, or soup, lcntils, sausagc, and
brcad and buttcr.
Saturday: soup, mcat, vcgctablcs, lruit.
And lor thc cvcning mcal at .oo p.m.:
Monday and Friday: soup, brcad and buttcr and chccsc.
Tucsday and Saturday: soup, potatocs, hcrring, and brcad and buttcr.
Vcdncsday: soup, sausagc, mashcd potatocs or picklcd cucumbcr.
Tursday: soup, pancakcs, plum saucc, brcad and buttcr.
Sunday: soup, ricc boilcd in milk, brcad and buttcr, or cggs, salad and brcad and buttcr.

Sccond, thc disciplinc and rcgimcntation wcrc not, in lact, as total or as incxiblc as thc
rcctor makcs out. Plcnty ol timc was allowcd lor walks, playing bowls, and swimming in, or,
in wintcr, skating on, thc Saalc, both ol which Fritz lovcd and bccamc good at. !n spitc ol thc
carly rising at .oo a.m., bcdtimc was at 8.o or .oo p.m., so thc boys wcrc actually allowcd
about cight hours slccp. And, as Fritz rccords, in summcr, il thc tcmpcraturc rcachcd :

classcs wcrc canccllcd lor thc rcst ol thc day and thc wholc school wcnt swimming. n
Sundays, thc boys wcrc givcn winc (SaalcUnstrut is Gcrmanys northcrnmost appellation)
lrom thc schools own vincyards.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Tird, Fritzs school cxpcricncc, so lar as onc can tcll, sccms to havc bccn rclativcly lrcc
ol thc usual pcrils ol boarding school, bullying and scxual abusc. !t is possiblc that clcmcnts
ol school lilc wcrc rcprcsscd in thc lcttcrs hc wrotc homc scvcral timcs a wcck, but thc
gcncral picturc, apart lrom bouts ol ill hcalth, is ol a happy schoolboy: about thc only
timc hc complains is whcn bad wcathcr makcs skating impossiblc or whcn his ordcrs lrom
homc arc not promptly llcd. (Hc tcnds a habit that pcrsistcd into adulthood to trcat
his mothcr as a mailordcr rm, dcmanding instant dclivcry ol, among othcr itcms, strong
glasscs, ink bottlcs, stccl pcns, soap, cocoa, walcr biscuits, notcbooks, writing pads, scissors,
morning shocs, boot jacks, and a draughts sct.)
Contra Haymans suggcstion ol sadism,
lizabcth mcntions how kind thc prclccts wcrc to hcr brothcr. And it is ccrtainly truc that
hc likcd and admircd scar Kr amcr, thc prclcct to whom hc was immcdiatcly answcrablc
(and who, thcrclorc, morc than anyonc, could makc his lilc cithcr hcll or hcavcn), and whom
hc invitcd homc to tca with his mothcr.
!t was Kr amcr who knockcd lrom his hand thc
lightcd candlc with which hc was burning himscll and told him not to bc so stupid. (8arcly
out ol his tccns, Kr amcr dicd as a licutcnant in thc battlc ol Sadowa in +866, an cvcnt which
ccrtainly inucnccd thc maturc Nictzschcs loathing ol warlarc.)
Fourth, in spitc ol thc rcctors claim ol total scqucstration lrom town and homc, thcrc
was in lact lrcqucnt contact with homc. Not only wcrc thcrc thc rcgular lcttcrs and supplics
lrom homc, but most Sundays Fritz would makc thc hallhour walk to Almrich thc
midway point bctwccn Plorta and Naumburg to spcnd thc altcrnoon with his mothcr and
l coursc, uprootcd lrom his sccond homc and his two bcst lricnds, Fritz at rst sucrcd
tcrribly lrom homcsickncss. As hc approachcd Plorta lor thc rst timc in thc grcy light ol
dawn, shivcring with lcar bclorc an ominous luturc vcilcd in grcy, thc walls ol Plorta
lookcd, hc wrotc Vilhclm, morc likc a prison than an alma matcr.
Fortunatcly hc lound
in his tutor (cquivalcnt to a houscmastcr in thc 8ritish systcm) a man ol simplc laith and
grcat kindhcartcdncss who ocrcd him what Fritz calls thc curc lor homcsickncss (accord
ing to Prolcssor 8uddcnsicg):
(+) !l wc want to lcarn anything ol valuc wc cannot always stay at homc.
(:) ur dcar parcnts do not wish us to rcmain at homc, wc should thcrclorc lull thcir
() ur lovcd oncs arc in Gods hands. Vc arc continually accompanicd by thcir
() !l wc work diligcntly our sad thoughts will vanish.
() !l nonc ol thc abovc hclps, pray to God almighty.
Tough nonc ol this may sccm vcry ccctivc, Fritz lovcd Robcrt 8uddcnsicg dcarly (lairly
clcarly, hc was thc rst ol Nictzschcs scvcral substitutc lathcrs) and wcpt bittcr tcars ovcr his
untimcly dcath lrom typhus in August +86+.
Tough hc rctaincd lricndly rclations with
his ncwtutor, Max Hcinzc

lor thc rcst ol his lilc, Hcinzc was no substitutc lor 8uddcnsicg.

Hcinzc bccamc wcll known as an historian ol philosophy. For a short timc hc bccamc Nictzschcs
collcaguc at thc Univcrsity ol 8ascl bclorc moving on to Lcipzig. Among othcr things, hc produccd
an cdition ol Lcnins writings, which suggcsts a man ol considcrablc brcadth ol vision.

Fritz lookcd lorward to school holidays with somcthing approaching ccstasy. And going
back to school was always an occasion lor sounding likc onc ol Schubcrts licdcr pocts:
Tc goldcn days ol thc holidays arc ovcr, vanishcd likc a drcam, my hcart was darkcncd by
clouds ol sadncss,
and so on. 8ut nonc ol this should bc takcn as showing that school was a
placc ol sadistic tormcnt. Fritz ol coursc misscd homc and lamily. 8ut what hc rcally misscd
was freedom, thc lrccdom to cat, drink, slccp, walk, rcad, writc, play thc piano whcn, whcrc,
and with whom hc likcd. Schooldays, as hc himscll obscrvcd, arc dicult ycars . . . bccausc
thc lrcsh spirit must connc itscll in narrow limits.

Tc picturc ol Plorta as a sadistic machinc dcsigncd to producc Prussian robots nccds a lur
thcr qualication: onc nccds to attcnd to thc spirit ol rcnaissancc humanism pcrvading its
worldvicw, which arosc lrom thc ccntrality ol classics to thc curriculum. Plorta humanism
cmbraccd a rcvcrcncc lor Romc, but abovc all lor Grcccc, as thc highcst point ol Vcst
crn civilization. From this it dcrivcd a quict, yct rcal, commitmcnt to an idcal ol lrccdom
and rcpublicanism bascd on thc modcl ol thc Athcnian citystatc and thc Roman Rcpub
lic. Politically, thc dominant culturc at Plorta was libcral in thc ninctccnthccntury scnsc,
which cmbraccd libcration lrom authoritarian rulc, cxtcnsion ol civil rights and thc lran
chisc (somctimcs cvcn to womcn), and movcs towards dcmocratic govcrnmcnt. And, in thc
spccically Gcrman contcxt, it cmbraccd thc causc ol Gcrman unication. Tough in thc
cvcnt, thanks to thc authoritarian 8ismarck and a bcnightcd mpcror, thc Gcrman Rcich
(which camc into bcing in +8+) provcd a grcat disappointmcnt to thcm, libcrals had sup
portcd its crcation, hoping that it would bring an cnd to thc multitudc ol pctty statcs run, on
lcudal lincs, by dukcs and princcs. Morcovcr, thc dcconstructivc spirit ol classical philology,
as soon as it cxtcndcd itscll bcyond ancicnt tcxts, had an intrinsic tcndcncy to undcrminc
cstablishcd convictions and authoritics. (Latcr, Nictzschc rclcrs to \oltaircan dcconstruc
tion as a salicnt ccct ol historical studics.)
At lcast as important as arwinism in thc
undcrmining ol Christian laith in thc ninctccnth ccntury was thc philological dcconstruc
tion ol thc 8iblc by scholars such as avid Strauss (scc pp. +68o bclow). (Vhcn Jacqucs
crrida told thc radical studcnts ol +68 that it was morc important to dcconstruct tcxts
than to barricadc thc strccts ol Paris, hc was simply rccalling what philology had bccn doing
lor thc past hundrcd ycars.)
Tus Plorta, likc thc bcst nglish boarding schools both thcn and now, was riddlcd with
crcativc contradictions. n thc onc hand, it vcncratcd Prussian authority, but on thc othcr,
it quictly subvcrtcd all authority. n thc onc hand, it was opprcssivcly Protcstant lrcqucnt
doscs ol praycrs and chapcl wcrc compulsory but on thc othcr, it vcncratcd cvcrything
about antiquity, including thc Grcck that is, pagan gods. And though on thc onc hand
opprcssivcly loyal to thc Prussian thronc, on thc othcr it was quictly rcpublican.
Nictzschc ncvcr doubtcd that Plorta madc him. And hc was always loyal to thc school
and gratclul, not only lor thc magniccnt cducation in thc humanitics, but also lor thc
charactcr lormation it had givcn him. Twcntylour ycars altcr lcaving, hc wrotc,
Tc most dcsirablc thing ol all . . . is undcr all circumstanccs to havc scvcrc disciplinc at the
right time. i.c. at thc agc whcn it makcs us proud that pcoplc should cxpcct grcat things
lrom us. For this is what distinguishcs hard schooling lrom cvcry othcr schooling, namcly
that a good dcal is dcmandcd, that goodncss, nay cvcn cxccllcncc itscll, is rcquircd as il
it wcrc normal, that praisc is scanty, that lcnicncy is noncxistcnt, that blamc is sharp,

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
practical, and has no rcgard to talcnts or antcccdcnts. Vc arc all in cvcry way in nccd ol
such a school, and this holds good ol physical as wcll as spiritual things it would bc latal
to draw distinctions hcrc! Tc samc disciplinc makcs thc soldicr and thc scholar ccicnt,
and, lookcd at morc closcly, thcrc is no truc scholar who has not thc instincts ol a truc
soldicr in his vcins.
As ! cmphasiscd carlicr, Nictzschc was, and would rcmain all his lilc, at hcart a Prussian.
His homc prcdisposcd him thus, but his unwavcring commitmcnt to Prussian disciplinc
to scllovcrcoming, in his own latcr tcrminology was vcry largcly Plortas crcation. 8ut
bcing itscll a contradiction, Plorta produccd, in Nictzschc, a contradiction. As thc 8ritish
public schools havc produccd thc lcadcrs ol mainstrcam socicty but, at thc samc timc, its
disloyal opposition communist spics such as 8urgcss, Maclcan, Philby and 8lunt so
Plorta produccd, in Nictzschc, a Prussian antiPrussian, Prussias vcry own molc, somconc
who, in his maturity, would sct out to undcrminc cvcrything lor which it stood.
Te Curriculum
hc hcart ol thc Plorta curriculum was Grcck and Latin and, to a lcsscr dcgrcc, thc
Gcrman classics. Vhat thc studcnts brcathcd was not thc air ol modcrn uropc but
that ol Grcccc and Romc, Gocthc and Schillcr. Natural scicncc and mathcmatics always
camc a poor third, disciplincs to bc spccialiscd by thc lcss ablc boys. Prcdictably, mathcmat
ics was badly taught, so that Fritz, altcr initially doing wcll, camc to nd it cxtrcmcly boring.
Hc bccamc so bad at it that, whcn it camc to his bitur, thc schoollcaving cxam, thc maths
tcachcr wishcd to lail him, prompting anothcr cxamincr to ask quictly, 8ut gcntlcmcn,
arc wc rcally going to lail thc bcst pupil in living mcmory: !n thc +8os, dcvcloping a
kccn intcrcst in natural scicncc, Nictzschc bccamc acutcly awarc ol his lack ol grounding
lollowing thc pcrlunctory way thc scicnccs wcrc taught at Plorta. Vc had, hc writcs in
mathcmatics and physics lorccd upon us instead ol our bcing lcd into dcspair at our ignor
ancc, and having our littlc daily lilc, our activitics, and all that wcnt on at homc, in thc work
placc, in thc sky, in thc countrysidc lrom morn to night, rcduccd to thousands ol problcms,
to annoying, mortilying, irritating problcms, so as to show that wc needed a knowlcdgc
ol mathcmatics and mcchanics, and thcn to tcach us our rst delight in scicncc . . . !l only
wc had bccn taught to re.ere thc scicnccs.
!n addition to Latin and Grcck, Fritz also studicd Frcnch and Hcbrcw, thc lattcr on
account ol his dutilul intcntion to lollow his mothcrs dcsirc that hc study thcology at uni
vcrsity. !n lact, howcvcr, hc ncvcr complctcly mastcrcd any lorcign languagc, ancicnt or
modcrn. Tough onc was supposcd to bc ablc to think in Latin, Fritz ncvcr quitc man
agcd it, his Latin compositions always looking likc translations lrom Gcrman. !n latcr
lilc, though hc spcnt much timc in !taly, hc undcrstood comparativcly littlc ol thc lan
guagc. To rcad Frcnch hc always nccdcd a dictionary, whilc his nglish was noncxistcnt:
8yron and Shakcspcarc, whom hc lovcd, hc rcad in Gcrman translation. Tcsc lacts arc ol
somc importancc sincc, though hc camc to stylc himscll a good uropcan and to dcplorc

Gcrman chauvinism, hc always thought in Gcrman and thcrclorc, in a strong scnsc, as a
Te Germania Society
ntil his nal ycar Fritz had no rcally closc lricnds at school. Usually at or ncar thc
top ol his class, hc sccmcd to his lcllows somcthing ol a Streber |strivcr| a goody
goody who strivcs too obviously to bc top. Rcscrvcd, carncst bcyond his ycars, and not
givcn to thc physical roughandtumblc ol boardingschool lilc, hc sccmcd to his lcllows
somcwhat wcird as, givcn thc handburning cpisodc, hc indccd was. For this rcason, his
normal boardingschool ycarning lor thc holidays was a ycarning not only lor thc comlorts
ol homc but also lor thc company ol his only two lricnds, Vilhclm and Gustav.
!n thc summcr holidays ol +86o thc thrcc lricnds dccidcd to lound a socicty lor litcr
aturc and thc arts, to bc callcd Germania.
Tis was thc rst glimmcr ol a vcry Gcrman
phcnomcnon, thc dcsirc to lound a circlc, such as thc Vagncr Circlc or, latcr, thc Stclan
Gcorgc Circlc, dcvotcd to cultural rcgcncration, a dcsirc which would pcrsist throughout
Nictzschcs lilc. lizabcth rccounts thc lounding ol thc Germania socicty:
|n July th| thc lricnds bought a nincGroschcn bottlc ol rcd Naumburg winc and sct
lorth in an carncst and dignicd proccssion to thc ruin ol Sch onburg, an hours distancc
lrom thc town. 8y mcans ol an cxtrcmcly rickcty laddcr thcy climbcd to thc highcst lcdgc
ol thc watch towcr, lrom which thcrc was a magniccnt vicw ovcr thc picturcsquc Saalc
vallcy, and lrom this position, high abovc thc misty rcgions ol thc plain, thcy discusscd
thcir plan lor lullling thcir highcst aspirations lor culturc.
Tc constitution ol thc socicty rcquircd that cach mcmbcr contributc a monthly subscrip
tion which was uscd to purchasc, inter alia, thc works ol thc thcn highly avant gardc poct,
Fricdrich H oldcrlin as wcll as, cach month, an original work ol litcraturc, art, or music
(Nictzschcs compositions rccordcd as tracks on thc Vcb sitc lor this book wcrc all
Germania contributions). Tc work would thcn bc criticiscd in a rigorous but constructivc
manncr by thc othcr mcmbcrs. At thc cnd ol thc lounding ccrcmony, lizabcth continucs,
thc lricnds plcdgcd thcmsclvcs to thc bond ol lricndship and community ol idcas, baptizcd
thc socicty Germania, and hurlcd thc cmpty bottlc into thc abyss.
Likc most socictics, Germania bcgan with a burst ol cnthusiasm but, thcn, undcr thc
prcssurc ol, in Fritzs words, schoolwork, dancing lcssons, lovc aairs, political cxcitc
gradually bccamc moribund, and thcn bankrupt, and was nally wound up in
July +86. Fritz provcd its most diligcnt mcmbcr, at lcast partly bccausc, having changcd
schools, hc approachcd bitur six months latcr than Vilhclm and Gustav.
uring Germanias lilctimc thc mcmbcrs contributcd and discusscd (in pcrson during thc
holidays, by corrcspondcncc during tcrmtimc) numcrous works by thcmsclvcs and othcrs.
Tcir most signicant purchascs wcrc, in +86+,
a piano rcduction ol thc scorc ol Vag
ncrs Tristan und Isolde (lour ycars bclorc its rst pcrlormancc) and a subscription to thc
Neue Zeitschrift f ur Musik, a magazinc loundcd by Schumann in +8, now dcdicatcd to
cxplaining and dclcnding Zukunftsmusik in gcncral, and Vagncrs music in particular.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Tc scorc ol Tristan was thc mcans by which Gustav nally convcrtcd Fritz to thc causc.
Tc convcrsion cxpcricncc, which happcncd cithcr in +86+ or +86:, consistcd in thc two ol
thcm playing through thc piano rcduction with lour hands as wcll as singing all thc parts.
lizabcth rcports that thc rcndition ol this music ol thc luturc by thcir powcrlul voiccs
rcmindcd hcr ol thc howling ol wolvcs and that a ccrtain dcal woman who livcd oppositc
us anxiously rushcd to hcr window whcn shc hcard thc lcarlul noisc that sccmcd to havc
pcnctratcd cvcn hcr cars bccausc shc thought thcrc must bc a rc somcwhcrc.
Tc original contributions
to thc socicty consistcd ol pocms and musical compositions
as wcll as lccturcs ol a litcrary, historical, musicological, and philosophical charactcr. Fritz
contributcd, inter alia, lour parts ol a Christmas Oratorio (tracks , and 6 on thc Vcb sitc
lor this book) inspircd by 8achs cponymous work and numcrous pocms including Six
Scrbian Folk Songs, translatcd by F. Nictzschc (Vilhclm wondcrcd how hc could havc
donc this givcn hc kncw no ScrboCroatian),
as wcll as lccturcs on 8yron, Napolcon !!!,
and his rst work ol philosophy, Fatc and Frccdom, writtcn in March +86:.
Mcanwhilc, at school, too, Fritz was bcginning to producc works ol signicancc. !n addi
tion to his classical studics, hc wrotc cxtcndcd cssays on, inter alios, H oldcrlin and 8yron,
on thc rmanarich Saga and othcr Norsc sagas, on thc origin and naturc ol civilization
and on thc naturc ol homcland. As hc gaincd insight into thc principlcs ol philological
criticism, hc was, morcovcr, bcginning to takc a morc critical stancc towards thc 8iblc.
Religious oubt
s wc havc sccn, Fritzs childhood was markcd by passionatc, rathcr than mcrcly con
vcntional, picty, a picty that spcaks unmistakably lrom his carly musical compositions
(listcn to tracks +, : and on thc Vcb sitc lor this book). His attitudc to thc 8iblc was
onc ol unqualicd bclicl. Picty as wcll as poctry is what hc had in common with his rst
gcnuinc school lricnd, Paul cusscn, also thc son ol a pastor and also intcnding to cntcr thc
ministry. Tis pious phasc culminatcd in thc two bcing conrmcd togcthcr in March +86+.
cusscn rccollccts:
! rcmcmbcr vcry wcll thc holy, worldcnchanting atmosphcrc which took posscssion ol
us during thc wccks bclorc and altcr our conrmation. Vc wcrc quitc prcparcd to dcpart
this lilc, to bc with Christ, and all our thinking, lccling, and striving was irradiatcd by an
othcrworldly chccrlulncss.
Almost immcdiatcly, howcvcr, lracturcs bcgan to appcar in thc labric ol Fritzs picty.
uring thc astcr holidays hc had a scrious quarrcl with Franziska which rcsultcd in a
lcttcr ol apology in markcd contrast to thc sunny acction ol thcir corrcspondcncc to datc:
And now, dcar Mamma, a word lor your cars alonc. To mc too it sccms that thc othcrwisc
so wondcrlul astcr holiday was ovcrshadowcd and darkcncd by thosc ugly cvcnts, and it
causcs mc grcat pain cach timc ! think ol it that ! upsct you so much. ! bcg you to lorgivc mc,
dcar Mamma: it would bc tcrriblc il this incidcnt wcrc to damagc our lovcly rclationship
with cach othcr. Forgivc mc, dcar Mamma, . . . From now on ! will try as hard as ! can,
through my bchaviour and lovc lor you, to hcal thc brcach.

Almost ccrtainly thc quarrcl conccrncd rcligion, Fritz having bcgun to rcad works whosc
scicntic approach to rcligion (in thc broad Gcrman scnsc according to which any rational
and disciplincd cnquiry counts as scicntic) would havc ocndcd Franziskas simplc tra
ditionalism. Shc was ccrtainly shockcd whcn, in Novcmbcr, hc rccommcndcd Karl von
Hascs rationalistic Life of Jesus to his sistcr.
cusscn conrms that scicncc was bcgin
ning to undcrminc Fritzs Christian laith. Tc rcligious intoxication at thc timc ol thcir
conrmation, hc writcs,
sincc it was an articially cultivatcd plant, could not last, and undcr thc inucncc ol our
daily cducation and lilc, dissipatcd as quickly as it arrivcd. Mcanwhilc wc prcscrvcd a ccr
tain dcgrcc ol bclicl until thc bitur cxams wcrc ovcr. Vhat undcrmincd it, without our
noticing, was thc supcrb historicalcritical mcthod which wc cmploycd, in Plorta, to tor
mcnt thc ancicnts and which thcn, quitc by itscll, applicd itscll to biblical mattcrs.
Tc historicalcritical mcthod is csscntially what Nictzschc cmploys in his maturc
philosophy to undcrminc Christianity and Christian morality. !n gcncral tcrms, it is thc
hcrmcncutics ol suspicion, closc qucstioning ol a tcxt guidcd by thc prcsumption that
thcrc is morc (or pcrhaps lcss) to it than mccts thc cyc and that what lails to mcct thc cyc is
probably, in onc way or anothcr, disrcputablc. 8ut, as cusscn notcs, thc mcthod is csscn
tially thc (as notcd, incipicntly subvcrsivc) disciplinc ol philology translcrrcd lrom classical
tcxts to thc 8iblc. Vhat was bcginning to happcn, thcrclorc, was thc rcsolution ol onc ol
thc contradictions inhcrcnt in thc Plorta worldvicw. Scicncc was bcginning to undcrminc
8y thc Spring ol +86:, in thc Fatc and History lccturc dclivcrcd to thc audicncc ol two
that, togcthcr with thc lccturcr, constitutcd thc synod ol thc Germania socicty, Fritz insists
on thc nccd and right to takc a lrcc and unpartisan vicw ol Christianity cvcn though oncs
upbringing madc it sccm almost a crimc. Yct, as wc will scc in discussing this cssay, Fritzs
aim is not rejection ol Christianity but rathcr its modernisation. Tc Christian lilclorm,
csscntial to thc labric ol socicty, is too valuablc to bc discardcd. 8ut its thcological bclicls
must bc rccast so as to accord, rathcr than conict with, modcrn scicncc. Tis qucst lor a
modcrniscd Christianity, wc shall scc, was ccmcntcd by avid Strausss Life of Jesus, which
Fritz rcad during his rst ycar at univcrsity.
Teenage Rebellion
ritzs cmcrgcncc lrom navc rcligiosity was accompanicd by a loray into thc gcncral
spirit ol tccnagc rcbcllion. Tis lastcd about a ycar, starting in thc spring ol +86:, altcr
which hc rcturncd to his accustomcd rolc and lclt Plorta in a blazc ol glory. Hc bcgan
kccping company with thc schools rcbcls, dubious charactcrs such as Guido Mcycr and
Raimund Granicr, dcnizcns ol Plortas undcrground countcrculturc. Togcthcr thcy would
makc lun ol thc schools cagcr bcavcrs as wcll as indulging in crimcs such as sccrct drinking,
smoking, and snutaking. Mcycr was in lact cxpcllcd in March +86 lor illcgal drinking,
which Fritz dcscribcd to his mothcr as a hcavyhandcd miscarriagc ol justicc and his saddcst
day at Plorta.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
n thc litcrary lcvcl, Fritz bccamc cnamourcd ol 8yron as an icon ol rcbcllion and sct out
on a path ol blasphcmous transgrcssion. Hc wrotc a novcllragmcnt, Euphorion in which
thc cponymous hcro imprcgnatcs a nun who thcn marrics hcr brothcr and thcn scnt it
to Granicr, his partncr in nihilism, proudly dcscribing it as disgusting, worth using only
as lavatory papcr.
A dcath wish cmcrgcs in his poctry that ! could, worldwcary/Fly
away/And likc thc swallow go south/Towards my gravc. !n anothcr pocm a drunk hurls a
bottlc ol schnapps at thc crucicd Christ.
Lcttcrs homc nowbcgan with thc pscudosophisticatcd dcar Pcoplc, as opposcd to car
Mamma, which carncd hima rcprimand. At school, too, thcrc was troublc. 8cing a prclcct,
Fritz was rcquircd to conduct survcys and rcport anything nccding rcpair in thc classrooms
or dormitorics. As a gcsturc ol mild rcbcllion, hc succumbcd to thc tcmptation to inscrt
into his rcports littlc jokcs such as thc bcnchcs in thc uppcr sccond, which wcrc paintcd
rcccntly, bccamc cxccssivcly attachcd to thosc who sat on thcm. For this hc was gatcd,
missing a prcarrangcd mccting with Franziska at Almrich. ncc again car Fritz has
bccn rcplaccd by My dcar son hc rcccivcs a hcavyhandcd rcprimand lrom homc:
Tank God that it is not a worsc punishmcnt, but lrankly . . . ! would havc cxpcctcd morc
tact lrom you. You will bc again chargcd with thc mistakc ol vanity, always wanting to do
somcthing dicrcnt lrom thc othcrs, and ! nd thc punishmcnt quitc justicd, lor it sccms
a tcrriblc prcsumptuousncss against thc tcachcrs to allow oncscll do somcthing likc this.
So plcasc in luturc bc morc carclul in your modc ol thought and action, lollow always your
bcttcr scll and you will bc prcscrvcd lrom all thc strilc and unquict ! havc obscrvcd in you
morc and morc.

Tccnagc rcbcllion camc to a hcad in April +86 whcn Fritz was discovcrcd by a mastcr,
complctcly drunk. Tis rcsultcd in his bcing strippcd ol his status as a prclcct and oncc
morc gatcd, so that again thc Sunday mccting with mothcr and sistcr had to bc canccllcd.
Again hc had to writc to his mothcr in a statc ol cxtrcmc cmbarrassmcnt:
car Mothcr il ! writc today its about onc ol thc most unplcasant and painlul incidcnts
!vc cvcry bccn rcsponsiblc lor. !n lact ! havc misbchavcd vcry badly and ! do not know
whcthcr you can or will lorgivc mc. ! pick up my pcn most rcluctantly and with a hcavy
hcart cspccially whcn ! call to mind our lovcly timc togcthcr during thc astcr holidays,
which wcrc ncvcr spoilcd by discord. Last Sunday ! got drunk and ! havc no cxcusc, cxccpt
that ! did not know how much ! could takc, and ! was rathcr cxcitcd in thc altcrnoon . . . |hc
was cclcbrating coming top in cndolycar cxams|. You can imaginc how ashamcd and
dcprcsscd ! am to havc causcd you such sorrow with such an unworthy talc as ! havc ncvcr
causcd you in my lilc bclorc. !t also makcs mc lccl vcry sorry on Pastor Klctschkcs account
|thc school chaplain whom Fritz had choscn to succccd Hcinzc as his tutor, and who had
madc him a scnior prclcct| . . . Vritc mc vcry soon and vcry strictly lor !vc dcscrvcd it as
no onc knows morc than ! . . . writc mc vcry soon and dont bc too cross, dcar mothcr. \cry
dcprcsscd, Fritz.

Tc magnitudc ol this incidcnt sccms to havc lanccd thc boil ol rcbcllion, sincc lrom now
on his namc makcs no lurthcr appcarancc in thc Plorta punishmcnt book. 8ut it lclt him

with a lilclong distrust ol alcohol. !n Ecce Homo hc attributcs his prclcrcncc lor watcr ovcr
spirituous drinks to having almost turncd into a sailor whilc at Plorta.

Fritzs nal ycar at Plorta was dominatcd by thc qucstion ol what should bccomc his Brot-
studium, brcadwinning coursc ol study. As a scholarship boy lrom a poor background hc
had no option but to think scriously about brcadwinning. Multitalcntcd as hc was, hc com
plaincd that a choicc ol prolcssion was a lottogamc.
For a timc hc thought ol music,
cvcrything sccms to mc dcad whcn ! cant hcar music, hc wrotc his mothcr.

!n thc cnd, ol
coursc, hc dccidcd lor that to which Plorta, both by training and idcology, had prcdcstincd
him classics, classical philology. As hc wrotc in +86,
nly at thc cnd ol my Plorta lilc, having achicvcd propcr scllknowlcdgc, did ! givc up
all artistic lilcplans: into thc rcsulting gap stcppcd philology. ! nccdcd, that is, to achicvc
cquanimity in thc lacc ol thc ux ol disquicting inclinations, a disciplinc (!issenschaft)
that could bc pursucd with cquanimity in thc lacc ol thc changcablc and disquicting ux ol
inclinations, a disciplinc which could bc conductcd with cool lcvclhcadcdncss and logical
coldncss routinc work without its rcsults stirring thc hcart.
Vhat this rcvcals, apart lrom Nictzschcs passion lor Prussian order, is that, though hc
lovcd thc Grccks, hc did not lovc philology a lact that would bc sccntcd out by Ulrich
Vilamowitz in a rcvicw ol his rst book that, wc shall scc, was intcndcd to drivc him out
ol thc prolcssion. !n choosing a carccr path lor which hc had no passion Nictzschc was
storing up an agonising dilcmma that, onc day, hc would havc to rcsolvc.
New Iriends

uring his nal months at school, Fritz rccogniscd with sadncss that with Vilhclm
and Gustav bound lor univcrsity in Hcidclbcrg, which did not rccommcnd itscll to a
philologist, hc lricndship with thcm was wcakcning. Two ncw lricndships, howcvcr, wcrc
bcginning to blossom in thcir placc: rst, as notcd, with Paul cusscn,

and soon altcr

with 8aron Carl von Gcrsdor (scc Platc +), thc atypical product ol a Prussian Junkcr

At rst Carl and Fritz wcrc drawn togcthcr by a common intcrcst in music,
mccting cach othcr lor thc rst timc in thc Plorta music room. Carl was bowlcd ovcr by
Fritzs piano improvisation, rcmarking that hc would havc no diculty in bclicving that
cvcn 8ccthovcn did not improvisc in morc moving manncr than Nictzschc, particularly
whcn a thundcr storm was thrcatcning.

8y thc timc thcy lclt school thcy had movcd

Likc Nictzschc, cusscn bcgan acadcmic lilc as a Grcck philologist. 8ut thcn, via Schopcnhaucr,
hc branchcd out into astcrn thought, bccoming a lull prolcssor in 8crlin and onc ol thc grcat
oricntalists ol his day.

Following thc Junkcr tradition, von Gcrsdor lought in both thc AustroPrussian war ol +866
and thc FrancoPrussian war ol +8o+. nc ol his cldcr brothcrs dicd in thc lormcr, anothcr
in thc lattcr, thc sccond bcing awardcd thc !ron Cross. Although hc was lorccd to takc ovcr thc
administration ol thc lamily cstatc, von Gcrsdor s rcal dcsirc was to bc an artist. Hc spokc at
Nictzschcs luncral in +oo. !n +o, showing incrcasing symptoms ol mcntal illncss, hc committcd
suicidc by throwing himscll out ol a window.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
lrom thc lormal to thc lamiliar you (lrom Sie to du), thcn, cvcn morc than now, a major
stcp in pcrsonal rclations bctwccn Gcrmans.
!n :oo: a book appcarcd cntitlcd Zarathustras Secret
in which undctcrrcd by thc com
plctc abscncc ol cvidcncc thc author madc thc scnsational claim that Zarathustras (i.c.,
Nictzschcs) guilty sccrct was that hc was gay. !t is worth rccording, thcrclorc, that both
cusscn and von Gcrsdor wcrc thoroughly hctcroscxual. And that Fritz himscll, in his
pcnultimatc school ycar, was attractcd to Anna Rcdtcl, thc sistcr ol a school acquaintancc,
with whom, whcn shc visitcd hcr grandparcnts in K oscn (bctwccn Plorta and Naumburg),
hc playcd piano ducts. To hcr hc dcdicatcd a collcction ol his carly compositions, licdcr and
piano picccs.
Fritz and his malc lricnds wrotc to cach othcr in thc most lulsomc tcrms. Tcy miss cach
othcr tcrribly and long lor thc holidays whcn thcy will bc togcthcr oncc morc. And as was
thc lashion throughout latc \ictorian uropc, thcy constantly cxchangcd photographs ol
cach othcr. Vhcrcas a hcalthy modcrn schoolboy would likcly havc photographs ol largc
brcastcd lm stars on his walls, Fritz dccoratcd thc walls ol his room with photographs ol
his lricnds.
Vcrc thcsc gay rclationships: Tcy wcrc not. Flowing cxprcssions ol undying lovc lor
oncs lricnd, though pcrhaps startling to somconc brought up in thc cmotional constipation
ol todays malctomalc communication, wcrc a \ictorian commonplacc. Vcrc homocrotic
lcclings involvcd: Quitc possibly. For \ictorian mcn who had spcnt thcir lormativc ycars in
singlcscx boarding schools which cncouragcd thcmto idcalisc thc livcs ol Grcck aristocrats,
it was natural to rcscrvc thcir most intimatc and tcndcr lcclings lor thosc ol thcir own scx.
And in this rcgard, Fritz was no cxccption. 8ut il Nictzschc was gay thcn so wcrc thc grcat
majority ol middlcclass \ictorian mcn.
Ieaving School
ritz lclt Plorta, just short ol his twcnticth birthday, adjudgcd thc ncst pupil lor many
ycars. Supcrbly traincd by tcachcrs who would go back and lorth bctwccn positions
at Plorta and chairs at thc bcst univcrsitics, hc was alrcady lully cquippcd to bccomc a
prolcssional classical philologist. A brilliant luturc lay bclorc him. Two clouds, howcvcr,
hung ovcr his hcad.
Tc rst was his hcalth. Givcn thc Spartan rcgimc ol thc school, onc did not show up
in thc mcdical rccords unlcss onc was unmistakably sick. Yct in his six ycars at Plorta Fritz
was conncd to thc inrmary no lcss than cightccn timcs an avcragc ol thrcc timcs a
ycar. n two occasions thc illncss was so scvcrc that hc was scnt homc to convalcscc.
Mainly hc sucrcd lrom various kinds ol u, but thcsc attacks wcrc always accompanicd
by hcadachcs, which also aictcd him on many othcr occasions. As wc shall scc, blinding
and incapacitating hcadachcattacks accompanicd by nausca and vomiting would plaguc
his cntirc adult lilc.
Nictzschcs hcadachcs may havc had a physical causc. 8ut thcy wcrc likcly cxaccrbatcd by
his cxtrcmc shortsightcdncss and by thc strain imposcd by prodigious amounts ol rcading.
(ltcn hc rcad through an cntirc night, his loot in a buckct ol lrcczing watcr to prcvcnt him
lalling aslccp.

) Morcovcr, thcrc also sccms to havc bccn a psychosomatic clcmcnt in at lcast

thc timing ol thc attacks: strcss sccms to havc madc him morc vulncrablc. Tc ycar +86:,
lor instancc, was particularly bad hc appcarcd in thc inrmarys mcdical rccord lour timcs

and was cvcntually scnt homc to convalcscc a pcriod ol illhcalth that coincidcd with his
irtation with thc conluscd nihilismol thc Plorta countcrculturc. And in thc lollowing ycar,
thc cxtrcmc dcprcssion cxprcsscd in thc April +6 lcttcr homc conlcssing thc drunkcnncss
cpisodc (p. o abovc) was lollowcd by conncmcnt to thc inrmary lrom April : until
May and thcn again lrom May to May :o.
Tat a sccond cloud hung ovcr Fritzs dcparturc lrom Plorta is suggcstcd by a pocm
writtcn during his nal days at school. !t rcads, in part,
Once more before I tra.el on
nd cast my glance for.ard
In my solitude I raise my hands
Up to you, my refuge,
To .hom in the deepest depths of my heart
I ha.e solemnly dedicated altars
So that for all time
Your .oice al.ays calls me back.
On them, deeply engra.ed, shines
Te .ord: to the unkno.n god. . . .
I must kno. you, unkno.n one
You .ho reach deep into my soul . . .

Philological sophistication, wc havc sccn, dcprivcd Nictzschc ol thc simplc Naumburg laith
ol his childhood. Tough this in no way lcd him to athcism thc yearning lor God was
undiminishcd hc no longcr kncw who God was. God had bccomc thc unknown god
(thc Grcck dcsignation may havc comc to him via H oldcrlins !n Lovcly 8lucncss). God
had bccomc a qucst, and would rcmain so lor thc rcmaindcr ol his lilc.
Literary Works
t would bc casy to dismiss thc litcrary works ol thc Plorta ycars as juvcnilia. 8ut that
would bc a mistakc, sincc many ol thc major thcmcs ol his maturc philosophy (thc two
cxccptions arc thc will to powcr and thc ctcrnal rcturn ol thc samc) rcccivc thcir rst airing
in thcsc tccnagc works. Nictzschc did not, ol coursc, rctain his tccnagc vicws unmodicd
throughout his lilc. Noncthclcss, undcrstanding thcsc vicws is crucial to an undcrstanding
ol what rcally conccrncd him. ! shall ordcr thc discussion by topics rathcr than tcxts, dis
cussing his vicws on rcligion, music, Grcck tragcdy, poctry, politics and morality, homcland
vcrsus cosmopolitanism, and lrccdom ol thc will in that ordcr.

n thc Childhood ol Pcoplcs,

a lccturc dclivcrcd to thc Germanias audicncc ol two

on March :, +86+, contains thc bcginnings ol Nictzschcs lilclong mcditation on
thc origin ol rcligion. From a scvcntccnycarold, it is an imprcssivc work.
Tc most lundamcntal posscssion ol a !olk |pcoplc|, Fritz argucs, is a common languagc.
Tis is truc by dcnition, sincc a sharcd languagc is what constitutcs a group ol individuals as

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
a pcoplc. 8ut thc ncxt most lundamcntal lcaturc is a sharcd rcligion. At thc most primitivc
stagc ol civilization, Fritz hypothcsiscs, pcoplcs considcrcd thcmsclvcs Gods childrcn. Tcr
ricd by his powcr, which spcaks to thcm in thundcr and lightning, thcy scck his hclp and
lorgivcncss lor thcir sins through praycr and sacricc. Tis rst and most natural rcligion
worships a God who is immancnt in natural phcnomcna thc truth that God is a supra
natural rathcr than natural bcing rcmaincd unknown to thcm. !n timc, howcvcr, primordial
monothcism acquircd thc hcathcn accrction ol polythcism. vcn thc Jcws wcrc polythc
ists, rcgarding Jchovah, thc God ol !sracl, mcrcly as thc highcst ol thc gods, occupying a
kingly rolc with rcspcct to thc othcrs. Tc various natural lorccs and thc dicrcnt scasons,
sccming to rcprcscnt dicrcnt godly powcrs, gcncratcd thc dim rcprcscntation ol a multi
plicity ol supcrnatural agcncics govcrning thc dcstiny ol cach individual. Tc notion that
somc ol thcsc spirits wcrc bcncvolcnt and othcrs malcvolcnt arosc in a natural way, and
cvcryonc bccamc cagcr to cnjoy thc lavour ol thc bcncvolcnt oncs. Tcn prolound mcn,
prcscnting thcmsclvcs as mcsscngcrs ol thc gods, loundcd a ncw lorm ol rcligion by attach
ing thc loundations ol morality to thcological bclicl and propagating thc rcsulting synthcsis
ol gods and morals among thcir pcoplc. Tis is how thc rcligions ol thc most spiritually rich
nations ol antiquity arosc. 8ut, Fritz concludcs, history shows that
cvcrmaturing rcligious thought lcads towards a standpoint lrom which thc dcmand lor
a purc, natural doctrinc is satiscd, whcrc cnlightcncd philosophcrs rcturn us to a singlc
God as thc primordial sourcc ol all bcing. !t is thc mission ol thc Christian rcligion to
cxpcditc this proccss, not through stcpping in and dcstroying hcathcn rcligion by lorcc, but
by awakcning thc natural nccd lor a kindlicr tcaching. |Fritz is surcly thinking, hcrc, ol thc
Gcrman missionarics in Alrica to whom hc and lizabcth, in thcir childhood, had donatcd
thcir sccondbcst toys.| Just as ncccssary, howcvcr, and rcquircd by thc loundational idca
ol Christianity, is thc lovc which lcads thcm out ol thcir unblcsscd condition and into thc
arms ol thc Church through which alonc salvation can bc attaincd.
Tis is clcarly writtcn within thc paramctcrs ol Christian thcology, which constrain him
to postulatc monothcism as thc rst and most natural idca ol thc divinc a implausiblc
hypothcsis hc latcr rcjccts. Noncthclcss, thc lact that hc thinks rcligion has an origin rcvcals
alrcady a ccrtain dctachmcnt lrom Christian laith: as hc says in thc Genealogy of Morals, thc
mcrc rccognition that rcligious bclicl has a history undcrmincs thc assumption that it is thc
product ol divinc rcvclation.
8y thc lollowing ycar, howcvcr, Fritzs proccss ol dctaching himscll lrom navc Chris
tianity has bccomc much morc advanccd. !n thc astcr holidays, in Fatc and His
anothcr Germania lccturc, hc writcs that
!l wc could cxaminc Christian doctrinc and Church history with a lrcc, unconstraincd cyc,
wc would bc compcllcd to arrivc at many conclusions which contradict gcncrally acccpt
cd idcas. 8ut rcstrictcd as wc arc lrom our rst days by thc yokc ol habit and prcjudicc,
rcstrictcd in thc dcvclopmcnt ol our intcllccts and prcdctcrmincd in thc dcvclopmcnt ol
our charactcr by thc stamp ol childhood, wc arc lorccd to rcgard it as almost a sin |by,
ol coursc, Franziska| il wc choosc to adopt a lrcc standpoint, and hit upon an unpartisan
judgmcnt about rcligion appropriatc to thc agc in which wc livc.

So Fritz dcclarcs his right ol dctachmcnt latcr hc will call this bccoming a lrcc spirit a
dcsirc to vicw rcligion lrom thc pcrspcctivc ol thc cducatcd knowlcdgc ol his agc. 8ut with,
lor his ycars, a rcmarkably maturc scnsc ol intcllcctual rcsponsibility to his community and
its grcat tradition, hc continucs,
such an attcmpt is not thc work ol a lcw wccks but ol an cntirc lilctimc. For how could
wc, armcd with thc rcsults ol mcrc adolcsccnt broodings, annihilatc thc authority ol two
thousand ycars and thc tcstimony ol thc grcatcst minds: How could onc, with lantasics
and immaturc idcas, discount all thc dccp joys, blcssings and sorrows bclonging to thc
dcvclopmcnt ol rcligion in thc history ol thc world: !t is shccr arrogancc to try to solvc
philosophical problcms about which thcrc havc bccn conicting opinions lor two thousand
ycars, or to ovcrthrow bclicls which, according to thc convictions ol thc highcst intcllccts,
arc alonc capablc ol clcvating thc animal man into a truc man, or to unitc natural scicncc
and philosophy without knowing thc principal rcsults ol cithcr. r, nally, to construct a
systcm ol rcality out ol natural scicncc and history, whilc thc unity ol world history and thc
lundamcntal principlcs thcrcol havc not yct bccn rcvcalcd to thc human mind.
And now wc comc to thc rst appcarancc ol what may bc callcd thc Columbus imagc, thc
imagc ol philosophcr as scalarcr, that rccurs throughout his maturc philosophy:
To darc to launch out on thc sca ol doubt without compass or guidc is dcath and dcstruction
lor undcvclopcd hcads, most arc struck down by storms, lcw discovcr ncw lands. From thc
midst ol this immcasurablc occan ol idcas onc will oltcn long to bc back on rm land.
Noncthclcss Fritz rcmains rcsolutc in his commitmcnt to thc scicntic outlook ol his agc:
history and scicncc, thc wondcrlul lcgacy ol our wholc past and thc hcrald ol our luturc, arc
thc solc loundation on which wc can build thc towcr ol our spcculations. And, anticipating
Te Gay Sciences lorcbodings conccrning thc conscqucnccs ol thc dcath ol God, hc docs
not disguisc thc lact that thc conscqucnccs ol thc contcmporary outlook arc going to bc
Vc stand at thc thrcshold ol a grcat rcvolution whcn thc mass ol mankind rst grasps
that thc wholc labric ol Christianity rcsts on |mcrc| assumptions: thc cxistcncc ol God,
immortality, thc authority ol thc 8iblc will always rcmain problcmatic.
And thcn (anticipating Te Gay Sciences important linc, nly as crcators can wc dcstroy

an aphorism pointing to thc lact that Nictzschc is not just a dcconstructionist) hc writcs,
! havc madc thc attcmpt |!ersuch| to dcny cvcrything. h, dcstruction is casy but to
construct! And cvcn dcstruction sccms casicr than it rcally is sincc wc arc so inucnccd
in our inncrmost bcing by thc stamp ol our childhood, thc inucncc ol our parcnts and
cducation, so that thcsc dccply cmbcddcd prcjudiccs arc by no mcans casily uprootcd by
rational argumcnts.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Tc rcsult can oltcn bc thc backsliding, thc loss ol intcllcctual intcgrity, which, in Human,
ll-Too-Human, will bc picturcd as thc lrcc spirits rcturn to a lost lovc, whcthcr shc bc
callcd rcligion or mctaphysics:
Forcc ol habit, thc nccd lor somcthing highcr, |lcar ol| thc dissolution ol all social lorms
ght a dctcrmincd battlc with thc suspicion ol having bccn mislcd lor two thousand ycars
by a miragc . . . until in thc cnd sad and bittcr cxpcricnccs lcad us back to thc old childish
Nonc ol thc abovc, howcvcr, amounts as yct to a rcjcction ol Christianity. Vhat Fritz
sccks, rathcr, is its modcrnisation, a rcconciliation bctwccn rcligion and thc naturalistic
outlook ol his agc. Hcrc is what hc writcs to Vilhclm and Gustav in April +86::
Christianity is not latalistic . . . only whcn wc rccognisc that wc arc rcsponsiblc lor oursclvcs,
and that a lailurc to livc a mcaninglul lilc can bc ascribcd only to oursclvcs, not to any
kind ol a highcr lorcc, will thc loundational idca ol Christianity cntcr thc kcrncl ol our
bcing. Christianity is csscntially a mattcr ol thc hcart: only whcn wc cmbody it, whcn it
has bccomc our inncrmost naturc, havc wc bccomc truc Christians. At bottom, thc tcach
ing ol Christianity cxprcsscs only thc lundamcntal idcas ol thc human hcart. Tcy arc
symbols . . .

!n Te ntichrist, virtually thc last thing hc cvcr wrotc, Nictzschc claims that lor thc his
torical Jcsus, thc kingdom ol hcavcn is in thc hcart. Tc rcal Jcsus, that is, was an cth
ical tcachcr, rathcr likc thc 8uddha, who taught thc achicvcmcnt ol a statc ol inncr pcacc
through thc practicc ol univcrsal and unconditional lovc. Hc had no mctaphysical bclicls
at all thc translormation ol hcavcn into a supcrnatural postmortcm dcstination was a
pcrvcrsion ol his tcachings by St. Paul. Tis is thc point hc makcs hcrc: bcing a Christian is
a mattcr ol living thc cthics ol lovc, not ol bclicving in a lilcgovcrning, supcrnatural lorcc.
!n an cssay writtcn at about thc samc timc as Fatc and History, Fritz attacks thc dclusion
ol a supcrnatural world as somcthing that lcads mankind into a lalsc stancc towards thc
natural world: by making thc supcrnatural thc locus ol all that is holy, mctaphysical Chris
tianity dcvalucs, dcdiviniscs thc natural, actual world. Tis quitc wrong undcrstanding
ol Christianity is a naivc product ol thc childhood ol pcoplcs sincc that God bccamc man
shows only that man is not to scck his bliss in thc innitc, but to scck it on carth. And thcn
Fritz rcmarks that only through bcaring thc burdcn ol doubt and strugglc docs humankind
arrivc at its humanity: it rccogniscs in itscll thc bcginning, middlc and cnd ol rcligion.
Tc nal rcmark hcrc is in lact a quotation lrom Ludwig Fcucrbachs Te Essence of Chris-
tianity (translatcd into nglish by Gcorgc liot).
Fcucrbachs, at thc timc, rcvolutionary
pronounccmcnt was that all gods arc human crcations, projcctions ol human conccptions
ol pcrlcction crudcly put, rolc modcls. Tis cxplains Fritzs claim that what Christianity
dcals in arc csscntially symbols. Rightly undcrstood, Jcsus is not a gatcway to anothcr lilc
but a rolc modcl lor this onc.
!n sum, thcn, by +86: Nictzschc had clcarly rcjcctcd mctaphysical Christianity, but
cqually clcarly rcmaincd lully committcd to cthical Christianity prcciscly thc position
bcing adoptcd, at about thc samc timc, by Gcorgc liot. Vhcn, thcrclorc, in T.ilight of
the Idols, hc criticiscs hcr as a littlc moralistic lcmalc lacking thc brains to rcalisc that

Christianity is a packagc dcal, that its cthics makcs no scnsc without its mctaphysics,
is also criticising his lormcr scll.
8y +86:, thcn, Nictzschc, whilc rcmaining committcd to its cthics, had abandoncd thc
mctaphysics ol Christianity. Tc qucstion rcmains, howcvcr, as to whcthcr hc had completely
succumbcd to thc positivist spirit ol his agc: whcthcr hc had complctcly rcjcctcd thc supra
natural, or whcthcr somcthing bcyond thc physical, somcthing mctaphysical, rcmaincd
in his outlook. To answcr this qucstion, wc nccd to turn to his writings on art, abovc all on
c sawin thc rst chaptcr thc inscparablc conncxion in Nictzschcs childhood bctwccn
music and rcligion. Ncarly all his intcnsc musical cxpcricnccs wcrc ol sacrcd music,
ncarly all thc choral compositions ol his carly ycars wcrc sacrcd picccs. Tis conncxion is
cnshrincd in his carlicst contribution to thc philosophy ol music in an autobiographical
lragmcnt ol +88:
God has givcn us music so that abo.e all it might lcad us upwards. Music unitcs all qualitics:
it can cxalt us, divcrt us, chccr us up, or brcak thc hardcst ol hcarts with thc soltncss ol its
mclancholy toncs. 8ut its principal task is to lcad our thoughts to highcr things, to clcvatc,
cvcn to makc us trcmblc. Abovc all, this is thc purposc ol Church music . . . Tc musical
art oltcn spcaks in sounds morc pcnctrating than thc words ol poctry, and takcs hold ol
thc most hiddcn crcviccs ol thc hcart. 8ut cvcrything God scnds to us can bring us to
blcsscdncss only whcn it is uscd in a wisc and propcr way. Tus song clcvatcs our bcing and
lcads it to thc good and thc truc. !l, howcvcr, music scrvcs only as a divcrsion or as a kind ol
vain ostcntation it is sinlul and harmlul. Yct this lault is vcry lrcqucnt, almost all ol modcrn
music is guilty ol it. Anothcr rcgrcttablc phcnomcnon is that many modcrn composcrs try
to writc as obscurcly as possiblc. 8ut prcciscly thcsc articial corts, which possibly charm
thc connoisscur, lcavc thc hcalthy human car cold . . . abovc all socallcd Zukunftsmusik ol a
Liszt, or a 8crlioz |or a Vagncr| that strivcs to bc, at all costs, dicrcnt.

Trcc thcmcs manilcst thcmsclvcs hcrc. First, thc puritanical conccption that cithcr music
guidcs our thoughts to highcr things or clsc it is sinlul. Sccond, thc idca that sinlul music
comcs in two lorms, low cntcrtainmcnt and high obscurantism. And third, Fritzs innatc
musical conscrvatism: thc autobiographical lragmcnt gocs on to spcak ol his hatrcd ol all
modcrn music, by which hc mcans Zukunftsmusik. Mozart, Haidn (sic), Schubcrt, and
Mcndclssohn, 8ccthovcn and Handcl, thcsc arc thc pillars on which alonc Gcrman music
and ! myscll arc loundcd,

hc statcs dcantly.
Tcsc samc thcmcs appcar thrcc ycars latcr thc lollowing lcttcr to Vilhclm and Gustav
ol January +86+, thc ycar in which hc wrotc lour parts ol a Christmas Oratorio (p. :8 abovc):
Although until nowthc oratorio has always bccn bclicvcd to hold thc samc placc in spiritual
music as docs opcra in worldly music, this opinion sccms wrong to mc, and cvcn a dispar
agcmcnt ol oratorio. !n and ol itscll, thc oratorio is alrcady ol a wondcrlul simplicity, and
indccd, as uplilting and indccd strictly rcligiously uplilting music, it must bc so. Hcncc thc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
oratorio spurns all thosc othcr mcans that opcra uscs lor cccts, no onc can takc it lor just
somcthing incidcntal, as opcratic music still is lor thc masscs. !t cxcitcs no othcr scnsc than
our hcaring. !ts contcnt, too, is innitcly simplcr and morc sublimc and, lor thc most part,
is lamiliar and casily comprchcnsiblc to cvcn an uncducatcd audicncc. Tis is why ! bclicvc
that, in its musical gcnus, oratorio stands at a highcr lcvcl than opcra in that its mcans arc
simplcr, its ccct morc immcdiatc, and its rcccption at lcast ought to bc widcr. !l this is not
thc casc thc causc must bc sought not in thc typc ol music itscll, but partly in thc trcatmcnt
and partly in thc lack ol scriousncss ol our timcs. How can a composition that is dividcd
into many disconncctcd parts makc a unicd and, abovc all, holy imprcssion: . . . Sccondly,
a disadvantagc is in thc much too articial, authcntic (alt. aterisch) mcthod ol pcrlormancc
which bclongs morc in thc study than in our churchcs and auditoriums, and cnsurcs that
music will bc hard, indccd impossiblc, lor thc musically uncducatcd to undcrstand . . . Tc
principal rcason, howcvcr, that thc oratorio is not vcry popular is to bc sought in thc lact
that its music oltcn contains an unholy mixturc ol prolanc clcmcnts. And this is thc prin
cipal rcquircmcnt, that it carry in all its parts, thc cvidcnt mark ol thc sacrcd, thc divinc.

Again wc nd thc dcmand that music lcad our thoughts to thc divinc, and that it bc acccss
iblc to ordinary pcoplc. Tis timc, howcvcr, not willul obscurity by composcrs but pcttilog
ging insistcncc on authcnticity by pcrlormcrs a pcdantic insistcncc on an original stylc
ol pcrlormancc rathcr than onc suitcd to thc contcmporary car is idcnticd as that which
blocks acccssibility. ( Just as Christianity must modcrnisc to rcmain a living phcnomcnon,
so must musical pcrlormancc.) And what wc now nd idcnticd as thc sinlul antithcsis ol
thc propcr usc ol music is cxplicitly idcnticd as opcra. Tis is intcrcsting bccausc altcr hc
bccamc a Vagncrian thc samc puritanical rcjcction ol opcra occurs. Tc only dicrcncc,
as wc shall scc, is that, now, in placc ol oratorio, thc Vagncrian musicdrama has bccomc
thc paradigm ol good music. Tis is bccausc, likc Vagncr himscll, Nictzschc undcrstands
thc musicdrama as pcrlorming a rcligious lunction. And whcn hc turns against Vagncr
it is bccausc hc has changcd his mind about Vagncrs music and dccidcd that it is, altcr
all, mcrcly opcra, chcap sinlul cntcrtainmcnt. Continuous through all thcsc changcs
is Nictzschcs musical picty. vcn altcr thc loss ol his Christian laith, good music, ! shall
suggcst, at lcast until thc timc hc bcgins to losc his sanity, is, in onc way or anothcr, sacrcd
8y +86: Fritz has abandoncd thc navc, mctaphysical Christianity ol his mothcr. Posi
tivism, howcvcr, docs not claim him. Tus, discussing thc csscncc ol music in carly +86,
hc writcs that thc grcat composcr must bc inspircd by an indcnablc Somcthing, thc dac
thc communication ol this dacmonic Somcthing is thc highcst dcmand thc artistic undcr
standing must satisly. Tis, howcvcr, is ncithcr a scnsation nor knowlcdgc, but rathcr a dim
intimation ol thc divinc. Trough movcmcnt thcrc comcs into bcing a lccling, lrom out ol
which hcavcn suddcnly shincs lorth.
Similar scntimcnts arc cxprcsscd in July +86, right at thc cnd ol his Plorta days, in a lct
tcr to a lcllow pupil, Rudoll 8uddcnsicg.

8uddcnsicg had sought to suggcst that music

produccs its cccts by stimulating thc samc parts ol thc ncrvous systcm as all thc othcr
highcr arts. Fritz rcplics that this dcscribcs mcrcly thc physical ccct ol music. Much morc

important is thc lact that it produccs a spiritual intuition, which, by mcans ol its uniqucncss,
grcatncss and suggcstivc powcr, works likc a suddcn miraclc. o not think that thc ground
ol this cmotional intuition lics in scnsation: rathcr it lics in thc highcst and ncst part ol
thc knowing spirit. !snt it thc samc lor you, too, as though somcthing bcyond, unsus
pcctcd, is discloscd: ont you scnsc, that you havc bccn transportcd into anothcr rcalm,
which is normally hiddcn lrom mcn: . . . Nothing in art surpasscs this ccct . . . |Vriting| to
a lricnd morc than two ycars ago ! namcd thc ccct somcthing dacmonic. !l thcrc can bc
intimations ol highcr worlds hcrc is whcrc thcy arc conccalcd.
ight ycars latcr, thc dacmonic appcars in Nictzschcs rst book, Te Birth of Tragedy, as
thc ionysian. !t constitutcs thc spirit ol music out ol which, Grcck tragcdy, thc highcst
art cvcr produccd, is born.
!n his maturc philosophy Nictzschc attacks what hc calls artdcication:
Art raiscs its hcad whcn thc rcligions rclax thcir hold. !t takcs ovcr a host ol moods and
lcclings cngcndcrcd by rcligion, lays thcm to its hcart and itscll grows morc prolound and
soullul . . . Tc nlightcnmcnt, undcrmincd thc dogmas ol rcligion and inspircd a lunda
mcntal distrust ol thcm, so that thc lcclings cxpcllcd lrom thc sphcrc ol rcligion by thc
nlightcnmcnt throw thcmsclvcs into art,

abovc all into music. Tc important point hcrc is that, rst and lorcmost, this is autobi
ography. Fritzs own cnlightcnmcnt during thc Plorta ycars rcquircd him to abandon thc
navc thcological dogma ol his upbringing. Tc ccct, howcvcr, was not not yct to turn
him into a positivist, but to causc him to rclocatc thc bcyond in a dogmalrcc domain
acccssiblc through art. Fritzs picty bccamc a picty towards art.

As thc continuation ol rcligion by othcr mcans, music bccomcs, lor Fritz, thc primary
lorm ol art and thcrclorc thc primary activity ol lilc. 8ut it is also primary in two othcr
First, it is prior to languagc:
thc oldcr a languagc thc richcr in sounds it is, so that oltcn it cannot bc distinguishcd lrom
song. Tc oldcst languagcs, that is, had lcw words and no univcrsal conccpts. nc can
almost asscrt that thcy wcrc languagcs ol lccling rathcr than languagcs ol words.
Tis idca that thc rst lorm ol human communication was morc likc wordlcss song than
what wc would rccognisc as languagc

lcads, in Nictzschcs maturc philosophy, to a suspi

cion ol words, paradoxical in onc ol thc suprcmc wordsmiths ol thc Gcrman languagc. Tc
morc wordy wc bccomc, hc suggcsts in !agner at Bayreuth, thc morc distant wc bccomc
lrom truc lccling and insight.
Tc othcr contcxt in which thc primacy ol music appcars is in Fritzs analysis ol thc origin
and naturc ol Grcck tragcdy.

Tc idca originatcs with Rousscau, Condillac, and Hcrdcr and plays an important rolc in Vagncrs
Opera and Drama (+8:), which is possibly thc morc or lcss dircct routc by which it camc to Nictz
schc. !t has rcccntly bccn rcvivcd in thc archacologist Stcphcn Mithcns Te Singing Neanderthals
(Mithcn :oo).

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
hc lull titlc ol Nictzschcs rst book, which appcarcd in +8:, is Te Birth of Tragedy out
of the Spirit of Music. Rcmarkably, howcvcr, thc lragmcnts rcmaining lrom thc Plorta
pcriod makc it clcar that thc most lundamcntal, rcvolutionary idca ol this book had alrcady
bccn workcd out bclorc hc lclt school.
!n Toughts Conccrning Choral Music in Tragcdy, writtcn in thc spring ol +86, Fritz
writcs that whilc thc Gcrman dramas dcvclopcd lrom thc cpic,
thc origin ol Grcck drama lay in thc lyric, unicd with musical clcmcnts . . . Still, in thc
oldcst prcscrvcd tragcdics ol Acschylus, thc chorus has by lar thc most dominant rolc,
thc spccchcs in bctwccn oltcn scrvc only to introducc a ncw motil which altcrs thc mood
ol thc chorus and ncccssitatcs a dcvclopmcnt ol lccling. Admittcdly thc chorus gradually
rctrcatcd as thc action was movcd out ol it and into thc parts bctwccn |thc choral pas
sagcs|. !t rctaincd signicancc only bccausc it containcd thc musical clcmcnt csscntial to
tragcdy il it wcrc to havc a gcnuincly tragic ccct. Conccrning this tragic ccct thc Grccks
thought dicrcntly lrom us: it was introduccd in thc sccncs ol grcat pathos, grcat outpour
ings ol cmotion, mainly musical, in which action playcd only a small part. Lyrical lccling,
by contrast |with us|, was cvcrything. Tc chorus in thcsc sccncs containcd onc ol thc most
important, and, lor thc succcss ol thc tragcdy, dccisivc momcnts, thc music in thc tragcdy.
!t is ccrtainly a wcllgroundcd hypothcsis to asscrt that at its highcst point . . . thc cntirc
tragcdy, and not just thc choral parts, is govcrncd by thc ordcr and proportions ol a musical
plan. Vhat is strophc and antistrophc othcr than a musical symmctry:
Not only is Te Births thcsis ol thc primacy ol thc chorus prcscntcd in this cssay, but so too
(now hc has bccn convcrtcd by Gustav) is its thcsis ol thc rcbirth ol tragcdy in Vagncrs
musicdramas: thc mcaninglcssncss ol todays opcra, somcthing which in thcir primc thc
nclccling Grccks would ncvcr havc tolcratcd, is somcthing wc nccd rcscuing lrom by
Richard Vagncrs brilliant dccds and plans ol rclorm. !n thc grcat tragcdics ol thc Grccks,
Fritz concludcs, thc Vagncrian Gesamtkunst.erk (thc collcctivc artwork in which all thc
individual arts arc collcctcd togcthcr) is prcgurcd: in thc Grcck tragcdics wc nd that
which thc ncwcst musical school scts lorth as thc artwork ol thc luturc |Vagncrs tcrm
lor thc collcctivc artwork|, works in which thc noblcst ol thc arts lound thcir way into a har
monic unity.
Tat thc Vagncrasthcsaviourolartandculturc thcmc appcars alrcady
in +86 is important, lor it shows that lar lrom Vagncrs hijacking Nictzschcs rst book
through lorcc ol pcrsonality, as is usually claimcd, thc thcmc was alrcady in Fritzs mind
wcll bclorc hc cvcr mct Vagncr.
8y no mcans, howcvcr, is all ol Te Birth anticipatcd by thc sixthlormcr. And in onc
conspicuous rcspcct thc naturc ol thc tragic ccct thc +86 rccctions arc quitc dicrcnt
lrom thosc ol +8:. Troughout his lilc Nictzschc rcturncd again and again to thc qucstion
ol thc naturc ol this paradoxical ccct: thc qucstion ol why tragcdy docs not play to cmpty
houscs, ol what kind ol satislaction wc could possibly dcrivc lromwitncssing thc dcstruction
ol thc tragic hcro, a gurc who, in many rcspccts, rcprcscnts what is ncst and wiscst within
us. !n total, Nictzschc produccs at lcast lour dicrcnt answcrs to this qucstion, all ol which
sccm to hit upon a gcnuinc aspcct ol what draws us to tragic drama. !n Te Birth, wc shall

scc, hc will appcal to thc idca ol transccndcncc ol individuality. 8ut hcrc hc holds that
thc ccct and aim ol tragcdy, rcvcalcd in, lor cxamplc, thc latc ol cdipus, is to guard
against hubris, to rcmind us ol thc gap bctwccn mcn and gods (onc thc Grccks wcrc liablc
to cross, nding it hard to tcll thc dicrcncc bctwccn a god and an lympic champion).
Tragcdy rcvcals that thc divinity oltcn scnds mcn unjusticd sucring, not arbitrarily, but
to prcscrvc a customary worldordcr.
Vhat this rcvcals is thc scriousncss with which thc Grccks took thc tragic lcstival, thc
lact that
thc highcst acsthctic plcasurc did not blind thc judgmcnt ol thc Athcnians to thc cthical
and rcligious aspccts |ol tragcdy|, that thcy always hcld thc rcligious origin bclorc thcir cycs.
Tc ccct ol thcir thcatrical productions was thcrclorc likc ncithcr that ol our thcatrcs nor
ol our churchcs, but thcy wcrc rathcr mixcd togcthcr and intcrtwincd.
Tough Te Birth abandons thc lorcgoing account ol thc tragic ccct or at lcast chooscs
to cmphasisc anothcr aspcct this idca ol thc csscntially rcligious naturc ol thc occasion is
ccntral to Te Birth and to virtually all Nictzschcs latcr thinking about tragcdy.
hroughout thc Plorta pcriod Fritz continucd to producc cnormous numbcrs ol pocms.
8ut hc also wrotc about poctry, in particular about thc poctry ol Fricdrich H oldcrlin
H oldcrlin had bccn a youngcr lricnd ol Schillcr and an intimatc lricnd ol his lcllow uni
vcrsity studcnts at T ubingcn, Schclling and Hcgcl. As much philosophcr as poct, H oldcrlin
was thc sourcc ol many ol Hcgcls main idcas. !n +8o6, at thc agc ol thirtysix, hc lapscd
into a lorm ol insanity which a modcrn diagnosis would probably classily as schizophrcnia.
H oldcrlins pocms, which hc oltcn callcd hymns, and his always lyrical prosc works
cxprcss a rcligious vcncration lor naturc. Troughout his thinking runs an antithcsis
bctwccn clarity ol prcscntation and thc rc lrom hcavcn, bctwccn, that is, nitc human
rcason and thc innitudc ol thc holy. Hc holds that Vcstcrn modcrnity has bccn ovcr
takcn by clcar but shallow rcason so that it had lost its scnsc ol thc divinc, has lallcn away
lrom thc Vcsts grcat bcginning in ancicnt Grcccc. (A ccntury latcr Max Vcbcr would
spcak ol Vcstcrn modcrnitys discnchantmcnt.) Tc poct, standing ncarcr to thc gods
than othcr mortals, has thc pricstly task ol rcstoring holy pathos. Vhat arc pocts lor in
dcstitutc timcs: H oldcrlin asks in 8rcad and Vinc. Tcy arc, hc answcrs, likc thc winc
gods holy pricsts/Vho roamcd lrom land to land in holy night.
As roaming suggcsts, H oldcrlin lclt that thc pricc hc thc poct paid lor his closcncss
to thc gods was cstrangcmcnt lrom mortals. Scnsing thc approach ol his madncss, hc bcgan
to cxpcricncc himscll as a lalsc pricst about to bc punishcd lor his hubris, lor ovcrstcpping
thc boundary bctwccn mortals and thc gods.
H oldcrlin rst bccamc a major gurc during thc First Vorld Var, whcn many ol his
grcatcst pocms rcccivcd thcir rst publication. Rclativcly littlc known in Nictzschcs day,
and il known dismisscd on account ol his unhappy cnd, hc is now rcgardcd as onc ol thc
two or thrcc grcatcst Gcrman pocts. Hc is a major prcscncc in Nictzschcs works as hc is in
Hcidcggcrs (a lact which cstablishcs a prolound, il subtcrrancan, bond bctwccn thcm).

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Hcidcggcr obscrvcs that Te Birth of Tragedys lundamcntal distinction bctwccn thc
rcalms ol Apollo and ol ionysus, bctwccn thc Apollonian and thc ionysian, is actu
ally a rcprcscntation ol H oldcrlins clarity ol prcscntation/rc lrom thc hcavcns distinc
Givcn that H oldcrlins suprarational rcalm ol thc holy is, as thc quotation lrom
8rcad and Vinc indicatcs, thc rcalm ol thc winc god, ol, in othcr words, ionysus
(or 8acchus), this is surcly corrcct. Nictzschcs own poctry cchocs with H oldcrlins so
norous musicality, and somctimcs with dircct quotation. Allusions to and scmiquotations
lrom H oldcrlin pcrmcatc thc morc poctic ol Nictzschcs maturc philosophical works, in
particular Tus Spoke Zarathustra: Graham Parkcss cxccllcnt annotatcd translation spots
no lcss than ltccn allusions, mostly to thc poctic novcl Hyperion, and thcrc arc, in lact,
Cosima Vagncr notcd in hcr diary in cccmbcr +8 thc (as shc sccs it) somcwhat
dubious inucncc ol H oldcrlin on Nictzschc: Malwida |von Mcyscnbug| gavc R|ichard
Vagncr| H oldcrlins works |lor Christmas|. R and ! rcalisc, with somc conccrn, thc grcat
inucncc this writcr has cxcrciscd on P|rolcssor| Nictzschc, rhctorical bombast, wcirdly
accumulatcd imagcs (thc north wind sings thc blossoms ctc.), but at thc samc timc a bcau
tilul, noblc mcaning.

As Gustav Krug introduccd Fritz to Vagncr, so it is likcly that Vilhclm Pindcr introduccd
him to H oldcrlin.
Fritzs cvcr incrcasing passion lor thc poct was inspircd not just by
his works but also by his lilc, about which hc was wcll inlormcd
and with which hc
almost ccrtainly lclt a strong pcrsonal idcntication on account ol thc similaritics bctwccn
H oldcrlins lilc and his own. Likc Nictzschc, H oldcrlin lost his lathcr at an carly agc, was
much inucnccd by his mothcr, lovcd naturc and wrotc a grcat dcal ol naturc poctry, attcnd
cd a boarding school vcry likc Plorta, had an avcrsion to all lorms ol vulgarity and a tcndcncy
to mclancholy, madc lcw lricnds at school but had a closc lricnd at homc, was distrcsscd
by thc currcnt statc ol Gcrman culturc, and had a passion lor Grcccc but had intcndcd to
study thcology at univcrsity.
!n adulthood, thc similaritics bctwccn thc two livcs continuc. H oldcrlin cxpcricnccd an
impossiblc lovc lor Suscttc Gontard, thc mothcr ol thc boy to whomhc was tutor and whom
hc cclcbratcd in vcrsc as iotima, whilc Nictzschc harbourcd an cqually impossiblc lovc
lor Cosima Vagncr, whom hc cclcbratcd as Ariadnc.
And, ol coursc, thc most striking
similarity ol all is that both H oldcrlin and Nictzschc cntcrcd long nights ol madncss, thc
lormcrs lasting lrom +8o6 until his dcath in +8, thc lattcrs lrom +88 until his dcath
in +oo. H oldcrlin, it sccms likcly, had a strong pcrsonal idcntication with mpcdoclcs,
thc ancicnt Grcck poct who, lccling himscll morc god than man, hurlcd himscll into thc
Cratcr ol tna. As Fritz hypothcsiscs in thc cssay ! amabout to discuss, H oldcrlin may havc
undcrstood his own approaching madncss as a kind ol lalling into tna: thc mclancholy
toncs ol his so signicant, dramatic lragmcnt, Te Death of Empedocles, Fritz suggcsts, is
pcrmcatcd with a prcccho ol thc luturc ol thc unhappy poct, thc gravc ol a ycarslong
madncss. 8ut Nictzschc, too, via H oldcrlin, may havc comc to idcntily with mpcdoclcs
modc ol dying. Tis thought raiscs thc possibility, to which ! shall rcturn, that thc manncr
ol Nictzschcs cntry into madncss was, to a dcgrcc, scriptcd.

!n ctobcr, +86+, Fritz was sct by his Gcrman litcraturc tcachcr thc task ol writing an
cssay undcr thc titlc A Lcttcr to a istant |i.c., imaginary| Fricnd Rccommcnding Him to

Rcad My Favouritc Poct. !ndulging his passion, Fritz chooscs to writc on H oldcrlin.
bcgins as lollows:
Somc rcmarks in your last lcttcr about H oldcrlin havc surpriscd mc vcry much, and ! lccl
compcllcd to cntcr thc lists against you on bchall ol my lavouritc poct . . . You say, How
H oldcrlin can bc your lavouritc poct ! cant comprchcnd. n mc, at lcast, thcsc hazy, hall
crazy outpourings lrom a lracturcd, rupturcd mind can only makc a sad, and also rcpcllcnt,
imprcssion. Unclcar languagc, idcas that bclong in a madhousc, wild outbursts against thc
Gcrmans, dcication ol thc hcathcn world, somctimcs naturalism, somctimcs panthcism,
somctimcs polythcism all togcthcr in a chaotic mixturc his poctry is disgurcd by all this,
albcit composcd in wcllcraltcd Grcck mctrcs.
Fritzs gcncral linc ol dclcncc against thc imagincd attack, a modc ol pcrsuasion that will
pcrvadc his maturc philosophy, is not to challcngc thc lricnds account ol thc lacts but
rathcr to ocr a dicrcnt pcrspcctivc on thcm. Hc points out, rst ol all, that H oldcrlins
lincs arc not just wcllcraltcd but rcprcscnt virtuosity ol thc highcst ordcr. Hyperion, in
particular, hc suggcsts, sounds at timcs likc thc brcaking ol wavcs in thc stormy sca and is,
in lact, with its altcrnation ol solt, mclting sounds with painlul dissonanccs, music lor
Fritz, as wc know, thc highcst condition ol art.
Conccrning thc criticism ol thc Gcrmans, Fritz continucs, H oldcrlin docs indccd tcll
thcm somc hard truths about thc dcsolation cngulng thcir culturc, though what hc hatcs
is not thc Gcrmans, but rathcr thc barbarism, thc philistinism and rcduction ol human
bcings to mcrc cogs in thc machinc |Fachmenschen|, that is dcstroying thcir community.
!t is in othcr words, a casc ol tough lovc, criticism springing lrom a lovc ol thc Fathcr
land which H oldcrlin posscsscd to thc highcst dcgrcc. (Tough hc docs not, Fritz could
havc strcngthcncd his casc by citing H oldcrlins Homccoming/To thc Rclativcs, in which
thc poct, rcturning to his Swabian homcland lrom thc Swiss Alps whcrc hc has joylully
cncountcrcd thc Highcst, is yct in a statc ol holy mourning bccausc thc rclativcs, still
bcing Godlcss, arc not yct propcrly rclatcd to him. Tis is what cstablishcs his poctic min
istry ol lovc: his mission ol actualising thcir rclatcdncss through, as puts it clscwhcrc, his
|rc|lounding thc holy.)
Conccrning thc accusation ol unclarity, Fritz rcsponds that thc sccming opacity ol thc
works is in lact Sophoclcan dcpth crcatcd by thcir incxhaustiblc plcnitudc ol prolound
thoughts. To back up thc claim ol prolundity hc notcs that H oldcrlin is no mcrc poct but
also thc writcr ol works ol philosophical prosc which display his spiritual brothcrhood with
Schillcr and with his intimatc lricnd, thc dccpthinking Hcgcl.
Vhat, according to Fritz, arc thc prolound idcas to bc lound in H oldcrlin: Hc quotcs
lrom a pocm, vcning Fantasy:
In the e.ening sky a springtime o.ers
Innumerable the roses blossom and peaceful seems
Te golden .orld; Oh, take me there
Crimson clouds! nd there on high may
In light and air, lo.e and sorro. melt a.ay! -
But, as if scared by stupid request, the magic

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Takes ight. It becomes dark, and lonely
Beneath the hea.ens, I am as al.ays.
Come no., soft slumber! Too much the heart
Desires, but at the last, youthfulness, you too .ill fade!
You restless dreamer!
Peaceful and serene is my old age then.
!t is not dicult to undcrstand why this bcautilul pocm (onc can casily imaginc it as
onc ol Richard Strausss Four Last Songs) sccms to Nictzschc prolound rathcr than mad:
it cxprcsscs his own !eltschmerz, thc spiritual homcsickncss hc pours into in innumcrablc
pocms with titlcs such as Alonc, Homcsickncss and Homccoming. 8ut hcrc, clcarly,
homccoming is conccivcd in, to thc young Nictzschc, a novcl, postChristian manncr. !t
consists, not in rcunion with dcpartcd souls in a Christian hcavcn, but in what Frcud callcd
thc occanic lccling: thc transccndcncc ol individuality in an cxpcricncc ol unication with
naturc, with thc totality ol bcing, thc All.
Tis will bccomc a major thcmc in Nictzschcs maturc philosophy. !n his rst book, Te
Birth of Tragedy, hc asscrts that individuality |is| . . . thc sourcc ol all sucring
and ocrs
its transccndcncc as thc paradoxical joy that is thc csscncc ol thc tragic ccct. And in his
latcr thought, as wc shall scc, transccndcncc is his account ol thc ionysian pcrspcctivc
on thc world, thc kcy to thc task ol willing lilcs ctcrnal rcturn.

H oldcrlins lyrical novcl, Hyperion, which Fritzs cssay singlcs out lor spccial praisc,
cxprcsscs scntimcnts similar to thosc ol vcning Fantasy. !t takcs thc lorm ol a scrics
ol lcttcrs writtcn by Hypcrion, a Grcck, to 8cllarmin, a Gcrman lricnd. Hypcrion, having
spcnt somc timc travclling in Vcstcrn uropc, and having absorbcd ccrtain modcs ol living
charactcristic ol thc Vcst, discovcrs on his rcturn to Grcccc that hc has bccomc cut o lrom
thc cxpcricncc ol wholcncss hc had oncc known in his ancicnt homcland.
Schillcr distinguishcd bctwccn thc scntimcntal and thc navc (ncithcr tcrm is pcjora
tivc). Poctry which cxprcsscs a simplc, unrccctivc unity with naturc ol thc kind cnjoycd
by a owcr is navc, poctry which ycarns to rccovcr such navc unity is scntimcntal. Tc
scntimcntal ycarning lor naivcty, Schillcr suggcsts, rcscmblcs thc sick pcrsons ycarning
lor hcalth. Tc poctry ol ancicnt Grcccc, in particular ol Homcr, hc classicd as navc, that
ol ninctccnthccntury romantics, such as himscll, as scntimcntal. Hypcrions lcttcrs (and
Nictzschcs pocms) arc scntimcntal. Tcy contrast an idcalizcd picturc ol primal Grcck
cxpcricncc with thc discnchantmcnt, thc rationalization and mcchanization, ol Vcstcrn
modcrnity. Tc rst lcttcr cvokcs thc primordial statc ol conncctcdncss to all things, an
cxpcricncc Hypcrion bricy rccovcrs on his rcturn homc:
To bc onc with all this is thc lilc divinc, this is mans hcavcn. To bc onc with all that
livcs, to rcturn in blcsscd sclllorgctlulncss into thc All ol naturc this is thc pinnaclc ol
thoughts and joys, this thc ctcrnal mountain pcak, thc placc ol ctcrnal rcst.
!n thc primal wholcncss ol all that livcs, dcath is ovcrcomc, sincc thcrc cxists only thc
youthlulncss ol cvcrncw bcing:

To bc onc with all that livcs! At thosc words \irtuc puts o hcr wrathlul armour . . . and
cath vanishcs lrom thc conlcdcracy ol bcings, and ctcrnal indivisibility and ctcrnal youth
blcss and bcautily thc world.
Tc cxpcricncc is lost, howcvcr, thc momcnt Hypcrion cngagcs in rccction:
n this hcight ! oltcn stand, my 8cllarmin! 8ut an instant ol rccction hurls mc down. !
rccct, and ! nd myscll as ! was bclorc alonc, with all thc gricls ol mortality, and my
hcarts rclugc, thc world in its ctcrnal oncncss, is gonc. Naturc closcs hcr arms, and ! stand
likc an alicn bclorc hcr and undcrstand hcr not.
vcryday, Apollonian rationality is what dcstroys unity by introducing a ssurc bctwccn
naturc and knowing subjcct:
Ah! Had ! not gonc to your schools! . . . Knowlcdgc has corruptcd cvcrything lor mc.
Among you ! bccamc so truly rcasonablc, lcarnt so thoroughly to distinguish myscll lrom
what surrounds mc, that now ! am solitary in thc bcautilul world, an outcast lrom thc
gardcn ol naturc in which ! grcw and owcrcd, drying up undcr thc noonday sun.
Following thc biblical narrativc ol paradisc, lall, and rcdcmption, Hyperion cnds with a
vision ol rccovcrcd oncncss:
h thou . . . Naturc! . . . Mcn lall lrom thcc likc rottcn lruits, oh lct thcm pcrish, lor thus
thcy rcturn to thy root, so may !, too, trcc ol lilc, that ! may grow grccn again with
thcc . . . Likc lovcrs quarrcls arc thc dissonanccs ol thc world. Rcconciliation is thcrc, cvcn
in thc midst ol strilc, and all things that arc partcd nd onc anothcr again in thc cnd . . . all
is onc ctcrnal glowing lilc.

Nictzschc says ol Hyperion at thc samc timc cvidcntly disclosing his own statc ol mind
although it radiatcs with a transguring shimmcr, cvcrything is dissatislaction and lack ol
lullmcnt, thc lorms thc poct conjurcs up arc airy imagcs, which, in sounds, awakcn homc
sickncss, dclighting us, but also awakcn dissatiscd ycarning. Nowhcrc docs thc ycarning
lor Grcccc rcvcal itscll in purcr toncs than hcrc, nowhcrc is H oldcrlins spiritual rclatcdncss
to Schillcr and Hcgcl, his intimatc lricnd, clcarcr than hcrc.
Ycarning lor thc paradisc ol ancicnt Grcccc cxprcsscs, ol coursc, not only tccnagc angst but
also Plortas communal drcam.

mpcdoclcs was a Grcck poct, prophct, mystic and scicntist who livcd in thc carly lth
ccntury 8C. !n onc ol his pocms hc rcprcscnts himscll as a dcathlcss god, no longcr mortal
surroundcd by crowds asking lor thc hcaling word to curc thcm ol discasc. According to
lcgcnd, hc posscsscd thc powcr to raisc thc dcad and, as alrcady notcd, dicd his own mortal
dcath by throwing himscll into tnas cratcr. l H oldcrlins Te Death of Empedocles a
work which inspircd him to attcmpt his own vcrsion ol thc myth Fritz writcs,

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
!n thc unnishcd tragcdy mpcdoclcs, thc poct discloscs lor us his own naturc. mpcd
oclcss dcath is dicd out ol a gods pridc, scorn lor humanity, satiation with thc carth, and
panthcism. Vhcncvcr ! rcad it thc wholc work shakcs mc to thc loundations in a quitc
uniquc way. !n this mpcdoclcs dwclls a divinc majcsty.
Hcrc, again, thcrc appcars thc idca ol transccnding thc mortality ol human individuality:
mpcdoclcs is ablc to cast o thc mortal coil bccausc hc is, or has bccomc, an immortal. 8ut
what is thc rclcvancc ol panthcism: ! think thc answcr is that thc cxpcricncc ol mcrging
into thc nc must bc, abovc all, a redempti.e cxpcricncc, an cxpcricncc in which all sorrows
arc washcd away. Schopcnhaucr, criticising Spinozas panthcism, claimcd that thc nc is
not divinc but dcmonic. 8ut il that wcrc thc casc thcn thc idca ol mcrging with thc nc
would rcpulsc rathcr than attract. To attract, to rcdccm, to bc thc sourcc ol joylul ccstasy,
thc totality ol things must bc cxpcricnccd as divinc.

Nictzschcs carly cxpcricncc ol H oldcrlin, as cxprcsscd in this culogy on his lavouritc poct,
providcs, ! shall suggcst, thc hiddcn vision that shapcd thc dccpcst rcgions ol his nal
philosophy. For a timc Schopcnhaucr obscurcd thc vision and lcd himaway lromH oldcrlin.
8ut lrom Zarathustra onwards, his philosophy is a long rcturn. !t is hard, thcrclorc, to ovcr
cmphasisc thc cssays importancc. His tcachcr, Prolcssor Kobcrstcin, was uncnthusiastic,
howcvcr. Giving it a mark ol !!/!!a (about a 8+), hc commcntcd, ! should likc to givc
thc author a piccc ol lricndly advicc: to conccrn himscll with a poct who is hcalthicr, morc
lucid and morc Gcrman. 8y rcpcating, cxactly, thc scntimcnts ol thc imaginary lricnd, hc
provcd that thc cntirc cssay was, lor him, watcr o a rathcr dcnsc ducks back.
Morality and Politics
uch ol thc alrcadymcntioncd Germania lccturc, Fatc and History,

has littlc to
do with cithcr latc or history. !n particular, it contains a numbcr ol rcmarks about
As custom (Sitte), thc product ol a particular pcoplc at a particular timc, rcprcscnts a
particular dircction ol thc spirit, Nictzschc writcs, so morality (Moral ) is thc product ol a
univcrsal dcvclopmcnt ol humanity, thc sum ol all truths lor our world. !t is not cntircly
clcar what this mcans, but it bcars on a paradox in Nictzschcs maturc philosophy. Tc
paradox is that although in gcncral an cthical rclativist thcrc arc no culturcindcpcndcnt
moral truths, moral valucs arc at most valid lor a particular culturc at a particular timc
Nictzschc also sccms to ocr his own particular sct ol valucs strcngth, sclldisciplinc, and
sclldcvclopmcnt as absolutc valucs. Possibly this carly rcmark providcs a cluc to rcsolving
thc paradox: as opposcd to customary valucs, Nictzschcs own, vcry abstract valucs arc what
ourishing human bcings always havc, and always will, cxcmplily.
Anothcr intcrcsting rcmark in this carly work is thc good is only thc most subtlc dcvcl
opmcnt ol cvil. Vhat lics bchind thc rcmark thcrc is no way ol knowing. 8ut it is an
intcrcsting onc sincc thc sublimation ol cvil into good is, wc shall scc, a major thcmc in
Nictzschcs maturc philosophy: wc must not scck to castratc thc cvil in man, hc holds,
bccausc all that is good in him is, in rcality, sublimatcd cvil.
A third thcmc ccntral to thc maturc philosophy which rcccivcs an airing in Fatc and
History conccrns thc tcnsion bctwccn individual and community:

thc strugglc bctwccn thc individual and thc gcncral will: hcrc is indicatcd that ctcrnally
crucial problcm, thc qucstion ol thc justication ol thc individual to thc pcoplc, thc pcoplc
to humanity at largc, and humanity to thc world.
Tc most common undcrstanding ol Nictzschcs maturc philosophy is, in a slogan, that only
thc supcrman counts. nly thc cxccptional individual is ol any valuc, thc rcst ol socicty,
thc hcrd (particularly its lcmalc contingcnt), is usually an impcdimcnt to thc appcarancc
ol thc grcat individual and at bcst his lootstool. Latcr wc shall invcstigatc thc accuracy
ol this rcprcscntation. Vhat can bc said ol this carly thinking, howcvcr, is that it is prc
ciscly thc oppositc ol this vicw: as a pcoplc must nd its justication to humanity and
thc world at largc, so thc individual must nd his justication in his contribution to his
8clorc lcaving thc topic ol Nictzschcs carly vicws on morality, a word on moral cdu
cation. !n his maturc philosophy, cspccially in On the Uses and Disad.antages of History for
Life, Nictzschc rcpcatcdly locuscs, in a charactcristically ninctccnthccntury way, on thc
ccntrality ol monumcntal gurcs or cducators (roughly spcaking, rolc modcls) to moral
cducation. Tis idca is alrcady strongly prcgurcd in thc Plorta writings. So, lor cxamplc,
in a cssay discussion in March +86 ol thc provcrb that onc should only spcak good ol
thc dcad, Fritz says that, whilc obviously lalsc il onc is intcrcstcd in history as an objcctivc
scicncc, noncthclcss, whcn it comcs to history as an art that is dcvotcd to thc clarication
ol lilc, thc saying posscsscs mcrit sincc, in this contcxt, wc arc intcrcstcd, not in accuracy,
but in moral guidancc. Tc important clcmcnt ol truth in thc saying is that what wc rcally
honour in thc dcad is not thc individual but rathcr thc ctcrnal truth hc cmbodics.

Tc samc anticipation ol Te Uses and Disad.antages of History is lound, in January ol

thc samc ycar, in what looks to bc a school cssay cntitlcd n thc Attractivc, ducational
and !nstructivc that Lics lor thc Young in thc Study ol thc History ol thc Fathcrland. Tc
grcat dccds ol our anccstors, hc writcs, acct us bccausc thcy arc sccn as our o.n dccds.
Tc history ol othcr pcoplcs can acct us to a dcgrcc, but not ncarly as powcrlully as that
ol our own, bccausc with thcir hcrocs wc lack a comparablc idcntication. Tc valuc ol
idcntication with thc hcrocs ol national history is that grasping thc Fathcrland as a wholc
warns us to bc truc to its virtucs. !n thc cnchantcd picturcs ol national history, Fritz
concludcs, wc bccomc clcar as to which dcstiny our pcoplc must lull, what thc task is that
is givcn to it.

Truc to his upbringing, Fritz bcgan his Plorta ycars a monarchist. Monarchy rcprcscnts thc
bcst lorm ol govcrnmcnt, hc writcs, in mid+86+, particularly in timcs ol war. As alrcady
notcd, thc powcr ol thc Pcrsians hc claims to havc dcpcndcd not on thc clcvcrncss ol thc
pcoplc but on thcir holding thcir monarchy morc in honour than othcrs.

Soon, how
cvcr, monarchism bccomcs modicd by a good dosc ol Plorta libcralism. cvcloping an
cnthusiasm lor Napolcon !!!,

hc madc him thc subjcct ol a Germania lccturc in carly

Napolcon !!!, though lcarcd and loathcd by thc Gcrmans (including thc Germania
audicncc, which rcccivcd thc lccturc vcry badly), was a man ol intclligcncc and culturc.

Napolcon !!!, 8onapartcs ncphcw, was clcctcd Prcsidcnt ol thc Frcnch Rcpublic in +8o and
assumcd thc titlc ol mpcror in +8:. Following his disastrous loss ol thc FrancoPrussian war, hc
was cxilcd to ngland in +8+ and spcnt thc rcmaindcr ol his days in Chislchurst, in Kcnt. Quel

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Starrycycd with cnthusiasm, Fritz calls him a gcnius (thc anccstorconccpt ol Zarathus-
tras supcrman). Vhat hc admircs, howcvcr, is, as hc sccs it, thc unbclicvablc modcration
ol his advancc to powcr, thc lact that hc was clcctcd prcsidcnt by thc parliamcntary rcp
rcscntativcs ol thc pcoplc and thcn mpcror by a popular votc ol six million and so always
rcprcscntcd thc will ol thc wholc pcoplc. At cvcry stagc, thcrclorc, Napolcon was suppor
tcd by, and cxprcsscd, thc popular will. Tis thc gcnius must always do, lor othcrwisc his
govcrnmcnt will contain thc sccds ol its own corruption. Tc idcal ol a lrcc statc is, in
othcr words, a prcsidcnt approvcd by thc rcprcscntativcs ol thc pcoplc.
Tis vcry nglishsounding approval ol parliamcntary dcmocracy is cchocd in Fritzs
Vhiggish commcnts ol thc samc ycar on nglish history itscll. Tc Rcvolution ol +6:
succccdcd, hc holds, bccausc Charlcs ! attcmptcd an absolutc monarchy, an aggrcssivc
dcspotism. His dcath is a strong rcmindcr ol thc lorcc ol public opinion: thc spirit ol thc
pcoplc would not stand lor its lrccdoms bcing attackcd and its authority bcing outcd,
although Charlcss cxccution was unncccssary and cxcccdcd thcir dcmands.

Furthcr signs
ol nglishsounding libcralism arc to bc lound in thc notcs lrom latc +86:, which obscrvc
that human rights, in particularly thc right to lrccdom lrom slavcry, dcrivc not lrom thc
statc but lrom thc godly worth ol cach human individual.
!n spitc ol such libcralism,
howcvcr, Fritz rctains his bclicl in a social hicrarchy undcr
thc strong lcadcrship ol thc political gcnius. And hc bclicvcs thc gcnius must bc allowcd
spccial privilcgcs. As hc puts it in thc Napolcon !!! lccturc, thc gcnius is dcpcndcnt on
othcr and highcr laws than arc ordinary pcoplc. Tis crcatcs a paradox which is, howcvcr,
only apparcnt:
Tc gcnius is dcpcndcnt on othcr and highcr laws than arc ordinary mcn, on laws that oltcn
sccm to contradict thc lundamcntal laws ol morality and justicc. Fundamcntally, howcvcr,
thcsc laws arc thc samc whcn graspcd in thc widcst pcrspcctivc . . . Tc gcnius rcprcscnts
thc pcak ol a natural and spiritual harmony . . .
Tis is an important passagc, lor it dcals with a thcmc that runs through Nictzschcs maturc
philosophy and is oltcn misundcrstood as immoralism. Tc maturc Nictzschc rcgularly
attacks moral univcrsalism thosc who say good lor all, cvil lor all, as Zarathustra puts
it. Tough this is oltcn takcn to bc a manilcstation ol thc supposcd onlythcwcllbcing
olthcsupcrmancounts thcsis it is in lact, as hcrc, a manilcstation ol somcthing quitc
dicrcnt. Partly thc rcjcction ol univcrsalism rcccts Nictzschcs conviction that dicrcnt
valucs arc appropriatc to dicrcnt culturcs at dicrcnt timcs. Tc +86: notcs, lor cxamplc,
arguc that thc mistakc madc by communism is that ol supposing thc samc lorm ol govcrn
mcnt to t all pcoplcs cqually wcll, which it docs not, sincc thcy all cxpcricncc thc world
8ut Nictzschc also rcjccts univcrsalism on an intrasocial lcvcl. Tis is bccausc
hc holds what ! shall call his stratication ol thc virtucs thcsis: what is virtuous lor mc
dcpcnds on my station in lilc, on thc rolc ! play within thc social totality. \irtucs, that is,
arc spccialiscd bccausc that is thc way in which individuals bcst contributc to thc communal
good. So il ! am cithcr a political or a spiritual lcadcr, privilcgcs indccd accruc to mc which
do not accruc to thosc callcd by naturc to a humblcr rolc in socicty. 8ut this is not bccausc
only my wcllbcing counts but rathcr bccausc thc communal good is bcst scrvcd by my hav
ing thosc privilcgcs. Not just Gocthc but thc community as a wholc sucrs il it is dcprivcd
ol his pocms bccausc hc nccds to carn a living.

Homeland versus World Citizenship
c havc sccn, in Fritzs carly poctry and rccollcctions ol childhood, a dccp ycarning
lor rootcdncss in blood and carth, in homcland. 8ut altcr hc madc thc transition
to Plorta, signs ol a dicrcnt pcrspcctivc on Heimat (homcland) bcgan to appcar. !n August
+8 hc composcd thc lollowing:
Fleet horses bear
Me .ithout fear or dismay
Trough distant places.
nd .hoe.er sees me, kno.s me
nd .hoe.er kno.s me calls me:
Te homeless man . . .
No one dares
To ask me
!here my homeland is:
Perhaps I ha.e ne.er been fettered
To space and the eeting hours,
I am free as an eagle . . .
Hcrc hc sccms to bc discovcring thc upsidc ol homclcssncss, lacilitatcd, pcrhaps, by having
scttlcd somcwhat into boardingschool lilc (though hc might, on thc othcr hand, simply bc
putting a good lacc on having bccn uprootcd lromhis homc.) Asimilar thought is cxprcsscd
at about thc samc timc in thc lragmcnt Capri and Heligoland: wc arc pilgrims in this world
wc arc citizcns ol thc world hc writcs.
!n latcr lilc, lollowing a dccisivc turn against
Prussian nationalism, Nictzschc callcd himscll a good uropcan and hopcd that uropcan
culturc would bccomc globaliscd into the world culturc. Such cosmopolitanism sccms to
bc anticipatcd hcrc. !n +86, howcvcr, in thc rccctions on thc importancc ol national
history discusscd abovc (p. ), onc ol thc advantagcs ol national history is said to bc that it
prcvcnts us lromwandcring away into drcams ol worldcitizcnry. Yct only a month latcr, in
a school cssay on thc qucstion ol whcthcr cxilc was a morc scvcrc punishmcnt in thc ancicnt
than in thc modcrn world
(thc nglish shipping thcir criminals to Australia is citcd as a
modcrn vcrsion ol cxilc), hc chastiscs vids lamcnt at his cxilc lrom Romc as unmanly.
Suggcsting that wc cnlightcncd modcrns havc ovcrcomc antiquitys cxccssivc attachmcnt
to homcland just as wc havc ovcrcomc its xcnophobia, hc asscrts that wc havc lcarnt not to
bc constrictcd by thc customs into which wc arc born. And bccausc, abovc and bcyond thc
homcland, stands a mans inncr conviction, his honour indccd his wholc spiritual world,
in short a spiritual homcland, wc can cvcn, hc suggcsts, nd a ncw homcland in what was
prcviously lorcign.
All this, in contrast to thc prcvious months dismissal ol worldcitizcnship, looks to bc
a (pcrhaps not wholly cohcrcnt) armation ol it. Vhat wc must say, ! think, is that during
thc Plorta ycars thcrc cxists an unrcsolvcd tcnsion bctwccn homcland and cosmopolitan
ism, with Fritz pullcd somctimcs onc way and somctimcs thc othcr. nc ol thc major
achicvcmcnts ol his maturc thought, ! shall suggcst, is to producc a gcnuinc rcsolution to
thc conict.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Fate and Freedom
hc Germania lccturc ol +86:, Fatc and History, covcrs, wc havc sccn, a numbcr ol
topics that havc littlc to do with its titlc. 8ut now, nally, wc comc to thc topic thc
titlc announccs, thc qucstion ol thc rclation bctwccn causal dctcrminism latc and thc
lrccdom ol thc human will Fritz thinks ol history as a rccord ol lrcc human action.
Tc qucstion hc conlronts a problcm so dicult that somc contcmporary philosophcrs
bclicvc its solution to bc, in principlc, bcyond thc human mind is whcthcr human lrcc
dom thc apparcnt prcsupposition ol thc moral and cxistcntial conccrns wc havc as human
bcings is compatiblc with thc principlc that cvcry cvcnt has a causc, thc hcart ol thc sci
cntic outlook on thc world. Tc supplcmcntary qucstion is: il thcy arc not compatiblc,
which ol thc two should bc abandoncd: !t cannot bc said that Fritz solvcs thc problcm.
!ndccd thc discussion is thoroughly conluscd, as onc might cxpcct lrom a scvcntccnycar
old philosophical novicc.
nc mattcr Fritz is not conluscd about is thc conscqucnccs ol univcrsal causal dctcr
minism: wcrc it to bc thc only lundamcntal truth, man would thcn bc thc plaything ol
dark, causal lorccs, without rcsponsibility lor his mistakcs, complctcly lrcc lrom moral dis
tinctions, nothing but a ncccssary link in a chain. !l it wcrc truc, hc says, thc bcst thing
would bc not to know it, lor thc knowlcdgc ol such a truth would causc unbcarablc ragc,
would causc a man convulsivcly to strugglc in thc bonds that hold him, crcatc in him a
mad lust to upsct thc mcchanism ol thc world.
As to whcthcr latc or lrccdom rcprcscnts thc truth ol thc mattcr, thc cssay is com
plctcly indccisivc. Pcrhaps lrccdom is thc highcst potcntiality ol latc it opincs vagucly
thc idca bcing, possibly, that worldhistory at a ccrtain point causcs thc cmcrgcncc ol caus
ally undctcrmincd cntitics. 8ut as to why wc should think it truc that latc, at a ccrtain
cvolutionary point, as it wcrc, bows out ol thc picturc, it has nothing to say.
As il rcalising hc has not donc justicc to thc qucstion ol lrccdom, Fritz rcturns to thc
topic a lcw wccks latcr in Frccdom ol thc Vill and Fatc.
Now his impulsc is to havc his
cakc and cat it, to show latc and lrccdom to bc compatiblc. Tc actions ol an individual
bcgin, hc argucs, not with his birth but in thc cmbryo and pcrhaps in his parcnts and
anccstors. ur actions, in othcr words, arc wholly, it sccms, dctcrmincd by our gcnctic
inhcritancc. So dctcrminism is truc. 8ut lrcc will . . . mcans thc ability to act consciously,
whilc latc is thc principlc that dctcrmincs us unconsciously. Vhat lollows is that thc strict
dicrcncc bctwccn latc and lrccdom disappcars. Tcy arc, in othcr words, compatiblc, cach
ncccssary to a propcr conccption ol thc human individual: fatumlcss, absolutc lrccdom ol
thc will would makc man a god, thc latalist principlc would makc him a robot. Tis has a
nc rhctorical ring, but is ol littlc intcllcctual valuc. For il lrccdom is just consciousness ol
choicc, thosc choiccs bcing onc and all complctcly dctcrmincd by lorccs which arc bcyond
our control and ol which wc arc unconscious, thc problcm ol how wc can possibly attri
butc lrccdom and rcsponsibility to pcoplc rcmains unrcsolvcd. Te Manchurian Candidates
wouldbc assassin, brainwashcd into wishing to kill thc Prcsidcnt, is ccrtainly conscious ol
his choicc to do so. 8ut hc is, in lact, nothing but thc brainwashcrs robot. As wc shall scc,
Nictzschc wrcstlcd with thc problcm ol lrccdom and dctcrminism all his lilc.
iv:zscnv v~ssvb through thc Plorta gatcway, lor thc last timc as a pupil, on
Scptcmbcr , +86. Surroundcd by a crowd ol schoolboys, asscmblcd to givc thc
schoollcavcrs a ccrcmonial scndo, hc and cight othcrs mountcd a garlandcd
carriagc cscortcd on both sidcs by lcstivcly clad postillions. Tc luturc lay in 8onn, at whosc
lamous univcrsity hc had dccidcd to cnrol, mainly bccausc ol its distinguishcd philologists,
tto Jahn (cn passant, a rcnowncd Mozart biographcr) and Fricdrich Ritschl (scc Platc 6),
but also bccausc hc would havc a lricnd thcrc: born and brought up in thc Rhincland, Paul
cusscn (scc Platc ) planncd to attcnd his homc univcrsity. !n thc mcantimc, thc two
young mcn had vc lrcc wccks bclorc thc bcginning ol thc univcrsity ycar.
Iree at Iast
hc rst two wccks wcrc spcnt in Naumburg, whcrc cusscn madc a vcry good imprcs
sion on thc Nictzschc lamily. Tcn, on Scptcmbcr :, thc two lricnds sct o on a slow
mcandcr wcstwards towards 8onn.
nc must, Nictzschc wrotc to a lricnd still at Plorta, cxpcricncc constraint in ordcr to
bc ablc to savour lrccdom.
Altcr six ycars ol intcnsc study, coopcd up in a quasimonastic
institution which locatcd thc rcal world a couplc ol millcnnia in thc past, Nictzschc, on his
Rhincland trip, cxpcricnccd thc charms ol rst lrccdom to an intcnsc dcgrcc. His lcttcrs
sparklc with thc cxcitcmcnt ol bcing ablc to do just what hc wants, and with thc lascination
ol a ncw world (hc had ncvcr bclorc bccn out ol castcrn Gcrmany) whosc cvcry dctail is
vibrant and important: ! takc notc ol cvcrything, thc distinctivc charactcristics ol thc lood,
activity, agriculturc and so on, hc writcs homc.
Tc wcstward mcandcr was punctuatcd by thrcc stops. Tc rst was at lbcrlcld, ncar thc
Rhinc, cast ol usscldorl, Nictzschcs rst cncountcr with Catholic Gcrmany. Hcrc thcy
spcnt thc night with onc ol cusscns aunts:
Vc rclrcshcd oursclvcs with winc and brcad around hcrc, cvcrywhcrc you go you gct
lovcly cakcs and sliccs ol pumpcrnickcl . . . thc town is cxtrcmcly commcrcial, thc houscs


vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
mostly clad in slatc. Among thc womcn that onc sccs, ! noticcd, a strong prcdilcction lor a
pious hanging ol thc hcad. Tc young womcn arc vcry clcgant wcaring coats with cxtrcmcly
narrow waists . . . Altcr visiting scvcral cal cs on Sunday altcrnoon wc drank a nc Moscllc
winc in thc cvcning . . . my piano improvisations achicvcd considcrablc ccct . . . cvcrything
is complctcly as Lisabcth would say cnchanting.

Tc lricnds thcn procccdcd to K onigswatcr, a lcw kilomctrcs downstrcam lrom 8onn, on

thc oppositc bank. Hcrc thcy cngagcd in thc boyish high jinks onc would cxpcct lrom
young mcn on rst rclcasc lromboarding school. cusscns madcap cousin, rnst Schnabcl,
pcrsuadcd thcm to takc a horsc ridc about which Nictzschc rcmaincd wiscly silcnt in his
lcttcrs homc, but which cusscn dcscribcs in his mcmoirs:
!ntoxicatcd with winc and camaradcric, wc allowcd oursclvcs, in spitc ol having vcry littlc
moncy, to bc pcrsuadcd into hiring horscs to ridc up thc rachcnlcls |ragon Rocks, a
lamous tourist sight along thc Rhinc, visiblc lrom 8onn|. !t is thc only timc ! havc cvcr
sccn Nictzschc on horscback. Hc was in a mood to intcrcst himscll lcss in thc bcauty ol
thc sccncry than in thc cars ol his horsc. Hc kcpt trying to mcasurc thcm and makc up his
mind whcthcr hc was riding a donkcy or a horsc. !n thc cvcning wc actcd still morc insancly.
Tc thrcc ol us wcrc wandcring through thc strccts ol thc littlc town making ovcrturcs to
thc girls wc assumcd to bc conccalcd bchind thc windows. Nictzschc whistlcd and coocd
Prctty darling, prctty darling. Schnabcl was talking all kinds ol nonscnsc, making out that
hc was a poor Rhincland boy, bcgging lor a nights shcltcr.

Tough onc drcads to think how thc boys lclt thc ncxt morning, thc mattcr ol thc cars lcnds
a ccrtain MidsummcrNightsrcam charm to this cscapadc.
Tc lricnds third and longcst stop was with cusscns parcnts in bcrdrcis, ncar
Koblcnz, again closc to thc Rhinc. Hcrc Nictzschc lound cusscns lathcr (likc his own,
a Luthcran pastor) a good and grcat man who howcvcr, docsnt always stick to thc point,
and his mothcr, thc Frau Pastorin, a woman ol such cducation, dclicacy ol lccling and
cxprcssion, and ol such capacity lor hard work, as to bc almost uniquc. His main intcrcst
howcvcr was rcscrvcd lor cusscns sistcr, Maric (somctimcs shc rcminds mc ol you, so !
cannot withhold my cspccial lavour,

hc wrotc lizabcth) to whom, as with Anna Rcdtcl,

hc cxprcsscd his acction with a musical dcdication.
n ctobcr +, +86 Fritz and Frau cusscn cclcbratcd thcir joint birthday:
arly in thc morning wc sang a lourpart choralc Praisc thc Lord, oh my Soul outsidc Frau
Pastor cusscns bcdroom. . . !n thc cvcning wc playcd party gamcs on thc grass and did
somc dancing . . . arly thc ncxt morning wc travcllcd six hours to Ncuwicd, having takcn
a moving larcwcll. Vc wcrc a littlc tircd whcn wc got to thc stcamship |to travcl down thc
Rhinc| and arrivcd in 8onn at about oclock.

8onn was an cxpcnsivc placc and bccausc ol Franziskas straitcncd circumstanccs shc
could aord him only twcnty talcrs a month, whcrcas hc nccdcd at lcast thirty Nictzschc
was constantly short ol cash. His lcttcrs homc arc lull cvcntually to his own cmbarrass
mcnt ol thc old complaint, a plca lor morc moncy. Hc was so hard up that it took him
two wccks just to raisc thc scvcn talcrs nccdcd to cnrol in thc univcrsity. vcntually hc did
cnrol, lor his mothcrs sakc as a thcology studcnt, though hc intcndcd to locus primarily on

Nictzschc lound a room on thc sccond oor ol a housc, 8onngassc +8, whosc rclativc
comlort spacious, with thrcc largc windows, cvcrything vcry clcgant and clcan, and with a

dclightcd himas thc hcight ol luxury altcr six Spartan ycars at Plorta. !mpovcrishcd
though hc was, hc could not rcsist rcnting a pianino (piccolo piano), ovcr which hc hung a
portrait ol his lathcr.
!n spitc ol and ol coursc, adding to his povcrty, Nictzschcs timc in 8onn was llcd
with studcnt partics on Rhinc stcamcrs, copious quantitics ol Rhincland winc, many bccry
cvcnings in thc Kneipe |pub|, and trips up thc rivcr to ncarby Colognc. Tc principal occa
sion ol this dissolutc lilcstylc was thc lact that on arrival in 8onn, Nictzschc dccidcd to
join a studcnt lratcrnity thc Franconia.
Beer-rinking on the Rhine
ratcrnitics, Burschenschaften, or Corps wcrc (and to a considcrablc cxtcnt still arc) a
dominant lcaturc ol studcnt lilc in Gcrmany. stablishcd in +8+ by young Gcrmans
rcccntly rcturncd lromthc wars ol libcration against Napolcons armics ol occupation, thcir
original aim was to promotc a unitcd, gcncrally libcral, Gcrmany. 8y +86o, howcvcr, thcy
had dcgcncratcd into littlc morc than social clubs dcvotcd to bccr and duclling, thc point ol
thc lattcr bcing to acquirc a duclling scar. Mcmbcrship usually had (and still has), howcvcr,
a scrious, ultcrior purposc: cstablishing conncxions with luturc lcadcrs ol industry and poli
tics that would bc usclul in latcr lilc nctworking, in short. To his mothcr, unimprcsscd
by thc lratcrnity phcnomcnon, Nictzschc put this in morc clcvatcd tcrms: thc lratcrnitics
wcrc, hc wrotc, thc luturc ol Gcrmany and thc nurscry ol Gcrman parliamcnts.
Nictzschcs own motivcs lor joining Franconia wcrc mixcd. Hc admircd thc original
idcalismol thc lratcrnity movcmcnt, dcscribing it, in thc +8: On the Origins of Our Educa-
tional Institutions, as thc inncr summoning and rcncwal ol thc purcst cthical lorccs. 8ut ol
coursc hc kncw lull wcll that thc lratcrnitics ol +86o had dcgcncratcd into drinking clubs.
Partly, ! think, hc joincd lor company Franconia had a largc Plorta contingcnt whom
hc alrcady kncw, including cusscn. 8ut also, ! think, as an ambitious boy lrom a poor
background, hc was not abovc wishing to plug into a nctwork ol powcr and inucncc that
might givc him a lcg up in his luturc lilc.
Vriting as a law studcnt lrom G ottingcn (whcrc, lollowing lamily tradition, hc had
joincd thc Saxonia lratcrnity), Nictzschcs artistic and scnsitivc lricnd Carl von Gcrsdor
complaincd that, though hc had madc good lricnds in thc lratcrnity, only lamily prcssurc
kcpt him lrom rcsigning on account ol thc disgusting, barbaric bccrdrinking.

schc, howcvcr, rcplicd that whocvcr, as a studcnt, wants to gct to know his agc and his
pcoplc, must sport a lratcrnitys colours. Tc conncxions and thcir dircctions rcprcscnt, in
thc sharpcst possiblc way, thc typc ol thc ncxt gcncration ol mcn. Admittcdly, hc contin
ucs, thc bccrmatcrialism |Biermaterialismus| ol somc ol thc mcmbcrs is intolcrablc but
it just had to bc cndurcd.
Tough this might rcmind onc ol Princc Hals carousing with
lowlilc Falsta so that, as king, hc would know his pcoplc, Nictzschcs posc ol sociological
dctachmcnt is surcly disingcnuous. Vhat hc is saying, in codc, is that onc nccds to bc in a
lratcrnity in ordcr to nctwork.
n anothcr occasion Nictzschc rclcrs to his dcsirc to cxpcricncc thc lilc ol a lastliving
Ronald Hayman, cvcr kccn to gct thc subjcct ol his biography onto thc psy
choanalysts couch, suggcsts that thc shy introvcrt lrom Plorta was cngagcd in a conscious

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
programmc ol turning himscll into a grcgarious cxtrovcrt.
8ut this sccms to mc unncccs
sarily csotcric. Tc lact is, surcly, that altcr six ycars coopcd up in boardingschool, giving
thc hormoncs a run, giving oncscll a good blast ol winc, womcn and song, is normal, cvcn
standard, bchaviour. Likc thc ridc on thc rachcnlcls, bccr drinking on thc Rhinc comcs
undcr thc rubric, tasting thc rst dclights ol lrccdom.

Vriting to his mothcr to announcc his mcmbcrship in Franconia, Nictzschc says dclcn
sivcly ! can scc you shaking your hcad and trics to put a clcvatcd gloss on things: scvcn
Plorta alumni joincd at virtually thc samc timc . . . most arc philologists and all arc lovcrs ol
To Pindcr hc rcprcscnts himscll and his lcllow Plorta alumni as thc authcntically
culturcd mcmbcrs ol thc Fratcrnity, trying to turn thc (in a latcr slang) jocks in a morc spir
itual dircction.
Tis is probably truc. Noncthclcss, thcrc can bc no doubt that Nictzschc
himscll lully indulgcd in bccrmatcrialism. For onc thing hc admits to lrcqucnt cxcursions
to lun lairs, danccs, nights in thc pub and to dcvcloping a bccr bclly.
And lor anothcr, hc
admits, with a combination ol shamc and bravado, to a hangovcr (not, it should bc said, to
his mothcr, but to lizabcth, who could bc rclicd upon, in thc cnd, to smilc indulgcntly on
cvcn thc worst loiblcs ol hcr big brothcr):
Having just wrcnchcd myscll out ol bcd, ! am writing this morning in dircct rclutation
ol thc opinion that ! havc a hangovcr |Kater, which also mcans tomcat|. You will not
know this hairytailcd animal. Ycstcrday cvcning wc had a grcat asscmbly, ccrcmonially
singing Fathcr ol thc Pcoplc and cndlcssly drinking punch . . . Vc wcrc lorty pcoplc in
all, thc pub was splcndidly dccoratcd . . . ycstcrdays Gem utlichkeit (warm togcthcrncss), was
hcavcnly . . .
Not only did Nictzschc gct drunk, hc also bccamc cnough ol a jock to indulgc in a ducl.
As rcportcd by cusscn, walking onc day in thc markctplacc, hc struck up an acquaintancc
with a lad lrom anothcr lratcrnity. Tcy had a plcasant chat about art and litcraturc and
thcn Nictzschc askcd him, in thc politcst possiblc way, il hc would cngagc in a ducl. Tc
othcr agrccd, and though cusscn was cxtrcmcly worricd lor his myopic and by now lattish
lricnd (von Gcrsdors cousin had almost dicd lroma duclling wound),
thcrc was nothing
hc could do about it.
Tcy lockcd swords, and thc glinting bladcs danccd around thcir unprotcctcd hcads. !t
lastcd scarccly thrcc minutcs, and Nictzschcs opponcnt managcd to cut in low carte at thc
bridgc ol his nosc, hitting thc cxact spot whcrc his spcctaclcs, prcssing down too hcavily,
had lclt a rcd mark. 8lood tricklcd to thc ground, and thc cxpcrts agrccd that past cvcnts
had bccn satislactorily cxpiatcd. ! packcd my wcllbandagcd lricnd into a carriagc, took
him homc to bcd, assiduously comlortcd him, lorbadc him visits and alcohol. Vithin two
or thrcc days our hcro had lully rccovcrcd, cxccpt lor a small slanting scar across thc bridgc
ol his nosc, which rcmaincd thcrc throughout his lilc and did not look at all bad on him.
(Tc last scntcncc is mistakcn, latcr photographs show no sign ol a scar. cusscn dclicatcly
omits mcntion ol thc lact that, whcthcr through squcamishncss or incompctcncc, Nictzschc
lailcd to inict thc dcsircd scar on his opponcnt.)

Te Cologne Brothel
hc othcr important activity ol thc Franconians was chasing girls. cusscn and liza
bcth havc combincd to crcatc a picturc ol Nictzschc as somconc who had nothing to
do with such activity, as having virtually no scx drivc. lizabcth writcs that his lovc ncvcr
cxcccdcd a rathcr modcratc and poctical attachmcnt . . . throughout his lilc hc ncvcr oncc lcll
into thc clutchcs ol a grcat passion or a vulgar lovc,
whilc cusscn claims that according
to all that ! know ol Nictzschc ! think that thc words mulierem nunquam attigit (hc ncvcr
touchcd a woman) apply.
8oth thcsc claims arc highly suspcct. lizabcths biography,
rushcd into print altcr Nictzschcs collapsc into insanity at thc cnd ol +888, attcmptcd to
portray his lilc as that ol a Christian saint, and in particular to rcbut thc claim that his
madncss was duc to syphilis, whilc cusscn had no pcrsonal contact with Nictzschc at all
bctwccn +8 and +88.
Nictzschc ccrtainly livcd a lilc that was, in thc main, chastc. 8ut hc also wrotc pocms such
as thc lollowing, which appcars in a scction ol Zarathustra cntitlcd Among thc aughtcrs
ol thc cscrt:
You desert maidens,
t .hose feet I,
For the rst time
European under palm-trees,
m permitted to sit . . .
Beside the desert,
nd in no .ay de.astated:
For I am s.allo.ed do.n
By this smallest oasis:
it simply opened, ya.ning,
Its s.eetest mouth,
Te s.eetest-smelling of all little mouths:
Ten I fell in,
Do.n, straight through among you,
Dearest maidens . . .
Here I no. sit
In this small oasis . . .
Longing for a girls rounded mouth
and so on.
Tat this could havc bccn writtcn by somconc who ncvcr cxpcricnccd vulgar
lust is inconccivablc. Morc concrctcly, thc noscxdrivc thcsis (togcthcr with thc hypothcsis
that hc was gay, a hypothcsis dicult, though admittcdly not impossiblc, to rcconcilc with
thc abovc pocm) is cast into scvcrc doubt by his various admissions to havc visitcd brothcls
in Lcipzig and Naplcs (scc bclow pp. :, :o).
!n any casc, what is not in doubt is that Nictzschc did visit a brothcl in Colognc, hall
an hour up thc Rhinc lrom 8onn. Colognc dazzlcd, lascinatcd, and appallcd smalltown
Nictzschc. !t makcs thc impact ol a world city, hc wrotc lizabcth, an uncnding varicty
ol languagcs and a motlcy ol costumcs |thc city in Tus Spoke Zarathustra is callcd Tc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Motlcy Cow| unbclicvably many pickpockcts and othcr kinds ol trickstcrs.
nc day
in Fcbruary +86, according to cusscns account ol what Nictzschc told him,
hc travcllcd alonc to Colognc, and thcn had himscll takcn round thc local tourist sights by
a scrvant, and nally askcd to bc takcn to a rcstaurant. Tc scrvant, howcvcr, took him to a
housc ol illrcputc. ! lound myscll, Nictzschc told mc thc ncxt day, suddcnly surroundcd
by hall a dozcn apparitions in tinscl and gauzc, looking at mc cxpcctantly. For a short spacc
ol timc ! was spccchlcss. Tcn ! madc instinctivcly lor thc piano as bcing thc only soullul
thing prcscnt. ! struck a lcw chords, which lrccd mc lrom my paralysis and ! cscapcd.
Gcncrations ol biographcrs havc takcn this story at lacc valuc, and it is, indccd, likcly that
it accuratcly rcports what Nictzschc told his somcwhat prim lricnd. 8ut obscrvc its intrinsic
implausibility. Takc mc to a Festaurant! sounds nothing likc Takc mc to a Bordell!
although rushing to thc piano has thc ring ol truth to it, suggcsting thc virgin schoolboys
tcrror bclorc thc ultimatc mystcry ol thc ctcrnal lcmininc. Probably hc gavc instructions
to his guidc using somc vaguc tcrm accompanicd by a nudgc and a wink. Nictzschc was,
rcmcmbcr, on his own showing, trying to bc a lastliving studcnt at thc timc. Vhat is
most likcly is that having arrivcd in thc bordcllo with thc intcntion ol bcing rclicvcd ol his
virginity, hc lost his ncrvc. Tomas Mann uscs this incidcnt in his novcl Doctor Faustus,
making his hcro think so much about thc snubnoscd girl who had brushcd his arm that hc
gocs back. Latcr hc wrotc an cssay suggcsting that this is what Nictzschc in lact did.
sccms to mc by no mcans improbablc. nc might cvcn spcculatc that thc pocm about thc
daughtcrs ol thc dcscrt quotcd abovc is a rccollcction ol thc daughtcrs ol thc moral dcscrt
ol Colognc.
avid Strauss and the Critique of Christianity
tudcnt lilc, ol coursc, is not just bccr and skittlcs. !t rcquircs a ccrtain amount ol study.
Having cnrollcd as a thcology studcnt, Nictzschc was rcquircd to study somc thcology.
Latcr, hc said his only intcrcst had bccn critiquc ol sourccs, by which hc mcant thc translcr
ol thc tcchniqucs ol tcxtual criticism lrom Grcck philology to thc 8iblc. Primarily what hc
had in mind was his rcading ol avid Strausss Life of Jesus.
First publishcd in +86 in two volumcs undcr thc titlc Te Life of Jesus Critically
Examined, Strausss work causcd a storm ol controvcrsy. (!t had a prolound impact on
Gcorgc liot, causing hcr to abandon hcr laith and, in +86, to translatc it into nglish
undcr hcr rcal namc ol Marian vans.) !n +86 hc brought out a shortcncd vcrsion undcr
thc titlc Te Life of Jesus Examined for the German People, which is thc vcrsion Nictzschc
posscsscd and rcad with avid attcntion.
Strausss intcrcst is in thc way Jcsuss lilc had bccn prcscntcd by his disciplcs. Far lrom
bcing accuratc historical chroniclcs, hc maintains, thc gospcls arc cxcrciscs in mythmaking,
partly conscious and partly unconscious, thc purposc ol which is to clcvatc and inspirc. Tc
myths ol thc immaculatc conccption and ol Jcsus dcath and rcsurrcction arc parts ol an
inspirational narrativc. Contrary to common bclicl, nonc ol thc gospcls wcrc cycwitncss
rcports but wcrc composcd many ycars latcr. Tcrc arc, morcovcr, many inconsistcncics
bctwccn thc authors ol thc gospcls and bctwccn thcm and Paul, an aspcct ol Strausss cri
tiquc Nictzschc rccords in his notcbooks lor March, +86.
ccply anticlcrical, Strauss

statcs in his prclacc that what wc must rccognisc is that il Christianity ccascs to bc a mir
aclc, thc ccclcsiastics will not longcr bc ablc to pass thcmsclvcs o as thc agcnts ol thc
miraclc thcy likc to scrvc. Christian mctaphysics, in othcr words, is a pricstly condcncc
trick dcsigncd to incrcasc thcir prcstigc and powcr.

Unsurprisingly, givcn thc timc spcnt drinking, thc work Nictzschc produccd in 8onn was
sparsc hc ncvcr actually turncd in a singlc nishcd cssay during thc cntirc ycar. Noncthclcss
hc did producc somc writings on rcligious thcmcs which, though lragmcntary, show how
strongly his thinking was inucnccd by Strauss. Although produccd by a thcology studcnt,
thc standpoint ol thcsc lragmcnts is that, not that ol a bclicvcr, but ol an cxtcrnal, indccd
hostilc, obscrvcr.
nc lragmcnt, lor cxamplc, dcscribcs thc worldvicw ol thc Catholic middlc agcs as
csscntially supcrnaturalistic, hcavcn is locatcd abovc thc scvcn sphcrcs ol thc plancts and
hcll in thc ccntrc ol thc carth. Tc csscncc ol this vicw is, hc says, a dualism bctwccn
spirit and naturc. Protcstant orthodoxy, Nictzschc continucs, took ovcr this worldvicw.
Tc conscqucncc is that lor it, too,
thc carth is a placc ol cxilc, thc body is a prison. Vc must bc llcd with hatc and dis
gust towards lilc. Man cxpcricnccs a tcrriblc urgc to sclldcstruction. Tc carth and all its
conccrns arc thc absolutc oppositc ol all that is hcavcnly.
And in anothcr lragmcnt lrom thc samc ycar thc titlc n thc Lilc ol Jcsus makcs it clcar
that hc is pr ccising Strauss hc writcs that
according to thc vicw ol bclicvcrs, God, as thc ground ol lilc and thc prcscrvcr ol world
history, is justicd, indccd rcquircd, to intcrvcnc in its progrcss. Tis vicw dcdiviniscs thc
world . . . !s such a scparation ol God and world rcally capablc ol philosophical justica
Fragmcnts such as thcsc show that Nictzschcs corts as a thcology studcnt, lar lrom
prcparing him lor thc lilc ol a pricst, wcrc pushing him in quitc thc oppositc dircction. Not
only has hc lost his laith, hc now, undcr Strausss guidancc, bcgins to scc Christianity as
a positivcly pcrnicious phcnomcnon, so that thc loss ol laith no longcr sccms a mattcr ol
rcgrct but thc bcginning, rathcr, ol a ncw, spiritually hcalthicr cxistcncc. Hcrc, thcrclorc,
arc thc bcginnings ol thc critiquc ol Christianity that will appcar in Nictzschcs maturc
philosophy. Christianity, by making thc supcrnatural world thc locus ol all that is holy and
blcsscd, dcdiviniscs thc natural world, dcprivcs it ol thc holincss it had posscsscd in prc
Christian timcs, translorms it, indccd, into a placc ol pain and cxilc. And, lollowing thc
kind ol immancnt rcligiosity Strauss takcs ovcr lromHcgcl, wc also scc thc bcginning ol thc
idca that any God worth worshipping must bc an immanent god, a god who is not abovc
but rathcr is thc world thc panthcistic notion towards which Nictzschcs cngagcmcnt with
H oldcrlins poctry had alrcady providcd an impctus.
Matching Strausss anticlcricalism, thc 8onn lragmcnts also rcvcal thc bcginning ol
Nictzschcs idcntication ol pricsts as cvilmindcd propagators ol a pcrnicious worldvicw.
Tc missionarics to Alrica, lor cxamplc (thosc samc missionarics to whom, as childrcn, hc
and lizabcth had donatcd toys), conlus|ing| thc conccpts ol thcismand morality, prctcnd
that thcrc is an obligation to convcrt thc barbaric hcathcns to thc truc laith. 8ut lacking

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
thc ability to provc thc cxistcncc ol thcir God, thcy arc rcduccd to thrcats and bribcs. !n
short, Nictzschc concludcs, thc Christian pricsthood sucrs undcr thc samc lanaticism as
all pricsts.
Givcn rcmarks such as thcsc, it is clcar that thc idca ol lollowing his lathcr
into thc pricsthood is, by now, dcad as a dodo.

Unsurprisingly, lcttcrs lrom homc during thc 8onn ycar rcvcal incrcasing anxicty about
Nictzschcs spiritual dircction:
All good wishcs lrom your mothcr on your birthday. God alonc knows how ! bcar you in
my hcart. Takc thc Lord God as your lcadcr on your ncw lilc path and lor thc ncw ycar ol
your lilc, il you do hc will blcss you and protcct you so as to continuc thc joy ol your dcar,
blcsscd lathcr and mc and Licschcn.
And, rcinlorcing thc lamily prcssurc to rcmain on thc straight and narrow, lizabcth joins
in, cvcn parroting hcr mothcrs phrascology: Happy birthday . . . and now ! writc quitc
simply that my inncrmost praycr to God is that, in this ncw ycar ol your lilc and on
this ncw lilc path, hc will protcct you so that you will rcmain as dcar and good as in thc
All to no avail. Rcturning homc lor thc astcr holidays ol +86, lattcr and givcn to talking
in thc boorish manncr ol lratcrnity drinking cvcnings, hc abruptly announccd his dccision
to abandon thcology lor philology, brandishing Strausss book bclorc thc horricd laccs ol
his mothcr and sistcr. And hc rcluscd to accompany his mothcr to Sunday scrvicc and Holy
Communion. According to lizabcth, a stormy sccnc cnsucd which rcduccd Franziska to
tcars and only cndcd whcn Aunt Rosalic thc lamilys thcological cxpcrt cxplaincd sagcly
that in thc lilc ol cvcry grcat thcologian thcrc had bccn momcnts ol doubt and that it was
much bcttcr at such momcnts to avoid all discussion. vcntually Franziska agrccd, and
agrccd, too, that Fritz should ncvcr bc lorccd to do anything against his conscicncc.
now on, howcvcr, rcligious subjccts bccamc taboo bctwccn mothcr and son. Tough hc
rcmaincd hcr most dcarly bclovcd child lor thc rcst ol his lilc, shc withdrcw into thc castlc
ol hcr laith and hc into thc castlc ol his dcnial. Actually, shc wrotc to hcr brothcr dmund,
! dont think philosophy is a subjcct lor womcn, wc losc thc ground lrom undcr our

Mcanwhilc thc conict had thrown lizabcth into a spiritual crisis ol hcr own, a battlc
bctwccn smalltown convcntionality and hcroworship ol hcr brothcr. Tough shc tricd to
makc pcacc bctwccn mothcr and son, shc was always ultimatcly on Fritzs sidc, party to a
sccrct alliancc against parcntal opprcssion. All his lilc shc was thcrc lor Fritz. Shc wor
shippcd a picturc ol him shc had constructcd and, as Nictzschcs wondcrlul SwissGcrman
biographcr, Curt Paul Janz,

commcnts, woc bctidc anyonc including Nietzsche himself

who tricd to disturb it.

J ! pp. +8. Curt Paul Janz, lortysix ycars a viola playcr in thc 8ascl Symphony rchcstra,
bccamc intcrcstcd in Nictzschc via thc lattcrs rclationship with Richard Vagncr. Running to +,8o
closcly packcd pagcs in thrcc volumcs, his biography dcvotcd to Nictzschcs lilc, not his works is
not only comprchcnsivc but lull ol shrcwd human insight. Tough hc is now (:oo) in his nincty
cighth ycar, ! havc protcd lrom an illuminating corrcspondcncc with him during thc writing ol
this book.

!n May +86 lizabcth wrotc Fritz that shc was going to visit thcir unclc dmund to
try to rcsolvc hcr crisis shc probably chosc dmund bccausc, as wc havc sccn (lootnotc
on p. abovc) hc himscll had bccn through a pcriod ol rcligious doubt and had cmcrgcd
thc othcr sidc, his laith morc or lcss intact. Vith your vicws, shc wrotc Fritz,
which arc actually dcprcssing you havc lound a toowilling studcnt. As Mamma says,
! too havc bccomc ovcrly clcvcr, but sincc ! cant lorgct my lama |conlormist| naturc !
am lull ol conlusion . . . Tis howcvcr is ccrtain: it is much casicr not to bclicvc than thc
oppositc, and thc dicult is likcly to bc thc right coursc to takc . . . Anyway ! rcally rcgrct
your bringing thc unhappy Strauss with you on holiday, and that !vc hcard so much about
him lrom you. For to hcar that it is possiblc to doubt and criticisc what arc (at lcast to
bclicvcrs) thc lolticst things is thc rst stcp towards a ncw bclicl or unbclicl. And whcn
that happcns, it is lor mc as though thc rm protcctivc wall has lallcn, and onc now stands
bclorc a broad, maplcss, conlusing, mistcnshroudcd dcscrt whcrc thcrc is nothing rm,
with only our own poor, miscrablc, and so oltcn lalliblc spirit to guidc us.

Tis clcarly madc an impact on Nictzschc thc dcscrt imagc rccurs throughout his work
to dcscribc thc dcsolation ol Godlcssncss and, lor thc rst and almost last timc in his lilc,
hc trcats lizabcth as dcscrving an intcllcctually scrious rcply:
Tis timc you havc providcd mc with rich matcrial which ! cnjoy vcry much chcwing ovcr
in an intcllcctual scnsc.
!n thc rst placc, howcvcr, ! must rclcr to a passagc in your lcttcr which was writtcn with
as much pastorcolouration as with a lamas hcart. ont worry, dcar Lizbcth. !l your will
is as good and rcsolutc as you say our dcar unclc wont havc too much troublc. Conccrning
your basic principlc, that truth is always to bc lound on thc sidc ol thc morc dicult, !
agrcc in part. Howcvcr, it is dicult to bclicvc that : : docs not cqual . ocs that makc
it thcrclorc trucr:
n thc othcr hand, is it rcally so dicult simply to acccpt as truc cvcrything wc havc
bccn taught, and which has gradually takcn rm root in us, and is thought truc by thc
circlc ol our rclativcs and many good pcoplc, and which, morcovcr, rcally docs comlort and
clcvatc mcn: !s that morc dicult than to vcnturc on ncwpaths, at odds with custom, in thc
insccurity that attcnds indcpcndcncc, cxpcricncing many moodswings and cvcn troublcs
ol conscicncc, oltcn disconsolatc, but always with thc truc, thc bcautilul and thc good as
our goal:
!s thc most important thing to arrivc at that vicwol God, world and rcconciliation which
makcs us lccl most comlortablc: !s not thc truc inquircr totally indicrcnt to what thc rcsult
ol his inquirics might bc: Vhcn wc inquirc, arc wc sccking lor rcst, pcacc, happincss: Not
so, wc scck only truth cvcn though it bc in thc highcst dcgrcc ugly and rcpcllcnt.
Still onc nal qucstion: il wc had bclicvcd lrom our youth onwards that all salvation
issucd lrom somconc othcr than Jcsus, lrom Mohammcd lor cxamplc, is it not ccrtain that
wc should havc cxpcricnccd thc samc blcssings: !t is thc laith that makcs blcsscd, not thc
objcctivc rcality that stands bchind thc laith. ! writc this to you, dcar Lisbcth, simply with
thc vicw ol mccting thc linc ol prool usually adoptcd by rcligious pcoplc, who appcal to
thcir inncr cxpcricnccs to dcmonstratc thc inlallibility ol thcir laith. vcry truc laith is

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
inlalliblc, it accomplishcs what thc pcrson holding thc laith hopcs to nd in it, but that
docs not ocr thc slightcst support lor a prool ol its objcctivc truth.
Hcrc thc ways ol mcn dividc: il you wish to strivc lor pcacc ol soul and happincss, thcn
bclicvc, il you wish to bc a disciplc ol truth, thcn inquirc.

Two thcmcs which will comc to dominatc Nictzschcs maturc philosophy rcccivc an impor
tant airing hcrc. First, thc posing ol a stark choicc bctwccn oltcn bittcr truth and oltcn happy
illusion and, sccond, Nictzschcs thc lrcc spirits, as hc will latcr say binding himscll
hcroically to thc mast ol truth.
!t is important to rccognisc that lor Nictzschc this is no mcrcly acadcmic choicc. As
hc says to lizabcth, Christian laith rcally docs comlort and clcvatc. Hc apprcciatcs all
too wcll thc sccurity and warmth providcd him by his cxtcndcd, always Christian, lamily.
And as thc musician who bclicvcs that without music lilc would bc an crror, hc continucs
to trcasurc thc musical hcritagc ol Luthcranism, in Junc, +86, as a mcmbcr ol thc six
hundrcd strong 8onn Municipal Choral Socicty, hc sings with incomparablc cnthusiasm
in Handcls !sracl in gypt during thc thrccday Colognc music lcstival.
Tough hc
objccts to thc bigotcd Catholicism ol thc Rhincland

and to thc inucncc within thc

univcrsity ol Jcsuits dcdicatcd to cradicating Protcstantism,
hc docs so not as an athcist
but out ol idcntication with his Protcstant homcland, an idcntication that lcads him to
bccomc an activc mcmbcr ol thc Gustav Adolphus Socicty, an antiCatholic club lor thc
Protcstant diaspora.

To Aunt Rosalic hc complains that thc local prcachcrs arc all inlcrior
to thosc ol Naumburg and that local lcstivals arc all ocnsivcly Catholic in charactcr.
!n 8onn, Nictzschc continucd to bc intcnscly nostalgic lor thc boyhood magic ol Christ
mas. Unablc to aord thc larc homc lor thc Christmas ol +86, hc wrotc to his mothcr and
! do hopc you will havc a Christmas trcc with lights . . . Vc will light a trcc in thc tav
crn but naturally thats only a palc rccction ol how wc cclcbratc at homc, lor thc main
thing, thc lamily and circlc ol rclativcs, is missing . . . o you rcmcmbcr what wondcrlul
Christmascs wc had in Gorcnzcn |whcrc Unclc dmund was pastor|: . . . !t was so lovcly,
thc housc and thc villagc in thc snow, thc cvcning scrvicc, my hcad lull ol mclodics, thc
togcthcrncss . . . and mc in my nightshirt, thc cold, and many mcrry and scrious things. All
togcthcr a dclightlul atmosphcrc. Vhcn ! play my Ncw Ycars vc

it is this that ! hcar

in thc sounds.
Emotionally, thcn, Nictzschc rcmaincd a Christian, spccically a Luthcran Protcstant.
And hc rcmaincd dccply dcpcndcnt on thc contcmplativc distancc lrom daily lilc occa
sioncd by thc lcstivals ol his youth.
! lovc Ncw Ycars vc and birthdays, hc writcs,
lor thcy allow us hours which admittcdly wc can oltcn crcatc lor oursclvcs, but scldom
do in which thc soul can stand still and rcvicw a phasc ol its own dcvclopmcnt. Cru
cial |c.g., Ncw Ycars| rcsolutions arc born in such momcnts. ! am accustomcd on thcsc
occasions to bring out thc manuscripts and lcttcrs ol past ycars and to makc notcs. For a
lcw hours onc is raiscd abovc timc and almost stcps outsidc oncs own dcvclopmcnt. nc

A Ncw Ycars vc |Eine Syl.esternacht|, a piccc lor piano and violin writtcn in +86 (track + on
thc Vcb sitc lor this book).

sccurcs and documcnts thc past and rcccivcs thc couragc and rcsolutcncss to rcsumc trav
clling along oncs path. !ts lovcly whcn thc blcssings and wishcs ol thc rclativcs lall likc a
mild rain on thcsc rcsolutions and dccisions, thc rst sccds ol thc luturc.

Tat his intcllcct tclls him that thc Christian God is mcrc supcrstition is indccd, thcrclorc,
as hc says in thc lcttcr to lizabcth, a dccply ugly truth. For him, as much as lor hcr, thc
ccct ol his intcllcct (or that ol avid Strauss) is to cast him into a dcscrt ol which thcrc
can bc no map. !n quoting to Raimund Granicr (his companion in tccnagc rcbcllion) lrom
8yrons Manfred
But grief should be the instructor of the .ise;
Sorro. is kno.ledge: they .ho kno. the most
Must mourn the deepest oer the fatal truth.
Te tree of kno.ledge is not that of life.

hc is cxprcssing his own dividcd and troublcd spirit, thc conict bctwccn thc vicw lrom
his hcad and thc nccds ol his hcart.
Givcn, thcn, thc cmotional dcsolation it cntails, it is worth asking what it was that
impcllcd Nictzschc to commit himscll, so unconditionally, to truth. nc answcr is that
hc had no option. Having oncc apprchcndcd thc dcvastating impact ol Straussian (not to
mcntion arwinian) scicncc, thcrc could bc no lorgctting what hc had lcarnt. ncc thc
Pandoras box ol knowlcdgc had bccn opcncd thcrc was no shutting thc lid. Yct thc qucstion
rcmains as to what justication Nictzschc gavc himscll lor bccoming a knight ol truth.
As wc sawin thc last chaptcr, Nictzschc rcgards supcrnaturalist rcligious bclicl as bclong
ing to thc childhood ol pcoplcs (p. abovc). So ovcrcoming primitivc supcrstition is a
mattcr ol bccoming an intcllcctual adult. Still, onc might prcss thc qucstion: just what is
so important about bccoming an adult: Zarathustra says that his lundamcntal mcssagc is
bccomc who you arc

, an abbrcviation ol thc Grcck poct Pindars injunction to bccomc

who you arc, having lcarnt what that is, which would ccrtainly havc imprcsscd itscll on
Nictzschcs mind in thc coursc ol his classical studics at Plorta. Lilc, in othcr words, is
about thc rcalization ol potcntial, about growing and maturing into a lully rcalizcd adult
in thc way in which an acorn, givcn thc right conditions, grows and maturcs into an oak.
Still, thc annoyingly pcrsistcnt qucstioncr might dcmand, why should wc do that: Vhat is
so bad about bcing an acorn: Tc only answcr onc can rcadily think ol is that it is part ol
thc intcntion undcrlying divinc crcation that cach thing should rcalisc its potcntial. !t is,
thcrclorc, with good rcason that, in +88, in Te Gay Science, Nictzschc nally asks whcthcr
wc knights ol truth arc not still too pious.
Nictzschc ncvcr abandons his commitmcnt to
truth. 8ut a major task ol his maturc philosophy is to nd a nonpious justication lor it.
Ieaving Bonn
y Fcbruary +86 Nictzschc was ltyvc talcrs in dcbt (roughly a ycars rcnt lor his
room in thc 8onngassc) and it was clcar, 8onn bcing lar morc cxpcnsivc than othcr
univcrsity towns, that hc could stay thcrc no morc than a ycar.
!n thc philology dcpartmcnt at 8onn, thc two giants, tto Jahn and Fricdrich Ritschl,
had bccomc involvcd in onc ol thosc lcuds (typical ol acadcmia both thcn and now) thc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
origin ol which no onc can rcmcmbcr. Tc rcsult was Ritschls acccpting a chair in Lcipzig
(rcsponding to a call, as thc Gcrmans say). 8y May ycarning in any casc to rcturn to thc
Protcstant hcartland (Lcipzig is only sixty kilomctrcs lrom Naumburg) Nictzschc had
dccidcd to lollow him. An addcd inccntivc was that von Gcrsdor had dccidcd to givc up
thc tcdious study ol law at G ottingcn and movc to Lcipzig to study Gcrman litcraturc.
Nictzschcs nal wccks in 8onn wcrc marrcd by rhcumatic pains and splitting hcadachcs,
aggravatcd by torrcntial downpours ol rain and by thc Rhinc \allcys cncloscd, humid cli
matc. Probably, too, thcrc was a psychosomatic clcmcnt: incrcasingly, wc shall scc, tran
sitions in Nictzschcs lilc wcrc accompanicd by attacks ol ill hcalth.
Tc cvcning ol his dcparturc by Rhincstcamcr on August , hc was accompanicd to thc
picr by cusscn and his ncw lricnd and lcllow Franconian Hcrmann Mushackc.

wccks latcr hc wrotc to Mushackc lrom Naumburg attcmpting to sum up his timc in thc
Rhincland. 8onn, hc wrotc, had lclt a nasty tastc in thc mouth. For whilc hc hopcd, cvcn
tually, to look back on it as a ncccssary link in his dcvclopmcnt,
at thc momcnt this is not possiblc. !t still sccms to mc that in many rcspccts ! havc culpably
wastcd thc ycar. My timc with thc Fratcrnity sccms to mc, to bc lrank, a laux pas, in
particular thc last summcr scmcstcr. !n doing so ! transgrcsscd my principlc ol dcvoting
no morc timc to things and pcoplc than is ncccssary to lcarning thcm. . . !m annoycd with
myscll . . . ! am by no mcans an unqualicd lan ol Franconia. To bc surc, ! think back on
good comradcship. 8ut ! nd its political judgmcnt minimal, only activc in a lcw hcads.
! nd thc lacc thcy prcscnt to thc world plcbcian and rcpulsivc, and not bcing ablc to
kccp my disapproval to myscll havc madc my rclations with thc othcrs uncasy . . . Vith my
studics ! must also bc lundamcntally dissatiscd, cvcn though much ol thc blamc must bc
ascribcd to thc Fratcrnity, which thwartcd my bcst intcntions. Right now, ! am awarc ol
what wholcsomc rclicl and human clcvation is to bc lound in continuous, urgcnt work . . . !
am ashamcd ol thc work ! did thcrc . . . !ts junk. vcry singlc piccc ol school work ! did
was bcttcr.

Notablc hcrc, altcr a rclativcly dissolutc ycar, is thc rcasscrtion ol thc PlortaProtcstant
workcthic which would ncvcr again dcscrt him. (Vhat do ! carc lor happincss: . . . ! havc
my work, says Nictzschcs altcr cgo, Zarathustra.) Notablc, too, is thc cqually Prussian
Protcstant ncccssity to construc oncs lilc as a narrativc ol sclldcvclopmcnt, a pilgrims
progrcss towards scllpcrlcction. n both counts Nictzschc is ashamcd ol thc 8onn ycar
and on both counts hc puts thc blamc on his association with thc Fratcrnity. !t is no surprisc,
thcrclorc, that, in ctobcr +86, during his rst scmcstcr at Lcipzig, hc postcd a lcttcr ol
rcsignation (without it hc would havc bccn a mcmbcr lor lilc):
! do not ccasc |hc wrotc| to valuc thc idca ol thc Fratcrnity highly. ! will simply conlcss
that to mc its contcmporary manilcstation is somcthing ! am dissatiscd with. !t was hard
lor mc to bcar a lull ycar as a mcmbcr ol Franconia. 8ut ! hcld it to bc my duty to gct to
know it. Now nothing binds mc to it. So ! say larcwcll. May Franconia soon ovcrcomc thc
stagc ol dcvclopmcnt in which it nds itscll at prcscnt.

A 8crlincr, Mushackc accompanicd Nictzschc to Lcipzig, whcrc hc rcmaincd, howcvcr, lor only
onc scmcstcr. Hc lought in thc FrancoPrussian war and was awardcd thc !ron Cross. Hc thcn
complctcd his studics in Rostock and bccamc a high school tcachcr likc his lathcr bclorc him.
Nictzschc lost contact with him altcr moving to 8ascl in +86.
Getting Settled
v~vixc noxx, Nictzschc rcturncd to Naumburg, whcrc hc spcnt thc rcst ol August,
+86, rccovcring lrom thc ailmcnts that aictcd his last wccks in thc Rhincland.
Tis was lollowcd by two happy wccks staying with thc Mushackc lamily in 8crlin
and sccing thc sights. Hc got on so wcll with Hcrmanns lathcr, duard, that thc lattcr,
in spitc ol thc agc dicrcncc, proposcd thcy should addrcss cach othcr with thc lamiliar
And thcn thc two lricnds travcllcd to Lcipzig, whcrc thcy arrivcd at thc 8crlin railway
station on ctobcr +. First ol all, Nictzschc rccalls,
wc wandcrcd about thc city ccntrc quitc aimlcssly, cnjoying thc sight ol thc lolty houscs,
livcly strccts and constant activity. Tcn wc adjourncd lor a littlc rcst about midday to thc
Rcissc Rcstaurant . . . !t was on this occasion that ! rst rcad thc ncwspapcr at midday, which
thcrcaltcr bccamc a rcgular habit. 8ut all wc did that morning was to notc down thc various
advcrtiscmcnts lor rcspcctablc or cvcn clcgant rooms, with bcdroom ctc.
Altcr a dcprcssing altcrnoon traipsing up and down smclly staircascs to vicw lar lrom
clcgant rooms, thcy lound thcir way into a sccludcd sidc strcct, thc 8lumcngassc (now
Schcrlstrassc), within casy walking distancc ol thc univcrsity. Hcrc Nictzschc lound a room
at numbcr abovc an antiquarian bookshop owncd by his landlord, Hcrr Rohn, whilc
Mushackc lound lodgings ncxt door. (!n April ol thc lollowing ycar Nictzschc movcd to
liscnstrassc, drivcn out by thc noisc ol childrcn.)
Tc ncxt day thc two ncw arrivals prcscntcd thcmsclvcs lor cnrolmcnt at thc univcrsity
by chancc, cxactly a hundrcd ycars to thc day sincc Gocthcs cnrolmcnt. Nictzschc took this
as a splcndid omcn, though, to thc barcly supprcsscd laughtcr ol thc asscmblcd lrcshmcn,
thc Rcctor dclivcrcd a spccch cxplaining that a gcnius oltcn chooscs cxtraordinary paths
to his goal, so that thcy should in no way takc Gocthcs studcnt lilc as a modcl lor thcir

(Forccd by his lathcr to study law, which hc lound a borc, Gocthc spcnt most ol his
timc at Lcipzig carousing and chasing girls.)


vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Tc ncxt salicnt cvcnt was Ritschls inaugural public lccturc lollowing his own rcccnt
arrival lrom 8onn:
vcrybody was in a grcat statc ol cxcitcmcnt |Nictzschc rccords| at thc appcarancc ol thc
lamous man whosc bchaviour in thc aair at 8onn had brought his namc into cvcry papcr
and homc. Tc hall was thus packcd . . . Suddcnly Ritschl madc his way into thc hall in
his largc lclt slippcrs, though othcrwisc hc was laultlcssly attircd in cvcning drcss, with a
whitc tic. Hc lookcd with goodhumourcd chccr at thc ncw world bclorc him, and soon
discovcrcd laccs which wcrc not strangc. Vhilc going lrom group to group at thc back ol
thc hall hc suddcnly cricd, Hallo! Tcrc is Hcrr Nictzschc, too! and hc wavcd his hand
glcclully to mc.

About a month altcr hc arrivcd in Lcipzig, thcrc occurrcd thc most important philosoph
ical cncountcr ol Nictzschcs lilc: in his landlords bookshop hc discovcrcd a sccondhand
copy ol Arthur Schopcnhaucrs mastcrpiccc, Te !orld as !ill and Fepresentation, bought it,
rcad it covcr to covcr, and was bowlcd ovcr. (Richard Vagncr had had a similar convcrsion
cxpcricncc clcvcn ycars carlicr.) Hc immcdiatcly dcclarcd himscll a Schopcnhaucrian, as
hc would continuc to do lor thc ncxt dccadc. Vhat cxactly hc mcant by this ! shall discuss
in thc ncxt chaptcr.
Happy Times
ictzschcs studcnt ycars in Lcipzig wcrc thc happicst ol his lilc. Apart lrom his sistcr,
who rcmarks on thc unmistakably chccrlul tonc ol his Lcipzig rccollcctions,

raphcrs havc misscd thc happincss ol thc Lcipzig ycars. ctcrmincd to prcss thcir subjcct
into thc romantic stcrcotypc ol thc mist loncr cripplcd by ill hcalth, thcy lail to rccognisc
that, though hc ccrtainly cndcd up that way, it is not how hc always was. vcn Nictzschc
himscll, much givcn to prcscnting himscll as a romantic loncr, admits that thc stcrcotypc
docs not t thc Lcipzig ycars. Tc last ycar in Lcipzig, hc wrotc von Gcrsdor in ctobcr
has bccn vcry dcar to mc. Vhcrcas in 8onn ! had to accommodatc myscll to rulcs and
lorms ! didnt undcrstand, had plcasurcs lorccd on mc that ! couldnt bcar, and livcd a lilc
without work among crudc pcoplc |in thc Franconia lratcrnity| who put mc into a dccp, bad
mood, Lcipzig has uncxpcctcdly rcvcrscd all that. clightlul, dcar lricndships, uncarncd
lavours lrom Ritschl, numcrous coworkcrs among my studcnt collcagucs, good tavcrns,
good conccrts, ctc. Truly thcy all combincd to makc Lcipzig a vcry dcar placc to mc.
Lct us rcvicw thc grounds ol Nictzschcs happincss during thc Lcipzig ycars. First, thc
pcriod was a timc ol cxccllcnt hcalth. (Tis was, pcrhaps, as much an ccct as a causc
ol happincss.) Tc tcrriblc hcadachcs, vomiting, gastric troublcs, and insomnia that would
plaguc his latcr ycars madc virtually no appcarancc in Lcipzig. And sccond, always intcnscly
in nccd ol lricnds, Nictzschc had, in thc Lcipzig ycars, a group ol closc lricnds, cithcr on thc
spot or in rcgular contact by lcttcr. Forcmost among thcm was rwin Rohdc (scc Platc +),

a giltcd lcllow studcnt ol Ritschl, lollowcd by von Gcrsdor, and, somc distancc bchind,
by cusscn and Mushackc.
Tc lricndship with Rohdc

cmbraccd all aspccts ol thcir livcs. Tcy rcad Schopcnhaucr

togcthcr, took lcssons in riding and in pistol shooting, and in thc summcr ol +86 took
o on a battcryrccharging twowcck walking holiday in thc 8ohcmia lorcst. (uring this
trip thcy locatcd thc villagc ol Klingcnbrunn to which Nictzschc would rcturn, in dramatic
circumstanccs, in +86.) Tis last summcr, Nictzschc wrotc to von Gcrsdor at thc cnd
ol +86, hc and Rohdc did almost cvcrything togcthcr.

A third sourcc ol Nictzschcs happincss was thc lact that, in Ritschl, thc bcstowcr ol
uncarncd lavours, hc had lound thc drcam prolcssor thc oppositc ol thc usual Gcrman
Godprolcssor, to whom onc had (and has) to apply, in writing, a month in advancc, in
ordcr to obtain a tcnminutc intcrvicw. 8rilliant, ccccntric, amusing, obscsscd by his sub
jcct, Ritschl madc himscll abovc all a lathcr to his lavouritc studcnts, committcd to caring
lor all aspccts ol thcir livcs and carccrs. (8chind his back Nictzschc indccd callcd him, acc
tionatcly, Fathcr Ritschl.) And Nictzschc had thc good lortunc to bc his alltimc lavouritc
Nictzschc rst caught Ritschls cyc lor cxccptional talcnt whcn, having writtcn anothcr
cssay on Tcognis (thc obscurc Grcck poct about whom hc had writtcn at Plorta), hc
pluckcd up thc couragc to show it to Ritschl. A lcw days latcr hc was summoncd to a mcct
ing. Saying hc had ncvcr sccn such imprcssivc work lrom a studcnt, Ritschl commissioncd
him to cxpand it lor publication in thc Fheinisches Museum f ur Philologie, thc (still our
ishing) scholarly classics journal ol which hc was thc cditor. From this day on, Nictzschc
rccollccts, an intimacy rapidly dcvclopcd:
! wcnt twicc almost cvcry wcck to scc him at lunchtimc and on cvcry occasion lound him
rcady to indulgc in scrious or lrivolous convcrsation. As a rulc hc sat in his armchair and
had thc Colognc ncwspapcr in lront ol him, which, togcthcr with thc 8onn ncwspapcr, hc
had long bccn accustomcd to rcad. As a rulc, amid thc vast mcdlcy ol papcrs, thcrc stood a
glass ol rcd winc. Vhcn hc was at work hc always uscd a chair which hc had upholstcrcd
himscll . . . !n his talk hc showcd no inhibitions, his angcr with his lricnds, his discontcnt
with cxisting conditions, thc laults ol thc univcrsity, thc ccccntricitics ol thc prolcssors wcrc
all cxprcsscd . . . Hc likcwisc pokcd lun at himscll, at his clcmcntary idca ol managing his
aairs and would tcll, lor instancc, how, lormcrly, hc had bccn in thc habit ol conccaling thc

rwin Rohdc (+88), thc son ol a Hamburg doctor, had also lollowcd Ritschl lrom 8onn to
Lcipzig. Towards thc cnd ol +86 hc movcd to Kicl, whcrc hc complctcd his doctoratc in +86 and,
in +8:, nally obtaincd an assistant prolcssorship. Undcr Nictzschcs inucncc, hc bccamc both
a Schopcnhaucrian and a Vagncrian. Tus, with Nictzschcs turn, in +86, against both Schopcn
haucr and Vagncr, thcir lricndship coolcd dramatically, particularly on Rohdcs sidc. Rohdc mar
ricd in +8 and produccd lour childrcn. Hc hcld prolcssorial chairs at Jcna, T ubingcn, Lcipzig,
and Hcidclbcrg, bccoming onc ol thc grcatcst classical scholars ol thc ninctccnth ccntury. His
book Psyche rcmains, to this day, a standard work on Grcck cults and bclicls about thc soul. !n +886
thcrc occurrcd a nal and unsatislactory mccting bctwccn thc crstwhilc lricnds. Following Nictz
schcs mcntal collapsc, hc was approachcd by lizabcth in +8 to advisc on publication ol thc
manuscript rcmains. His judgmcnt ol thcir quality was unilormly ncgativc and hc adviscd (unsuc
ccsslully) against all lurthcr publication. n this occasion hc saw Nictzschc lor thc last timc, who,
howcvcr, was unablc to rccognisc him.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
moncy hc rcccivcd in notcs ol tcn, twcnty, lty or a hundrcd talcrs in books so as to cnjoy
thc surprisc ol thcir discovcry latcr on . . . His cagcrncss to hclp othcrs was simply splcndid,
and lor this rcason many young philologists, in addition to bcing indcbtcd to him lor thcir
advanccs in scicntic knowlcdgc, also lclt thcmsclvcs bound to him by an intimatc and
pcrsonal dcbt ol gratitudc.
Not only was Ritschl thc drcam prolcssor, hc also had a dclightlul wilc. Sophic Ritschl
was lourtccn ycars youngcr than hcr husband, Jcwish,

a sparkling wit and a music lovcr.

As wc shall scc, it was shc who, through hcr lricndship with ttilic 8rockhaus, thc sistcr ol
Richard Vagncr, lacilitatcd Nictzschcs rst mccting with thc grcat man. Nictzschc spcnt
a considcrablc amount ol timc in Sophic Ritschls drawing room. Following thc standard
romantic modcl ol impossiblc lovc (both Rousscaus StPrcux and Gocthcs Vcrthcr wcrc
in lovc with thc wivcs ol cxcmplary mcn), Nictzschc ol coursc lcll in lovc with Sophic, as hc
would soon lall in lovc with Cosima Vagncr. !n a lcttcr to Rohdc, hc calls hcr his intimatc
lricnd and spcaks ol mystcrious lcmininc inucnccs on his lilc.

lizabcth was thus right

in rclcrring to a poctic clcmcnt in Nictzschcs rclations with thc oppositc scx (p. abovc)
cvcn though, as wc havc sccn, shc was complctcly wrong in claiming that only poctry was
A lurthcr important clcmcnt in thc happincss ol thc Lcipzig ycars was thc Philological
Club which, at Ritschls suggcstion, Nictzschc and two lcllow cmigr cs lrom 8onn lound
cd in carly +866, subscqucntly inviting scvcn lurthcr studcnts to join. Tc club mct on a
wcckly basis to hcar lccturcs lrom onc mcmbcr or anothcr, which must oltcn havc bccn ol
a high standard, sincc only thc bcst studcnts had bccn invitcd to join. 8ut it clcarly had a
social as wcll as intcllcctual aspcct, sincc it mct in such placcs as thc cutschc 8icrstubc
(Gcrman Alchousc), thc Lion Tavcrn, or Mahns rcstaurant. As wc saw, in his itcmization
ol thc dclights ol Lcipzig, Nictzschc mcntions numcrous coworkcrs among my studcnt
collcagucs and good tavcrns in thc samc brcath.
!n thc prcvious chaptcr ! mcntioncd Nictzschcs lilclong attcmpt to lormcirclcs ol cxccp
tional pcoplc dcvotcd to clcvatcd, cultural cnds. Tc Germania socicty was thc rst attcmpt,
thc vaguc notion ol rcturning thc Franconia lratcrnity to its noblc roots a sccond, and now
thc Philological Socicty was a third. Tc most important circlc ol his Lcipzig ycars, how
cvcr, was that which hc crcatcd by pcrsuading, cvcn bullying, his lricnds and acquaintanccs
into bccoming, likc himscll, Schopcnhaucrians. As promiscd, thc mcaning and signi
cancc ol bcing a Schopcnhaucrian will bc discusscd in Chaptcr .

!n Lcipzig, thcn, Nictzschc cnjoycd good hcalth, intimatc lricnds, a drcam prolcssor who
providcd thc substitutc lathcr hc always sought, a circlc ol philological collcagucs, and a
circlc ol lcllow Schopcnhaucrians. !n addition to all thcsc gilts ol lortunc, Lcipzig was
also a splcndid placc lor culturc rst ol all, lor music. nc ol thc grcat ccntrcs ol Gcr
man music, Lcipzig had bccn 8achs workplacc in thc cightccnth ccntury and Schumanns
and Mcndclssohns a couplc ol dccadcs bclorc Nictzschcs arrival in thc ninctccnth. !t was

Tough antiantiScmitism is onc ol thc most salicnt aspccts ol Nictzschcs maturc thought, his
corrcspondcncc at this timc, particularly whcn hc was writing homc or to von Gcrsdor, contains
occasional antiScmitic rcmarks ol a routinc, and not vcry dccp charactcr. Hc did, howcvcr, nd it
ocnsivc whcn a lat studcnt sat on a chair ol Sophic Ritschls and dcscribcd it as not vcry koshcr
(KGV +. 6o |+|).

also thc birthplacc ol Richard Vagncr. !n addition to ocring a rich conccrt lilc ccntrcd
on thc lamous Gcwandhaus rchcstra, it was also a ccntrc ol usually vigorously polcm
ical thcorising lor and against modcrn music. Foundcd by Schumann in +8, thc Neue
Zeitschrift f ur Musik (to which thc Germania Socicty had subscribcd (p. : abovc)) was
publishcd in Lcipzig and had bccomc dcdicatcd to thc dclcncc ol modcrn, that is to say
Vagncrian, music. !t was in thc Neue Zeitschrift that thc grcat conductor, Hans von 8 ulow,
publishcd somc ol his crccst articlcs in dclcncc ol Tannh auser and othcr Vagncr opcras,
thcrcby arousing countcrblasts lrom anothcr Lcipzig publication, Die Grenzboten, which
thc novclist, Gustav Frcytag, had turncd into a bastion ol antiVagncrian polcmics.
Nictzschc rcgularly attcndcd conccrts, oltcn in thc company ol Karl Franz 8rcndcl,
Schumanns succcssor as cditor ol thc Neue Zeitschrift. Hc also sang in 8ccthovcns Missa
Solemnis, though not taking part in thc actual pcrlormancc on account ol a cold, a pcrlor
mancc which hc dcscribcs as onc ol |his most| wondcrlul musical cxpcricnccs cvcr.
thcatrc, too, hc oltcn attcndcd, lancying himscll in lovc with various actrcsscs. To onc
ol thcsc, thc glamorous blond angcl, Hcdwig Raabc, hc scnt owcrs accompanicd by an
cxprcssion ol undying dcvotion.
Nictzschcs timc in Lcipzig was, thcn, lull ol thc lun and sociability onc cxpccts ol studcnt
lilc. l coursc it was not just that. Vhat distinguishcd it lrom lilc in 8onn and providcd it
with thc ncccssary backbonc (a prolcssion is thc backbonc ol a lilc, hc oncc wrotc)
that hc was also working hard and succcsslully. Tis satiscd his PrussianProtcstant con
scicncc, thc alrcady notcd nccd to scc his lilc as diligcnt and constant scllimprovcmcnt.
Rcligious pcoplc, hc wrotc von Gcrsdor carly in +86,
bclicvc that all thc sorrows and accidcnts which bclall us arc calculatcd with thc prccisc
intcntion ol . . . cnlightcning thcm. Vc lack thc prcsuppositions lor such a laith. !t docs
howcvcr lic in our powcr, to usc cvcry cvcnt, cvcry small and largc accidcnt, lor our improvc
mcnt and procicncy, to dcrivc bcnct lrom thcm. Tc intcntional charactcr ol thc latc ol
thc individual is no lablc il wc undcrstand it as such. !t is up to us to makc purposclul usc
ol latc: lor in thcmsclvcs cvcnts arc cmpty shclls. !t dcpcnds on our disposition: thc worth
that wc attach to an cvcnt is thc worth it has lor us.
(Tis is what, in his maturc philosophy, hc calls projccting a pcrsonal providcncc into oncs
lilc: intcrprcting it so that cvcrything that happcns is lor thc bcst.
oing this, wc shall
scc, is thc kcy to willing thc ctcrnal rcturn.)
Te Study of Classics
ictzschcs studcnt days wcrc, thcn, happy days. Tis docs not imply, ol coursc, that thcy
wcrc dcvoid ol worrics and dissatislactions. Tc principal dissatislaction (as yct no
biggcr than a mans hand but dcstincd, ovcr thc ncxt dccadc, to assumc major proportions)
was with thc currcnt practicc ol his choscn disciplinc (or scicncc) ol classical philology,
a dissatislaction rcinlorcing, and rcinlorccd by, his growing attachmcnt to philosophy in
gcncral, and to Schopcnhaucr in particular. Tc ncxt gcncration ol philologists, Nictzschc
writcs in his notcbooks, must givc up thc cndlcss chcwing thc cud all too charactcristic ol
thc prcscnt gcncration.
Acadcmic ruminants (as hc calls thcm in Zarathustra) arc mcrc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
parasitcs, cndlcssly chcwing ovcr thc grcat crcativc thoughts ol thc past but crcating noth
ing thcmsclvcs. isciplincs, hc writcs, somctimcs grow scnilc, in which condition thcir
practitioncrs, thosc cmaciatcd bodics with dricd up vcins and withcrcd mouths, scarch out
and, likc vampircs, suck up thc blood ol youngcr and morc ourishing naturcs.
tributing to this ccct is thc lragmcntation ol contcmporary philological rcscarch into cvcr
morc minutc arcas ol cxpcrtisc, a proccss that has bccomc so intcnsc that its practitioncrs
havc bccn rcduccd to thc rolc ol asscmblylinc lactory workcrs. Vhat todays scholars lack
is thc synoptic vision, thc largcscalc thinking, which would cnablc thcm to scc not just
thc trccs but also thc lorcst. Futurc philologists must, that is, lcarn to judgc on a largcr scalc
so that thcy can cxchangc thc minutiac ol particular mattcrs lor thc grcat considcrations ol
!l wc ask why philology must dcal in thc univcrsalhuman . . . shapcd by thc moulding
hands ol philosophy,
thc answcr onc that will bccomc ccntral to Nictzschcs maturc
philosophy is that history in gcncral and classical philology in particular arc valuclcss
unlcss somc kind ol largc cultural purposc lics on thcir horizon,
unlcss, that is, wc can
gain insights that havc an csscntial inucncc upon oursclvcs.
Latcr on, Nictzschc answcrs
thc lundamcntal qucstion, Vhat is thc point ol classical philology: by saying that thc study
ol thc Grccks is justicd to, but only to, thc cxtcnt that it providcs a polishcd mirror in
which wc can vicw oursel.es.
Tc csscncc ol this critiquc ol thc midninctccnthccntury study ol classics is thc dcmand
that any worthwhilc disciplinc must bc cxistcntially rclcvant rclcvant to lilc, to our lilc.
Tc complaint is that no acadcmic study, particularly not thc study ol thc dcad tcxts ol thc
past, can bc an cnd in itscll. Practiccd as such, it bccomcs a vampirc that sucks thc lilc
blood out ol thosc it has scduccd into its prccincts, turns thcm into dcsiccatcd scholars with
bad digcstions, condcmncd to livc usclcss, and so mcaninglcss, livcs.
!t is important to cmphasisc that, at this stagc, Nictzschc has by no mcans givcn up on
classical philology. Hc docs not condcmn thc disciplinc as such but spcaks, rathcr, as a
young Turk, a spokcsman lor thc coming gcncration which dcmands radical rclorm, thc
naturc ol which, wc may assumc, was a hot topic, ovcr a bccr, in thc cvcning discussions ol
thc Philological Socicty. Givcn thcir training and talcnts, hc writcs Rohdc, thcy thcmsclvcs
havc no altcrnativc but to bccomc acadcmics:
Vc havc no othcr way ol bcing usclul to our lcllowmcn. !n thc nal analysis onc cannot livc
just lor oncscll. Lct us |howcvcr| play our part in bringing it about that young philologists
acquirc thc ncccssary sccpticism, arc lrcc lrom pcdantry and lrom thc ovcrcstimation ol
thcir disciplinc, so as to bc truc promotcrs ol humanistic studics.
And, rcccting on what his own luturc pcdagogical practicc should bc, hc writcs,
Tc aim that lics bclorc mc is to bccomc a rcally practical tcachcr and to bc ablc to awakcn
thc ncccssary rccction and scllcxamination in young pcoplc which will cnablc thcm
always to kccp thc why, thc what, and thc how |but particularly thc why| ol thcir dis
ciplinc cvcr bclorc thcir cycs.
Noncthclcss, though Nictzschc spcaks as a rclormcr rathcr than an cncmy ol classical
philology, with thc advantagc ol hindsight, onc can scc in this critiquc portcnts ol thc luturc

divorcc bctwccn himscll and thc disciplinc. Givcn, that is, thc cntrcnchcd conscrvatism ol
acadcmic institutions, and givcn that Nictzschc would soon raisc his young Turks hcad
abovc thc parapct with his rst book, Te Birth of Tragedy, it was incvitablc that somconc
his namc was VilamowitzM ollcndor would shoot at it.
!n thc critiquc, onc can scc, too, thc loundations bcing laid ol what would cvcntually
bccomc a brcach (though ncvcr an absolutc onc) bctwccn Nictzschc and his bclovcd tcachcr,
Ritschl. For all his admiration and acction lor him, quitc carly in thcir acquaintancc,
Nictzschc has to admit that Ritschl grcatly ovcrcstimatcd his spccial subjcct and thcrclorc
showcd somc disapproval ol philologists approaching philosophy too closcly
ol thcir
rclating thc study ol antiquity to thc grcat cxistcntial thcmcs ol dcath, pain, and mcaning,
prcciscly, wc shall scc, thc ccntral topics ol Schopcnhaucrs philosophy.
Anothcr dangcrous clcmcnt in Nictzschcs attachmcnt to Schopcnhaucr lay in thc lattcrs
vitriolic contcmpt lor thc prolcssors ol philosophy. !ndcpcndcntly wcalthy, Schopcnhaucr
scorncd thosc who livcd lrom rathcr than lor philosophy: sincc hc who pays thc pipcr
calls thc tunc, indcpcndcncc ol thought, hc hcld, rcquircs indcpcndcncc ol mcans.
A nal rcscrvation about lilc as a philologist lay in Nictzschcs dcsirc to unily thc artistic
and scholarly sidcs ol his naturc, to writc, as hc wrotc von Gcrsdor in April +86, with
stylc and gracc according to thc Schopcnhaucrian modcl. Hc wishcd to gct away lrom
writing as stiy and dryly, as conncd by thc corsct ol logic, as ! wrotc in, lor cxamplc, my
Tcognis cssay,
thc stylc approvcd by thc thcn currcnt morcs ol philology.
For all this, Nictzschc would bc in his scvcnth hcavcn whcn, out ol thc bluc, hc was
ocrcd a prolcssorship in classical philology. Tus, whilc his rcscrvations about his choscn
prolcssion arc important as portcnts ol thc luturc, nonc ol thcm did anything to scriously
darkcn thc happy skics ol Lcipzig.
War and Politics

thcr skics, howcvcr, wcrc gctting vcry dark indccd. 8ismarck was conjuring up thc
thundcrclouds ol war.
!n thc wakc ol Napolcons dclcat at thc battlc ol Vatcrloo in +8+, thc Gcrman Con
lcdcration had bccn cstablishcd, a loosc collcction ol thirtyninc indcpcndcnt Gcrman
spcaking statcs, most ol thcmstill run on quasilcudal lincs, undcr thc lcadcrship ol Austria.
8ismarck, who bccamc primc ministcr ol Prussia in +86:, was convinccd that thc Gcrman
statcs could bc unitcd undcr Prussian lcadcrship only altcr Austria had bccn dclcatcd. (At
thc timc Nictzschc agrccd, quoting to von Gcrsdor Napolcons rcmark that only on thc
rubblc ol Austria can a Gcrman luturc bc built.)
Accordingly, whilc cunningly manocuv
ring Austria into thc position ol apparcnt aggrcssor, hc prcparcd lor war.
Tc lormal causc was control ol thc northwcstcrn duchy ol SchlcswigHolstcin. (Tc
8ritish primc ministcr, Lord Palmcrston, claimcd that only thrcc pcoplc had cvcr undcr
stood thc SchlcswigHolstcin qucstion, but that onc was dcad, anothcr in an asylum,
whilc hc himscll had lorgottcn thc answcr.) n Junc +, +866, thc Austrians pcrsuadcd thc
conlcdcratc parliamcnt in Franklurt to mobilisc against Prussia, prccipitating thc lattcrs
dcclaration that thc Conlcdcration no longcr cxistcd. n thc lollowing day, undcr covcr
ol darkncss, Prussian armics invadcd Saxony, Hanovcr, and Hcssc and hostilitics bcgan on
scvcral widcly scattcrcd lronts.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
For Gcrmans, this civil war a war that, to somc dcgrcc, rangcd thc Protcstant North
against thc Catholic South involvcd somc ol thc samc lratricidal strcsscs as thc ncarly con
tcmporancous Amcrican Civil Var. cusscn, lor instancc, isolatcd in Catholic T ubingcn,
would havc laccd intcrnmcnt as an cncmy alicn had hc bccn callcd up by thc Prussians.
Tough much lcss bloody than thc Amcrican war, thc bittcr lcclings it arouscd havc bccn
handcd down lrom gcncration to gcncration. (8avarians arc still liablc to dcscribc 8crlincrs
as Prussians, lancying thcrcby to dclivcr an insult, whilc thc lattcr protcst that Prussia docs
not cxist.)
!n Saxony, thc nominal rulcr was King Johann !, a scholarpoct who had translatcd antc
into Gcrman. 8ut thc powcr bchind thc thronc was thc antiPrussian Count 8cust onc
ol Nictzschcs b etes noires who had unwiscly allicd his mainly Protcstant country with
Catholic Austria and 8avaria.
As 8ismarck kncw, thc southcrn armics wcrc no match lor thc partly prolcssionalizcd,
highly traincd and motivatcd Prussians, cquippcd with a dcvastating ncw wcapon, thc
rapidring brccchloading cannon, known as thc Zundnagelge.ehr |nccdlcigniting gun|.
Nor wcrc thcy any match lor thc Prussian gcncral sta, lcd by thc brilliant Hclmuth von
Moltkc, who uscd trains to dcploy thc Prussian armics at a spccd ncvcr bclorc sccn in
warlarc. n July , +866, thc Austrians sucrcd a major dclcat at K oniggr atz (Sadowa)
in northcrn 8ohcmia. Tc lollowing ycar, having anncxcd SchlcswigHolstcin, Hanovcr,
Hcssc, Nassau, and thc lormcrly lrcc city ol Franklurt, Prussia crcatcd thc North Gcrman
Fcdcration with thc Prussian King as hcad and 8ismarck as thc powcr bchind thc thronc.
Tis was thc nuclcus ol what, vc ycars latcr, would bccomc thc Gcrman Rcich, with thc
Prussian King as its mpcror and 8ismarck as Chanccllor.
At thc cnd ol Junc, +866, thc ukc ol Mccklcnburgs Prussian soldicrs madc a tri
umphal cntry into Lcipzig without a shot bcing rcd. Tough Saxony avoidcd outright
anncxation and was allowcd, likc 8avaria, to kccp its king, it was now (all ol it) a dc lacto
Prussian vassal. Local rcaction was dividcd. Many houscs cw thc black, gold, and rcd
ag ol Gcrman nationalism, othcrs sportcd thc whitc and grccn ol Saxony. Nictzschc and
his lricnds gathcrcd at Kintschys cocc housc, translormcd ovcrnight into a proPrussian
camp. Mahns rcstaurant, on thc othcr hand, which, lormcrly, hc had oltcn patroniscd,
rcmaincd sullcnly Saxon.
Nictzschc, at this timc an ardcnt supportcr ol both 8ismarck and thc Prussians, was jubi
lant. To his mothcr, a lcw days bclorc thc rcsult ol K oniggr atz bccamc known, hc wrotc,
! am as much a committcd Prussian as lor cxamplc my cousin |Rudoll Schcnkcl| is a
And thcn, altcr hcaring thc rcsult ol K oniggr atz, hc rhapsodiscd to Mushackc
(living in thc Prussian capital, 8crlin):
Vho wouldnt bc proud to bc a Prussian in thcsc timcs. nc has thc lccling that an carth
quakc is making thc carth which onc had thought immovablc unccrtain, as though
history, which had bccn stoppcd lor many ycars, wcrc suddcnly in motion again.
Vriting to Pindcr, also in 8crlin, hc rclcrrcd to 8ismarck as this so giltcd and activc min
istcr whom thc Frcnch rightly callcd a rcvolutionary.
And to von Gcrsdor, on activc
scrvicc in thc cld, hc wrotc: For mc, too lrankly its an unusual and quitc ncw plcasurc
to nd myscll lor oncc in agrccmcnt with thc currcnt govcrnmcnt.
A littlc latcr hc tclls
him ol thc

immcasurablc plcasurc 8ismarck givcs mc. ! rcad his spccchcs |in thc ncwspapcrs, prcsum
ably| as though drinking strong winc ! makc thc tonguc pausc so that it docsnt drink too
last, allowing mc to savour thc plcasurc lor a long timc.
To anyonc acquaintcd with thc maturc Nictzschcs loathing ol 8ismarck (thc ccctivc rulcr
ol Gcrmany his cntirc adult lilc), ol Prussia, and ol all lorms ol nationalism, thcsc must
appcar strangc scntimcnts. Tc qucstion ariscs, thcrclorc, as to what it was which, at thc
timc, madc him so passionatcly a Prussian.
nc point, to which ! shall rcturn shortly, is simply that hc likcd war, saw it as an hcroic
boys own advcnturc. Rccall his tin soldicrs, his lascination with thc sicgc ol Scbastopol,
and thc claboratc wargamcs ol his childhood (pp. ++ abovc). 8ut cvcn il hc had not
thought war glamorous, hc would still havc supportcd Prussia bccausc hc agrccd with
8ismarcks war aims with, at lcast, what hc took to bc thosc aims. Nictzschc was, that
is, an cnthusiastic supportcr ol Gcrman unication, thc rcason bcing that hc saw it as thc
only way ol abolishing thc pctty dynastic houscs that rulcd thc multitudc ol Gcrman statcs.
!l thc Gcrman pcoplc bccomc onc, hc wrotc, thcn Hcrr v. 8cust togcthcr with all thc
princcs ol thc middlcsizcd statcs can bc cmbalmcd
as rclics ol thc past. And hc sup
portcd thc Prussian warcort bccausc in thc cnd, this Prussian way ol gctting rid ol princcs
is thc most comlortablc lor all conccrncd.
Tc rcason hc wantcd to gct rid ol thc princcly rulcrs ol thc pctty Gcrman statcs was
that hc saw thcir quasilcudal absolutism as opprcssivc. At this carly stagc in his lilc, that
is to say, hc rcmaincd truc to thc libcralism which Plorta had sccn as part ol a gcnuinc
humanism. To von Gcrsdor hc wrotc,
All thc political partics |ol Prussia| arc rcally libcrals . . . !t docs no harm that our govcrn
mcnt is callcd conscrvativc sincc lor thc king its a lorm ol disguisc . . . that allows him to
procccd along his lrccthinking way.

And, as wc shall scc (p. 8 bclow), in rccommcnding him lor his rst job, Ritschl, with
whom hc must havc discusscd politics at lcngth, dcscribcs him as supporting Gcrman uni
cation on libcral grounds. At this stagc in his lilc, thcrclorc, Nictzschc (who in his maturity
would bccomc an implacablc opponcnt ol libcralism) rctaincd a commitmcnt to thc libcral
lrccdoms ol spccch, association, rcligion, propcrty owncrship and immunity to arbitrary
arrcst. His gcncrally positivc rclcrcnccs to thc institution ol parliamcnt suggcst

that hc
was also in lavour ol somc kind ol parliamcntary dcmocracy, probably on thc 8ritish modcl
(again a position that would bc rcvcrscd in his maturc thought).
Gctting rid ol pctty princcs was, thcn, thc ground ol Nictzschcs support ol 8ismarcks
war aims. And hc would soon support a war against Francc, bclicving, again with 8ismarck,
that only such a war could crcatc an cmotional commitmcnt to unication ol sucicnt
powcr to bc ccctivc, and that in uropc as a wholc, thc oldcr ordcr will rcmain as long as
Paris rcmains thc ccntrc |ol powcr|.

Tcsc rcmarks show a ccrtain consistcncy bctwccn what, in +866, Nictzschc admircd in
8ismarck and what, in his maturity, hc camc to admirc in Napolcon. Hc saw him, that is
to say, as a good uropcan, a statcsman ol ultimatcly cosmopolitan convictions cngagcd
in a grand politics ol Gcrman and cvcntually uropcan unication. Tis is why hc callcd
8ismarck a rcvolutionary and is what hc was rclcrring to in spcaking, ` a la Hcgcl, ol history

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
as starting again. !n short, hc took 8ismarck to bc, in thc nal analysis, an antinationalist.
Vhcn hc turncd against him it was bccausc thc scalcs had lallcn lrom his cycs. Hc rcaliscd
that thc Machiavcllian 8ismarck had complctcly loolcd him(along with most othcr pcoplc)
and that, lar lrom bcing a good uropcan, hc was, in lact, a dangcrously powcrcrazcd
Prussian nationalist, committcd to nothing savc thc intcrcsts ol thc Prussian Junkcr class
lrom which hc arosc.

Such cnlightcnmcnt, howcvcr, did not occur until wcll into thc +8os. !n +866 Nictzschcs
support lor thc war against Austria was absolutc. !t should also bc rccordcd, howcvcr, that
anothcr sidc ol his naturc was bcginning to at lcast rcgistcr thc appalling human cost ol
8ismarcks policics ol iron and blood. Hcaring ol thc dcath, on thc battlccld ol
K oniggr atz, ol scar Kr amcr, thc kindhcartcd prclcct who had lookcd altcr him at Plorta
(p. : abovc), hc wrotc homc that no numbcr ol Austrian dcaths could compcnsatc lor thc
loss ol this nc pcrson. And in thc samc lcttcr hc rccordcd thc dcath ol thc twin brothcr
ol his landlord on thc samc battlccld, and that von Gcrsdors cldcst brothcr, rnst, had
rcccivcd a scvcrc sabrc wound to thc hcad.
!n January, +86, von Gcrsdorwrotc Nictzschc that rnst had nally dicd ol thc wound,
agcd twcntyscvcn:
lor twclvc hours, unconscious, hc lought with dcath . . . thc battlc must havc bccn a tcrriblc
onc, his lacc unrccognisablc, rolling cycs, spasms in all his musclcs, thcn a scrcam, thc
cxpulsion ol air lrom thc lungs, thcn anothcr onc, thcn all was still. Tc lacc was again as
it had bccn, thc cxprcssion noblc and rcposcd as in lilc.

Nictzschc rcplicd by comparing his Aunt Rosalics rcccnt dcath, thc cnd ol a lilc brought
to complctcncss, with this appalling wastc ol young talcnt what such powcrs might havc
achicvcd! Hc concludcd by rclcrring his sucring lricnd to Schopcnhaucrs doctrinc that
sucring is a path to dcnial ol thc will, to thc insight (ol which morc in thc ncxt chaptcr)
that thc cnd ol lilc is somcthing to bc wclcomcd rathcr than rcgrcttcd.
Tc war dcaths ol +866 bcgan, thcrclorc, to touch Nictzschc as somcthing morc than
numbcrs in a ncwspapcr. To bc surc, nonc ol this human cost turncd him as yct against
cithcr war or 8ismarck. A charactcristic ol Nictzschcs (in his own languagc) slowwillcd
pcrsonality, is that it took a long timc lor cxpcricnccs to sink in lar cnough to causc him to
changc his mind. 8ut thc dcaths ol +866 rcprcscnt thc bcginning ol a lcdgcr thc dcaths
ol +8+ would crucially add to it that cvcntually madc thc abolition ol war a ccntral goal
ol his thinking.
Military Service
ismarcks Prussia was, through and through, a militariscd socicty.

Tc army itscll, rst

ol all, was (likc Plorta) a total institution. Conscripts wcrc isolatcd lrom thc cxtcrnal
world lor thc rst lour to six wccks in ordcr to bc brokcn in. Tcy cntcrcd an alicn and
highly disciplincd world ol arcanc rulcs and had drillcd into thcm thc virtuc ol unqucs
tioning obcdicncc to authority. Tc army workcd on thc bodics ol its conscripts through
physical cxcrcisc and drill (in his military training Nictzschc had to rclcarn horscriding,

lcarning to do it in a morc rcgimcntal manncr), thus changing thcir wholc appcarancc.
Pcoplc wcrc oltcn ablc to idcntily cxsoldicrs by thcir ramrodstraight bcaring and brisk
movcmcnts, in latcr lilc, Nictzschc was oltcn takcn lor a rctircd army occr.
Awarc ol thc ccct thc army had on its conscripts, thc statc uscd it to indoctrinatc its
citizcns, so that it camc to bc known as thc school ol thc nation. Tc mcn wcrc supposcd
not only to bccomc good soldicrs but also to acquirc translcrablc skills such as disciplinc,
clcanlincss, and thc right political attitudc: lovc ol king and lathcrland and obcdicncc
to authority. Such right attitudcs makc lrcqucnt appcaranccs in both von Gcrsdors and
Nictzschcs lcttcrs. !n his valcdiction lor his dcad brothcr, rnst, lor instancc, von Gcrsdor
writcs admiringly that his duty was his will. And Nictzschc talks about pcrsonal, that is,
lathcrlandish |.aterl andisches| intcrcst.
Givcn thc stillliving mcmory ol humiliation and occupation by Napolcons armics, thc
ncwly ccctivc army posscsscd cnormous prcstigc within socicty at largc, prcstigc which,
as a conscious cxcrcisc in public rclations, it sought to improvc through carclully chorco
graphcd marchcs and paradcs dcsigncd to display its strcngth and ccicncy. And cvcn
though it had long bccn rcalizcd that bright colours madc casy targcts on thc battlccld,
it was rcluctant to changc into grcy, rccognizing thc attraction ol a spcctacular military
appcarancc. Vhilc ordinary civilians walkcd around in dull, dark suits, thc soldicrs uni
lorms cmphasiscd thcir slim waists, broad shouldcrs, and upright bcaring. Tc sabrc at
thcir sidc addcd thc glamour ol a liccncc to kill. 8oys worc navy unilorms, tin soldicrs
wcrc lavouritc toys, and as with Nictzschc soldicrly thcmcs pcrvadcd childrcns gamcs.
Nictzschc rclcrs to lizabcths lovc ol military unilorms
and had himscll photographcd
in lull military rcgalia, plus sabrc (scc Platc 8).
!n such an atmosphcrc, risking lilc and limb lor thc Fathcrland bccamc thc ultimatc
virtuc, not only in ocial rhctoric but also in pcrsonal war mcmoirs:
Tings might bc rough in war |onc soldicr rccallcd| but, ncvcrthclcss, no othcr timc is
markcd by such noblc and truly grand virtucs . . . !t produccs strong cnthusiasm, audacious
couragc, prcparcdncss lor sacricc, a wholly altruistic scnsc ol duty, proud nationalism and
an unshakablc lovc lor king and lathcrland. !n short it produccs mcn.
Givcn this social climatc, a climatc that cncouragcd martial rituals such as thc lratcrnity
ducl, many young mcn wantcd to bccomc occrs. Vhilc Prussian licutcnants wcrc rcgardcd
as young gods, as thc historian Fricdrich Mcincckc rccords lrom pcrsonal cxpcricncc, cvcn
noncommissioncd occrs could rcach thc status ol dcmigods.

Nictzschc was lully absorbcd by thc culturc ol his timc and placc. ur situation is simplc,
hc wrotc homc just bclorc thc rcsult ol K oniggr atz bccamc known:
Vhcn a housc is on rc, onc docsnt ask who was rcsponsiblc lor starting it. Rathcr onc
cxtinguishcs it. Prussia is on rc. Now it must bc savcd . . . ! am a committcd Prussian . . . !t
is dishonourablc to sit at homc whcn thc Fathcrland bcgins a war ol lilc and dcath.

!t is thus no surprisc that on two occasions hc attcmptcd to voluntccr lor thc army,

to bc rcjcctcd cach timc on account ol his shortsightcdncss.
!n Scptcmbcr +86, howcvcr, with thc thrcat ol rcncwcd warlarc ncvcr lar away, his
numbcr cight glasscs (which, according to lizabcth, wcrc actually lar too wcak) wcrc no

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
longcr dccmcd an objcction and hc was dcclarcd t lor scrvicc. Unablc to join thc guards
in 8crlin, hc cndcd up in Naumburg lor a ycars military scrvicc in thc lcss glamorous
mountcd artillcry. Tis had at lcast thc advantagc that hc could livc at homc and continuc
his philological studics in thc cvcnings. As wcll as an cssay on cmocritus (thc invcntor
ol atomism), hc also had anothcr onc might wcll think incrcdibly tcdious commission
lrom Ritschl to work on, thc complction ol an indcx ol thc Fheinisches Museum. Hc must,
though, havc bccn cncouragcd on hcaring that thc cssay Ritschl had cncouragcd him to
writc on iogcncs Lacrtiuss sourccs had won a major Univcrsity prizc.

Lilc in thc barracks could scarccly havc prcscntcd a starkcr contrast to his comlortablc
lormcr lilc as a studcnt: cndlcss mucking out ol stablcs and grooming ol horscs. Hc had
also, as alrcady mcntioncd, to lcarn to ridc in a ncw, military stylc. And drill, drill, and morc
drill. !l onc drillcd philologists with cqual thoroughncss, hc jokcd to Rohdc, all philological
problcms would bc solvcd in tcn ycars.
Vith, howcvcr, his usual dctcrmination to makc
thc bcst ol things (to lovc latc, as his maturc philosophy puts it), Nictzschc judgcd his
changcd cxistcncc a usclul intcrmcdiatc dish sincc, hc asscrtcd (cndorsing Prussian idcol
ogy), thc rigours ol military lilc makc a man ol onc.

And hc was cxtrcmcly proud to bc

accountcd thc bcst ridcr among thc thirty ncw rccruits.
Tcn, in March ol +868, hc misscd his mount and damagcd his chcst on thc pommcl
ol thc saddlc. Tis was no doubt duc to thc myopia that should rcally havc disqualicd
him lrom military scrvicc oncc again. (lizabcth commcnts that shortsightcdncss madc it
hard lor him to mcasurc distanccs, with thc rcsult that hc oltcn straincd an anklc.)
chcst wound bccamc inlcctcd, putting him in bcd lor tcn days, in grcat pain and taking
morphinc cvcry morning. vcntually bits ol bonc bcgan to comc out with thc pus. An
opcration was contcmplatcd, rcsulting in his bcing scnt to a cclcbratcd surgcon in Hallc,
Richard von \olkmann, who in thc cnd dcalt with thc problcm simply by painting thc
wound with iodinc. Nictzschc was out ol military action lor vc months, during which
timc hc was promotcd to lancccorporal, !vc bccomc a Gefreiter |lancccorporal|, oh that
! was a Befreiter |lrccd pcrson|, hc punncd gloomily to Rohdc.

n thc ctobcr +, +868, his twcntylourth birthday, his wish was grantcd: hc was
ocially dcclarcd tcmporarily unt lor military scrvicc. Sincc, howcvcr, hc saw that war
against Francc would happcn sooncr rathcr than latcr, and sincc hc wishcd to participatc as
a commissioncd rathcr than noncommissioncd artillcry occr, hc arrangcd to do anothcr
months scrvicc in thc lollowing spring, during which hc acquircd thc ncccssary knowlcdgc
ol gunhauling.
Return to Ieipzig: Iirst Meeting with Wagner

n bcing dischargcd lrom thc military, Nictzschc immcdiatcly rcturncd to Lcipzig.

Fccling himscll to havc outgrown thc studcnt lilc military lilc had madc a man
ol him hc lookcd lor somcwhcrc morc comlortablc to livc than thc studcnt digs ol thc
past. Tis hc lound by bccoming a paying gucst in onc ol thc ncst houscs in thc city,
Lcssingstrassc ::, thc homc ol Prolcssor Fricdrich 8icdcrmann, a lormcr mcmbcr ol thc
local parliamcnt and cditor ol thc Deutsche llgemeine Zeitung ncwspapcr. Hcrc Nictzschc

arrangcd to cat all his mcals, thank goodncss to gct away lrom thc smcll ol lat and thc
many Jcws that bclongcd to his lormcr rcstaurant cxistcncc, hc wrotc homc.
Lilc at thc 8icdcrmanns ccrtainly was comlortablc:
ld 8icdcrmann |hc wrotc Rohdc| is a man truc to his namc |bieder mcans smug,
rcspcctablc, convcntional, conscrvativc, bourgcois|, a good lathcr and husband in sum,
cvcrything onc usually puts in an obituary. His wilc is a Biederfrau |smug ctc. woman|,
which rcally says cvcrything. And so wc pass on to thc two Biederfr aulein |smug, ctc. girls|,
Biederfr aulein ! and Biederfr aulein !!.
8icdcrmann arrangcd lor Nictzschc to do thc opcra and somc ol thc book rcvicwing lor
his papcr. And in thc 8icdcrmanns drawingroom hc mct many ol thc lcading politicians,
artists, and actrcsscs ol thc timc. Tus, without rcally trying, hc lound himscll at thc urbanc
hcart ol Lcipzigs cultural and social lilc.

As wc havc sccn, Nictzschc had bccn lascinatcd by thc phcnomcnon ol Richard Vagncr
cvcr sincc Krug had pcrsuadcd Germania to subscribc to thc Neue Zeitschrift f ur Musik and
sincc thc two ol thcm had cxplorcd thc piano rcduction ol Tristan und Isolde togcthcr in
+86: (pp. :8 abovc). Altcr his rcturn to Lcipzig hc madc a dclibcratc attcmpt to gct
to know Vagncrs sistcr, ttilic,
wilc ol thc oricntalist Prolcssor Hcrmann 8rockhaus, a
task which was casy to achicvc: rst, bccausc Sophic Ritschl and ttilic wcrc bcst lricnds,
and, sccond, bccausc Nictzschc was lricndly with rnst Vindisch, a lavouritc studcnt ol
8rockhaus who was branching out lrom classical philology into Sanskrit studics.
Tough lascinatcd, Nictzschc was, at thc bcginning ol thc Lcipzig ycars, not yct a com
plctc Vagncritc. !n ctobcr +866 hc wrotc to von Gcrsdor that hc had thc scorc ol Die
!alk ure to which, hc rcports, my rcactions arc vcry mixcd, so that ! cant rcally makc a
judgmcnt about it. Tc grcat bcautics and virtucs arc pcrmcatcd by grcat uglincsscs and lail

8y ctobcr +868, howcvcr, hc was much morc cnthusiastic. Rclcrring to Tannh auser
and Lohengrin, hc wrotc Rohdc that what particularly acctcd him was thc sphcrc ol lccl
ing, thc cthical air, thc Faustian pcrlumc, cross, dcath and gravc.

A lcw days latcr hc

wrotc him that hc had bccn attcnding conccrts in his capacity as thc Deutsche llgemeines
music critic hc was accustomcd to sit with thrcc othcr music critics, including onc lrom
8rcndcls Neue Zeitschrift, thc lour ol thcm constituting a sharp corncr ol cxpcrtisc and
had bccn complctcly conqucrcd by both thc Prcludc to Tristan and thc ovcrturc to Die
Meistersinger .on N urnberg:
! cannot bring myscll to prcscrvc critical dctachmcnt towards this music. !t scnds a thrill
through cvcry brc, cvcry ncrvc, and so prolongcd a lccling ol ccstasy as that produccd by
thc lastnamcd ovcrturc ! havc not cxpcricnccd lor a vcry long timc.

Tc lollowing Fcbruary hc attcndcd thc rst rcsdcn pcrlormancc ol thc Mastersingers

(it had bccn prcmicrcd in Munich in Junc, +868, with Vagncr sitting ncxt to King Ludwig
ol 8avaria in thc royal box), whcrc hc rcportcd cxpcricncing thc strongcst lccling ol a quitc
suddcn homccoming and ol bcing at homc (heimisch).
(Sincc thc opcras rst act starts
with thc music ol his homcland, a Luthcran choralc, Nictzschc had a spccial rcason to lccl

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
heimisch. 8ut his rcaction was, ! think, quitc typical, cvcn among thosc sccptical ol Vagncrs
othcr works. Vhat is immcnscly rcassuring about thc opcra is that thc startlingly ncwmusic
ol Valthcr von Stolzings prizc song, altcr many trials and tribulations, is ultimatcly acccpt
cd by thc mastcrsingcrs guild, thus dcmonstrating thc powcr ol tradition to bcnd without
brcaking, to absorb thc novcl cncrgy ol (in Nictzschcs latcr tcrminology) thc lrcc spirit
whilc yct prcscrving thc intcgrity ol tradition. And prcsiding ovcr thc cntirc work is thc
wisdom ol Hans Sachs, who, though givcn to mclancholy, is, noncthclcss, surcly thc most
rcassuring lathcr gurc in thc wholc ol opcra.)

Vagncr was born in Lcipzig in +8+. !n +8, howcvcr, hc was in rcsdcn, whcrc,
though dircctor ol music at thc King ol Saxonys court, hc hclpcd his Russian anarchist
lricnd Mikhail 8akunin organizc an abortivc workcrs uprising in thc city. As a disciplc
ol Proudhon, who hcld that propcrty is thclt, and ol Fcucrbach, who hcld that no onc
without thc couragc to bc absolutcly ncgativc has thc strcngth to crcatc anything ncw,
Vagncr was involvcd in grcnadc manulacturc and in trying to pcrsuadc thc local militia to
join thc sidc ol thc workcrs. As a rcsult hc was lorccd, altcr thc lailurc ol thc rcvolution,
to cc to Switzcrland, whcrc hc spcnt thc ncxt twclvc ycars in cxilc. !n cccmbcr +8+,
howcvcr, appallcd at thc succcss ol Napolcon !!!s coup d etat, which rcsultcd in thc abolition
ol thc Frcnch parliamcnt, hc abandoncd not only his commitmcnt to his anarchist vcrsion
ol socialism but also political action as such, a rctrcat which, wc shall scc, was ccmcntcd by
his discovcry ol Schopcnhaucrs worlddcnying transccndcntalism thrcc ycars latcr.
Givcn his history (his abandonmcnt ol rcvolutionary politics was not widcly known) and
his rcputation lor an cxotic lovc lilc, thc Vagncr who visitcd his sistcr in Lcipzig in Novcm
bcr +868 was a controvcrsial, cvcn scandalous gurc, a scandal givcn a local dimcnsion by
his suggcstion that thc Lcipzig music conscrvatory should bc movcd to rcsdcn and by his
attack on, among othcrs, thc local hcro, Fclix Mcndclssohn, in Das Judentum in der Musik
| Judaism in Music|.

Unsurprisingly, thcrclorc, his visit to Lcipzig was supposcd to bc

kcpt sccrct, particularly lrom thc local prcss.
To thc lact that Rohdc was sick wc owc a long lcttcr

in which Nictzschc amusingly

dramatiscs his rst mccting with Vagncr. Rcturning to his lodgings lrom a mccting with
Ritschl on thc altcrnoon ol Novcmbcr 6, +868, hc rcports that hc lound a notc lrom his
lricnd Vindisch: !l you would likc to mcct Richard Vagncr, comc to thc Cal c Tcatrc
at . pm. Hc rushcd o to kccp this cloakanddaggcr appointmcnt, whcrc hc was
inlormcd, sotto vocc, that Vagncr was staying with thc 8rockhauscs, lurthcrmorc, that
hc had playcd Valtcrs prizc song lrom thc Mastersingers in thc prcscncc ol Sophic Ritschl
who had said shc alrcady kncw it through hcr husbands studcnt. Joy and amazcmcnt on
Vagncrs part. Hc cxprcsscs a strong dcsirc to mcct mc incognito. Nictzschc and Vindisch
thcn rushcd o to thc 8rockhauscs housc, only to discovcr that Vagncr has gonc out wcar
ing an cnormous hat prcsumably with thc brim wcll down ovcr thc cycs to disguisc his
idcntity. (Sincc Vagncr was cxtrcmcly short (about

) this cannot havc bccn all that

casy.) Allcviating thcir disappointmcnt, howcvcr, thc two young mcn rcccivcd an invitation
to rcturn thc lollowing cvcning, a Sunday.

Tis antiScmitic tract had bccn publishcd in 8rcndcls Neue Zeitschrift f ur Musik in +8o, and had
lcd to a pctition bcing signcd by 8rcndcls prolcssorial collcagucs, many ol whom wcrc Jcwish,
dcmanding his dismissal lrom his position at thc Lcipzig music conscrvatory.

Assuming thc mccting would bc a largc, lormal occasion, Nictzschc always somcthing
ol a dandy was happy that, scrcndipitously, hc had a cvcning suit on ordcr lrom a tailor
and promiscd lor that vcry Sunday. Tc suit was not quitc nishcd whcn hc callcd at thc
shop, but it was promiscd in thrccquartcrs ol an hour. Vhcn hc rcturncd it was still not
nishcd. Finally, at about sixthirty, a littlc old man arrivcd at thc 8icdcrmanns housc
with a packagc and a bill:
! takc it politcly: hc wants cash on dclivcry |which Nictzschc did not havc to hand and
likcly not at all|. Flabbcrgastcd, ! cxplain that ! wantcd no dcalings with him, my tailors
cmploycc, but only with thc tailor himscll, lrom whom ! ordcrcd thc suit. Tc man puts
morc prcssurc on mc, thc timc puts morc prcssurc on mc. ! scizc thc things and bcgin to
put thcm on. Forcc on my sidc vcrsus lorcc on his. !maginc thc sccnc: ! am ghting in my
shirt bccausc ! want to stcp into thc ncw trouscrs.
Tc littlc old man, howcvcr, won thc battlc. Hc wcnt o with thc suit, lcaving Nictzschc
sitting on thc sola in his shirt, swcaring drcadlul rcvcngc against thc tailor, and wondcring
whcthcr his old black jackct was good cnough lor an cvcning with Richard Vagncr. Hc
thcn stormcd out into, as it happcncd, a rainstorm, lcarlul ol bcing latc lor thc appointmcnt,
hoping his old clothcs would do. 8ut as it turncd out thcrc was no lormal gathcring at all,
only thc 8rockhaus lamily, Nictzschc, Vindisch, and Vagncr.
Vhat lollowcd was onc ol Vagncrs bravura pcrlormanccs:
! was introduccd to Richard and spokc somc words ol apprcciation. Hc inquircd vcry prc
ciscly how ! had got to know his music, abuscd tcrribly all thc pcrlormanccs ol his opcras,
cxccpt thc lamous Munich onc |ol Meistersinger|, and madc lun ol thc conductors who
call out to thcir orchcstra in a comlortablc tonc ol voicc, Now gcntlcmcn, somc pas
sion, My dcar lcllows, a bit morc passion. Vagncr likcs vcry much to imitatc thc Lcipzig
acccnt . . . 8clorc and altcr dinncr hc playcd |thc piano| and includcd all thc important scc
tions ol Meistersinger, imitating all thc vocal parts and growing vcry cxubcrant. Hc is a
wondcrlully livcly and animatcd man who spcaks cxtrcmcly last, is vcry witty and makcs
a gathcring ol this privatc sort vcry chccrlul. !n bctwccn timcs, ! had a longish talk with
him about Schopcnhaucr and you can imaginc what joy it was lor mc to hcar him spcak
ol Schopcnhaucr with a quitc indcscribablc warmth, saying how much hc owcd to him
and how hc was thc only philosophcr who undcrstood thc naturc ol music. Tcn hc askcd
how thc prolcssors lclt about him thcsc days and laughcd a lot about . . . thc philosophical
timcscrvcrs |Schopcnhaucrs prolcssors ol philosophy|. Altcrwards hc rcad a portion ol
thc autobiography hc is now writing, an cxtrcmcly amusing sccnc lrom his Lcipzig studcnt
days, which ! still cant think about without laughing . . . At thc cnd ol thc cvcning as wc
two wcrc about to lcavc hc prcsscd my hand vcry warmly and invitcd mc most cordially to
visit him in ordcr to discuss music and philosophy. Hc also commissioncd mc to makc his
sistcr and rclativcs lamiliar with his music which ! solcmnly agrccd to do.
Nictzschc was dazzlcd, complctcly won ovcr. Tc lact that hc rclcrs to Vagncr as
Richard only two days altcr rst mccting him, indicatcs thc instant warmth and con
ncctcdncss hc lclt towards thc man who was cxactly thc agc his lathcr would havc bccn.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Tc immcdiatc ccct ol thc cncountcr was thc sctting ol Vagncr alongsidc Schopcnhaucr
as thc guiding hcro ol his lilc. Hc wrotc to Rohdc,
Vagncr whom ! now know lrom his music, his poctry, his writings on acsthctics and, not
lcast, lrom happy pcrsonal acquaintancc with him, is thc most vivid illustration ol what
Schopcnhaucr calls a gcnius, thc similarity in all particulars springs immcdiatcly to thc
cyc. ! wish ! could tcll you all thc dctails ol his lilc which ! mostly know through his
sistcr. How ! wish wc |Nictzschc and Rohdc| could bc togcthcr . . . to allow oursclvcs to bc
swcpt away in this Schopcnhaucrian sca ol sound, in whosc most sccrct brcaking ol thc
wavcs . . . onc cxpcricnccs an astonishing discovcry ol oncscll.
Iairy-Tale-Iike and Seven-Ieague-Bootish
t thc bcginning ol +86 thc chair ol classical philology at thc Univcrsity ol 8ascl
lcll vacant. Tc dcparting incumbcnt, Adoll Kicssling, wrotc to his lormcr tcachcr,
Ritschl, asking about Nictzschc, whosc work hc had rcad in thc Fheinishes Museum. !n thc
rclcrcncc hc scnt in rcply, Ritschl wrotc that in his thirtyninc ycars ol tcaching hc had ne.er
known a young man who has maturcd so carly. Hc callcd him thc lcadcr ol all thc young
philologists in Lcipzig and prophcsicd that hc would bccomc onc ol thc lorcmost Gcrman
classicists. Kicssling passcd this inlormation on to Prolcssor Vilhclm \ischcr8ilngcr, a
philologist who hcadcd thc city ol 8ascls cducation committcc and thc univcrsity council,
and who thcn approachcd Ritschl lor lurthcr inlormation. !n rcply Ritschl dcscribcd his
star pupil as
without privatc mcans . . . posscssing no particularly political naturc. Tough hc has a gcn
cral sympathy lor Gcrman unication, hc has no sympathy lor Prussianncss as littlc as !
havc, on thc contrary hc has a livcly scnsibility lor lrcc civic and cultural dcvclopmcnt.

(Ritschls rcprcscntation ol Nictzschc as antiPrussian may havc bccn calculatcd to appcal to

Swiss rcpublicanism, may havc bccn Ritschls projcction ol his own politics onto Nictzschc,
or may havc bccn thc rcsult ol Nictzschcs trimming his sails to match his patrons scnsibil
itics. !t is, in any casc, as wc havc sccn, lalsc. His turn against Prussia was still scvcral ycars
down thc track.)
Tc rcsult ol this acadcmic nctworking was that on Fcbruary +:, +86, Nictzschc was
appointcd to thc position. n March : hc was awardcd his doctoratc, without cxamina
tion, on thc basis ol thc work publishcd in thc Fheinisches Museum. Hc ncvcr did a Habil-
itation, thc sccond Ph.. which, in thc Gcrman systcm, is normally thc prcrcquisitc ol any
acadcmic post.
So, at thc agc ol twcntylour, unlikc Rohdc and cusscn, who would havc to wait ycars to
obtain acadcmic positions, Nictzschc suddcnly lound himscll an assistant prolcssor with a
salary ol ,ooo Swiss lranks (about 8oo talcrs or :,o marks) pcr ycar, a comlortablc incomc
lor a singlc man, though inadcquatc to sustain a marricd couplc. !n addition to univcrsity
lccturing, thc position also rcquircd six hours a wcck tcaching at thc local P adagogium, thc
grammar school that had oncc bccn part ol thc Univcrsity. Tc lollowing ycar Nictzschc

was promotcd to lull prolcssor. As hc wrotc von Gcrsdor, thcrc was somcthing lairytalc
likc and scvcnlcagucbootish
about thc casc with which, thanks to Ritschl, hc strodc
through or rathcr past thc normal hoops ol an acadcmic carccr.
Nictzschc was so ovcrcomc by his good lortunc that hc spcnt an cntirc altcrnoon walk
ing up and down thc Lcipzig promcnadc humming tuncs lrom Tannh auser appropriatcly,
sincc onc ol thc grcat attractions ol 8ascl was that it was only a stoncs throw lrom Trib
schcn, Vagncrs placc ol cxilc. Tcn hc announccd thc good ncws by pcnning a scrics ol
short notcs on a dozcn visiting cards which hc scnt to lricnds and acquaintanccs, adding,
undcrncath his printcd namc, Prolcssor cxtraord|inary| ol Classical Philology at 8ascl Uni
vcrsity. His mothcr burst into tcars ol bcwildcrcd happincss. Momcntarily hc sccms to
havc bccn ovcrcomc by his own grandcur, scnding a lcttcr tcrminating his lricndship with
cusscn (an cdict latcr rcscindcd) who, hc lclt, had not bccn sucicntly scnsiblc ol thc
honour ol bcing ablc to call a propcr prolcssor his lricnd.
Nictzschcs original plan had bccn to takc timc out altcr complcting his univcrsity stud
ics. Hc had planncd a ycars ovcrscas cxpcricncc with Rohdc in Paris, in ordcr, as hc wrotc
wistlully to Rohdc altcr hc kncw thc trip was o,
to tastc a lilc ol a wandcrcr, . . . to bc an onlookcr not a playcr. ! saw thc two ol us with
scrious cycs and smiling lips striding through thc Paris crowds, a couplc ol philosophical
sightsccrs with a particular intcrcst in thc grcat muscums and librarics ol Paris.
howcvcr, thc Nictzschcs wcrc gcnuincly poor his mothcr had almost nothing to livc on
savc hcr mcagrc widows pcnsion this had always bccn, as Rohdc pointcd out, a pipc
Nictzschcs nal days bclorc lcaving lor 8ascl wcrc a littlc mclancholy. Apart lrom
larcwclling thc drcam ol Paris, hc had also to larcwcll his youth. To von Gcrsdor hc wrotc
lrom Naumburg on ++ April,
Timc is up, this is my last cvcning in thc homcland, tomorrow !m o into thc widc world,
into an ncw and unlamiliar prolcssion, into thc hcavy and opprcssivc atmosphcrc ol duty
and work. Again ! must say larcwcll: thc goldcn timc ol lrcc, unconstraincd activity, thc
carclrccncss ol |living in| thc prcscnt, ol cnjoying art and thc world as a discngagcd, or at
lcast only mildly cngagcd, obscrvcr this timc is now past and bcyond rccovcry. Now thc
strict goddcss ol daily duty rulcs . . . ! must now myscll bccomc a philistinc . . . nc pays a
pricc lor occ and status thc only qucstion is whcthcr thc bonds arc ol iron or thrcad . . . A
hcrd man may Zcus and all thc muscs protcct mc lrom that. ! havc indccd movcd ncarcr
to bclonging to thc spccics cog in thc machinc |Fachmensch|.
Tc job ocr was, ol coursc, onc Nictzschc could not rclusc. Tcsc scntimcnts arc nonc
thclcss gcnuinc. Vhat lics at thcir root is partly thc Schopcnhaucrian pcrspcctivc on thc
lilc ol a prolcssor, but morc spccically Nictzschcs incrcascd attraction towards philosophy
and conscqucntly away lrom philology. !n his last months in Lcipzig hc had cvcn startcd to
makc notcs lor a contcmplatcd doctoral thcsis in philosophy on thc conccpt ol tclcology
sincc Kant.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Noncthclcss hc put a bravc lacc on things and on April + lclt his homc town and his
youth bchind him. From Naumburg hc travcllcd in lcisurcly stagcs via 8onn and Colognc,
arriving in 8ascl on April +, +86. Tc univcrsity rcquircd him to givc up his Prussian
nationality so that thcy would not losc him to military scrvicc, but sincc hc had not yct
acquircd Swiss nationality, hc bccamc, in thc languagc ol Swiss burcaucratcsc, heimatslos
|homclcss|. And sincc hc ncvcr actually took out Swiss nationality, homclcssncss a major
thcmcs in his poctry bccamc his ocial status lor thc rcst ol his lilc. His latcr dcscription
ol himscll as a uropcan was, in lact, thc litcral truth.

xv b~v, towards thc middlc ol Novcmbcr, +86, shortly altcr arriving in Lcipzig,
Nictzschc succumbcd, in spitc ol his straitcncd studcnt mcans, to a suddcn
! camc across this book in old Rohns sccondhand bookshop, and taking it up vcry gingcrly
! turncd ovcr its pagcs. ! know not what dcmon whispcrcd to mc: Takc this book homc
with you. At all cvcnts, contrary to my habit ol not bcing hasty in thc purchasc ol books,
! took it homc. 8ack in my room ! thrcw myscll into thc corncr ol thc sola with my booty,
and bcgan to allow that cncrgctic and gloomy gcnius to work upon my mind. !n this book,
in which cvcry linc cricd out rcnunciation, dcnial and rcsignation, ! saw a mirror in which
! cspicd thc wholc world, lilc, and my own mind dcpictcd in lrightlul grandcur.
Tc gloomy gcnius was Schopcnhaucr and thc book Te !orld as !ill and Fepresenta-
tion. (Sincc it had bccn publishcd in Lcipzig but sold cxtrcmcly badly, numcrous copics
wcrc probably still to bc lound in local sccondhand bookshops.) As notcd in thc prcvious
chaptcr, Nictzschc immcdiatcly bccamc a Schopcnhaucrian. Vhat, wc must now ask, did
that cntail:
Te World as Will and Representation
v:niv scnovvxn~ivv (+88+86o) had privatc mcans, which hc cultivatcd astutcly.
Hc had inhcritcd lrom his lathcr, who (bclorc jumping to his dcath lrom thc attic ol
his housc) had bccn a succcsslul Hamburg busincssman. Schopcnhaucr scorncd thc pro
lcssors ol philosophy, partly out ol snobbishncss towards pcoplc who had to work lor a
living, but mainly, as alrcady notcd, on thc ground that indcpcndcncc ol mcans is a prc
condition ol indcpcndcncc ol thought. (Hc was basically right about ninctccnthccntury
Gcrman univcrsitics. Sincc thcy wcrc almost always lundcd by kings and princcs, thc
lcgitimacy ol whosc rulc rcstcd mainly on thc claim that thcy had bccn appointcd to it


vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
by God thc doctrinc ol thc divinc right ol kings philosophcrs such as Kant and Hcgcl
lound thc outright dcnial ol Gods cxistcncc a virtual impossibility.) Accordingly, Schopcn
haucr ncvcr hcld a paid univcrsity post, living, in thc lclicitous Gcrman phrasc, as a freier
Schriftsteller, a lrcc writcr or, as nglish says, a lrcclancc. Tc last twcntyscvcn ycars ol
his lilc hc livcd alonc in Franklurt. !n his study hc had, on thc wall, a portrait ol Kant,
on his dcsk, a statuc ol thc 8uddha, and, at his lcct, a poodlc. Hc lovcd opcra, prclcrrcd
animals to humans, and playing thc utc. His vicws on womcn arc unprintablc.
Te !orld as !ill and Fepresentation, rst publishcd in +8+8 but cxtcnsivcly rcviscd and
doublcd in sizc in +8, was Schopcnhaucrs only major work ol systcmatic philosophy.
is dividcd into lour books.
!n thc rst book, lollowing his admircd (though at timcs criticiscd) prcdcccssor,
!mmanucl Kant, Schopcnhaucr asscrts that, as its rst scntcncc puts it, Tc world is my
rcprcscntation. Spacc and timc, substantiality (thingncss) and causal conncctcdncss, that
is to say, arc not out thcrc, indcpcndcnt ol us. Rathcr, thcy arc thc lorms and catcgorics
which thc human mind imposcs on cvcrything that arrivcs in consciousncss in thc samc
way in which, lor cxamplc, grccn sunglasscs imposc grccnncss on cvcrything sccn through
thcm, or a wordproccssing programmc with thc lont sct to Ncw Roman imposcs Ncw
Romanncss on cvcrything that appcars on thc computcr scrccn. Naturc, that is to say, thc
world ol both cvcryday cxpcricncc and natural scicncc, is our own crcation, a world ol mcrc
appcaranccs or phcnomcna. !n thc last analysis it is a ction, ultimatcly, as Schopcnhaucr
puts it, a drcam.

Tis, in philosophical jargon, is Schopcnhaucrs Kantinspircd idcalism

(a conlusing tcrm, bcttcr thought ol in conncxion with idca than with idcal.)
8cyond thc drcam, on thc othcr sidc ol thc vcil crcatcd by our minds, is thc rcal world, in
Kants languagc, thc thing in itscll . Following his anity with !ndian thought, Schopcn
haucr oltcn spcaks ol that which is intcrposcd bctwccn us and thc thing in itscll as thc vcil
ol Maya.
Vhat is this rcal world likc: Kants to Schopcnhaucr and ncarly all his contcmporarics
intcnscly lrustrating answcr is: wc can ncvcr know. Sincc wc can ncvcr stcp outsidc our own
minds, wc can ncvcr stcp outsidc thc lorm thcy imposc on our cxpcricncc. And so, sincc
wc can ncvcr havc vcillrcc cxpcricncc, sincc wc scc at bcst only through a glass, darkly,
wc havc to rcconcilc oursclvcs to thc lact that ultimatc rcality lics lorcvcr bcyond thc rcach
ol human cognition.

!n thc sccond book ol thc mastcrwork in, at lcast, thc carlicr cdition Schopcnhaucr
appcars to rcjcct Kants lrustrating conclusion. !l wc attcnd, rst, to our own bodics, and il
wc look inwards rathcr than outwards, hc suggcsts, wc nd a kind ol cxpcricncc that is vcil
lrcc. And what wc nd in this cxpcricncc is, in a word, will. Tat which prcscnts itscll to
outcr pcrccption as bodily action prcscnts itscll, in introspcction, as will (lccling, cmotion,
dcsirc, and dccision). Tis providcs thc vital cluc to thc naturc ol rcality in gcncral. Tat
which, lrom thc outcr pcrspcctivc, appcars as a physical body is, Schopcnhaucr announccs,
in its inncr rcality, will. So thc Kantian problcm is solvcd. Takc away thc vcils and what is
lclt, as thc thing in itscll, is will:
Vhat Kant opposcd as thing in itself to mcrc appearance, this thing in itself, this substratum
ol all phcnomcna and thcrclorc ol thc wholc ol naturc, is nothing but what wc knowdircctly
and intimatcly and nd within oursclvcs as the .ill.


Tough a major philosophical brcakthrough, in anothcr rcspcct, Schopcnhaucr thinks,
this is not a happy discovcry. For thc lact that thc csscncc ol cvcrything is will mcans
that thc csscncc ol lilc is sucring. Tis is thc pcssimism lor which Schopcnhaucr is
lamous. Lilc contains many pains and lcw plcasurcs, its ovcrall and ovcrwhclmingly
dominant charactcr is sucring. For this conclusion hc prcscnts a numbcr ol convcrging
Survcying thc animal world, wc scc that thc will thc will to livc ol onc crcaturc has
no option but to hunt and kill anothcr. Rcd in tooth and claw, naturc is a placc whcrc only
thc t and murdcrous survivc (Schopcnhaucr anticipatcs important aspccts ol arwinism
by somc lorty ycars). Hcncc lcar, pain, and dcath arc by no mcans accidcntal mallunctions
ol a gcncrally bcncvolcnt naturc but bclong, rathcr, to its csscncc.
Turning to thc human world, wc nd thc will to bc cqually a cursc. Schopcnhaucr givcs
scvcral rcasons lor this. nc argumcnt points out that thc viciously compctitivc lilc ol
nonhuman animals is mcrcly amclioratcd, not rcmovcd, by human civilization. Tough
wc do not oltcn kill cach othcr, thc pursuit ol onc individuals dcsircs typically and know
ingly harms thosc ol anothcr. As thc ancicnts kncw, Homo homini lupus, man is a woll
to man.

Tc most intriguing ol Schopcnhaucrs argumcnts lor pcssimism, howcvcr ! shall call

it thc strcss or borcdom argumcnt argucs that cvcn il wc wcrc ne.er causcd to sucr
by othcr human bcings, sucring would still constitutc thc ovcrwhclming charactcr ol our
livcs. 8ricy, thc argumcnt runs as lollows. Tc will that is thc csscncc ol humanity as
ol cvcrything clsc is cithcr satiscd or not. !l my will is not satiscd thcn ! sucr. !l, lor
cxamplc, ! will lood or scx but nonc is availablc, thcn ! sucr thc pain ol hungcr or ol scxual
lrustration. 8ut il, on thc othcr hand, ! achicvc what ! will, thcn vcry soon ! cxpcricncc an
cvcn worsc lorm ol sucring borcdom. !l ! achicvc scx, Schopcnhaucr thinks (though
hc ncvcr marricd hc was known to actrcsscs), thcn almost immcdiatcly ! sucr postcoital
tristesse: vcryonc who is in lovc will cxpcricncc an cxtraordinary disillusionmcnt altcr thc
plcasurc hc nally attains.
!l (to think Schopcnhaucrs argumcnt in tcrms ol contcmpor
ary consumcrism) ! lust altcr a shiny ncw Mcrccdcs sports car and nally acquirc onc, !
may cxpcricncc a couplc ol wccks ol shallow plcasurc. Altcr that, howcvcr, it slumps into
thc invisibility ol bcing just thc car. Hcncc, Schopcnhaucr concludcs, lilc swings likc a
pcndulum bctwccn thc two polcs ol sucring lack and borcdom.

Having diagnoscd thc sickncss ol thc world in gcncral, and ol thc human condition in
particular, in thc rst two books, Te !orld as !ill s third book turns to thc qucstion ol
curc, to avcnucs ol cscapc lrom thc sucring that is lilc.
!n thc acsthctic contcmplation ol art or naturc, Schopcnhaucr obscrvcs, thc will is, lor a
momcnt, silcnccd. !n routinc, cvcryday cxpcricncc cvcrything is pcrccivcd in tcrms ol our
practical intcrcsts, in rclation to thc will. Tc hillsidc shows up as a nicc piccc ol rcal cstatc
ripc lor dcvclopmcnt, or as a valuablc bauxitc dcposit rcady lor mining. !n its acsthctic con
tcmplation, on thc othcr hand, pcrccption bccomcs a tcrm Schopcnhaucr takcs ovcr lrom
Kant disintcrcstcd (not to bc conluscd with unintcrcstcd). Absorbcd, lor a momcnt,
in acsthctic contcmplation ol thc hillsidc (thc brcathtaking sight, pcrhaps, ol C czanncs
Mont Saintc\ictoirc dissolving into thc mystcrious bluc ol thc Mcditcrrancan sky), wc
arc, as wc indccd say, takcn out ol oursclvcs: wc bccomc oblivious to our individual sclvcs
and so to our wills. For a momcnt wc bccomc thc purc, willlcss, . . . timclcss subjcct

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
disintcrcstcd pcrccption. And whcn this happcns wc achicvc a bricl cscapc lrom thc anxicty
and pain that is inscparablc lrom all willing. For a bricl momcnt Schopcnhaucr sings hcrc
a kind ol hymn to art wc cxpcricncc
thc pcacc always sought but always cscaping us on thc . . . path ol willing . . . thc painlcss
statc, prizcd by picurus as thc highcst good and as thc statc ol thc gods, lor that momcnt
wc arc dclivcrcd lrom thc miscrablc prcssurc ol thc will. Vc cclcbratc thc Sabbath ol thc
pcnal scrvitudc ol willing, thc whccl ol !xion stands still.

Tc csscncc ol almost all thc arts, thcn, is that thcy givcs us a puricd, willlrcc pcrccp
tion ol thc world thc .isible world, ol coursc, thc world ol appcarancc. Music, howcvcr,
is dicrcnt sincc, quitc cvidcntly, Schopcnhaucr obscrvcs, it docs not rcprcscnt thc vis
iblc world. (Rcprcscntations ol birdsong and battlcsccncs hc rcgards as trivialisations ol
music.) Tis lcavcs two options. Tc rst is to adopt what wc might call thc lormalist
vicw, thc vicw that music rcprcscnts nothing, but plcascs simply as a harmonious pattcrn
ol mcaninglcss sounds in thc way in which abstract painting plcascs as a harmonious pat
tcrn ol mcaninglcss colours. Tis was thc opinion ol Lcibniz who, Schopcnhaucr rcports,
dcscribcd music as An unconscious cxcrcisc in arithmctic in which thc mind docs not know
it is counting.
Tc sccond is to adopt what wc might call thc dccp rcprcscntation vicw,
thc vicwthat music does rcprcscnt, not thc world ol appcarancc but rathcr thc thing in itscll.
Schopcnhaucr rcjccts thc lormalist vicw on thc grounds that it cannot cxplain thc prolound
signicancc wc ascribc to music and concludcs that, uniquc among thc arts, music givcs us
vcillrcc acccss to rcality in itscll. Tis makcs music thc highcst ol thc arts, an unconscious
cxcrcisc |not in arithmctic but rathcr| in mctaphysics in which thc mind docs not know it
is philosophising.
Tc lourth and nal book ol Te !orld as !ill bcgins with an account ol moral virtuc.
Sincc thc only will, thc only locus ol scnsitivity to pain and plcasurc, with which wc arc
dircctly acquaintcd is our own, sincc only our own pain and plcasurc is rcal to us, mostly,
says Schopcnhaucr, wc arc cgoists. ur own intcrcsts count lor cvcrything, thosc ol othcrs
not at all, sincc, cxpcricntially, our own arc thc only intcrcsts that exist. 8ut actually, bascd as
it is on thc assumcd rcality ol a world ol individuals, cgoismis an cxprcssion ol mctaphysical
dclusion. Schopcnhaucr argucs lor this as lollows. Spacc and timc, as Kant has taught us,
cxist only in thc apparcnt world. 8ut individuality dcpcnds on spacc and timc: onc can
only discriminatc things as distinct objccts il thcy occupy dicrcnt parts ol spacc, or, il thcy
occupy thc samc spacc, do so at dicrcnt timcs. !t lollows that thc thing in itscll must bc
bcyond individuality, bc, in lact, an undicrcntiatcd unity, nc.
!n contrast to thc sclsh cgoist, thc virtuous pcrson is somconc who has insight into this
mctaphysical truth. !ntuitivcly, shc undcrstands thc ultimatcly illusory charactcr ol division
and dicrcncc (Schopcnhaucr thinks that womcn arc gcncrally bcttcr at this than mcn
his onc nicc rcmark about womcn.) Unconsciously shc rcaliscs thc wisdom containcd in
thc lormula ol thc Upanishads, tat t.am asi (this art thou). So shc takcs thc othcrs pain
as hcr own. \irtuc is thus simply altruism, thc csscncc ol which is idcntication with

Altcr discovcring Schopcnhaucr, Richard Vagncr adoptcd thc dccp rcprcscntation vicw. His
opponcnt, thc \icnncsc music critic and scllappointcd 8rahms protagonist duard Hanslick,
dclcndcd thc lormalist vicw. Formalism vcrsus dccp rcprcscntation dominatcd latcninctccnth
ccntury musical polcmics.

othcrs. Schopcnhaucrs word lor such idcntication is sympathy. 8ut sincc lilc is sucring,
sincc thcrc arc lcw joys and many sorrows with which to idcntily, it is, morc spccically,
Tcrc arc dicrcnt dcgrccs ol insight into thc ncncss ol all lilc, but thc highcst dcgrcc
bclongs to thc Christlikc saint who takcs as his own thc sucrings ol thc cntirc world.
Vhcn, howcvcr, altruism rcachcs a pitch such as this, a prolound translormation, a radical
gcstalt switch, occurs. For thc saint suddcnly rcaliscs that altruism is futile, that corts to
allcviatc thc sucring ol othcrs, thc works ol lovc, at bcst only changc thc lorm ol sucr
ing (lrom strcss to borcdom or vicc vcrsa), but can ncvcr diminish its quantity. !l , writcs
wc comparc lilc to a circular path ol rcdhot coals having a lcw cool placcs, a path wc havc
to run ovcr inccssantly, thcn thc man cnsnarcd in dclusion |i.c., thc cgoist| is comlortcd by
thc cool placc on which hc is just now standing or which hc sccs ncar him and scts out to
run ovcr thc path.
Tc saint, by contrast, having complctcly sccn through thc illusion ol individuality,
sccs himscll at all placcs simultancously and withdraws . . . !n othcr words, it is no longcr
cnough lor him to lovc othcrs as himscll and to do as much lor thcm as lor himscll.
Vith, that is, thc intuitivc rcalisation that lilc as such is, was, and always will bc, sucring
comcs a rcvulsion, a rcjcction ol thc will and thc world which Schopcnhaucr calls dcnial ol
thc will. Ultimatc insight cxprcsscs itscll as a transition lrom virtuc to asccticism.
Asccticism rcprcscnts a kind ol salvation lrom this world ol pain: as thc Stoics saw, il
willing is thc sourcc ol sucring, thcn thc rcduction ol willing is a rcduction ol sucring.
8ut Stoicism, lacking a transccndcnt cnd,
is not truc salvation: that comcs only with
dcath. Vith dcath this drcam morc cxactly, nightmarc ol lilc comcs to an cnd. As to
what rcplaccs it wc cannot say. Sincc languagc and conccptual thought arc conncd to thc
world ol appcarancc, that which is bcyond thc drcam is, to us, nothing.

Yct wc havc only

to attcnd to thc bcatitudc ol thc mystics, to
that occanlikc calmncss ol thc spirit, that dccp tranquillity, that unshakablc condcncc
and scrcnity whosc mcrc rccction in thc countcnancc as dcpictcd by Raphacl and Cor
rcggio, is a complctc and ccrtain gospcl . . . |in ordcr to| banish thc dark imprcssion ol that
nothingncss, which, as thc nal goal, hovcrs bchind all virtuc and holincss and which wc
lcar |in Francis 8acons borrowcd similc| as childrcn lcar thc dark.
Attcntion to thc tcstimony ol thc mystics, in othcr words, tcstimony which is brought to
us and vouchcd lor with thc stamp ol truth by art,
cstablishcs that thc nothingtous is

How, thc rcadcr may lccl inclincd to protcst, can thc rcality bcyond thc drcam ol lilc bc nothing
intclligiblc to us whcn Schopcnhaucr has just got through rcvcaling to us his grcat discovcry that
rcality in itscll is will: Tis qucstion will bc addrcsscd shortly.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
a hea.enly nothing, a rcalm ol bliss. Vhat thosc lcw spirits who havc had dircct cncountcrs
with thc transccndcnt know is not only that thc Ultimatc is nc but also that it is a di.ine
nc. Panthcistic consciousncss, writcs Schopcnhaucr, is csscntial to all mysticism, as
cxcmplicd by Mcistcr ckhardts spiritual daughtcr who crics out altcr hcr cpiphany, Sir,
rcjoicc with mc, ! havc bccomc God.
Nietzsches Conversion
hus, in bricl, thc cxtraordinary doctrinc that, virtually ovcrnight, convcrtcd Nictzschc
into a Schopcnhaucrian. 8ut just what was it about Schopcnhaucrs philosophy, wc
nccd now to ask, which had such a prolound ccct:
Nictzschc was by no mcans alonc in lalling undcr Schopcnhaucrs spcll. n thc contrary,
altcr a lilctimc ol obscurity, hc had, within a dccadc ol his dcath in +86o, bccomc, as Nictz
schc latcr notcs,
thc most cclcbratcd ninctccnthccntury Gcrman philosophcr. Nictzschc
is, thcrclorc, somcthing ol a rcprcscntativc gurc: in asking what it was about Schopcn
haucrs philosophy that appcalcd to him, wc arc also asking what it was that appcalcd to
considcrablc numbcrs ol cducatcd pcoplc in thc sccond hall ol thc ninctccnth and cvcn in
thc twcnticth ccntury.
Albcrt Camus bcgins Te Myth of Sisyphus with thc lamous asscrtion that thcrc is but
onc truly scrious philosophical problcm and that is suicidc. Judging whcthcr lilc is or is
not worth living amounts to answcring thc lundamcntal qucstion ol philosophy. Vith this
raising ol thc qucstion conccrning thc valuc (and incvitably, too, thc mcaning) ol lilc, a
ncw kind ol philosophy is born: xistcntialism, a philosophy that, rathcr than puzzling
ovcr abstrusc mattcrs ol thcory intcrcsting (indccd intclligiblc) only to a narrow cliquc ol
prolcssionals, attcnds to thc dccp, worrying, and vcry dicult qucstions that lurk in thc con
sciousncss ol cvcry human cxistcncc. Tc pcrson, howcvcr, who rst put Camuss qucstion
on thc tablc (and also, as it wcrc, prcscntcd thc casc lor thc prosccution) was Schopcn
haucr. !n this scnsc ol thc tcrm, thcrclorc, hc was thc rst xistcntialist, thc rst philos
ophcr (sincc antiquity) to takc philosophy out ol librarics and lccturc halls and into pcoplcs
And hc did so in prosc ol mastcrly clarity, clcgancc, wit, and incandcsccnt lury (dircctcd
mainly against Hcgcls chcap optimism and brainrotting obscurity), and with a capacity
lor thc concrctc, tclling cxamplc that is worth a thousand windy words. Schopcnhaucr not
only spcaks to us as opposcd to a narrowcliquc ol dcsiccatcd scholars, hc also spcaks in a way
wc can casily undcrstand. (Nictzschcs critiquc ol thc thcncurrcnt practicc ol philology,
lct us rccall, objcctcd prcciscly to its dcsiccatcd, introvcrtcd prolcssionalism and lack ol
cxistcntial rclcvancc.) Tc qucstion rcmains, howcvcr, as to what it was about spccically,
thc content ol Schopcnhaucrs philosophy that sccmcd to Nictzschc and his circlc to bc ol
such vital importancc.
Nictzschcs studcnt ycars wcrc, ! havc cmphasiscd, happy ycars, thc happicst ol his cntirc
lilc. Yct somcthing was missing. Tough hc had cntcrcd thc univcrsity ol 8onn with thc
lormal intcntion ol studying lor thc pricsthood, wc know that cvcn bclorc lcaving Plorta,
hc had, in lact, lost his laith. Christian mctaphysics (thcological astronomy hc latcr calls
God, hcavcn, and thc immortal soul had bccn rcndcrcd unbclicvablc by thc natural

and human scicnccs ol modcrnity. Latcr on, in Te Gay Science, hc rccords, in a strongly
autobiographical way, thc agonising loss ol a spiritual homcland that rcsults lrom thc dcath
ol God. Vhcrc is God: hc crics:
!ll tcll you! !e ha.e killed him you and !! Vc |wc modcrn thinkcrs| arc all his murdcrcrs.
8ut . . . what wcrc wc doing whcn wc |wc Copcrnicans| unchaincd this carth lrom its sun:
Vhcrc is it moving to now: whcrc arc wc moving to: Away lrom all suns: Arc wc not
continually lalling: And backwards, sidcwards, lorwards in all dircctions: !s thcrc still an
up and a down:
Vhat had Nictzschc lost in losing thc laith ol his lamily: Vhat was it thc rcligion ol his
childhood had providc him with: !n csscncc, thrcc things: an account ol how onc should
livc, thc cthics ol Christian lovc, an antidotc to lcar ol dcath, thc doctrinc ol thc immor
tality ol thc soul, and an account ol thc mcaning ol lilc as salvation, thc attainmcnt,
through virtuc, ol ctcrnal, hcavcnly bliss. Tc loss ol this lramcwork lor living is what
Te Gay Science idcntics as thc dircctionlcss charactcr ol postChristian cxistcncc. Such a
lramcwork, howcvcr, is prcciscly what hc bclicvcd hc had rcdiscovcrcd in Schopcnhaucrs
philosophy. Hcncc thc ccstasy ol his rst rcsponsc. Tc young man who cntcrcd Rohns
bookshop was, hc tclls us, dcvoid ol lundamcntal principlcs. 8ut what hc rcdiscovcrcd in
Schopcnhaucr thc languagc is cxplicitly rcligious was, hc tclls us, sickncss and rccovcry,
banishmcnt and rclugc, hcll and hcavcn.
Vhat hc discovcrcd in Schopcnhaucr was, hc
bclicvcd, a rccasting ol thc csscncc ol thc Christianity ol his childhood in a lorm t lor
Schopcnhaucr himscll took his philosophy to havc this charactcr.
And onc can scc
why, sincc Christianity (thc Luthcranism ol Nictzschcs childhood, at lcast) agrccs with
him on thc lollowing lundamcntal doctrincs. First, that this world is a valc ol tcars, a placc
ol sin and sucring. Sccond, that onc should lovc oncs ncighbour as oncscll, that lovc,
compassion lor sucring, is thc propcr cthical stancc towards othcrs. Tird, that dcath is
not to bc lcarcd, sincc it is mcrcly a transition to anothcr rcalm ol bcing. And lourth, that
oncs postmortcm cxistcncc is thc goal and mcaning ol lilc sincc (lor thc virtuous, at lcast)
it is a rcalm ol ctcrnal bliss.
!n a word, thcn, Nictzschcs discovcry ol Schopcnhaucr had thc charactcr ol a convcr
sion, almost bornagain, cxpcricncc: it was thc rcdiscovcry ol rcligion, a rccasting ol thc
old rcligion in a ncw lorm.
Tis cxplains thc rcligious colour ol his rcsponsc to rcading Te !orld as !ill. Almost
immcdiatcly hc bcgan to spcak ol Schopcnhaucr as my mastcr, a kind ol high pricst whosc
disciplc hc was. And hc bcgan to practisc bodily pcnanccs such as allowing himscll only
lour hours slccp a night, lollowing Schopcnhaucrs rccommcndcd path through asccticism
to salvation.
Hc bccamc, morcovcr, an cvangclist lor thc ncw laith, bcgan, as hc put
it, to makc propaganda on |Schopcnhaucrs| bchall and lcad various pcoplc by thc nosc
to him.
8cing a corcligionist bccamc a virtual prccondition ol lricndship with Nictz
schc. vcr his lricndship with Rohdc, hc wrotc, thc gcnius ol . . . Schopcnhaucr ol coursc
as it did ovcr thc lricndships with Mushackc and von Gcrsdor. nly cusscn
provcd rcsistant to thc ncw laith, lorcing Nictzschc ccctivcly to thrcatcn to brcak o thc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
lricndship il hc did not scc thc light.
And ovcr thc latclul luturc lricndship with Vagncr
Schopcnhaucr would prcsidc as wcll.
Nictzschc rccords that cvcry lortnight hc, von Gcrsdor, and Mushackc mct with
thc Naumburg pastor Fricdrich Vcnkcl, an incxhaustiblc rcscarchcr and protagonist lor
Schopcnhaucrs tcaching,
in Cal c Kintschy, in ordcr to schopcnhaucrianizc.
thc nctwork ol Schopcnhaucrdisciplcs, both in Lcipzig and in othcr parts ol Gcrmany,
thc mastcr was clcvatcd to an almost Christlikc status: on onc occasion that involvcd thc
drinking ol winc Nictzschc comparcs thc gathcring ol lricnds ol Schopcnhaucr to a gath
cring ol thc rst Christians.
As with any group ol dcvotccs, thc disciplcs bccamc dcspcratc to obtain a visual imagc
ol thcir guru. vcntually von Gcrsdor trackcd down thc owncr ol a portrait by Julcs Lun
tcnsch utz (scc Platc ) bclonging to a lormcr acquaintancc ol Schopcnhaucr. 8rcathlcssly,
hc rcports that thc owncr ol thc icon
took us to his study and hcrc ! saw thc hcavcnly picturc ol our mastcr, bclorc which onc
could stand lor hours, in ordcr to look into his clcar cycs. A godlikc brow that appcars
to risc to innity, lramcd by bcautilul whitc hair undcr whitc cycbrows likc thosc ol thc
lympian Zcus, two cycs ol clarity and dcpth lrom which onc cannot tcar oncscll away,
oncc onc has bccomc accustomcd to thc gazc which at rst sccms to dazzlc onc. Tc mouth
is broad but has thc lricndly, mild cxprcssion ol inncr pcacc, though onc cannot miss his
capacity lor cascadcs ol bittcr, satirical scorn,
and so rhapsodically on. Nictzschc rcplics, cqually brcathlcssly, that hc has passcd this prc
cious dcscription on to two othcr disciplcs ol our mastcr, namcly Rohdc . . . and Vcnkcl.
Abovc all what appcalcd to Nictzschc was Schopcnhaucrs doctrinc ol salvation.
cscribing his stancc to Christianity in +866, hc writcs,
!l Christianity mcans laith in an historical cvcnt and an historical pcrson ! havc nothing to
do with this Christianity. 8ut il it mcans a nccd lor salvation thcn ! valuc it highly . . . h,
il only all philosophcrs wcrc disciplcs ol Schopcnhaucr.
And hc conlcsscs to still cxpcricncing thc mctaphysical nccd which hc holds to bc univcrsal
to all human bcings.
Mctaphysical nccd rclcrs to thc titlc ol thc chaptcr ol Te !orld as !ill n Mans
Nccd lor Mctaphysics

which contains Schopcnhaucrs principal discussion ol rcligion.

Human bcings arc uniquc, hc argucs, in living in thc consciousncss ol mortality. nly
thcy livc in thc light ol thc nothing |das Nichts| which thcy must onc day bccomc and
which (particularly in a postChristian agc) thcy suspcct to bc an absolutc or cmpty

Fcar ol dcath is innatc and univcrsal, simply thc obvcrsc ol our biologically
programmcd will to livc. Assurancc ol thc nonnality ol dcath is thc truc hcart ol any grcat

Tcrc is irony in this, sincc, whcn hc cvcntually did convcrt, unlikc Nictzschc, who would bccomc an
apostatc, cusscn rcmaincd laithlul lor lilc, lounding thc Schopcnhaucr Socicty in Franklurt and
bccoming thc rst cditor ol its Jahrbuch |Ycarbook| (to which thc prcscnt author has contributcd a
numbcr ol cssays).

rcligion: no rcligion has cvcr achicvcd thc status ol a world rcligion without a doc
trinc ol immortality.
And providing an antidotc to lcar ol dcath, providing a consolation lor its incvitability,
is also, Schopcnhaucr holds, thc principal task ol philosophy, which is why Socratcs dcncd
philosophy as a prcparation lor dcath.

Tis bccomcs cvcn morc truc in thc modcrn world:

sincc, lor cducatcd pcoplc, Christian mctaphysics is no longcr bclicvablc, only in philosophy,
il anywhcrc, is any kind ol consolation to bc lound.
As ! havc alrcady suggcstcd, Schopcnhaucrs doctrinc ol salvation, indccd his wholc
philosophy, is rcally an intcrprctation ol dcath. !ts loundation is idcalism. According to
Schopcnhaucrs idcalism, dcath is simply thc tcrmination ol thc drcam ol lilc. A drcam,
howcvcr, dcmands a drcamcr, a drcamcr who must stand outsidc thc drcam. !t lollows
lrom idcalism, thcrclorc, that our rcal scll is complctcly untouchcd by dcath. Tis is why
Schopcnhaucr says that idcalism is thc most complctc answcr
to thc qucstion ol immor
tality, proving, as it docs, thc indcstructibility ol our inncr |truc| naturc by dcath.

ol thc timc, ol coursc, wc usc thc cquivocal word !
to rclcr to our cvcryday, cmbodicd,
cmpirical scll, and that docs indccd tcrminatc with dcath. Mctaphysical insight, howcvcr,
lcads us to scc that thc truc rclcrcnt ol thc ! is thc transccndcnt scll, thc scll that lics
bcyond timc, and so bcyond both birth and dcath.
Tis, thcn, is thc hcart ol what Nictzschc takcs ovcr lrom Schopcnhaucr. His mctaphys
ical nccd to know thc nonnality ol dcath, no longcr ablc to bc satiscd by Christianity,
nds a ncw satislaction in thc implications ol Schopcnhaucrian idcalism.
Te Impact of Kant and Lange
bout ninc months altcr discovcring Schopcnhaucr, Nictzschc bccamc cngrosscd in
anothcr book: Fricdrich Langcs History of Materialism and Critique of Its Signicance
for the Present. Tis work, which hc rcad whcn it rst appcarcd in +866, providcd him with
somcthing ol a grasp ol Kants philosophy, a grasp hc incrcascd during latc +86 and carly
+868 by rcading Kants Critique of Judgment and Kuno Fischcrs rcccntly appcarcd two
volumc study ol Kant.

Langcs book is dividcd into two parts. Tc rst contains a history ol matcrialism lrom
thc ancicnt Grccks to Kant, thc sccond a critical discussion ol matcrialism lrom Kant to
thc midninctccnth ccntury.
Langc rcprcscntcd thc bcginning ol NcoKantianism, an abandonmcnt ol thc mcta
physical cxccsscs ol Gcrman !dcalists such as Fichtc and Hcgcl and a rcturn to Kants
cpistcmological modcsty. !mprcsscd by thc advancc ol natural scicncc in thc ninctccnth
ccntury, hc was at thc samc timc likc Kant intcnscly worricd by it. Morc cxactly, hc
was worricd, not by scicncc as such, an cstimablc and vital cntcrprisc, but rathcr by scicncc
turncd into mctaphysics thc mctaphysical thcsis ol matcrialism, thc thcsis that ultimatc
rcality consists ol mattcr in motion and nothing clsc. Likc Kant, who said that thc aim ol
his Critique of Pure Feason was to scvcr at thc root thc triplc cvils ol matcrialism, latalism
and athcism,
hc was intcnscly disturbcd by thc cxistcntial implications ol this doctrinc,
its thrcat to rcligion and morality.
Langcs solution is a rcturn to Kants idcalism togcthcr with his doctrinc ol thc unknow
ability ol thc thing in itscll. Scicncc can and must cxplorc thc world ol matcrial naturc, but

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
ultimatcly that is mcrcly a phcnomcnal or apparcnt world. !t lollows that, with rcspcct to
knowlcdgc ol ultimatc rcality, propcrly undcrstood, scicncc has nothing to say.
Langcs original contribution to thc Kantian position is to show that mctaphysical
matcrialism is scllundcrmining in that it itself lcads to thc conclusion that it can spcak
only ol an apparcnt world: lully thought out, thc consistcnt, matcrialistic vicw. . . changcs
around . . . into a consistcnt, idcalistic vicw.
Tus scicncc itscll, in particular thc physiology
ol pcrccption, shows that our consciousncss ol, lor cxamplc, colours, is not consciousncss
ol somcthing out thcrc in thc world but is mcrcly thc brains subjcctivc rcsponsc to light
wavcs impinging on thc rctina. Scicncc itscll holds that thc noisy, colourlul, tasty, smclly
cntitics ol human cxpcricncc arc simply our own invcntion. 8ut il that is so thcn, cqually,
thc cntitics it itscll postulatcs, thc human brain, rctinas, light wavcs and thc likc, must
bc human invcntions too. Scicncc thus dcmonstratcs its own ignorancc ol ultimatc rcality.
Spacc, lor cxamplc, Langc claims, might, in rcality, havc lour rathcr than thrcc dimcnsions
without that making any dicrcncc to thc charactcr ol our cxpcricncc.
Tc moral, thcn,
is that by quitc propcrly showing that thc mind constructs its world, scicncc limits its own
compctcncc to thc world ol appcaranccs. To human bcings, laymcn and scicntists alikc,
ultimatc rcality is an inconccivablc ordcr ol things.

Nictzschc writcs to von Gcrsdor rccommcnding Langc as thc bcst account ol thc
matcrialist movcmcnt ol our timcs, ol natural scicncc and its arwinian thcorics. Yct in
lact, hc continucs, it contains much morc than that, ocring innitcly morc than its titlc

!t docs so sincc, lar lrom bcing himscll a matcrialist, Langc is actually, Nictz
schc corrcctly obscrvcs, a highly cnlightcncd Kantian.

Langcs own position, Nictzschc continucs (hcrc hc is actually quoting Langcs own scll
without making it clcar that that is what hc is doing), can bc summariscd in thc
lollowing thrcc scntcnccs:
(+) Tc scnsiblc world is thc product ol our own laculty ol organization.
(:) ur visiblc (bodily) organs arc, likc all othcr parts ol thc world ol appcarancc, only
picturcs ol an unknown objcct.
() Vhat our laculty ol organization |thc scll in itscll| rcally is, thcrclorc, is just as
unknown as thc rcal outcr objcct |thc thing in itscll|. !n cach casc wc cxpcricncc
only thcir products.
So, Nictzschc concludcs in his own words, thc truc csscncc ol things, thc thing in itscll,
is . . . unknown to us.

Criticising Schopenhauer
omctimc in latc +86 or carly +868, about a ycar altcr pcnning thc abovc synopsis,
Nictzschc applics Langcs cnlightcncd Kantianism to Schopcnhaucrs philosophy in
an cxtcndcd critiquc ol thc lattcr. Tc locus ol thc critiquc is Schopcnhaucrs claim, madc
morc than thirty timcs in 8ook !! ol thc rst cdition ol Te !orld as !ill, to havc crackcd
thc problcm ol thc naturc ol thc thing in itscll, to havc discovcrcd it to bc will.

Tc attcmpt to cxplain thc world according to a singlc lactor, Nictzschc writcs in his
notcbooks, is a lailurc:
Tc qucstion all mctaphysicians ycarn to answcr . . . as to whcthcr naturc can nally bc
lathomcd, is answcrcd by Schopcnhaucr with a dcnitc Ycs . . . Tc solution to thc last
and most important riddlc ol thc world is . . . thc groundlcss, knowlcdgclcss will . . . 8ut
this is a dubious discovcry. Tc rst objcction . . . is that thc conccpt ol a thing in itscll is
mcrcly a hiddcn catcgory. !n thc placc ol thc Kantian X hc placcs thc will, but only with thc
hclp ol a poctic intuition, lor thc attcmptcd logical prool can satisly ncithcr Schopcnhaucr
nor us. !n Schopcnhaucrs lavour, . . . thcrc can bc a thing in itscll though only in thc scnsc
that cvcrything that can bc thought up by a philosophical hcad is possiblc in thc domain
ol thc transccndcnt. And this possiblc thing in itscll can bc thc will but . . . that is a mcrc
gucss . . . Tc world will not t as comlortably into his systcm as Schopcnhaucr had hopcd
in thc intoxication ol rst discovcry. !n his old agc hc complaincd that thc most dicult
problcms ol philosophy arc not solvcd cvcn by his own philosophy, by which hc mcant
thc qucstion ol thc limits ol individuation . . . His systcm is pcrmcatcd by contradictions.
Schopcnhaucr says that, as thing in itscll, thc will, is lrcc ol all thc lorms ol its appcar
ancc . . . !t is, hc says, ncvcr an objcct, sincc cvcrything that is an objcct is mcrc appcar
ancc . . . 8ut hc dcmands that what is ncvcr an objcct can bc objcctivcly thought . . . hc dcc
oratcs it with prcdicatcs, likc bright clothcs, drawn lrom thc world ol appcaranccs . . . thus
thc |rcal, Kantian| conccpt thing in itscll is quictly abandoncd and anothcr sccrctly
!n a word, thcn, Langcs ccntral impact on Nictzschc is to makc him rcjcct what appcars
to bc thc most ccntral and distinctivc ol claim ol Schopcnhaucrs philosophy, its idcntica
tion ol ultimatc rcality as will. Vhat is puzzling, howcvcr, is that this rcjcction diminishcs
Nictzschcs dcdication to thc mastcr not a jot. n thc contrary, it incrcascs it: You will
scc that lrom Langcs strict, critical standpoint , hc concludcs his lcttcr to von Gcrsdor,
our Schopcnhaucr rcmains to us, indccd bccomcs cvcn morc to us.

And that his spcll

did indccd rcmain and incrcasc is provcd by, as wc shall scc, thc intcnscly Schopcnhaucrian
charactcr not only ol thc lricndship with Vagncr but also ol Nictzschcs rst book, Te Birth
of Tragedy, which grcw out ol it. 8ut how on carth could it havc happcncd that thc rcading
ol Langc and conscqucnt critiquc ol Schopcnhaucr intcnsicd rathcr than diminishcd his
dcvotion to thc mastcr:
Reconstructing Schopenhauer
ictzschcs obscrvation that Te !orld as !ill is pcrmcatcd by contradictions is cntircly
just. Tc most lundamcntal contradiction is thc lollowing.
Schopcnhaucrs doctrinc ol salvation, as wc havc notcd, is rcally thc provision ol a con
solation lor dcath. !ts loundation lics in thc cvidcnt conscqucncc ol idcalism that thc truc
scll, thc drcamcr ol thc drcam ol lilc, is untouchcd by dcath. Tc qucstion, though, is
whcthcr this doctrinc is rcally consoling at all. For il thc claim that thc thing in itscll is
thc will is truc, thc claim rcpcatcd many timcs in 8ook !!, thcn thc rcal scll has to be thc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
will, thc onc and only ultimatcly rcal cntity. 8ut, Schopcnhaucr holds, thc will is both thc
ol all thc worlds pains, past, prcscnt and luturc, and also thcir source: as thc only
rcality, it has to bc thc sourcc ol cvcrything and is thcrclorc rcsponsiblc lor thc lact that lilc
is sucring, lor thc lact that thc world is thc .orst ol all possiblc worlds,
posscssing as
it docs thc charactcr ol a conccntration camp. Tc world will is, thcrclorc, lundamcntally
e.il: at bottom, Schopcnhaucr says, naturc is not divinc but dcmonic, dcvilish.
Tcrc is
thus an ctcrnal justicc in thc world, an cxact balancc bctwccn thc wickcdncss ol its csscncc
and thc wrctchcdncss ol its latc.

8ut il that is what our truc scll is thcn, lar lromrccciving consolation in thc lacc ol dcath,
to rcalisc thc charactcr ol oncs truc scll is to dcsccnd into a rcalm ol cosmic sclldisgust.
Acccptancc ol Schopcnhaucrs philosophy thcn bccomcs a dcsccnt into a tcrriblc kind ol
madncss. Lilc is sucring and so not worth living. 8ut suicidc is not worth contcmplating
cithcr, sincc dcath mcrcly translorms pcrsonal into cosmic sucring which onc thoroughly
dcscrvcs on account ol bcing lundamcntally cvil. So oncs choicc is bctwccn hcll and hcll.
!n short, il thc will is thc thing in itscll thcn thcrc can bc no doctrinc ol salvation in
Schopcnhaucrs philosophy.
8ut, ol coursc, thcrc is such a doctrinc. Tc mystics, wc havc sccn (pp. 86 abovc),
know about it, know that thc rcality bcyond thc drcam is divinc, thc objcct ol ccstatic,
panthcistic consciousncss. So Nictzschc is absolutcly right: at thc hcart ol Te !orld as
!ill is a crippling contradiction, a contradiction bctwccn thc conclusion ol 8ook !! and thc
conclusion ol 8ook !\. At thc cnd ol 8ook !! rcality is at bottom dcmonic. At thc cnd ol
8ook !\ it is at bottom divinc. nly thc lact that scvcral hundrcd pagcs scparatc thc two
conclusions makcs it possiblc to miss this contradiction.
Nictzschc, as wc saw, rcports that in old agc Schopcnhaucr admittcd that his philosophy
had not solvcd thc most dicult problcms ol philosophy (p. + abovc). Tis is corrcct.
Vhat Nictzschc is rclcrring to is thc lact that in thc latcr, cxpandcd, +8 cdition ol thc
mastcrwork, Schopcnhaucr bcgins to scvcrcly qualily thc carlicr, bald asscrtion, madc in
thc intoxication ol youth, that thc will is thc thing in itscll: hc now bcgins to inscrt into
thc works ncw, sccond volumc rcmarks likc thc qucstion ol what that will which manilcsts
itscll in thc world and as thc world is ultimatcly and absolutcly in itscll . . . can ncvcr bc

8ut givcn thc avidity with which Nictzschc and his lcllow disciplcs pounccd
upon any scrap ol inlormation thcy could discovcr about thc mastcr, thcy may also havc
known ol a lcttcr Schopcnhaucr wrotc to his litcrary cxccutor, Julius Fraucnst adt, cight
ycars bclorc his dcath, in which hc says that his philosophy sccks to dcscribc thc thing
in itscll only in rclation to |i.c., as| appcarancc. Vhat thc thing in itscll is apart lrom
that rclation Schopcnhaucr continucs, hc docs not say bccausc ! do not know what it

Tc ccct ol this is to withdraw will to thc appcarancc sidc ol thc appcarancc/rcality

dichotomy. Tough will providcs a dccper account ol thc world than its dcscription in
tcrms ol matcrial bodics, thc world it dcscribcs rcmains in thc rcalm ol appcarancc. Vill
is, thcn, as onc might looscly put it, a dcscription ol pcnultimatc rathcr than ol ultimatc
rcality. !n thc nal analysis, thc will as will bclongs to thc drcam.
!n thc cnd, thcn, Schopcnhaucr rcarms Kants position that thc thing in itscll is, to
philosophy at lcast, unknowablc. And this rcsolvcs thc contradiction in his thinking, makcs
gcnuinc room lor thc doctrinc ol salvation. (!t is, pcrhaps, not without signicancc that hc
did this towards thc cnd ol his lilc, at a timc, that is, whcn hc himscll would havc bccn in
incrcasing nccd ol consolation in thc lacc ol dcath.) And it is this position which, undcr

Langcs inucncc, Nictzschc cndorscd happily cndorscd, sincc it allowcd him to nd in
Schopcnhaucr, altcr all, what hc could no longcr nd in Christianity, thc satislaction ol his
mctaphysical nccd lor comlort in thc lacc ol dcath.

l coursc, to say, with Kant, Langc, with thc oldcr Schopcnhaucr and with Nictzschc,
that thc rcality standing bchind thc world ol appcarancc transccnds thc limits ol rational,
philosophical thought and knowlcdgc cuts two ways. n thc onc hand, it disqualics thc
claim to know ultimatc rcality to bc thc dcmonic will. qually, howcvcr, it disqualics thc
claim to know that it is divinc. !l rcality in itscll is simply terra incognita thcn it can no morc
bc known to bc divinc than it can bc known to bc dcmonic, and thc doctrinc ol salvation
gcts no purchasc. Tc qucstion rcmains, thcrclorc, as to why Nictzschc should say that
Langcs strict, critical standpoint actually intcnsics his dcvotion to Schopcnhaucr (p. +
!n trying to nd an answcr to this qucstion,
a good startingpoint is Kant, and in
particular his lamous rcmark that thc task ol thc Critique of Pure Feason is to dcny |rational|
kno.ledge in ordcr to makc room lor |rcligious| faith.

Rcturning to thc oldcr (and wiscr) Schopcnhaucr, wc scc him, whilc agrccing with Kant
in dcnying rational knowlcdgc ol thc transccndcnt, ocring, in a positivc asscssmcnt ol
thc knowlcdgcclaims ol mysticism, somcthing morc than mcrc laith that transccndcncc
is salvation. Philosophy, hc says, bcing csscntially rationalism, runs up against its lim
its, as against thc walls ol a prison,
whcn it trics to discuss thc transccndcnt. !t can
point to a domain ol illuminism or highcr consciousncss but cannot sct cvcn onc loot

Hcncc, his own philosophy, hc says, at its highcst point, is lorccd to assumc
a ncgativc charactcr. !t can spcak ol what is abandoncd in dcnial ol thc will but not ol
what is gaincd. Vhcrc philosophy comcs to an cnd, howcvcr, mysticism procccds posi
And whcn wc rccct that all mystics, cvcn though thcy comc lrom widcly dicr
cnt agcs and culturcs, rcport (according to Schopcnhaucr) thc samc cxpcricncc, thc mcrging
ol oncscll with thc divinc, wc can rcasonably concludc that whatcvcr it is thcy scc is both
wondcrlul and rcal.
Tis conclusion, as wc saw, is rcinlorccd, according to Schopcnhaucr,
by grcat arts stamp ol truth:
to scc thc pcacc that is highcr than all rcason, that occanlikc
calmncss ol thc spirit, that dccp tranquillity, that unshakcablc condcncc and scrcnity, as
dcpictcd by Raphacl or Corrcggio, is to rcccivc a complctc and ccrtain gospcl: only knowl
cdgc rcmains, thc will has vanishcd.
Tc colon in this last rcmark (cquivalcnt to sincc) indicatcs that in ordcr to validatc mys
tical bcatitudc, Schopcnhaucr is appcaling to thc doctrinc ol acsthctic vcracity cxpoundcd
in Te !orld as !ill s third book: sincc it is thc will practical intcrcst which manip
ulatcs and distorts pcrccption, it lollows that whcn wc cscapc thc will as do authcntic
mystics wc bccomc a clcar mirror ol rcality, complctcly objcctivc.
n a mind that
is purc rcccptivity, rcality imprcsscs itscll just as, in itscll, it is. Tis is thc doctrinc lol
lowcd by thc youthlul Nictzschc in his attcmpt to validatc thc rcality ol Schopcnhaucrian
salvation. Commcnting on his rcading ol Langc, hc writcs to von Gcrsdor that thc con
scqucncc ol ultimatc rcalitys inacccssibility to thc rational mind is that art is lrcc. Vhat hc
mcans is that intimations ol thc transccndcnt in art arc lrcc ol thc possibility ol asscssmcnt,
and so ol contradiction, by rcason: Vho, hc asks rhctorically, altcr assimilating Langcs
Kantianism, would scck to rclutc a work ol 8ccthovcn or to nd an crror in Raphacls

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Undcr what ! call intimations ol thc transccndcnt, Nictzschc has in mind, rst and
lorcmost, ! think, what onc (or at lcast hc) grasps through music. Schubcrts lamous +8+
hymn To Music rcads in part, h blcsscd art, in how many grcy hours,/ Vhcn lilcs
crcc orbit cncompasscs mc,/ Hast thou . . . transportcd mc to a bcttcr world. Tis kind
ol salvation through music, wc havc sccn on scvcral occasions, was Nictzschcs rcpcatcd
cxpcricncc ol thc blcsscd art. At lourtccn, thc Hallclujah Chorus madc him lccl part ol
thc joylul singing ol angcls, on whosc billows ol sound Jcsus asccndcd to hcavcn lcading
him to dccidc that that thc solc, valid purposc ol music is to lcad us upwards (p. abovc).
vcn altcr thc loss ol his Christian laith, thc link rcmains bctwccn music and thc divinc:
thc communication ol thc dacmonic, that is to say, a dim intimation ol thc divinc . . . a
lccling lrom out ol which hcavcn suddcnly shincs lorth is thc ccct ol grcat music (p. 8
abovc). (nc might think hcrc ol thc nalc ol Gustav Mahlcrs Fesurrection Symphony.)
Nictzschcs cxpcricncc and conccption ol music, as ! havc rcmarkcd, was, and up until thc
cnd ol his sanity rcmaincd, lundamcntally rcligious.
Tc qucstion, though, that nccds to bc askcd about this doctrinc ol salvation through
music, or through art in gcncral, is whcthcr Nictzschc takcs himscll to bc adopting a Kan
tian or a Schopcnhaucrian position. !l hc is lollowing Kant, acsthctic intimations ol tran
sccndcnt salvation can only havc thc status ol laith, can only providc subjcctivc convic
tion with rcspcct to thc objcctivcly unknowablc. !l hc lollows Schopcnhaucr, on thc othcr
hand, acsthctic, and abovc all musical, intimations arc accordcd thc status ol (nonrational)
knowlcdgc ol thc transccndcnt.
Two lactors support thc vicw that, in lact, thc youthlul Nictzschc lollows Schopcnhaucr
rathcr than Kant. Tc rst is a lcttcr ol ctobcr +868 to Paul cusscn in which hc says
that thc lattcrs call lor a critiquc ol |Schopcnhaucrs| systcm is, hc supposcs, acccptablc il
it mcans pointing out thc various lailcd prools and cascs ol tactical clumsincss it contains
hc had, altcr all, produccd his own Schopcnhaucrcritiquc a ycar carlicr. 8ut, hc continucs,
such a critiquc is cntircly unacccptablc il it mcans criticism ol Schopcnhaucrs worldvicw.
Tc lattcr is bcyond criticism sincc (hc is hcrc implicitly accusing thc oltcnpatronizcd

ol spiritual dcnscncss) it is
somcthing onc cithcr grasps or docs not. Athird standpoint is inconccivablc. Somconc who
docs not smcll a rosc cannot truly criticisc it. And il hc docs smcll it thcn a la bonheur!
Altcr that hc loscs thc dcsirc to criticisc.
Vhat hc must bc rclcrring to hcrc, undcr thc rubric worldvicw is thc ultimatc goal and nal
point ol Schopcnhaucrs philosophy, thc happincss |bonheur|crcating doctrinc ol tran
sccndcnt salvation. !t is this, togcthcr with our mctaphysical nccd lor it, that is bcyond
criticism. And what hc sccms to bc doing is sctting up intimations ol thc transccndcnt
through art or through philosophy considcrcd, as hc now thinks it should bc, as a lorm
ol art
as analogucs ol thc inlormation providcd by thc physical scnscs, in othcr words
as modcs ol seeing.

!n his mcmoirs cusscn notcs thc unmistakablc lact that Nictzschcs tcndcncy always to corrcct
mc, to schoolmastcr mc and somctimcs rcally to tormcnt mc, . . . will bc clcar lrom our ongoing
corrcspondcncc altcr thc 8onn ycar ( J ! p. +6+). Nictzschc ncvcr grantcd cusscn thc intcllcctual
cquality hc accordcd, lor instancc, Rohdc or von Gcrsdor.

A sccond rcason lor taking Nictzschc to bc trcating art as a modc ol transccndcnt cog
nition is thc charactcr ol thc scllcriticism that lollows, a dccadc latcr, altcr his turn to
positivism and against thc SchopcnhaucrVagncr worldvicw. Pcoplc sucring lrom rcli
gious altcrpains, hc says in Human, ll-Too-Human, spcak (with Schopcnhaucr) ol thc
complctc and ccrtain gospcl in thc glancc ol Raphacls Madonna.
r at a ccrtain point
in thc last movcmcnt ol 8ccthovcns Ninth Symphony such a pcrson is liablc to lccl hc
is hovcring abovc thc carth in a domc ol stars with thc drcam ol immortality in his hcart:
all thc stars sccm to ittcr around him and thc carth sccms to sink lurthcr and lurthcr
8cautilul though this is, Nictzschc is by now bcnt on dcbunking such dcication
ol art as indulgcd in by both Schopcnhaucr and his own lormcr scll. Vc havc, hc says, pro
lound lcclings which sccm to takc us dccp into thc intcrior, closc to thc hcart ol naturc.
8ut such lcclings, hc thcn adds, in a passagc ol insightlul sclldcconstruction,
arc prolound only insolar as whcn thcy occur ccrtain complcx groups ol thoughts which wc
call prolound arc, scarccly pcrccptibly, rcgularly arouscd with thcm, a lccling is prolound
bccausc wc rcgard thc thoughts that accompany it as prolound. 8ut a prolound thought
can noncthclcss bc vcry distant lrom thc truth . . . !l onc dcducts lrom thc prolound lccling
thc clcmcnt ol thought . . . what rcmains is thc strong lccling, and this has nothing to do
with knowlcdgc.
Tat this is selfcriticism, that thc paradigm victim ol rcligious altcrpains is his own
lormcr scll, is madc cxplicit in Ecce Homo. !n Human, ll-Too-Human, hc writcs, choos
ing his words carclully, ! libcratcd myscll lrom that in my naturc .hich did not belong to
cconstructing thc thought that music takcs onc to thc hcart ol things is ovcrcom
ing somcthing that hc oncc bclicvcd and so lics in his nature, though it is now a part ol
that naturc hc rcjccts and bclicvcs hc has ovcrcomc. Such a rcjcction, howcvcr, lay lar in
thc luturc. !n +868 Nictzschc posscsscd both a rcligious dcvotion to Schopcnhaucr that
rcduccd to insignicancc his various criticisms ol thc mastcr and a conviction that grcat
music providcs us with gcnuinc knowlcdgc ol nal salvation. Sincc Richard Vagncr was
cqually bcsottcd with both Schopcnhaucr and thc idca ol salvation through music, thc two
wcrc thus latcd to thc immcdiatc bonding that occurrcd in thc drawingroom ol ttolic
v~v: :wo
The Reluctant
Basel in +8yo
iv:zscnv ~vvivvb at 8ascls ccntral railway station on April +, +86, to takc
up his ncw position at thc univcrsity. Tc city that grcctcd him was in thc slow,
and somcwhat rcluctant, proccss ol opcning itscll up to thc modcrn world by
dcmolishing its mcdicval wall. !n +8 a ncw gatc had bccn cut into thc wall to allow a
railway conncxion to Strasbourg Switzcrlands rst railway linc. 8ut it was closcd at night
so that, as thc city council put it, lrcc ol thc juddcr ol trains, thc citizcns could continuc to
slccp thc slccp ol thc just. Furthcr gatcs wcrc cut ovcr thc ncxt twcnty ycars to allow morc
rail conncxions, but thcy rcmaincd closcd at night and wcrc manncd by policc during thc
day. !n +868, howcvcr, ovcr thc protcsts ol small busincssmcn who lcarcd that an opcn city
would ruin thcir busincss, thc dcmolition ol thc cntirc wall bcgan, until only thrcc ol thc
mcdicval gatchouscs rcmaincd, prcscrvcd as mcmorials.
Vith o,ooo as opposcd to Lcipzigs +oo,ooo inhabitants, 8ascl must havc struck Nictz
schc as a small town, which would havc plcascd himgivcn his prclcrcncc lor small, mcdicval
towns ovcr largc, modcrn citics. And cvcn though 8ascl was in thc proccss ol modcrnising,
thc mcdicval town was still vcry much in cvidcncc. lizabcth rcports:
My brothcr always cxprcsscd his dclight at having known good old 8ascl, hc dcclarcd that
by this mcans hc had bccn aordcd a dccpcr insight into thc Middlc Agcs. Tc wholc
community at 8ascl, with its dccply rootcd customs and usagcs, was particularly plcasing
to us Prussians . . . 8ascls magniccnt ancicnt houscs . . . its staunchly unitcd lamilics who
all paradcd to church on thc bcst ol tcrms on Sundays, its old scrvants who workcd in thc
samc lamily lrom onc gcncration to anothcr, thc old lashioncd way in which its inhabitants
grcctcd onc anothcr in thcir lowGcrman dialcct all this struck us as bclonging to an agc
long sincc buricd in oblivion.
Nictzschc spcnt his rst wccks in thc lairly horriblc Spalcntorwcg : ncar thc Spalcntor,
thc largcst ol thc rcmaining gatchouscs. Tc lodgings wcrc, howcvcr, compcnsatcd


vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
lor by thc quality ol thc lood at thc ccntral station, which was (as SwissGcrman lood
rcmains to this day) likc Gcrman lood, only bcttcr.
Altcr tcn wccks hc thanklully movcd
to pcrmancnt lodgings in thc ncarby Sch utzcngrabcn (dclcnsivc trcnch). Numbcr (today
numbcr ) was a lourstorcy tcrracc housc at thc thcn cdgc ol thc town, closc to clds and
gardcns, and with an opcn vicw across thc Rhinc to Gcrmany and thc 8lack Forcst bcyond,
yct at thc samc timc only ltccn minutcs walk lrom thc univcrsity.
Tough to thc nglish, 8ascl would havc sccmcd vcry Gcrman, to Nictzschc, who had
ncvcr bclorc bccn outsidc Gcrmany, it would havc sccmcd vcry lorcign. Vhat hc would
chicy havc noticcd, in contrast to Prussia, was thc abscncc ol thc scllasscrtivc statc. Tcrc
was no king thc rcctor ol thc univcrsity was clcctcd by thc prolcssors rathcr than bcing
a royal appointmcnt no aristocracy, and no cult ol thc military. Military paradcs, such a
lcaturc ol Prussian lilc, wcrc unknown. And in contrast to Gcrmany, thcrc was no national
ccclcsiastical hicrarchy to which local clcrgy wcrc subordinatc.
Tc city council ol what was, in ccct, a citystatc was run by mcmbcrs ol thc old 8ascl
lamilics. Nictzschc wrotc to Ritschl shortly altcr arriving that hcrc onc can bc curcd ol

making thc point that rulc by thc haut bourgcoisic is likcly to bc no morc
dcmocratic than rulc by royalty. 8ascls old patrician lamilics dcrivcd thcir wcalth lrom
manulacturing. 8ut thcy wcrc also highly culturcd: both Nictzschcs hcad ol dcpartmcnt,
Vilhclm \ischcr, and his hcro, thc grcat historian Jacob 8urckhardt, camc lrom such lam
ilics. And thcy wcrc gcnuincly conccrncd to maintain a high lcvcl ol culturc in thc citizcnry
at largc, somcthing Nictzschc grcatly rcspcctcd:
! amquitc wcll awarc ol what kind ol placc this is . . . a city which cndcavours to promotc thc
culturc and cducation ol its citizcns in a manncr so lavish as to bc quitc out ol proportion to
its sizc. !t thus rcprcscnts a comparison that is a shamclul rcbukc to much largcr citics . . . so
much morc is done lor thcsc things hcrc than clscwhcrc.

!n gcncral, Nictzschcs 8ascl cxhibitcd a tight intcrconncction ol political, cconomic, and

intcllcctual lcadcrship that must somctimcs havc callcd to mind thc idcal citystatc ol Platos
Sincc 8ascls patrician lamilics wcrc dctcrmincd to avoid cultural provinciality, to kccp
thcir city at thc lorclront ol uropcan cultural and intcllcctual lilc, thcir locus was thc
univcrsity. !ts lunction was to bc not just an institutc lor tcchnical training but also, as
thc city council put it, thc hcarth ol thc culturalspiritual |geistige| cnlivcnmcnt ol thc
citizcnry. !ts singlc building was situatcd a short walk lrom thc rcdsandstonc cathcdral on
thc Rhcinsprung (Rhinclcap), a stccp strcct lcading down to thc old woodcn bridgc (with
a chapcl in thc middlc) which at thc timc was 8ascls only mcans ol crossing thc +oomctrc
widc Rhinc. Foundcd in +6o, thc univcrsity, in +8o, had lallcn on hard timcs. Tis was duc
partly to a dcclinc in thc pricc ol silk ribbon, thc mainstay ol thc 8ascl cconomy, partly to thc
divcrsion ol twothirds ol thc incomc ol thc Canton ol 8ascl to its rural rcgions, and partly
to thc lact that thc ncw univcrsitics in Zurich and 8crn wcrc making it dicult to attract
studcnts: in Nictzschcs timc, thc total numbcr ncvcr rcachcd :oo. cdicatcd supportcrs,
howcvcr, kcpt thc univcrsity going. A \oluntary Acadcmic Association was loundcd with
thc aim ol raising moncy to rcstorc thc univcrsity to its lormcr glory and, by mcans ol thc
rcgular ocring ol public lccturcs, to root its wcllbcing in civic pridc. As wc shall scc, a
numbcr ol Nictzschcs rst scriously philosophical cssays wcrc givcn as public lccturcs undcr

thc Associations auspiccs. Tis dctcrmination to prcscrvc a tight bond bctwccn town and
gown was thc origin ol thc rcquircmcnt, uniquc to 8ascl, that univcrsity prolcssors should
tcach thc highcr classcs in thc P adcgogium, thc local grammar school. !n Nictzschcs casc
this almost doublcd his tcaching load.
University Iife
n thc bcginning, Nictzschc acctcd to dcspisc lilc in 8ascl. Particularly in lcttcrs to
Sophic Ritschl, hc dcscribcs Swiss womcn as boring, Swiss chccsc as incdiblc, Swiss
culturc as provincial, and Swiss patriotism as somcthing which, likc Swiss chccsc, comcs
lrom shccp and looks just as jaundiccd. vcn Jacob 8urckhardt, whom hc would comc to
rcvcrc morc than any othcr living pcrson, hc prcscntcd as living a low kind ol cxistcncc,
drinking bccr night altcr night with borcs in thc pub.

!t nccds to bc rcmcmbcrcd, howcvcr Sophic Ritschl bcing his impossiblc lovc that as
wcll as cxprcssing gcnuinc homcsickncss, thcsc rcmarks wcrc mainly intcndcd as an indircct
way ol saying hc misscd hcr. Soon, in lact, Nictzschc bccamc proud to dcsignatc himscll a
lrcc Swiss. Hc had lcgitimatc complaints about 8ascl: thc lact that his salary, bcing paid
six months in arrcars, lclt him pcnnilcss lor his rst hallycar, thc lact that cvcn whcn it
arrivcd Swiss priccs bcing highcr than anticipatcd hc lound it dicult to aord holidays,
and thc lact ol his cnormous tcaching load. 8ut that hc rcmaincd in 8ascl lor a dccadc, thc
longcst scttlcd pcriod in his cntirc lilc, and in +8 turncd down thc ocr ol a chair back
in Gcrmany, in Grcilswald, spcaks importantly ol his ovcrall commitmcnt to thc placc.

n May :8, +86, Nictzschc gavc his inaugural univcrsity lccturc, Homcr and Classical
Philology, a lccturc in which hc rcpcatcd thc critiquc hc had bccn dcvcloping in Lcipzig
ol thc currcnt statc ol classics. Propcrly practiscd, hc asscrtcd, philology should bc a mix
turc ol scicncc and art with all its activity cmbcddcd in a philosophical worldvicw so that
individual, isolatcd dctails cvaporatc as things that can bc cast away, lcaving only thc wholc,
thc cohcrcnt a prcvicw ol just what hc would sct out to providc in Te Birth of Tragedy.
Tough hc suspcctcd that Lcipzig had bccn scandalizcd whcn word ol thc lccturc ltcrcd
back, it was wcll attcndcd and wcll rcccivcd in 8ascl. A lortnight altcr thc lccturc hc wrotc
homc that thc pcoplc hcrc wcrc convinccd ol a good many things . . . and ! now scc clcarly
that my position hcrc has bccn rcndcrcd sccurc by mcans ol it.
Nictzschc hcld classcs lrom scvcn to cight oclock cvcry wcckday morning, with a total
ol cight studcntcontact hours a wcck. !n addition, hc taught six hours a wcck at thc
P adcgogium. !n his rst lcw scmcstcrs, his univcrsity lccturcs covcrcd thc history ol Grcck
litcraturc and prcSocratic philosophy, Grcck and Roman rhctoric, ancicnt Grcck rcligion,
Platos lilc and tcachings, Acschyluss Libation Bearers, Sophoclcss Oedipus the King, and
Hcsiods !orks and Days. At thc P adcgogium hc taught Platos pology, Phaedo, Phaedrus,
Symposium, Fepublic, and Protagoras, sclcctcd books lrom Homcrs Iliad, Acschyluss Pro-
metheus Bound, and Sophoclcss Electra. n top ol tcaching dutics, hc had univcrsity council,
laculty, and library committcc mcctings to attcnd, and whilc his clcction as dcan ol human
itics in +8 tcstics to thc rcspcct in which hc was hcld by his collcagucs, it must havc
incrcascd this cnormous workload still lurthcr. n top ol all this, hc lrcqucntly took ovcr
thc classcs ol indisposcd collcagucs and gavc numcrous public lccturcs in ordcr to raisc thc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
public prolc ol thc univcrsity. And, ol coursc, his Prussian conscicncc madc it impossiblc
lor him to put lcss than a hundrcdandltypcrccnt cort into cvcry class hc taught. !t
is littlc wondcr that altcr only onc ycars scrvicc hc was promotcd to lull prolcssor at thc
agc ol twcntyvc.
As a tcachcr Nictzschc was both cxciting and dcmanding. Hc trcatcd his sixth lormpupils
as il thcy wcrc alrcady univcrsity studcnts, dcmanding a grcat dcal ol indcpcndcnt rcscarch.
Tc bcst ol thcm hc passcd on to his alma matcr in Lcipzig. Hc also lormcd a social bond
with thcm, putting on vccoursc dinncrs at thc cnds ol thc scmcstcrs.

Nictzschc was onc

ol thosc tcachcrs with an instinctivc and cortlcss command ol disciplinc. !n a skctch lor
Ecce Homo (only part ol which appcars in thc work itscll ), hc rccalls that
at bottom ! bclong among thosc involuntary cducators who ncithcr nccd nor posscss pcd
agogical principlcs. Tc solc lact that in scvcn ycars ol tcaching thc scnior class at thc 8ascl
P adcgogium ! did not havc occasion to mctc out a singlc punishmcnt, along with thc lact
that, as ! was latcr assurcd, cvcn thc lazicst pupils workcd hard whcn thcy wcrc in my classcs,
givcs somc indication ol this. Aclcvcr littlc stratagcmlrommy tcaching days rcmains in my
mcmory: whcncvcr a pupil lailcd to rccitc adcquatcly thc topic ol thc prcvious class, pub
licly ! always blamcd myscll ! said lor cxamplc, that cvcryonc had a right to dcmand ol mc
lurthcr clucidation and commcntary il what ! had said was too cursory or vaguc. A tcachcr
has an obligation to makc himscll acccssiblc to e.ery lcvcl ol intclligcncc . . . !vc bccn told
that this littlc stratagcm was morc ccctivc than any sort ol scolding. !n my dcalings with
my grammar school pupils and univcrsity studcnts ! ncvcr had any rcal diculty.
Somc ol Nictzschcs claims in Ecce Homo arc, wc shall scc, morc than a littlc lancilul. 8ut
that this is not onc ol thcm is conrmcd by studcnts rccollcctions. nc P adcgogium stu
dcnt, lor instancc, rccalls that not onc ol our schoolboy tricks passcd unnoticcd by him,
and rcports an occasion whcn
onc ol us (now discharging his dutics as a highly rcspcctcd principal ol a training collcgc)
who had not prcparcd his work wcll, was callcd upon shortly bclorc thc cnd ol thc lcsson
to construc a ccrtain scntcncc. Standing up, and with an apparcnt cagcrncss lor thc task hc
rccitcd thc Grcck tcxt which hc had to construc, as slowly as hc could until thc bcll rang.
Vith a vicw to making assurancc doubly surc, hc rcad onc morc scntcncc, thcn cond
cntly stoppcd. Nictzschc did not movc. ur schoolboys brow grcw wct with pcrspiration.
Prolcssor, hc stammcrcd, havc you not pcrhaps ovcrlookcd thc bcll that has just rung:
Nictzschc lookcd straight at him lor a momcnt, and thcn, without moving a musclc, cor
rcctcd him by saying: You mcan to say, ! did not hear it, and thcn lclt thc room. n thc
lollowing day hc bcgan his lcsson by turning to thc samc pupil and saying smartly, Now
sir, you construc.

!n sum, Nictzschc was onc ol thosc rarc tcachcrs ablc to inspirc and shapc an cntirc lilc, a
truc cducator in, as wc shall scc, his own rich scnsc ol thc word.
nc ol his studcnts rccalls not only Nictzschcs quality as a tcachcr hc trcatcd us morc
as comradcs than as thc mischicvous wild urchins that wc actually wcrc but also his
appcarancc: Physically hc was ol a dclicatc and rcncd build, with a rathcr lcmininc way
about him, in stark contrast to his martial moustachc, which sccmcd to ovcrcompcnsatc

lor thc rcst ol his lcaturcs.
Nictzschcs appcarancc cxcitcd lrcqucnt commcnt bccausc ol
an cvidcnt attcntion to it amounting, almost, to dandyism. !n accordancc with thc stylc
ol thc day (thc oppositc ol todays dcathcvading cult ol youth) hc took grcat pains, as
lizabcth rccords, to sclcct only thosc stylcs and matcrials which would givc him an cl
dcrly appcarancc, hc absolutcly rcpudiatcd anything in thc way ol a youthlul or smart cut,
and hc approvcd only ol thosc clothcs, lashions and hats which wcrc patroniscd by cl
dcrly mcn.
Tc lamous moustachc, ol coursc, alrcady ol sizcablc proportions, addcd to
thc cldcrly ccct.
Colleagues and Iriends
or thc most part, Nictzschcs collcagucs at thc univcrsity showcd him an amiabil
ity unusual in acadcmia. uring his rst ycar, indccd, hc complaincd ol bcing ovcr
whclmcd by dinncr invitations. Tc collcagucs who wcrc most important to him wcrc
Vilhclm\ischcr8ilngcr, Johann Jacob 8acholcn, Ludwig R utimcycr, and, most import
ant ol all, Jacob 8urckhardt.
\ischcr8ilngcr was a major lorcc in univcrsity administration. A classicist himscll, hc
had rcloundcd thc classics dcpartmcnt in +86+. Always sympathctic to Nictzschc it was
hc, as wc saw, who arrangcd his appointmcnt hc did his bcst to smooth his prot cg cs
path throughout thc dccadc in 8ascl. 8acholcn, likc \ischcr8ilngcr a mcmbcr ol onc ol
8ascls patrician lamilics, was a mavcrick cthnologist intcrcstcd in thc communal origins
ol carly humanity. Likc Nictzschc, hc rcjcctcd thc dryasdust, spcculationshy, dctail
obscsscd scicntic study ol thc past. His lundamcntally Christian outlook prcvcntcd a
dccp intimacy bctwccn himscll and Nictzschc, though thc lattcr was prcdictably attractcd
to his wilc, who was thirty ycars youngcr than hcr husband but only onc ycar youngcr than
Nictzschc. R utimcycr was a prolcssor ol anatomy and zoology who nourishcd thc scicntic
sidc ol Nictzschcs naturc by, in particular, introducing him to critiqucs ol arwins thcory
ol cvolution.
ith Jacob 8urckhardt (+8+8) Nictzschc dcvclopcd much closcr and longcr
lasting rclations than with thc othcr thrcc. 8orn into onc ol thc most patrician
ol 8ascl lamilics, hc was ol thc samc gcncration as Vagncr and Nictzschcs lathcr. Likc
Nictzschc hc was multitalcntcd, a giltcd poct, artist, playwright (lor puppct thcatrcs), and
musician. Nictzschc camc to worship him, not only as a towcring intcllcct but also as a
grcat tcachcr and grcat human bcing. As hc was going mad in January, +88, hc wrotc to
8urckhardt: you (Sie) arc you (du) arc our grcat, grcatcst tcachcr.
Tc switch lrom thc
lormal to thc lamiliar you, hcrc, is rcvcaling: losing touch with rcality, Nictzschc claimcd
an intimacy which, though hc ycarncd lor and somctimcs claimcd to bc approaching it,
ncvcr truly posscsscd.
Tc rcason lay not mcrcly in thc dicrcncc in agc and tastc 8urckhardt always dislikcd
thc Vagncr phcnomcnon, with which Nictzschc was bccoming cvcr morc cnamourcd but
also in 8urckhardts lragilc, rctiring, asocial pcrsonality. Tough a charismatic tcachcr, hc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
was a dcprcssivc who lcarcd his own collapsc into tcrminal dcspair. Anotc lromthc summcr
ol +8 thosc who arc rcprcsscd out ol dcspcration, likc Jacob 8urckhardt
shows that
Nictzschc had, in lact, somc grasp ol this. 8urckhardt, ol coursc, undcrstood Nictzschcs
intcllcctual brilliancc and apprcciatcd him as a trcmcndous assct to thc univcrsity. ltcn hc
cngagcd in intcnsc, cxtcndcd convcrsations with thc young philologist. 8ut lricndship, as
opposcd to collcgiality, hc ncvcr grantcd Nictzschc or anyonc much.
8urckhardt is bcst known lor Te Culture of the Fenaissance inItaly, a work which cxcrciscd
a prolound inucncc on Nictzschcs maturc thought. !t appcarcd in +86o and has ncvcr gonc
out ol print. !t was this work, morc than any othcr, which cstablishcd thc conccpt ol thc
!talian lourtccnth and ltccnth ccnturics as a dccisivc rupturc with thc mcdicval past that
constitutcd thc birth ol modcrnity. Tc work cmphasiscs thc !talian Rcnaissancc as thc
rst cmcrgcncc ol powcrlul, scllconscious individualism, which hc saw as a Januslaccd
phcnomcnon: on thc onc hand, it produccd an outbrcak ol lcrocious scnsuality, violcncc,
and warlarc, on thc othcr, thc art ol Raphacl, Lconardo, and Michclangclo. (Givcn thc
Swiss conncction, 8urckhardts account ol thc Rcnaissancc is probably thc morc or lcss
rcmotc origin ol thc lamous lincs,
!taly lor thirty ycars undcr thc 8orgias had warlarc, tcrror, murdcr, bloodshcd, but produccd
Michclangclo, da \inci, and thc Rcnaissancc. And Switzcrland had brothcrly lovc and vc
hundrcd ycars ol dcmocracy and pcacc. And what did thcy producc: Tc cuckoo clock.)

ictzschc dcspcratcly misscd his lricnd Rohdc, who, during thc rst 8ascl ycar, was on
an cxtcndcd tour ol !taly. Hc writcs to him with a loving acction that might raisc a
lcw modcrn cycbrows:
Tink ol staying a timc with mc on your rcturn trip |lrom !taly|: it might bc thc last chancc
lor a long timc. ! miss you quitc unspcakably . . . !ts a quitc ncw lccling to havc no onc on
thc spot with whom onc can spcak ol thc bcst and thc worst in lilc . . . my lricndship . . . is
rcally bccoming somcwhat pathological: ! bcg you likc a sick man: comc to 8ascl.
8ut sincc hc also writcs to his prudish mothcr in thc samc vcin ! wish my lricnd Rohdc
wcrc hcrc its troublcsomc to havc to nd an intimatc lricnd again
it is cvidcnt hc had
nothing to hidc. !n +8+ hc applicd lor a chair in philosophy partly to align his prolcssion
with whcrc hc lound his hcart incrcasingly to bc, but, cvcn morc prcssingly, to gct Rohdc
to 8ascl as his succcssor to thc chair ol philology. (As wc shall scc, thc application camc to
!n April +8o, howcvcr, again as a rcsult ol thc rccruitmcnt corts ol \ischcr
8ilngcr a young thcologian joincd thc univcrsity who did a grcat dcal to allcviatc Nictz
schcs dcsirc lor a soul brothcr. Franz vcrbcck (scc Platc +o) camc to sharc numbcr

Tc lincs arc lromthc + movic Te Tird Man and wcrc invcntcd cithcr by GrahamGrccnc, who
adaptcd thc script lrom his own novcl, or by rson Vcllcs, who spokc thc lincs in thc charactcr ol
Harry Limc. Tc dircctor was Carol Rccd.

Sch uzgrabcn. Tc two ol thcm christcncd thcir housc thc Gifth utte (poison cottagc) altcr a
tavcrn with thc lorbidding namc ol Das Gifth uttli

(poison cottagc in Swiss dialcct), about

thc hallway point ol thc short walk lromhomc to univcrsity. vcrbcck and Nictzschc wcrc
to dinc togcthcr virtually cvcry cvcning lor thc ncxt vc ycars.
vcrbcck was scvcn ycars oldcr than Nictzschc. Tough Gcrman, his lathcr had bccomc
a naturalizcd 8riton, and as a young man Franz carricd a 8ritish passport. His mothcr was
Frcnch and hc himscll grcw up in St. Pctcrsburg. Hc spokc nglish, Frcnch, and Russian
at homc, and rst lcarnt Gcrman whcn hc arrivcd in Gcrmany to attcnd school in rcsdcn
at thc agc ol clcvcn. vcrbccks inaugural lccturc was titlcd n thc rigin and Right ol
a Purcly Historical Approach to thc Ncw Tcstamcnt. Having lost his laith (without it
bcing thc trauma it was lor Nictzschc), hc approachcd thc 8iblc not as a bclicvcr but as
a philologist studying an historical documcnt. !n +8 hc opcnly dcclarcd that hc and his
wilc no longcr rcgardcd thcmsclvcs as bclonging to thc Christian church to thc dclight ol
Nictzschc, who glcclully dcclarcd that Somc day our housc |thc poison cottagc| will bc onc
ol illrcputc.
Tough vcrbccks apostasy prccludcd him lrom cvcr gaining a position in
a Gcrman univcrsity hc rcmaincd in 8ascl thc rcst ol his prolcssional lilc that no onc
tricd to sack him tcstics to thc tolcrancc ol thc 8ascl cldcrs.
vcrbcck bccamc thc onc lricnd who rcmaincd laithlul to Nictzschc his cntirc lilc. Hc
was also thc onc lricnd with whomNictzschc ncvcr quarrcllcd: ur lricndship was without
shadows, vcrbcck rccordcd. Nictzschc wrotc in turn,
vcrbcck is thc most scrious, candid, pcrsonally lovablc, and lcast complicatcd pcrson and
rcscarchcr that onc could wish lor as a lricnd. At thc samc timc hc has that radical quality
! nccd to havc in all thc pcoplc with whom ! associatc.
!n +8, at thc lowcst point in his hcalth, Nictzschc would conlcss that vcrbccks loyalty
and lricndship had savcd his lilc: !n thc midst ol lilc ! was surroundcd by my good
vcrbcck othcrwisc that othcr companion would havc pcrhaps havc riscn up to grcct mc:
Tcn ycars latcr, as wc shall scc, vcrbcck litcrally savcd Nictzschcs lilc.
Isle of the Blessed
n spitc ol his diligcncc in discharging his dutics, Nictzschc was ncvcr comlortablc insidc
thc skin ol a univcrsity prolcssor. !n thc rst placc, thcrc wcrc thc rcscrvations about
classical philology and thc incrcasing vulncrability to thc scductions ol philosophy hc had
brought with him lrom Lcipzig. 8ut cvcn il hc had bccn succcsslul in his application lor
thc chair ol philosophy, hc would still havc lclt uncomlortablc. For what rcally bothcrcd
him was thc rcprcssion ol individuality, thc ncccssity to conlorm to thc cxpcctations placcd
on a prolcssor, to bccomc a cog in thc acadcmic machinc. ! havc bccomc, hc wrotc Sophic
Ritschl in sclldisgust, thc modcl ol thc Gcrman prolcssor, covcrcd in (chalk) dust, an
cducatcd molc.
To Rohdc hc wrotc in carly +8o that hc doubtcd hc could cvcr bc a
propcr philologist and cnvicd his lricnd roaming through !taly, lrcc as a dcscrt animal.

Possibly thc namc dcrivcd lrom an ancicnt jokc about thc quality ol thc bccr, possibly thcrc had
oncc bccn an arscnic minc on thc spot.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
(Rohdc, on thc othcr hand, almost ccrtainly cnvicd Nictzschcs acadcmic succcss and
nancial sccurity.) Tc hcavicst burdcn, Nictzschc continucs, is always having to rcprcscnt
to pcoplc thc rolc ol thc tcachcr, thc philologist, and that ! havc to provc myscll as such
to cvcryonc ! mcct. Tis noblc prolcssion, hc continucs, has somcthing aggrcssivc about
aggrcssivc towards thc cxprcssion ol lrcc individuality.
!n lact, howcvcr, Nictzschc was ablc on a rcgular basis to cscapc thc lilc ol an cducatcd
molc. Hc discovcrcd a rclugc bcyond pricc
in a placc callcd Tribschcn, about thrcc hours
away by (invariably punctual) train.
Tribschcn is a lakcsidc promontory twcnty minutcs walk along thc lakc lrom thc ccntrc
ol Luccrnc. (Tolstoy could not stand Luccrnc bccausc, thcn as now, it was ovcrrun by tour
ists, in thc ninctccnth ccntury usually nglish.) !t was hcrc that, with moncy supplicd by
King Ludwig ol 8avaria, Vagncr had rcntcd a largc, squarc, lourstorcy, carly ninctccnth
ccntury housc (scc Platc ++), which hc had a Paris intcrior dcsigncr dccoratc in a rococo
stylc. Tis, as lizabcth tactlully puts it, lor a sobcrly Swiss housc, was somcwhat lavish in
thc usc ol pink satin and littlc cupids.
Situatcd on a knoll abovc thc lakc and surroundcd
by trccllcd parkland grazcd by cows and shccp, it commandcd a spcctacular vicw across
thc watcrs ol Lakc Luccrnc: to thc cast, visiblc lrom thc windows ol thc drawing room,
wcrc thc summits ol thc :ooomctrc Rigi and thc thrcc knucklcs ol thc 8 urgcnstock, whilc
to thc southwcst lay thc oltcn cloudwrcathcd Pilatus. ( J. M. V. Turncrs many paintings ol
both thc Rigi and thc Pilatus had hclpcd makc Luccrnc a lavouritc dcstination lor nglish
tourists in scarch ol thc romantic.)
Vagncr, cxilcd lrom Gcrmany, had movcd to Switzcrland in +8 and to Tribschcn in
+866. 8y +8o hc was at thc hcight ol his musical powcrs, having complctcd thc rst two
opcras ol thc Fing cyclc, Das Fheingold and Die !alk ure, as wcll as Mastersingers and Tristan
und Isolde, and was hard at work on Siegfried, thc third part ol thc Fing. Hc was happicr
in Tribschcn than hc had bccn anywhcrc clsc. And thc samc was truc ol Nictzschc. At thc
cnd ol his lilc, looking back through thc pain and rccrimination ol a brokcn lricndship,
Nictzschc rcmcmbcrcd Tribschcn as a distant islc ol thc blcsscd.
(Tough, to bc prosaic,
it is morc likc a pcninsula.)
Living with Vagncr in Tribschcn was thc Frau 8aronin Cosima von 8 ulow(scc Platc +:).
8orn in +8 (thc samc ycar as vcrbcck), shc was twcntylour ycars youngcr than
Richard and only scvcn ycars oldcr than Nictzschc. Tc illcgitimatc daughtcr ol thc grcat
pianistcomposcr Franz Liszt and thc lormidablc, but matcrnally ncgligcnt, Countcss
Maric dAgoult, shc was thc cstrangcd wilc ol Liszts lavouritc pupil and Vagncrs con
ductor, Hans von 8 ulow.

Also living at Tribschcn wcrc Cosimas lour daughtcrs, anicla,

8landinc, !soldc, and va, thc lormcr two lathcrcd by von 8 ulow, thc lattcr two by Vagncr.
!t says a grcat dcal lor thc tolcrancc ol thc largcly Catholic Luccrncrs that thcy allowcd this
scandalously bohcmian couplc to livc in thcir midst.
!n addition to thc Vagncr8 ulow compositc lamily, thc cxtcndcd houschold containcd
a govcrncss, a nursc, vc scrvants, two dogs, scvcral cats, a pcacocks and a pcahcn (who
obviously squabblcd a lot, sincc thcy wcrc callcd Votan and Fricka), a horsc giltcd by
King Ludwig, callcd Granc (othcrwisc, 8runhildcs stccd in thc Ridc ol thc \alkyrcs), and

\on 8 ulow conductcd thc rst pcrlormanccs ol Tristan in +86 and ol Te Mastersingers in +868.
!n +8, in 8oston, hc conductcd thc world prcmicrc ol Tchaikovskys rst piano conccrto. Tough
Cosima lclt him lor Vagncr in +868, hc ncvcr sccmcd to bcar a grudgc, continuing to champion
Vagncrs music, as wcll as 8rahmss, until thc cnd ol his carccr.

numcrous cows, chickcns, and shccp. Prcsumably to harmonisc with thc rococo dccor ol thc
housc, Vagncr lrcqucntly drcsscd up in his lamous scvcntccnthccntury Flcmish paintcrs
outt black vclvct coat, black satin brccchcs, black silk stockings, a largc, black oppy hat
pullcd down likc a bcrct ovcr onc car, and a satin cravat ticd in a largc bow ovcr his lacc and
lincn shirt. !n gcncral thc houschold constitutcd, as Cosima puts it, thc usual conlusion ol
gcniuscrcating, childrcnconlusion, pcoplc rclaxing noisily, animalidolatry, ctc.
Nictzschc had bccn in 8ascl only a month whcn hc dccidcd to takc up thc invitation
to visit Vagncr had issucd in Lcipzig. n Saturday, May +, +86, intcrrupting a paddlc
stcamcr trip round thc lakc, hc alightcd at thc Tribschcn picr and arrivcd unannounccd at
thc Vagncrs villa. Hc stood irrcsolutc outsidc thc housc lor somc timc listcning to thc
insistcnt rcpctition ol a plaintivc chord on thc piano it latcr provcd to bc lrom thc third
act ol Siegfried, on which Vagncr was working. Hc cvcntually pluckcd up couragc to knock
on thc door, only to bc told that thc mastcr was working and could bc intcrruptcd by no
onc, not cvcn Cosima. Hc was howcvcr, invitcd to rcturn lor dinncr two days latcr on
Vhit Monday.
Tis sccond visit must havc bccn a grcat succcss, sincc thc young prolcssor
was thcn invitcd to rcturn lor thc cclcbration ol Vagncrs ltysixth birthday on May ::.
Tcaching commitmcnts madc this impossiblc, but Nictzschc was back at Tribschcn lor
thc wcckcnd ol Junc , and was thus prcscnt whcn Cosima gavc birth to thc Vagncrs
rst and only son, Sicglricd, on thc sixth (an cvcnt lcgitimiscd post lacto whcn Richard
and Cosima nally marricd in August +8o). From thcn on hc had an opcn invitation to
visit whcncvcr hc wishcd, and in thc thrcc ycars bctwccn his rst visit and thc Vagncrs
dcparturc lor 8ayrcuth in thc spring ol +8: did so on twcntythrcc occasions. Hc was
givcn his own bcdroom, oltcn put in chargc ol thc childrcn, trcatcd, in ccct, as lamily.
(n onc occasion Vagncr askcd him il hc would bc Sicglricds guardian should anything
happcn to him.) Nictzschc, too, lclt himscll a mcmbcr ol thc lamily, rclcrring collcctivcly
to himscll and thc cntirc Vagncr mcnagcric as wc Tribschcncrs.
As wcll as bcing prcscnt lor Sicglricds birth, Nictzschc was also prcscnt on Christmas
ay +8o lor thc cclcbration ol Cosimas and ol coursc anothcrs birthday. (Cosima
had bccn born during thc night ol cccmbcr :.) About hallpast scvcn in thc morn
ing, ltccn musicians, togcthcr with thc cxtcndcd lamily that includcd Nictzschc, gathcrcd
quictly on thc stairwcll ol thc housc. Vhat happcncd thcn Cosima rccordcd in hcr diary:
As ! awokc, a swclling sound camc to my car, cvcr loudcr. ! could no longcr imaginc it a
drcam, it was music sounding, and what music! As it soundcd out Richard camc into thc
room with thc vc childrcn and gavc mc thc scorc ol thc symphonic birthday grccting. !
was in tcars but so was thc cntirc houschold.
Tc music that rcccivcd its rst pcrlormancc Nictzschc had also attcndcd thc drcss
rchcarsal hcld in sccrct in Luccrnc thc prcvious day was known within thc lamily as thc
Tribschcn or Stairwcll !dyll and to thc world as thc Sicglricd !dyll. uring thc morn
ing, Christmas prcscnts wcrc cxchangcd. Nictzschc rcccivcd a spccial copy ol Vagncrs
8ccthovcn cssay, and a splcndid cdition ol thc complctc works ol Montaignc, ol whom
hc was known to bc a lan. !n rcturn hc gavc Richard what hc had askcd lor, a print ol
urcrs Knight, cath and thc cvil, and Cosima a copy ol his Tc rigin ol Tragic
Tought, a prcparatory cssay lor Te Birth of Tragedy. !n thc altcrnoon thcrc was anothcr
privatc conccrt: rst a rcpcat ol thc Sicglricd !dyll, thcn a 8ccthovcn scptct, and nally

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
thc Sicglricd !dyll oncc again, altcr which thc musicians wcrc rclcascd to travcl homc to

Nictzschc accordcd Vagncr thc samc quasircligious rcvcrcncc hc accordcd Schopcnhaucr.

Shortly altcr his rst visit to Tribschcn hc wrotc Vagncr,
Tc bcst and most clcvatcd momcnts ol my lilc arc bound to your namc, and ! know only
onc othcr man, and that is your spiritual brothcr, Arthur Schopcnhaucr, lor whom ! havc
a similar rcvcrcncc yca, cvcn morc as religione quadam. . . At a timc whcn thc masscs
stand and lrcczc in cold log it is a grcat privilcgc to bc ablc to warm oncscll at thc light ol
Tc lcttcr is signcd by your trucst and most dcvotcd disciplc and admircr. Trcc months
latcr hc wrotc to von Gcrsdor,
! havc lound a man who rcvcals to mc as no othcr thc imagc ol what Schopcnhaucr calls
thc gcnius and who is quitc posscsscd by that |Schopcnhaucrs| wondcrlully intcnsc philos
ophy. Hc is nonc othcr than Richard Vagncr, about whom you should bclicvc nonc ol thc
judgmcnts to bc lound in thc prcss, thc writings ol musical scholars, ctc. No one knows him
and is capablc ol judging him bccausc all thc world stands on a dicrcnt looting to him
and is not at homc in his atmosphcrc. Tcrc dwclls in him such uncompromising idcalism,
such dccp and accting humanity, such cxaltcd scriousncss ol purposc that whcn ! am ncar
him ! lccl as il ! am ncar thc divinc.
At thc cnd ol May +8o, Rohdc, who had not sccn his lricnd lor ncarly thrcc ycars, visitcd
8ascl and was ol coursc takcn to Tribschcn. Altcr thc visit Nictzschc wrotc Cosima,
Rohdc conlcsscd to mc that hc had cxpcricnccd |in Tribschcn| thc high point ol his ltccn
month journcy into thc bluc: hc cxpcricnccd wondcr and rcvcrcncc lor thc total cxistcncc
thcrc which was pcrmcatcd by somcthing rcligious. ! undcrstand how thc Athcnians could
havc crcctcd altars to Acschylus and Sophoclcs, and how thcy gavc Sophoclcs thc hcroic
namc cxion |rcccivcr ol thc gods| sincc hc had takcn thc gods into his homc as gucsts.
Tc prcscncc ol thc gods in thc housc ol thc gcnius is what awakcns thc rcligious atmo
sphcrc ! havc rcportcd.
Soon altcr rst visiting Tribschcn hc bcgan to addrcss Vagncr as mastcr and to scc his
own carccr as taking sccond placc to thc composcrs: on morc than onc occasion hc ocrcd
to takc lcavc lrom, cvcn to abandon, his own carccr in ordcr to dcdicatc himscll lull timc to
thc amazingly ambitious projcct ol building an opcra housc in 8ayrcuth customdcsigncd
lor thc solc purposc ol pcrlorming Vagncrs opcras. Tat Vagncr ncvcr showcd any intcrcst
in taking up thcsc ocrs was duc to thc lact that, sincc Vagncr thought ol his musicdramas
as thc rcbirth ol Grcck tragcdy, Nictzschc was most usc to him as a rcspcctcd prolcssor ol
Grcck who could ccrtily that thcy wcrc indccd such a rcbirth.
Givcn this conccption ol himscll as a satcllitc orbiting thc Vagncrian sun, it is littlc
wondcr that Nictzschc dcvclopcd a chatty and intimatc rclation with his lcllow satcllitc,

Cosima, who was, in any casc, ncarly his own agc. (Tc chat somctimcs took on an anti
Scmitic avour with Nictzschc rcsponding in kind to Cosimas violcnt antiScmitism.) Tc
intimacy lcd to Nictzschcs usual habit ol dcvcloping an impossiblc lovc, onc hc would carry
with him lor thc rcst ol his lilc. As hc was going mad hc bcgan to rclcr to Cosima as his truc
lovc, Ariadnc, and to himscll as ionysus, and to suggcst that hcr rclations with Vagncr
wcrc in thc naturc ol adultcry.
!n Te Gay Science Nictzschc outlincs his conccption ol gcndcr rclations. Vomcn, hc
says, nd truc satislaction, cxcrcisc a surplus ol strcngth and plcasurc, in bccoming thc
lunction ol a man.
(Sincc hc had adoptcd just this lcmininc rolc in rclation to Vag
ncr hc was in a way, pcrhaps unconsciously, spcaking lrom pcrsonal cxpcricncc.) Tcy do
this, hc continucs, by, lor cxamplc, bccoming a mans sociability. Tis pcrlcctly dcscribcs
and was probably bascd on obscrvation ol Cosimas rclations with Vagncr. For cvcry lct
tcr Vagncr writcs Nictzschc shc writcs tcn, and whcrcas Vagncrs arc usually short, cvcn
tclcgrammatic, hcrs, to hcr car, car Prolcssor Nictzschc, oltcn run on lor vc or six
pagcs. And sincc Nictzschc had also adoptcd thc rolc ol a lunction shc had no compunc
tion in sctting him numcrous tasks. Hc was commissioncd, lor cxamplc, to track down a
lost picturc ol an unclc ol Richards, and was oltcn scnt on shopping cxpcditions in 8ascl
lor things unobtainablc in Luccrnc, lor itcms such as silk undcrwcar lor Richard and pup
pcts and a puppct thcatrc lor thc childrcn. According to lizabcth, howcvcr, in spitc ol
his massivc workload at thc univcrsity, Nictzschc undcrtook thcsc tasks willingly and with
closc attcntion to dctail. rawing on his own childhood cxpcrtisc in thc rcalm ol puppct
thcatrc, hc complaincd to a shopkccpcr that a puppct dcvil was not black cnough and a king
not sucicntly rcalistic. n top ol thcsc commissions, Vagncr chimcd in by dclcgating to
Nictzschc thc dogsbody task ol ovcrsccing thc printing ol My Life, thc autobiography hc
had writtcn at thc rcqucst ol King Ludwig.
Vhat did thc Vagncrs think ol thcir young prolcssor: Clcarly thcy had no doubts about
his intcllcctual brilliancc, and in thcir long, thrccsidcd cvcning discussions ol culturc, art,
and philosophy, thcy dclcrrcd to him absolutcly on all mattcrs Grcck which Vagncr
could rcad hardly at all. And thcy rcally did cnjoy, as wcll as nding it usclul, having him
as a mcmbcr ol thc lamily.
n thc othcr hand, thcy did not think much ol somcthing closc to Nictzschcs hcart and
scllconccption, his musical compositions. !nvitcd to spcnd Christmas ol +8+ oncc again
at Tribschcn, Nictzschc dcclincd, ostcnsibly bccausc hc nccdcd to work on his lccturc scrics,
Te Future of our Educational Institutions. Tc rcal rcason, howcvcr, was that, attcmpting to
match thc spirit ol Vagncrs birthday gilt ol thc Siegfried Idyll thc ycar bclorc, hc had lclt
undcr thc Christmas trcc thc scorc ol his Mcmorics ol a Ncw Ycars vc, a lourhandcd
piano work (that cxpands on thc thcmc ol thc carlicr A Ncw Ycars vc, track + on thc
Vcb sitc lor this book). Cosima and Nictzschc had oltcn playcd togcthcr, but in his abscncc,
Hans Richtcr

took his placc at thc piano. Vhilc thcy wcrc playing, a scrvant rcmarkcd
that it didnt sound vcry good, upon which, nding hcr own thoughts articulatcd, Cosima

Richtcr conductcd thc rst complctc pcrlormancc ol thc Fing at 8ayrcuth in +86, and latcr bccamc
conductor ol thc Hall c rchcstra and thcn thc London Symphony rchcstra in ngland, to which
hc brought a hithcrto unknown thoroughncss ol prcparation. !n his latcr ycars hc bccamc a kccn
promotcr ol thc music ol dward lgar. As a conductor hc was monumcntal rathcr than mcrcurial
in approach, locusing on thc ovcrall structurc rathcr than thc cxprcssivc dctail ol major works, a
stylc, as wc shall scc, that Nictzschc camc strongly to cndorsc.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
brokc down in a t ol gigglcs. Vagncr lclt thc room not, as thcy had at rst assumcd, in
angcr, but rathcr to control his own gigglcs.

(!n Nictzschcs dclcncc, howcvcr, it should

bc mcntioncd that ncithcr Liszt nor Richard Strauss thought him too bad as a composcr.)
Te Ind of an Idyll
ribschcn was thc placc whcrc Nictzschc lclt morc at homc than anywhcrc clsc in his
cntirc lilc. !n thc largcspiritcd, warm, lunny, awcd, ovcrowing, and ovcrwhclming
gcnius that was Richard Vagncr, hc lound a lathcr whom hc could worship. As wc shall
scc in thc ncxt chaptcr, Vagncr was an intcllcctual lathcr to Nictzschc, cxcrting a prolound
inucncc ovcr Te Birth of Tragedy. 8ut hc was also pcrsonally and cmotionally a lathcr,
pcrsuading him, lor cxamplc, to givc up thc vcgctarianism which, lollowing von Gcrsdor,
hc had lor a short timc adoptcd. !n Cosima Nictzschc lound a mothcr, lantasy lovcr, con
dant, and lricnd whom hc could look up to as an idcal ol womanhood. (Litcrally look up:
bcakynoscd Cosima towcrcd ovcr thc scvcrcly vcrtically challcngcd Vagncr photographs
ol thc pair (such as Platc +:) rcquircd hcr to sit and shc towcrcd ovcr thc mildly vcrti
cally challcngcd Nictzschc.) And in thc Vagncrs collcctivcly hc lound an adoptcd lamily
that brcathcd thc air ol high uropcan culturc and was, unlikc his own, lrcc ol thc stiing
constraints ol pctit bourgcois morality: as hc put it in a lcttcr, !n Vagncrs villa . . . at thc
loot ol thc Pilatus in a magic lakcandmountain solitudc, wc livc togcthcr in thc most
cxciting convcrsations, in thc most lovcly lamily circlc, quitc rcmovcd lrom thc usual social

Vhat madc thc convcrsation cxciting was thc scnsc ol Tribschcn as a world
historical pivot, thc scnsc ol thc 8ayrcuth projcct as a ncw bcginning lor Gcrmany, lor
uropcan culturc, and pcrhaps lor humanity as a wholc. lizabcth, who visitcd Tribschcn
in July +8o and again in thc spring ol +8+, has lclt a rccord ol thc atmosphcrc:
! can still rcmcmbcr thc last cvcning ! spcnt thcrc. Tc sun was just sctting but thc moon
alrcady stood lull and bright ovcr thc luminous snowclds ol Mount Titlis.

And, as thc
light ol thc sun gradually wancd and surrcndcrcd thc carth to thc pallid glow ol thc moon,
and thc lakc and thc picturcsqucly shapcd mountains grcw cvcr morc dclicatc, morc diaph
anous, . . . our animatcd convcrsation gradually subsidcd, and wc all sank into drcamy
silcncc. Vc lour (rcally vc) wcrc wandcring along thc socallcd F auber.eg |robbcrs path|
closc to thc lakc. !n lront walkcd Frau Cosima and my brothcr thc lormcr drcsscd in
a pink cashmcrc gown with broad rcvcrs ol rcal lacc which rcachcd down to thc hcm ol
thc garmcnt, on hcr arm thcrc hung a largc Tuscan hat trimmcd with a crown ol pink
roscs, and bchind hcr paccd a dignicd, hcavy and gigantic coalblack Ncwloundland dog,
Russ. Tcn lollowcd Vagncr and myscll Vagncr bcing attircd in a Flcmish paintcrs
costumc . . . ! can still rcmcmbcr quitc vividly how thc shalts ol light coming through thc
trccs caught cach ol us in turn, as wc walkcd silcntly along, looking out across thc silvcry
lakc. Vc listcncd to thc solt murmur as thc diminutivc brcakcrs lappcd against thc bank.

8ut thc cnchantcd mood was not to last. Fromabout thc middlc ol +8o Vagncr bcgan to
spcak ol thc nccd to movc to 8ayrcuth. Faccd with thc collapsc ol his idcal world, Nictzschc

,o:o mctrcs high, about o minutcs by (modcrn) train south ol Luccrnc.


wrotc to Cosima on Junc + that il thcy movcd, hc would likc to takc scvcral ycars lcavc
lrom thc univcrsity and movc to 8ayrcuth himscll, whcrc hc would dcvotc himscll cntircly
to Vagncrs projcct.
Two days latcr, hc spraincd an anklc and was laid up in bcd lor
two wccks sickncss bcing, as Curt Janz obscrvcs,

his usual rcsponsc to psychological

Vagncr nally abandoncd Tribschcn on May ::, +8:. Vhcn Nictzschc arrivcd on thc
twcntylth only Cosima, thc childrcn, and thc scrvants rcmaincd. Cosima was as sad at
lcaving thcir islc ol thc blcsscd as hc was, so hc tricd to chccr hcr up by playing thc piano.
To Rohdc hc wrotc: Tribschcn is no morc. ! was thcrc lor a lcw days mclancholy days
and walking as il among ruins.
And to von Gcrsdor,
Last Saturday wc bid a sad and dccply moving larcwcll to Tribschcn. Tribschcn has now
ccascd: wc wandcrcd around as il among shccr rubblc, thc lccling ol sadncss was cvcry
whcrc, in thc air, in thc clouds. Tc dog wouldnt cat. !l onc addrcsscd thcm onc lound thc
scrvantlamilics constantly sobbing. Vc packcd up thc manuscripts, lcttcrs and books oh
it was so miscrablc! Tcsc thrcc ycars ! havc spcnt ncar to Tribschcn, which ! havc visitcd
: timcs what thcy mcan to mc! Vithout thcm what would ! havc bccn! ! am happy that
! havc at lcast cngravcd in stonc thc world ol Tribschcn in my book |Te Birth of Tragedy|.

Tc Vagncrs dcparturc lclt Nictzschc bcrclt. At thc cnd ol his lilc, dcspitc thc hundrcds
ol polcmical pagcs hc had by this timc writtcn against thc grcat sorccrcr, Tribschcn still
rcmains, in Ecce Homo, an cnchantcd drcam:
Tat which has rclrcshcd mc by lar thc most proloundly and cordially |was| . . . without a
doubt my intimatc association with Richard Vagncr. ! ocr all my othcr human rclation
ships chcap, but at no pricc would ! rclinquish lrom my lilc thc Tribschcn days, thosc days
ol mutual condcnccs, ol chccrlulncss, ol sublimc incidcnts ol prolound momcnts . . . !
do not know what othcrs may havc cxpcricnccd with Vagncr: ovcr our sky no cloud cvcr
Nictzschc ncvcr took to 8ayrcuth. Tough Vagncrs grand housc thcrc was callcd
!ahnfried roughly, placc ol pcacclul cscapc lrom thc worlds crazy dclusions (scc Platc
+) Nictzschc lound it alltoocrazy. Tough hc soldicrcd on in Vagncrs causc lor anothcr
lour ycars with incrcasing dcgrccs ol doubt and incrcasing momcnts ol lriction with thc
mastcr thc old, sublimc intimacy was ncvcr rccapturcd. !t is hard to rcsist thc conclu
sion that, cmotionally, Nictzschc cxpcricnccd thc movc lrom Tribschcn to 8ayrcuth as a
bctrayal, as his sccond abandonmcnt by a lathcr. Rcturning on a hiking trip to thc Rigi
in +8, hc rcvisitcd Tribschcn scvcral timcs. ! misscd much, much, hc wrotc Rohdc,
complctcly disinhcritcd .
!l thc Vagncrs had rcmaincd in Tribschcn, Human, ll-Too-
Human, Te !agner Case, and Nietzsche contra !agner, not to mcntion thc rcst ol Nictzschcs
maturc philosophy, might ncvcr havc bccn writtcn.
Richard Wagner and the Birth of
Te Birth of Tragedy
ov :nvvv ycars, wc saw in thc prcvious chaptcr, Nictzschc was rcgardcd by all con
ccrncd as a mcmbcr ol thc Tribschcn houschold. Along with cmotional warmth and
sublimc music, Tribschcn also providcd him with an intcnscly stimulating philo
sophical cnvironmcnt, prcsidcd ovcr by thc spirit ol Arthur Schopcnhaucr. To his wondcr
lully dccp philosophy
Vagncr and Nictzschc wcrc, as wc havc sccn, cqually dcvotcd. Nictz
schc scnt his cssays and lccturcs to thc Vagncrs lor discussion and scrutiny and thankcd
Vagncr lor thc many purcly scicntic problcms that rcsolvcd thcmsclvcs through thcir
And Vagncr scnt Nictzschc thc complctcd 8ccthovcn cssay, to which thc
lattcr rcplicd, ! can makc clcar to you how much thcrc is lor mc thcrc by way ol lcarn
ing your philosophy ol music that is, the philosophy ol music in an cssay ! wrotc this
summcr cntitlcd Tc ionysian Vorldvicw

a prcliminary airing ol thc ccntral thcmcs

ol Nictzschcs rst book. As notcd, Cosima was no mcrc onlookcr but rathcr an activc
contributor to thc intcllcctual lilc ol Tribschcn. A woman ol considcrablc cducation and
pcrspicacity, shc rcgularly bombardcd Nictzschc with salvocs ol oltcn scarching qucstions
about his philosophical work. !n dcdicating his Fi.e Prefaces to Fi.e Un.ritten Books to hcr
in +8:, hc wrotc, in dccply lclt rcspcct and as an answcr to qucstions raiscd both by lcttcr
and in convcrsation.

Tc product ol this cmotional and intcllcctual intimacy was Te Birth of Tragedy. Tc

Prclacc dcdicatcs thc work to Vagncr, dcscribing it as thc continuation ol a convcrsation
with him, a convcrsation hc could havc had with no othcr pcrson. Vhat madc this convcr
sation possiblc was thc lact that as wcll as bcing a composcr, conductor, and poct ol gcnius,
Vagncr was also a scrious intcllcctual with a dcvclopcd and distinctivc worldvicw. Nictz
schc scholars and cnthusiasts havc almost univcrsally sought to dcny Nictzschcs dcbt to
this vicw,

on account ol its undoubtcdly unplcasant clcmcnts: antiScmitism and, latcr on,

Gcrman chauvinism. Tcrc is, howcvcr, no gctting away lromit: to rcally undcrstand Nictz
schcs book, onc nccds to undcrstand thc 8ayrcuth horizon,
as his notcbooks dcscribc it,
within which it was dcvclopcd, thc Vagncrian spcctaclcs, in thc words ol a contcmporary

through which it vicws thc world.


Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

Te Wagnerian Worldview
agncrs philosophical thinking locuscs on lour intcrconncctcd topics: socicty, poli
tics, art, and rcligion. ! shall bcgin with socicty, with Vagncrs Kulturkritik, his
critiquc ol thc cultural condition ol Vcstcrn modcrnity. Tc critiquc locuscs on two things:
on Christianity and on thc cccts ol industrialization and burcaucratisation.
Vagncr was awarc that, lor most cducatcd pcoplc ol his timc, Christianity no longcr
compcllcd bclicl. Noncthclcss, hc argucs, it has lclt bchind a pcrnicious lcgacy. Vhcrcas
thc Grccks conccivcd happincss to bc thc normal human condition, thc Christian world
vicw condcmns us to lilc in a loathsomc dungcon.
Christianity tcachcs us to dcspisc all
things carthly whilc contradicting itscll by simultancously prcaching univcrsal brothcrly

Not that this was Jcsus doing. Tc Galilcan carpcntcr himscll was a kind ol rcvolu
tionary socialist, a man ol thc working classcs who rcally did practicc thc univcrsal lovc hc
prcachcd. Not hc but rathcr thc Roman Church (this will bccomc a kcy thcmc in Nictz
schcs latcr work) invcntcd thc othcrworldly mctaphysics that lcads to contcmpt lor this
!n gcncral, thcn, Christianity has bccn a dcstructivc lorcc that has lclt us a lcgacy
ol scllcontcmpt.
And it has, morcovcr, prcparcd thc way lor thc inhuman charactcr ol modcrn cconomic
lilc. !l man is a worthlcss bcing, thcn thcrc is no rcason not to trcat him, as modcrn indus
trialiscd socicty docs, as mcrc stcampowcr lor its machincry.
!n modcrn socicty, that is
to say, work has bccomc nothing but wcarying, dchumanizing toil. Mcn havc bccn turncd
into slavcs ol thc machinc, havc, indccd, bccomc machincs thcmsclvcs.
Tis has had a tcrriblc ccct on human wcllbcing. Sincc thc masscs arc traincd to bc
nothing but machincparts, and arc in any casc cxhaustcd by work, thcy arc capablc ol
nothing but chcap, mindlcss plcasurcs in thc momcnts ol lcisurc allowcd thcm. 8ut sincc
chcap consumcrism produccs cvcr diminishing rcturns, boredom bccomcs thc salicnt mood
ol modcrnity. !n thc consumcr socicty pcoplc arc borcd to dcath by plcasurc.
Part ol
Vagncrs antiScmitism consists in sccing Jcws as particularly productivc ol, and givcn to,
consumcrism, though in his latcr writings hc points thc ngcr at thc Frcnch: that which is
cngulng modcrnity is Frcnch matcrialism.
Tc dccay ol modcrn socicty has had a particularly dclctcrious ccct on art. Tc mcchan
ical rcproduction ol artworks and conscqucnt dcmocratization ol tastc mcans that cvcn thc
mcancst among us can put thc noblcst typcs ol art on his mantclpiccc
which numbs our
ability to rcvcrcncc grcat art. Casual lamiliarity, in othcr words, brccds contcmpt. Vhcn
it comcs to music and thc thcatrc, all thc workwcary audicncc wants and is capablc ol
is distraction and cntcrtainmcnt. Tc rcsult is that modcrnity is no longcr capablc ol thc
Gesamtkunst.erk, thc collcctivc artwork, that was thc glory ol Grcccc. Rathcr than bcing
gathcrcd togcthcr, as in Grcck tragcdy, with cach artlormplaying a vital rolc in thc total art
work, thc arts arc now csscntially scparatc, with cach catcring to a particular nichcdcmand
lor plcasurc. Tus opcra, and in particular Frcnch and !talian opcra, pandcrs to an audicncc
intcrcstcd only in music music lor casy listcning. Tc plots arc a jokc, onc talks through
thc longucurs bctwccn thc big arias, and whcn thcy nally arrivc onc dcmands six cncorcs
dcstroying, ol coursc, any possibility ol dramatic continuity and rcducing thc occasion to a
chaos ol trivial scnsations.
Turning to thc litcrary aspcct ol modcrn lilc, Vagncr obscrvcs that wc livc in a papcr
culturc. Vc sucr lrom lcxicomania, lrom (in my own rathcr than Vagncrs languagc)

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
inlormation ovcrload. Tis mcans that thc charactcr ol our agc is csscntially critical, crit
ical in a way that stics crcativity. vcrwhclmcd by cultural history, wc succumb to thc
scnsc that its all bccn donc bclorc and arc rcduccd to rccombining past artistic stylcs.
might rclcr to this as Vagncrs anticipation ol postmodcrn nihilism.)
Vagncrs nal major criticism ol modcrnity conccrns social atomisation. Vhcrcas, in
thc past, wc wcrc bound togcthcr by thc lcllowship ol a common purposc hc thinks,
hcrc, ol thc world cclcbratcd in thc Mastersingers, thc world ol artists and craltsmcn work
ing togcthcr to producc thc mcdicval cathcdral modcrn socicty is a socicty ol absolutc
cgoism. vcryonc pursucs his own, sclsh goals, thc only cohcsivc lorcc bcing thc statc.
8ut thc modcrn, burcaucratic rcd tapc statc is worsc than uncontaincd cgoism. Aidcd
by rcligious dogma and thc prcss, it says to individuals, so shall you think and no othcr,
mindcontrols thcm into robotic instrumcnts ol its pcrnicious, militaristic aims.

So much lor diagnosis ol our parlous condition, what now ol rcmcdy: Tc kcy is Grcccc
and abovc all Grcck tragcdy. Not, Vagncr hastcns to add, that wc should scck a slavish
rcstoration ol thc Grcck through a shamGrcck modc ol art (thc \ictorian bank disguiscd
as a Grcck tcmplc). !nsolar as wc admirc thc Grcck, wc should rccrcatc it as a contcmpo
rary rcality rathcr than as a lossiliscd rclic ol thc past. And by no mcans should wc admirc
cvcrything Hcllcnic in particular, not thc dishonourablc slavc yokc on which Grcck cco
nomic lilc was bascd. Prcciscly thc main goal should bc to rcplacc thc quasislavcry, thc uni
vcrsal journcymanhood, with its sickly moncy soul ol modcrn socicty, with a strong and
lrcc manhood.
Noncthclcss, says Vagncr, it is thc Athcnian thcatrc which providcs thc
typical modcl ol that idcal rclation, drcamt ol by mc, bctwccn thcatrc and public.
so: Vhat, lor Vagncr, was Grcck tragcdy, and what distinguishcd it lrom thc sick thcatrc
ol thc prcscnt agc:

First ol all, Grcck tragcdy was not cntcrtainmcnt. !t occurrcd
on nonc but spccial, sacrcd lcast days, whcrc thc tastc lor art was couplcd with thc cclcbra
tion ol a rcligious ritc, in which thc most illustrious mcmbcrs ol thc statc thcmsclvcs took
part as pocts and pcrlormcrs, to appcar likc pricsts bclorc thc asscmblcd populacc ol cld
and city, a populacc llcd with such high cxpcctations lrom thc sublimity ol thc artwork
to bc sct bclorc it, that a Sophoclcs, an Acschylus, could sct bclorc thc !olk (pcoplc) thc
dccpcstmcaning ol all pocms, assurcd ol thcir undcrstanding.
Sccond, it was a collcctivc |Gesamt| artwork |kunst.erk|. !t collcctcd, or gathcrcd, in
two scnscs. First and most obviously, it collcctcd all thc arts, in particular words and music,
togcthcr into a singlc artwork. (Tough thc music is lost, lcading us to think ol Acschylus or
Sophoclcs as purcly litcrary works, to think this way, Nictzschc rcmarks in his notcbooks,
is likc thinking ol Tannh auser as just words.)
Sccond, it collcctcd thc wholc community
togcthcr and so crcatcd and prcscrvcd it as community. !n contrast to lragmcntcd modcrn
ity, in Grcccc
all division . . . all scattcring ol lorccs conccntratcd on this one point . . . all division ol clc
mcnts into scparatc channcls must nccds havc bccn as hurtlul to this unique and noblc
artwork as to thc likclormcd statc itscll, and thus it could only maturc but ncvcr changc
its naturc. Tus art was conscrvativc . . .
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

Noticc that collcction in thc rst scnsc is takcn to rcquirc collcction in thc sccond scnsc,
that thc artwork can only gathcr thc community il it also gathcrs thc arts. !l it lails to
gathcr thc arts, thcn thc audicncc lragmcnts into nichc audicnccs lor thc individual arts.
Fragmcntation ol thc arts, Vagncr bclicvcs, cntails lragmcntation ol thc community a
thcsis that rcccivcs somc support lrom thc way in which, in contcmporary socicty, dicrcnt
kinds ol music opcratc as badgcs idcntilying dicrcnt, mutually cxclusivc subculturcs.
How docs thc Gesamtkunst.erk gathcr crcatc and conscrvc community: (Noticc that,
givcn that Grcck tragcdy is thc modcl ol thc idcal rclation bctwccn thcatrc and public,
in dcscribing thc Grcck artwork Vagncr is simultancously dcsigning thc artwork ol thc
luturc, thc modcl ol what his own music dramas arc intcndcd to bc.) Fcllowship and com
munity that cxtcnd bcyond thc mcrcly biological lcllowship ol common anccstry, writcs
Vagncr, can only ourish whcrc rcligion and myth ourish. Tc Hcllcnic raccs
solcmnizcd thc joint mcmorial cclcbration ol thcir common dcsccnt |and so bccamc Greeks|
in thcir rcligious lcasts, that is, in thc glorication and adoration ol thc god or hcro in
whosc bcing thcy lclt thcmsclvcs includcd as onc common wholc . . . thcy matcrializcd
thcir national traditions in thcir art, and most dircctly in thc lullycdgcd work ol art,
thc tragcdy.
Tragcdy, in othcr words, was a rcligious act, an act in which thc national tradition thc
cthos ol a pcoplc, thcir conccption ol thc propcr way to livc was articulatcd in thc lorm ol
myth. !ndccd, continucs Vagncr, as thc ritcs ol thc tcmplc dcsccndcd into soullcss convcn
tion (mirrorcd by thc dcclinc ol thc Church in thc ninctccnth ccntury), thc amphithcatrc
bccamc the placc whcrc thc csscncc ol rcligion, rcligiosocial convcntion, rcccivcd its artic
Tc pcrlcct work ol art that was Grcck tragcdy bccamc
thc abstract and cpitomc ol all that was cxprcssiblc in thc Grccian naturc. !t was thc nation
itscll in intimatc conncxion with its own history that stood mirrorcd in its artwork, that
communcd with itscll and, within thc span ol a lcw hours, lcastcd its cycs with its own
noblcst csscncc.
!t was ablc to do this bccausc its contcnt was myth, myth bcing a clarication and con
dcnsation ol thc vicwincommon ol thc csscncc ol things, a vicw ol naturc . . . mcn and
!n myths, that is to say (bc thcy Grcck myths or thc Norscdcrivcd myths ol
Vagncrs own musicdramas), arc incorporatcd thc csscntial laws ol what is and what ought
to bc: mcn should know thcy arc not gods witncss thc latc ol cdipus and that powcr
corrupts witncss thc dcvastation wrought by Votans qucst lor thc ring ol thc Nibclung.
Grcck tragcdy, in othcr words, was csscntially didactic (a quality that 8rccht, who, likc thc
Grccks, uscd both masks and music, attcmptcd to rccapturc).
Sincc it is thc csscncc ol thc !olk |pcoplc| itscll that comcs to prcscncc in thc artwork,
in a ccrtain scnsc it, rathcr than any individual, is thc crcator ol thc artwork. Tc indi
vidual playwright is mcrcly thc clarilying articulator ol communal cthos. Tc communal
artwork ourishcd just so long as it was inspircd by thc spirit ol thc !olk . . . that is, a com-
munal spirit. Vhcn acsthctic cgoism raiscd its hcad in lourthccntury Grcccc thc pcoplcs
artwork ccascd.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Community or !olk, as Vagncr conccivcs it, is what wc might call a unicultural socicty,
a socicty in which, whatcvcr lowcrlcvcl varictics ol lilcstylc thcrc may bc, cvcryonc agrccs
on a lundamcntal conccption ol thc good lilc on lundamcntal valucs indcpcndcnt ol
thosc valucs bcing cnlorccd by thc statc. !t nccds to bc askcd, thcrclorc, why wc should
valuc thc unicultural socicty. (Sincc this conccption is thc dircct oppositc ol thc twcnticth
ccnturys idcology ol multiculturalism, which now nds itscll in such scrious dicultics,
Vagncrs thoughts about community havc considcrablc contcmporary rclcvancc.)
A !olk, writcs Vagncr, consists ol all thosc who lccl a common and collcctivc want.
Authcntic mcmbcrs arc thosc who rccognisc thcir individual want as a collcctivc want, or
nd it bascd thcrcon. Vithin a !olk, collcctivc nccd providcs a basis, thc only basis, lor
ncccssary action. !n othcr words, it givcs lilc a goal and mcaning. Vhcrc thcrc is no ncccs
sary action thcrc is only capricc. All that rcmains, in othcr words, is thc pursuit ol wants
that arc not only cgoistic but also articial, and thcrclorc mcaninglcss thc statc ol mod
crn socicty. Tc communal artwork ol thc luturc, says Vagncr, will rcawakcn holy ncccssity
so that lilc will rcacquirc mcaning.
Morc spccically, .ork will bccomc mcaninglul again
and thus satislying. !n n Statc and Rcligion, Vagncr cxplains that hc partcd company
with thc socialism ol his youth whcn hc rcaliscd that socialist politicians just wantcd to
rcarrangc thc world ol toil, whcrcas lor him thc point was to abolish toil, to rclorm work
practiccs so that, as with mcdicval husbandry, thcy would oncc morc constitutc a bcautilul
lilc, a lilc in harmony with naturc and thc scasons, punctuatcd by lrcqucnt rccrcations and
(thc lilc, to makc thc point oncc again, that is cclcbratcd in thc Mastersingers).
Morcovcr, sincc ncccssary action addrcsscs collcctivc want, it will abolish classcs though
not dicrcnccs. vcryonc, according to his or hcr own station, will work towards thc com
munal goal. 8y bccoming mcmbcrs ol a tcam (or, onc should pcrhaps say, choir), alicnation
bctwccn onc human bcing and anothcr will bc ovcrcomc.

Ccntral to thc abovc thinking, vcry clcarly, is thc notion ol !olk. Tc !olk crcatcs and is
conscrvcd by thc artwork, thc individual nds mcaning and community within thc !olk.
Tis raiscs thc qucstion ol whcrc Vagncr stands on thc issuc ol nationalism vcrsus intcr
nationalism, localism vcrsus cosmopolitanism.
Vagncr obscrvcs that whilc thc Roman mpirc abolishcd thc rcality ol !olk, and Mcdi
cval Christianity, by rccognising only Christian man, abolishcd thc vcry conccpt, hc wishcs
to rcvivc thc conccpt and rcinvigoratc thc rcality.
Yct this is thc socialist strain in his
thinking thc importancc ol a ourishing !olk is not to cxcludc conccrn lor univcrsal
humanity. Vhcrcas
thc Grccian artwork cmbraccs thc spirit ol a lair and noblc nation, thc artwork ol thc luturc
must cmbracc thc spirit ol a lrcc mankind, dclivcrcd lrom cvcry shacklc ol hampcring
nationality: its racial imprint must bc no morc than an cmbcllishmcnt, thc individual charm
ol manilold divcrsity, not a hampcring barricr . . . Vc must lovc all mcn bclorc wc can rightly
lovc oursclvcs.

vcn, onc might ask rhctorically, thc Jcws: Tcorctically, at lcast, wc must. !n thc inlamous n
Judaism in Music, Vagncr at lcast has thc gracc to placc thc blamc lor thc status ol thc Jcws as
malign outsidcrs on Christianitys rclusal to assimilatc thcm. Logically spcaking, thc solution to thc
Jcwish qucstion is thus assimilation (VM pp. +). Vhat makcs such paranoia so dangcrous,
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

Vagncrs cosmopolitanism rcvcals itscll, too, in thc insistcncc that thc contcnt ol myth is
both incxhaustiblc and truc lor all timcs and culturcs, thc only task ol thc poct bcing to
cxpound it in a particular way to a particular audicncc.
!n n Statc and Rcligion hc
rathcr surprisingly attacks patriotism as a harmlul dclusion |!ahn|.

!t is harmlul bccausc
it is simply an cnlargcd cgoism which, lanncd by thc prcss, is rcsponsiblc lor thc statc ol
pcrmancnt actual or incipicnt warlarc in which thc modcrn world cxists. (Patriotism,
in othcr words, is thc last rclugc ol dcmagogic scoundrcls.) From this hc concludcs thc
ncccssity ol monarchy, with thc kings job bcing to stand abovc national politics, to bc
conccrncd lor human intcrcsts lar abovc mcrc patriotism.
How can Vagncr consistcntly bc both a nationalist and an intcrnationalist: Tc rcmarks
conccrning thc charm ol divcrsity and incxhaustibility ol univcrsal myth suggcst a syn
thcsis bctwccn multiculturalismand uniculturalism multiplicity in unity

as Nictzschc
latcr puts it somcwhat in thc way in which thc mcdicval cathcdral cncompasscd a host ol
rcgionally, tcmporally, and stylistically divcrsc manilcstations, or a singlc languagc cncom
passcs a host ol rcgional dialccts. r wc might think ol a 8ccthovcn symphony with
its inhcrcnt possibility ol yiclding innitcly divcrsc, but cqually valid, intcrprctations
as a modcl on which to undcrstand thc idca ol univcrsal myth as susccptiblc to indc
nitcly many dicrcnt intcrprctations within thc dicrcnt, as it wcrc, dialccts ol dicrcnt
!n latcr lilc Vagncrs nationalism took a dicrcnt and much lcss palatablc lorm. As
Nictzschc put it in +888, cxplaining his turn against Vagncr, thc middlcagcd Vagncr
lost thc cosmopolitan tastc ol his youth, bccoming instcad reichsdeutsch, a 8ismarckian jin

Yct still, at lcast in thcory, thc oldcr Vagncr sought to rcconcilc his position with
ultimatcly intcrnational conccrns, writing, thrcc ycars bclorc thc outbrcak ol thc Franco
Prussian war, that
to cxtricatc oursclvcs lrom thc tyranny ol |Franccs| matcrialistic civilization . . . is prcciscly
thc mission ol Gcrmany, bccausc Gcrmany ol all contincntal countrics, alonc posscsscs thc
nccdlul qualitics and lorccs ol mind and spirit to bring about a noblcr culturc.

Gcrman inwardncss must, that is, bc cxtcndcd by lorcc ol arms il ncccssary to savc lrom
itscll a civilization dominatcd by Frcnch dccadcncc. (Tc pcrniciousncss ol this appcal to
a Godgivcn Gcrman mission is rcvcalcd by thc lact that prcciscly thc samc appcal to a
uniquc national mission was uscd by rightwing intcllcctuals to justily Gcrmany cntry into
thc First Vorld Var and by rightwing, Gcrmanphilosophyinspircd intcllcctuals to justily
thc youngcr 8ushs invasion ol !raq.)
howcvcr, is that, oncc Jcws arc cast in thc rolc ol a lth column in thc midst ol thc !olk, climination
prcscnts itscll as a rcady altcrnativc to assimilation.

!ahn is a word Vagncr uscs with grcat lrcqucncy. !t is hard to translatc Ashton llis wiscly lcavcs
it untranslatcd bccausc hc distinguishcs both harmlul and bcnccial lorms ol !ahn (rcligion is a
bcnccial lorm) in somcwhat thc way in which Plato, in thc Phaedrus, distinguishcs good and bad
lorms ol madncss. (ivinc madncss, lor Plato, is thc inspiration csscntial to both grcat poctry and
truc lovc.) !n itscll, it sccms to mc, !ahn, as Vagncr uscs it, is a ncutral tcrm mcaning somcthing
likc sct ol bclicls that cxcccd any possiblc cvidcncc wc could havc lor thcir truth. Nictzschcs
notcbooks ol thc Tribschcn pcriod arc lull ol this usc ol !ahn, lor which Illusion is uscd as a
lrcqucnt synonym that is similarly ambiguous. Latcr on hc will usc crror in a similar way.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Te Artwork of the Future
n Vagncrs vicw, wc havc sccn, modcrnity is sick. Tc hcart ol his rcmcdy lics in thc rcs
toration ol thc collcctivc artwork, thc modcl lor which is providcd by Grcck tragcdy. 8ut
what cxactly will this rcdccming artwork bc likc, this artwork ol thc luturc, an artwork, that
is to say, which prcsagcs th|c| lilc ol thc luturc and longs to bc containcd thcrcin:
in othcr words, is thc thcorctical tcmplatc which Vagncr thc artist this most thcory
drivcn ol all grcat composcrs trics to rcalisc:
!t will bc, wc know, a work that collccts in thc doublc scnsc ol gathcring thc individual
arts into a singlc work and ol gathcring thc community into a clarilying armation ol itscll.
8ut what about thc intcrnal structurc ol thc work: Vhat cxactly is thc rclationship bctwccn
thc constitucnt clcmcnts, bctwccn, in particular, thc principal playcrs, music and words:
Tcrc is no univocal answcr to this qucstion, sincc thc answcr givcn by thc latcr Vagncr is
quitc dicrcnt lrom that givcn in his youth. ! shall prcscnt, rst, Vagncrs carly account and
thcn his rcviscd account, a rcvision that cxcmplics thc lamiliar parabola lcading lrom thc
idcalism ol youth to thc rcsignation ol agc but which was also crucially shapcd by Vagncrs
discovcry ol Schopcnhaucr.

Tc youngcr Vagncr cmphasiscs, rst ol all, thc nccd to rcstorc organic unity to thc art
work. Vhat must bc ovcrcomc is thc chaos ol disconncctcd bits that is Franco!talian
opcra. (Nictzschcs +888 dcscription ol Vagncr as a giltcd miniaturist who lackcd thc
capacity to construct gcnuincly unicd wholcs

is thus a particularly dcadly insult.) Tcrc

must bc no ritorncllos, no scllglorilying musical intcrludcs, no big arias, that disrupt
thc dramatic continuity ol thc work.
Vhat is rcquircd bctwccn poct and musician is not
compctition but rathcr thc spirit ol community. Tcy should bc likc two travcllcrs, onc
ol whom (thc poct) dcscribcs thc land, thc othcr thc sca, but who thcn visit cach othcrs
tcrritory and bccomc onc.

Tcy arc to collaboratc in thc lollowing way. Vhcn words losc

clcvation (whcn, lor cxamplc, thcy mcrcly cxpcditc thc plot) thc orchcstra comcs to thc
lorc, convcying a lccling ol lorcboding or rcmcmbrancc which undcrlics thc drama onc
might think hcrc ol lm music. 8ut whcrc spccch asccnds thc hcights ol poctic passion,
thc orchcstra rcccdcs into thc background.
Tough this carly account ol thc rclation bctwccn music and words sounds vcry cgali
tarian, it is actually not so at all. For Vagncr makcs clcar that thc rcal thrcat to thc unity
ol thc artwork comcs lrom musical capricc, lrom thc composcrs pandcring to thc dcsirc ol
lazy listcncrs lor casy mclody Ncssun orma, nc Finc ay, and so lorth thc aria
dcsigncd to rcccivc six cncorcs. Ultimatcly, thc dominant clcmcnt in thc work must bc thc
words: passagcs in which thc orchcstra comcs to promincncc arc ncvcr to bc dctcrmincd by
the caprice of the musician, as a randomtricking out ol sound, but only by the poets aim.
this, in lact, is thc natural rclation bctwccn music and words, a rclation rcccting thc origin
ol music in passionatc spccch: Song is just talk arouscd to thc highcst passion: music is thc
spccch ol passion.
Vagncr is not vcry cxplicit as to just why music must bc ultimatcly subordinatc to words.
Tc ground cannot bc that only words can producc unity, sincc thcrc obviously cxists musical
as wcll as dramatic unity, thc unity posscsscd by absolutc (purcly instrumcntal) music whcn
it is good music. !t is, howcvcr, prctty obvious why words must bc thc dominant clcmcnt ol
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

thc collcctivc artwork. !l its lunction is to gathcr thc community in a clarilying armation
ol its lundamcntal cthos, thcn thc most crucial dcmand on thc artwork is that it should
articulate that ethos. And that is somcthing only words can do. As Martin Hcidcggcr puts
it in thc rst volumc ol his monumcntal Nictzschcstudy, a solidly groundcd and articu
latcd position in thc midst ol bcings is thc kind ol thing only grcat poctry and thought
can crcatc.

!l wc arc to rcncw our sharcd undcrstanding ol thc good lilc thcn, in tcrms
ol Vagncrs mctaphor, land has to takc prcccdcncc ovcr sca, lor onc cannot takc oncs
bcarings whcn onc is, as wc indccd put it, all at sca.
Te Impact of Schopenhauer
hc philosophical works that rouscd Nictzschc to ccstasy during thc Tribschcn pcriod
wcrc thc magniccnt

8ccthovcn cssay ol +8o 8ccthovcn was important to Vag

ncr bccausc hc rcgardcd himscll as, in Cosimas words, 8ccthovcns only son

and n
Statc and Rcligion ol +86. Tc lattcr, Nictzschc wrotc von Gcrsdor, alluding to thc
lact that thc cssay takcs thc lorm ol a lcttcr to Vagncrs patron, Ludwig !! ol 8avaria,
is a grcat and dccp cssay in which hc cxplains to his young lricnd, thc littlc king ol 8avaria,
his inncr stancc towards statc and rcligion. Ncvcr has a king bccn spokcn to in a morc
worthy or philosophical manncr,

! was complctcly clcvatcd and at thc samc timc shakcn

by its idcalism.
Tcsc works wcrc, howcvcr, writtcn undcr thc inucncc ol Schopcnhaucrs !orld as !ill
and Fepresentation, which Vagncr discovcrcd in +8 and immcdiatcly rcrcad lour timcs.
As Nictzschc obscrvcs to von Gcrsdor, n Statc and Rcligion sccms at cvcry point to
spring lrom thc gcnius ol Schopcnhaucr.

Vhat did Schopcnhaucr mcan to Vagncr: Vhat ccct did his Te !orld as !ill producc
on thc composcr: !t produccd, or at lcast powcrlully rcinlorccd, a scachangc in, on thc
onc hand, his vicws on socicty, politics, and rcdcmption, and on thc othcr, his vicws on
thc propcr naturc and signicancc ol music. As wc shall scc, thcsc Uturns arc intimatcly
Spcaking with particular rclcrcncc to Tristan und Isolde, thc rst ol his opcras to bc
cntircly crcatcd altcr his discovcry ol Schopcnhaucr, Vagncr wrotc Franz Liszt in cccm
bcr, +8, that Schopcnhaucrs philosophy camc to him likc a gilt lrom hcavcn. !ts chicl
idca, hc cxplains,
thc nal ncgation ol thc dcsirc lor lilc, is tcrribly scrious, but it shows thc only salvation
possiblc. To mc ol coursc that thought was not ncw, and it can indccd bc conccivcd by no
onc in whom it did not prccxist, but this philosophcr was thc rst to placc it clcarly bclorc
mc . . . longing lor dcath, lor absolutc unconsciousncss, total noncxistcncc . . . |l |rccdom
lrom all drcams is our only nal salvation.

Tc compctition is providcd by Platos attcmpt to pcrsuadc thc Tyrant ol Syracusc to govcrn accord
ing to thc principlcs ol his Fepublic.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
And in Tristan itscll thc starcrosscd lovcrs sing at lcngth ol thcir longing lor oblivion:
In the surging s.ell,
In the ringing sound,
In the .orld-breath
In the .a.es of the ll
To dro.n,
To sink do.n
Supreme bliss
arc !soldcs nal words as shc sinks as il transgurcd onto Tristans lilclcss body, thcrcby
bringing both hcr carthly lilc and thc opcra to a closc.
As Vagncr says in thc lcttcr to Liszt, thc thought that thc solution to thc problcm ol
lilc lics in its ncgation prccxistcd in his mind bclorc hc lound it articulatcd by thc grcat
pcssimist. Vriting, in n Statc and Rcligion, to Ludwig, who had askcd him (apprchcn
sivcly, onc assumcs) il hc still hcld thc rcvolutionary doctrincs ol his youth, Vagncr says
that having discovcrcd socialism to aim, not at ovcrcoming, but simply at rcorganizing thc
dchumanizcd workplacc ol industrial modcrnity, hc dccidcd, as it wcrc, that my kingdom
is not ol this world , and that worldimprovcrs ol whatcvcr kind wcrc in lact victims ol
a lundamcntal crror, and dcmandcd lrom thc world itscll a thing it cannot givc.

this mcans lor thc king, his scllappointcd tutor continucs, is that hc must bccomc a kind
ol rcligious rolc modcl, a saintlikc gurc cmbodying thc naturc ol truc rcligion. Rccog
nising thc irrcmcdiablc unblcsscdncss ol human bcing, thc inncrmost kcrncl ol rcligion
is, continucs Vagncr,
dcnial ol thc world that is, rccognition ol thc world as a ccting and drcamlikc statc ol
mind rcposing mcrcly on illusion and strugglc lor rcdcmption lrom it, prcparcd lor by
rcnunciation, attaincd by laith.
Rcdcmption lrom, thc 8ccthovcn cssay adds, thc !ahn ol individuality and thc hcll
ol |an| cxistcncc llcd with tcrriblc discord. Vagncr concludcs, with Schopcnhaucr, that
rcdcmption consists in transccnding thc illusion ol plurality, in rccognising that truc rcality
is an indissolublc unity, an undicrcntiatcd ncncss which abolishcs thc vcry possibility
ol discord.
Rcligion, that is, points us to a scll and worldtransccndcncc in which wc
cxpcricncc thc inncr happincss ol thc saint, surc in thc knowlcdgc ol his othcrworldly
rcdcmption, or thc happincss ol thc martyr thc king, Vagncr writcs prophctically to
Ludwig, is a tragic gurc. Tis tclls us thc task ol grcat that is to say, rcligious art. !ts
task, Vagncr continucs (abovc all onc thinks, hcrc, ol Tristan)
is to lilt us up abovc lilc and show it as itscll a gamc ol play: a gamc that, takc it nccr so
tcrriblc and carncst an appcarancc, yct is hcrc again shown to us as a mcrc !ahn picturc,
so that in this way it comlorts us and walts us lrom thc common truth ol our distrcss.
Trcc things arc going on hcrc. First, thc armation ol Schopcnhaucrian pcssimism: lilc
is sucring, rcmcdial human cndcavour can changc its lorm but ncvcr its quantity and is
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

thcrclorc lutilc. So thc optimism that is prcsupposcd by schcmcs ol worldimprovcmcnt
such as thc socialism ol Vagncrs youth is bascd on dclusion. Morc gcncrally, politics is
dclusion, !ahn: moving lrom Tribschcn to 8ayrcuth, as wc saw, Vagncr inscribcd abovc
thc lront door ol thc ncw housc, hcrc whcrc my dclusions havc lound pcacc, ! namc this
housc !ahnfried (dclusionpcacc) (scc Platc +).
Sccond, thc passagc no longcr arms socialist matcrialism but rathcr Schopcnhaucrian
idcalism: naturc, thc cvcryday world, is but a drcam and so lilc is nothing but a

Tis is what makcs thc third clcmcnt in Vagncrs latcr philosophy possiblc, an
armation ol thc possibility ol salvation lrom this world ol pain, salvation through tran
sccndcncc to anothcr world.

Salvation, Vagncr holds, will rcdccm us lrom thc cursc

ol appcaranccs, lrom discord and pain. l coursc wc cannot providc a rational prool that
thcrc is a rcdcmptivc othcr world. Rcligious othcrworldlincss is in that scnsc !ahn, too, a
mattcr ol laith rathcr than rcason. 8ut it is hcaling rathcr than discascd !ahn.

8ut how can wc acccss this laith: How can wc acquirc thc phcnomcnological cxpcricncc
ol thc rcality ol this world bcyond plurality and so bcyond pain: Tc kcy is music, music
undcrstood in thc light ol Schopcnhaucrs rcvclation ol its truc naturc.

As wc saw (p. 8 abovc) Schopcnhaucr hcld that whilc, along with languagc and con
ccptual thought, all thc othcr arts dcal with thc visiblc world ol appcarancc, music, in a
nonconccptual manncr, discloscs to us thc naturc ol ultimatc rcality, thc thing in itscll . !n
thc 8ccthovcn cssay, Vagncr says that it was Schopcnhaucr who rst propcrly dcncd thc
position ol music in rclation to thc othcr arts, indicating thcrcby his acccptancc ol this high,
mctaphysical claim lor music. 8cing a layman, Vagncr continucs, Schopcnhaucr could not
propcrly dcmonstratc his claim, but attcntion to 8ccthovcns musical dcvclopmcnt lrom his
bcginning as a showy and rclativcly supcrcial piano virtuoso to thc prolound unworldlincss
lor which hc is rcmcmbcrcd shows that Schopcnhaucr was right.
Failing to rccognisc Schopcnhaucrs grcat discovcry ol thc uniqucncss ol music, Vagncr
writcs, somc pcoplc (lorcmost in his mind, hcrc, is thc musical lormalist duard Hanslick)
havc applicd thc critcria ol thc plastic arts quitc inappropriatcly to music, judging it in
tcrms ol thc bcautilul, our plcasurc in bcautilul lorms.

Tis was thc position lrom which

8ccthovcn, lollowing thc tradition ol Haydn and Mozart, startcd. !n his maturity, howcvcr,
hc showcd us that thc propcr catcgory lor asscssing thc grcatncss ol grcat music is not thc
bcautilul but rathcr the sublime. Vhcn grcat music cngrosscs us, shc transports us to thc
highcst ccstasy (extase) ol consciousncss ol our innitudc. Tc highcst music is, thcrclorc,
rcligious in charactcr. !n communicating a holy, that is, rcdcmptivc, statc, it is rcligion
purgcd ol dogmatic ctions.
Tis is thc charactcr ol 8ccthovcns grcat music. !t spcaks thc highcst wisdom in a lan
guagc not undcrstood by thc rcason ol this most unrccctivc ol gcniuscs. As thc dcalncss ol
which hc ncvcr complaincd ovcrtook him hc bccamc, as it wcrc, thc blind sccr. (According
to Grcck mythology, Tircsias was struck blind by Hcra, acquiring thcrcby thc gilt ol sccond
sight.) His wisdom brings us thc highcst comlort. Vho, Vagncr asks rhctorically, on
listcning to thc Pastoral Symphony, has lailcd to hcar thc rcdccmcrs words today thou shalt
bc with mc in paradisc:

8ccthovcn givcs us an immcdiatc cxpcricncc |ol rcdcmption| ol

Ccrtainly Valt isncy hcars thcsc words, his classic Fantasia allowing a day in thc lilc ol Arcadia
to grow out ol 8ccthovcns music.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
transparcnt comprchcnsibility. His rcnowncd chccrlulncss is thc worldcrcating 8rahma
laughing at himscll. 8ccthovcns Pastoral

and Scvcnth symphonics dclivcr us lrom all

carthly guilt so that thc altcrccct, whcn wc rcturn to thc cvcryday world ol scmblanccs,
is thc lccling ol having lorlcitcd paradisc.
Tis clcvation ol music to thc status ol rcligion conrms, ol coursc, Schopcnhaucrs claim
that music is supcrior to all thc othcr arts. !n particular, it is supcrior to poctry. Poctry,
Vagncr now writcs, must always bc subordinatc to music. Schillcrs words in 8ccthovcns
Choral Symphony arc, as words, unimportant it is signicant that, in thc nal movcmcnt,
thc mclody to which thcy arc sct prcccdcs thcm as purcly instrumcntal music. At most thcy
hclp intcnsily thc mood that bclongs to thc music. And in thc Missa Solemnis thc voiccs
(aidcd, ol coursc, by thc lact that thcy sing in Latin) lunction as purc, musical sounds.
Vagncr hcrc cchocs Schopcnhaucr rcmark that sincc thc supcrciality ol words can but bc a
distraction lromthc dccp mctaphysical signicancc ol music, thc mass is supcrior to opcra
supcrior bccausc, through constant rcpctition, its words havc bccomc a mcrc sollcggio,
mcaninglrcc sounds.
Vagncrs rcvcrsal ol his carlicr thcory ol thc rclativc signicancc ol music and words
is mirrorcd in his postSchopcnhaucrian compositions. Tc discovcry ol Te !orld as !ill
took placc in thc middlc ol his writing thc Fing cyclc (thc librctto lor thc wholc work had
bccn complctcd much carlicr) and camc to havc a prolound impact on thc charactcr ol thc
work. Vhcrcas in thc carlicr part ol thc Fing spccically, Das Fheingold and thc rst act ol
Die !alk ure thc music is strictly subordinatc to thc drama, in thc postSchopcnhaucrian
part ol thc cyclc thc orchcstra bccomcs morc and morc dominant. !n thc sccond and third
acts ol Die !alk ure and in Siegfried and G otterd ammerung thcrc arc long passagcs in which
thc words comc closc to bcing purc, Schopcnhaucrian sollcggio. !n Tristan thc drama is
so slow and thc music so long that thc work somctimcs rclcrrcd to as thc opcra without
action. Nictzschc suggcsts that it can, in lact, bc cxpcricnccd as a purcly instrumcntal work,
a vast symphony,
whilc my own cxpcricncc ol ( Jamcs Lcvincs vcrsion ol ) Vagncrs last
opcra, Parsifal, is ol a singlc, vcandahallhourlong adagio movcmcnt. !t may bc this
approximation ol thc latcr works to absolutc
music had hc livcd Vagncr planncd to
writc only symphonics, altcr Parsifal that lcads Nictzschc to suggcst in his notcbooks that
thc tcrm musicdrama is actually a bad onc.
Not only is music morc important than words, it actually again Vagncr dircctly rcvcrscs
his carlicr position givcs risc to thcm: thc music ol a grcat artwork contains thc drama
in itscll .
Vhat lics bchind this idca, ! bclicvc, is Schopcnhaucrs analysis ol cmotion
into a distinct phcnomcnological lccling plus an cmotional objcct, togcthcr with thc (in
my judgmcnt, corrcct) idca that music allows onc to cxpcricncc thc univcrsal inncr naturc
ol an cmotion divorccd lrom its objcct.
So, lor cxamplc, a rcal cxpcricncc ol sadncss
consists in thc lccling ol sadncss plus thc objcct or occasion ol thc cmotion thc dcath
ol oncs grandmothcr, pcrhaps. Vhat sad, purcly instrumcntal, music givcs us, howcvcr,
is objcctlcss sadncss, it givcs us thc cxpcricncc ol sadncss but without ocring anything
to bc sad about. Tis, Schopcnhaucr says, makcs it possiblc to supply a piccc ol absolutc
music with an ocial or unocial tcxt, which stands to univcrsal lccling in thc rclation ol
an cxamplc.
Hcncc, lor cxamplc, thc Pastoral symphony and thc Moonlight sonata,
ncithcr ol which titlcs was supplicd by 8ccthovcn. (Tc tcxt may, ol coursc, bc visual, as in
Valt isncys Fantasia.)
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

All grcat art, claims Vagncr, is in lact crcatcd out ol, il not litcral music, at lcast thc
spirit ol music: Grcck culturc was so crcatcd, as was thc art ol thc !talian Rcnaissancc.

!n summary, thcn, Vagncrs postSchopcnhaucrian thought contains two lundamcntal
rcvcrsals ol carlicr positions. First, anarchistsocialist optimism is rcplaccd by pcssimism
about thc human condition, with thc rcsult that salvation is to happcn no longcr in a luturc
statc ol this world but in, rathcr, another world. Salvation, as onc might put it, is no longcr
rcdcmption of thc world but rathcr rcdcmption from thc world. And sccond, instcad ol
music bcing thc scrvant ol words and drama, it now assumcs priority ovcr thc words which
thrcatcn to bccomc, indccd, cntircly lunctionlcss in thc artwork. Tcsc changcs arc ol coursc
conncctcd. For il, as in thc carly thcory, thc point is to improvc thc world, to rcvivc com
munity through thc communitycollccting artwork, thcn, cvidcntly, thc artwork has to bc
about the .orld. !n othcr words, cthoscxpounding myth, which only words can articulatc,
bccomcs thc crucial clcmcnt in thc artwork. n thc othcr hand, il, as in thc latcr thcory,
onc has abandoncd worldimprovcmcnt as lutilc, thcn what onc wants lrom a rcdcmp
tivc artwork is somcthing which allows onc to transcend the .orld. Sincc, on Schopcnhaucrs
account, this is prcciscly what grcat music docs, music bccomcs thc crucial clcmcnt in thc
Unlortunatcly lor thc clarity ol his position, Vagncr ncvcr clcarly announccs thc aban
donmcnt ol his carly philosophy ol lilc and art lor this ncw, and diamctrically opposcd
onc. Hc ncvcr clcarly statcs that hc has givcn up on thc idcal ol thc artwork as an agcnt ol
social rcdcmption, ncvcr clcarly statcs that, according to his latcr thought, rcdcmption has
bccomc a purcly indi.idual notion. vcn a rcadcr as acutc as Martin Hcidcggcr misscd this
point. Hcidcggcr writcs that what Vagncr wantcd was that thc artwork should bc a ccl
cbration ol national community . . . should bc the rcligion ol thc pcoplc. 8ut, hc continucs,
Vagncrs attcmpt had to lail. For hc madc music, and, in particular, a kind ol music that
launchcs us into shccr indctcrminacy, total dissolution, shccr lccling prccmincnt, whcrcas
(to rcpcat thc quotation) only grcat poctry and thought in short, words (assistcd, pcr
haps, by action) can crcatc a solidly groundcd and articulatcd position in thc midst ol
Tis misscs thc point, sincc by thc timc Vagncr camc to allow dissolving or, in
his own languagc, scaollccling music to dominatc his works, hc had, in rcality, givcn up
on thc national community, togcthcr with all things worldly.
8ut Hcidcggcr can bc cxcuscd, sincc Vagncr himscll ncvcr propcrly rcsolvcd thc incon
sistcncy bctwccn his carlicr and latcr positions. !n thc 8ccthovcn cssay, writtcn sixtccn
ycars altcr his Schopcnhaucrian turn, hc still spcaks ol thc rcdcmption of modcrn civil
as a task lor thc Gcrman spirit,
and in n Statc and Rcligion, mixcd in
with thc idca ol thc king as a rolc modcl ol thc rcligious turn to othcrworldlincss, is
thc idca, prcscrvcd unmodicd lrom thc socialism ol thc +8os, ol thc king as thc pro
tcctor ol thc dcprivcd classcs and ol univcrsal human intcrcsts as such thc bcst pro
tcctor bccausc hc is abovc thc clash ol powcrlul vcstcd intcrcsts, thc naturc ol daytoday
Morcovcr, Vagncr continucs to cclcbratc thc crcation ol national community

Tc lull titlc ol Nictzschcs book is Te Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music. Spirit ol music
indicatcd thc dcpth ol thc works dcbt to Vagncr sincc it was coincd in thc lattcrs Beetho.en cssay
which had prcccdcd it into print by two ycars.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
through art in Mastersingers, anothcr wholly postSchopcnhaucrian work. And thc wholc
8ayrcuth projcct that was thc obscssion ol thc last dccadcs ol his lilc was an attcmpt to
crcatc, as hc cxplaincd on thc occasion ol thc laying ol thc loundation stonc in +8:, a
Gcrman national thcatrc.

Nictzschcs rst attcmpt to havc Te Birth appcar in print consistcd in a lcttcr to thc Lcipzig
publishcr Vilhclm ngclmann. (Tc attcmpt was unsucccsslul, thc book cvcntually nd
ing a homc with rnst Fritzsch, thc Lcipzig publishcr ol many ol Vagncrs own thco
rctical writings.) Tc lcttcr says that although thc work has somcthing ncw to ocr Grcck
philology (what Nictzschc was supposed to bc doing as a prolcssor ol Grcck) its rcal task
is to clucidatc thc strangc puzzlc |or riddlc F atsel| ol our timcs, Richard Vagncr in his
rclation to Grcck tragcdy. Hc gocs on to say that thc work bcars on issucs rcccntly aircd
by duard Hanslick (Vagncrs opponcnt) and should thcrclorc bc ol considcrablc intcrcst
to thc musical world and to thc thinking public in gcncral.

Vc nccd not, ! think, takc

rcal task too scriously. Troughout his lilc Vagncr continucd to bc a hot topic, so that
Nictzschcs books, as hc kncw, always lound a publishcr morc casily whcn hc could strcss a
Vagncrian conncxion. Noncthclcss thc lcttcr docs, ! think, indicatc that at lcast one impor
tant clcmcnt in Te Birth will bc thc rcsolution ol somc puzzlc conccrning Vagncrs rcla
tion to Grcck tragcdy.
!t is by now, ! think, plain as a pikcsta what it is that constitutcs thc puzzlc in qucs
tion: it is thc apparcnt contradiction bctwccn Vagncrs prc and postSchopcnhaucrian
conccptions ol thc artwork. Tis, as wc shall scc, is idcnticd in Te !agner Case ol +888
as thc lundamcntal rcvcrsal in both Vagncrs thcory and his practicc.

r pcrhaps, givcn
Vagncrs rctcntion ol many ol his carlicr idcas in his latcr thought, onc should spcak not
diachronically about carly and latc Vagncr but rathcr synchronically about a split pcr
sonality, about thc contradiction bctwccn thc socialist Vagncr and thc Schopcnhaucrian
Vagncr. Vhat wc can cxpcct, thcrclorc, is that, inter alia, Te Birth, to which ! now turn,
will providc a rcsolution ol this apparcnt contradiction.
Te Wisdom of Silenus
he Birth of Tragedy was writtcn, ! havc cmphasiscd, undcr thc inucncc ol Richard
Vagncr. 8ut it was also writtcn undcr thc cqually powcrlul inucncc ol, as Nictzschc
calls him, Vagncrs brothcr in spirit,
Arthur Schopcnhaucr. Vhilc dcdicatcd to Vagncr,
thc work is also writtcn, as hc puts it at onc placc, in |Schopcnhaucrs| spirit and to his

Tis lattcr allcgiancc cntails two crucial commitmcnts. First, in company with
(thc latcr) Vagncr, Te Birth subscribcs to Schopcnhaucrs idcalism: thc cvcryday world, thc
world ol, in Schopcnhaucrs phrasc, thc principium indi.iduationis, thc world ol individu
ality and plurality, ol things, is mcrc appcarancc, ultimatcly, as wc saw, just a drcam. And
sccond, again with Vagncr, it subscribcs to Schopcnhaucrs pcssimism. Lilc, ultimatcly, is
not worth living, sincc its dominant charactcr is sucring.
!nucnccd by Vagncr, ! think, Nictzschc connccts pcssimism with individuality in a
morc cxplicit manncr than docs Schopcnhaucr. !ndividuality, hc writcs, thc cursc ol
individuality, is thc primal causc ol all sucring.
Sucring is thus a structural lcaturc ol
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

lilc as a human individual. As individuals, wc arc rst ol all condcmncd to dcath in contra
diction to thc human csscncc, which is, in Schopcnhaucrs phrasc, thc will to livc. Nictz
schc calls this thc absurdity, thc tragic yct comic charactcr ol human cxistcncc:

bubblc ol a lilc wc blow up will incvitably bc puncturcd by timc and dcath. And sccond, as
individuals sharing thc world with a plurality ol othcr individuals, wc arc condcmncd in
part lor arwins kind ol rcasons to disharmony, to conict, and pain. Pain and absurdity
add up to what Nictzschc calls thc nauscous charactcr ol cxistcncc.
Albcrt Camus said, to rcpcat, that thc only scrious problcm ol philosophy is thc qucs
tion ol suicidc, thc qucstion ol whcthcr or not lilc is worth living. NictzschcanVagncrian
Schopcnhaucrian pcssimismholds that it is not. Noncthclcss, Nictzschc would say, Camuss
cquation is a mislcading onc sincc, lor us, suicidc is not an option. Tc nonrational but incs
capablc (biologically programmcd) will to livc thc abhorrcncc ol dcath as thc summum
malum mcans that (with only thc vcry occasional, biologically mallunctioning cxccption)
wc will choosc cxistcncc at any pricc ovcr noncxistcncc.
Vc havc no option but to livc.
Tis translorms thc problcm. Tc rclcvant qucstion is not whcthcr or not lilc is worth living
but rathcr, givcn that wc must livc, how to makc it bcarablc, how to makc thc bcst ol a bad
job. Tis is whcrc Grcccc, and in particular Grcck art, bccomcs rclcvant.
Tc Grccks, Nictzschc suggcsts, wcrc rcally Schopcnhaucrians. Tcir cxquisitc scnsi
tivity to thc tcrrors and horrors ol human lilc is capturcd in thcir myths, in thc latc ol
cdipus, thc wiscst man on carth condcmncd unknowingly to murdcr his lathcr and slccp
with his mothcr, ol Promcthcus, condcmncd on account ol his lovc ol man to havc an caglc
lccd on his livcr through all ctcrnity, but most dircctly in thc wisdom ol Silcnus. Capturcd
by King Midas and lorccd to divulgc his wisdom, thc companion ol ionysus dcclarcs with
a scornlul cacklc,
whocvcr is man can ncvcr achicvc thc most tobcdcsircd, can havc no part ol thc bcst.
For mankind, lor man and womcn, collcctivcly and scparatcly, thc most prclcrablc would
bc ncvcr to havc bccn born. Tc ncxt bcst, howcvcr having bccn born would bc to dic
!n spitc ol such knowlcdgc, howcvcr, thc Grccks survivcd and thrivcd: though massivcly
outnumbcrcd, thcy dclcatcd ariuss Pcrsians and, en passant, as it wcrc, crcatcd Vcstcrn
civilization and brought it to a grcatncss ncvcr sincc matchcd.
How did thcy managc this: How did thcy managc to conqucr thc nauscous charactcr ol
lilc: Trough, Nictzschc asscrts, thcir art. Tis is whcrc thcy bccomc rclcvant to us: alrcady
in Lcipzig, as wc havc sccn, rcjccting thc blinkcrcd prolcssionalism that trcatcd philology
as an cnd in itscll, Nictzschc had adoptcd thc vicw that thc only scrious point ol studying
history, and in particular ancicnt history, is to usc it as a polishcd mirror in which to vicw
Vc want to lcarn about Grcck art bccausc, through a rcbirth ol thc Grcck
artwork, wc can hopc to ovcrcomc our own nausca.
Nictzschc analyscs Grcck art in tcrms ol a cclcbratcd duality which, as notcd, was prob
ably inspircd by thc lavouritc poct ol his schooldays, Fricdrich H oldcrlin (scc p. : abovc):
thc duality bctwccn thc Apollonian and thc ionysian. Hc distinguishcs two principal
typcs ol Grcck art, thc Apollonian art ol, abovc all, Homcr, and thc ionysian art ol Grcck
tragcdy, ol Acschylus and Sophoclcs. ! shall discuss thcsc in turn.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Homers Art

nc ol thc conlusing things about Te Birth is that it uscs Apollonian in two scnscs.
!n thc rst it just mcans thc cvcryday world, thc world govcrncd by Schopcnhaucrs
principium indi.iduationis. Sincc Apollo is thc god ol thc boundarydrawing that crcatcs
individuality (as wcll as justicc),
thc cvcryday world is Apollonian simply in virtuc ol
bcing a world ol individual things. !n tcrms ol thc capacitics ol thc human mind which
gcncratc that world, thc Apollonian is thc domain ol thc conccptual, thc linguistic, thc
rational (ol thc lclt hcmisphcrc, in tcrms ol popular ncurology).
!n thc sccond scnsc, Apollonian rclcrs to this world raiscd to a statc ol glory in Homcric
art, its pcrlcction, apothcosis, transguration.
Vhcrcas Christian art crccts a non and
indccd antihuman idcal nonc ol us can havc a virgin birth or cscapc scxual lust Apol
lonian art, in its portrait ol gods and hcrocs, docs cxactly thc oppositc. !t dcics cvcrything
|human|, whcthcr good or cvil.
!t was a radiant portrait ol themsel.es thc Grccks construc
tcd in Apollonian art, thc idcal imagc ol thcir own cxistcncc. Tus, concludcs Nictzschc
making cxplicit that Homcric art is a rcligion, a rcligion ol lilc not ol duty or asccticism

do thc gods justily thc lilc ol man by living it thcmsclvcs thc only satislying thcodicy!
!n this way thc Grccks ol thc cighth ccntury ovcrcamc . . . or at any ratc vcilcd thc tcrrors
and horrors ol cxistcncc, scduccd thcmsclvcs into continucd cxistcncc. xistcncc undcr
thc bright sunshinc ol such gods is rcgardcd as dcsirablc in itscll .
Vhat cxactly is thc charactcr ol this transguration ol human lilc: Frcqucntly Nictzschc
spcaks ol illusions and lics,
conjuring up thc idca ol lalsication, ol scntimcntalisation,
a vicw ol lilc with thc unplcasant bits covcrcd ovcr. !n lact, though, this cannot bc his vicw,
rst bccausc Homcrs storics arc .ar storics, packcd with dangcr, dcath, and dcstruction,
and sccond bccausc, as hc cxplicitly says, in Homcr all things whcthcr good or e.il arc
So concealing thc tcrrors and horrors ol lilc cannot bc thc intcndcd account ol
Nictzschc spcaks ol Apollonian art as translorm|ing| thc most tcrriblc things by joy
in mcrc appcarancc and rcdcmption through mcrc appcarancc.
And hc spcaks ol thc
Apollonian artist as onc who unlikc thc scicntist, who always wants to uncovcr, to gct
to thc bottom ol things cling|s| with rapt gazc on what rcmains cvcn altcr such uncov
vcn altcr thc uncovcring ol unplcasant truth, thc Apollonian artist takcs dclight
in thc bcautilul, dclight in bcautilul lorms.

Tis suggcsts that thc art ol thc Homcric cpic and thc corrcsponding attitudc to lilc
is a mattcr ol, not climination, but rathcr locus. !t suggcsts an attitudc in which onc is
inclincd to dcscribc lilc as tcrriblc but magniccnt. !n Ucccllos Battle of San Fomano,
lor cxamplc, thc ground is littcrcd with bodics and body parts. 8ut what capturcs oncs
attcntion is thc magniccncc ol thc horscs, thc athlcticism ol thc combatants, thc shccn
on thc armour and thc proud uttcr ol thc pcnnants strcaming in thc brcczc. (Tis is an
appositc comparison sincc Nictzschc comparcs human cxistcncc to that ol soldicrs in an
oil painting ol a battlc sccnc.)

Vcrc onc to look lor a modcrn instancc ol Apollonian art,

what might comc to mind is thc Vcstcrn: dcath and dcstruction arc all about, but what onc
locuscs on is thc cool couragc and thc shccr stylc ol its hcrocs. n a morc dcbascd lcvcl, thc
samc phcnomcnon is cxhibitcd by thc womcns magazinc. Tcrriblc things drunkcnncss,
discasc, divorcc, and dcath happcn to its gods and goddcsscs (minor royals, lm stars,
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

rock musicians, and lootball playcrs), but through it all thc glamour rcmains, thcir stardom
shincs on.

Tc Apollonian outlook on lilc in thc Prclacc to Te Gay Science Nictzschc calls it bcing
supcrcial out of profundity rcquircs a strongly cxtcrnal approach to both othcrs and
oursclvcs. !t rcquircs that dcath bc, as it is in thc Vcstcrn, bloodlcss and painlcss. !t rcquircs
a kind ol inncr anacsthcsia. Tis, ! think, is why Nictzschc associatcs it with illusion: it
rcprcscnts, as it wcrc, a thrccdimcnsional objcct as twodimcnsional. Tough thcrc is no
ccnsorship ol facts thcrc is ccnsorship ccnsorship ol perspecti.es. Subjcctivity, thc inncr
pcrspcctivc, how it lccls to bc on thc inside ol loss, injury and mortality, is not allowcd to bc
shown. 8ut thc Grccks kne. about thc insidc ol things. Tcy had an cxquisitc scnsitivity
to thc tcrror and horror ol cxistcncc. Tis is why Nictzschc calls thc Apollonian attitudc
(in an cntircly nonjudgmcntal way) a lic. !t is a lorm ol sclldcccption.
Tis makc thc Apollonian outlook sccma somcwhat lragilc prophylactic

against nihil
ism, against nausca and dcspair. Tc pain ol things has a way ol lorcing itscll on onc,
no mattcr how supcrcially onc livcs. nc thinks, pcrhaps, ol thc tragic imprisonmcnt,
dccay, and dcath ol thc brilliant scar Vildc, Nictzschcs contcmporary and in many ways
somconc who attcmptcd to pcrsonily thc Apollonian stancc. r onc thinks ol thc impossi
bility ol maintaining such a stancc in thc lacc ol thc dcath ol oncs child. r ol oncs own
dcath. r, in Nictzschcs casc, approaching madncss.
!t is on account ol this lragility, ! think, that, whilc thc Apollonian solution to nausca and
nihilism rcccivcs honourablc mcntion, Nictzschcs prclcrcncc is lor thc ionysian solution
that is cmbodicd in Grcck tragcdy, a solution which hc dcscribcs as thc morc prolound
thc two. Vith Grcck tragcdy, hc says, art attains thc highcst goal . . . ol all art,

is, that is
to say, ol thc highcst scrvicc to lilc.
Greek Tragedy
ictzschcs kcy tcrm lor thc Apollonian is drcam. Tis word docs triplc duty, indicat
ing, rst, that Apollonian consciousncss dcals in imagcs, sccond, that its world ol thc
principium indi.iduation is mctaphysically idcal, a mere drcam, and, third, that in Apollo
nian art this world has bccn raiscd to a statc ol bcauty. !t scrvcs thc last lunction bccausc,
lor Nictzschc, thc csscncc ol thc classical idcal ol bcauty is cconomy ol csscntial lorm
and bccausc in our drcams . . . all lorms spcak to us, nothing is supcruous or unncccs

!rrclcvant dctails such as thc liccnccplatc numbcr ol thc articulatcd truck bcaring
down on us arc simply omittcd by thc artistry ol drcams.
n thc surlacc, thc tragic art ol thc lth ccntury is no dicrcnt in kind lromthc Homcric
art ol thc cighth. Tc samc cast ol gods and hcrocs appcar in both. Vhat is dicrcnt,
howcvcr, is that bcncath thc bcautilul surlacc ol thc Apollonian drcam
common to both,
tragcdy posscsscs a ionysian dcpth unknown to Homcr.
Vhcrcas drcam stands lor thc Apollonian, Nictzschcs word lor thc ionysian is Fausch:
intoxication (ionysus, 8acchus, is ol coursc thc god ol winc) or, bcttcr, ccstasy, a standing
out ol oncscll |ex-stasis|, out ol cvcryday consciousncss.
!n Schopcnhaucrian tcrms, thc
ionysian statc is onc in which onc ovcrcomcs thc principium indi.iduationis, thc illusion

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
ol individuality and plurality, to rcalisc, intuitivcly, oncs idcntity with thc onc truc bcing
which cvcrything is. !n ionysian ccstasy, prcscrvcd in thc mcdicval carnivals ol St. John
and St, \itus,
in 8ccthovcns jubilant dc to Joy (and still, to somc dcgrcc, in thc
modcrn rock conccrt and lootball stadium),
not only is thc bond bctwccn human bcings rcncwcd . . . but naturc, alicnatcd, inimical,
or subjugatcd, cclcbratcs oncc morc hcr lcstival ol rcconciliation with hcr lost son, man
kind. Frccly thc carth ocrs up hcr gilts, and thc bcasts ol prcy lrom mountain and dcscrt
approach in pcacc. Tc chariot ol ionysus is ladcn with owcrs and wrcaths, bcncath
its yokc stridc panthcr and tigcr . . . Now all thc rigid, hostilc barricrs which |Apollonian|
ncccssity, capricc or impudcnt lashion
havc cstablishcd bctwccn man and man brcak
asundcr. Now, hcaring this gospcl ol univcrsal harmony, cach pcrson lccls himscll to bc not
simply unitcd, rcconcilcd or mcrgcd with his ncighbour, but quitc litcrally onc with him, as
il |in Schopcnhaucrs languagc| thc vcil ol Maya had bccn torn apart, so that mcrc shrcds
ol it uttcr bclorc thc mystcrious primordial unity. Singing and dancing, man cxprcsscs his
scnsc ol bclonging to a highcr community, has lorgottcn how to walk and talk . . .
!n tcrms ol thc capacitics ol thc human mind, thc ionysian is that which transccnds con
ccpts, which cannot propcrly bc articulatcd in languagc. And in acsthctic tcrms it is music,
morc cxactly dithyrambic music, music which, likc Vagncrs, dissolvcs cvcrything into a
sca ol lccling. !n thc tcrminology Vagncr uscs, ionysian music is sublimc rathcr than
bcautilul (p. +:+ abovc). !t is music which abolishcs thc illusion ol division and absorbs us
into thc unitary hcart ol bcing.
Tc origin ol Grcck tragcdy, Nictzschc argucs, lay in thc ionysian lcstival,

in thc dithy
rambic chanting ol hymns in honour ol ionysus. Latcr on, actors and action wcrc addcd
to thc chanting thc music gavc birth to thc drama and still latcr a lormal division camc
into bcing bctwccn chorus and audicncc. Yct thc spcctators, in thc grcat pcriod ol Grcck
tragcdy, carrying with thcm thc mcmory that, originally, cvcryonc was part ol a unitary
congrcgation ol worshippcrs, still lclt thcmsclvcs to bc part ol thc chorus: Tc audicncc
ol Attic tragcdy idcnticd itscll with thc chorus on thc orchestra |thc scmicircular arca
in lront ol thc stagc|, so that thcrc was lundamcntally no opposition bctwccn public and
chorus, thc wholc |was| just onc sublimc chorus.
Tis idcntication cnablcs Nictzschc to givc an account ol thc tragic ccct, ol thc sccm
ing paradox ol our dcriving satislaction lrom witncssing thc dcstruction ol gurcs who, in
most ways, rcprcscnt what is ncst and wiscst among us. As mcmbcrs ol thc Grcck audicncc
wc partially cmpathisc with thc hcro in his incxorablc march to dcstruction. 8ut bccausc
our primary idcntication is with thc chorus, wc nd oursclvcs transportcd by its hypnotic
singing into thc ionysian statc. !n this condition wc cxpcricncc, says Nictzschc, a mcta
physical comlort lor thc nauscous charactcr ol human cxistcncc. Tis happcns bccausc thc
world ol individuals bccomcs unrcal lor us,
a gamc ol play in Vagncrs languagc (p. +:o
abovc): individuals, including our own normal sclvcs, bccomc likc soldicrs in a painting ol

Tis, prcsumably, is Te Births contribution to Grcck philology, which thc lcttcr to ngclmann
(p. +: abovc) claims it makcs. !t is an important and gcnuinc contribution still widcly acccptcd by
classical scholars.
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

a battlc sccnc.
!nstcad ol idcntilying with anything in thc world ol appcaranccs, lor a
bricl momcnt, wc bccomc
thc primordial bcing itscll and wc lccl its unboundcd grccd and lust lor bcing: thc strugglc,
thc agony, thc dcstruction ol appcaranccs, all this now sccms to us to bc ncccssary givcn thc
uncountablc cxccss ol lorms ol cxistcncc thrusting and pushing thcmsclvcs into lilc, givcn
thc cxubcrant lcrtility ol thc worldwill
that wc arc. Tis is thc only pcrspcctivc lrom which wc can justily thc nauscous in lilc: only
as acsthctic phcnomcna only, that is, lrom outside thc world ol human individuality
do cxistcncc and thc world appcar justicd. nly lrom this pcrspcctivc can wc apprchcnd
thc ugly and disharmonious (which lrom thc insidc rcndcr human cxistcncc unbcarably
nauscous) as nothing morc than parts ol an artistic gamc which thc primal unity plays
with itscll.
Tis, thcn, is thc solacc brought by thc grcat artwork. For a bricl momcnt ! ovcrcomc
prosaic, cvcryday rcalism and rcalisc thc truth ol Schopcnhaucrian idcalism. Tc absurd
and nauscous charactcr ol lilc and thc world, ! rcalisc, is not my problcm sincc dcath and
pain only cxist in thc cpic movic in which ! am no longcr a participant. Rathcr givcn
my idcntity with thc worldbuilding lorcc that thc dark Hcraclitus comparcd to a child
building sandcastlcs and thcn knocking thcm ovcr again
! am its solc author and spcc
Pain and dcath, ! scc, arc not just parts but rathcr necessary parts ol thc worldmovic
sincc (as Margarct Atwood oncc ruclully obscrvcd) thcrc is no narrativc without conict,
no cncompassing ol thc ncw without dcstruction ol thc old.

Nictzschc obscrvcs that thc ionysian statc is accompanicd by a dwindling ol thc polit
ical instinct, by indicrcncc, cvcn hostility, towards thc statc and thc scnsc ol homc
Tis is why, unlcss it is modicd and controllcd in somc way, thc ccstatic
brooding ol ionysianism lcads a pcoplc . . . along thc |Schopcnhaucrian| road to !ndian
8uddhism, cngcndcrs apathy towards worldly aairs and a 8uddhistic longing lor noth
Statc and homcland, that is to say, arc Apollonian cntitics: thc statc rcquircs
structurc and hicrarchy, homcland rcquircd thc drawing ol a boundary bctwccn homc and
abroad, bctwccn whcrc ! bclong and whcrc thc othcr bcgins. So il ! havc asccndcd to
thc highcr community which comcs lrom thc abolition ol all dicrcncc and division, !
will nd thc idca ol rcturn to thc world ol individuation individuation bcing, rccall, thc
primal causc ol all sucring nauscating:
As soon as cvcryday rcality rccntcrs consciousncss it is lound to bc nauscous: an ascctic,
willdcnying mood is thc product ol this condition. Tc ionysian is sct against thc mcan
ncss and commonncss |ol thc cvcryday| as a highcr ordcr. Tc Grcck now wants absolutc
cscapc lrom this world ol guilt and latc.
. . . !n thc consciousncss that comcs with thc
awaking lrom intoxication, hc sccs cvcrywhcrc thc horror or absurdity ol human cxistcncc,
it nauscatcs him. Now hc undcrstands thc wisdom ol thc lorcst god,
thc wisdom, that is, ol ionysuss intimatc companion, Silcnus.
Tis, ol coursc, is also thc wisdom ol thc latcr Vagncr, thc Vagncr who arms that
my kingdom is not ol this world and longs lor dcath, lor absolutc unconsciousncss, total

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
noncxistcncc (p. ++ abovc). And it is thc potcntial ccct ol Vagncrs latcr musicdramas:
no onc, writcs Nictzschc, could listcn to thc nal act ol Vagncrs dithyrambic Tristan as
absolutc music, purcly as a vast symphonic movcmcnt, without suocating as thcir soul
attcmptcd convulsivcly to sprcad its wings.
(Tc allusion is to Platos Phaedrus, to thc
souls rcgrowing its wings in prcparation lor its upward ight lrom carthly cxilc to its truc
homcland on thc rim ol thc hcavcns.)
8ut ol coursc Tristan is not (quitc) purc music and ncithcr was Grcck tragcdy. Tcy both
contain words and action, thc Apollonian clcmcnt. Tis, says Nictzschc, shiclds us lrom
thc lull lorcc ol thc ionysian ccct, rcstorcs thc almost shattcrcd individual with thc
hcaling balm ol illusion. Vc arc subjcctcd to thc noblc dcccption that thc tragcdy is a
purcly Apollonian aair, that it conccrns nothing but thc latc ol an individual in thc only
world thcrc is, thc world ol individuals. vcn thc playwright succumbs to thc dcccption,
lails to grasp thc dccp mcaning ol his own work. Tc rcsult is that wc rcturn, rubbing our
cycs, to cvcryday lilc strangcly comlortcd yct rclicvcd ol thc burdcn ol undcrstanding thc
naturc ol thc comlort. Rclicvcd ol thc burdcn ol ionysian insight, wc arc ablc, oncc morc,
to act.
Tis is thc truc and prolound mcaning ol Hamlcts paralysis: his insight is that
knowlcdgc kills action, action rcquircs . . . thc vcil ol |Apollonian| illusion.
And, in thc
cnd, this illusion is thc parting gilt ol thc grcat artwork, whcthcr it bc Grcck tragcdy or thc
Vagncrian musicdrama. Likc a lairy godmothcr, Lcthc draws a vcil ol lorgctlulncss ovcr
our momcnt ol worldncgating, rcdcmptivc insight. Vc can carry on, notwithstanding.
Te Role of Myth
hus lar, Nictzschcs analysis appcars to lcavc only a rathcr attcnuatcd rolc to thc
Apollonian clcmcnt in Grcck tragcdy: its solc task sccms to bc to act as a vcil ol illu
sion that cnablcs us to rccovcr lrom ionysian insight. !n thc closing pagcs ol Te Birth,
howcvcr, Nictzschc scts out to corrcct this imprcssion.
Vhcrcas thc music constitutcd thc ionysian clcmcnt in Grcck tragcdy, thc hcart ol
thc Apollonian clcmcnt is thc poctic tcxt, thc words. Spccically, it is thc mythic con
tcnt ol thc work, thc rcligious contcnt Sophoclcs, Nictzschc cmphasiscs, was a rcligious
Closcly cchoing Vagncrs talk ol myth as a condcnsation that is truc lor all
agcs and culturcs (p. ++ abovc), Nictzschc says that thc mythic gurcs ol Grcck tragcdy
arc contractcd imagcs which abbrcviatc appcaranccs. Hc adds that thcy arc human types
rathcr than individuals (thc ccct ol thc actors masks), which cndows thcm with univcrsal
Vhat is thc importancc ol rcligious myth: Again rcpcating Vagncr almost vcrbatim,
Nictzschc says that only a mythic horizon unics a culturc. nly myth providcs it with a
sccurc and sacrcd placc ol origin. Tc imagcs ol myth, hc continucs,
must bc thc unnoticcd but cvcrprcscnt dacmonic guardians undcr whosc tutclagc young
souls grow up and by whosc signs thc grown man intcrprcts his lilc and his strugglcs, cvcn
thc statc knows ol no morc powcrlul unwrittcn laws than thc mythical lundamcnt which
guarantccs its conncction with rcligion and its cmcrgcncc lrom out ol mythic rcprcscnta
Art and !olk |pcoplc|, myth and morality, hc concludcs, arc ncccssarily . . . cntwincd. A
pcoplc is only propcrly a pcoplc il it can imposc a mythic, ctcrnal vicw on its cxpcricncc.
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

Ncithcr a pcoplc nor an individual human bcing can thrivc without thcrc bcing gods ol thc
hcarth to constitutc its mythical homcland.
!n a word, thcn, thc mythic contcnt ol tragcdy articulatcs, in allcgorical lorm, thc cthos
ol a community. !n doing so it is a collcctivc artwork in thc doublc scnsc ol bcing a lcs
tivc rcunication ol thc |individual| Grcck arts
and in thc scnsc ol gathcring thc com
munity, and thcrcby crcating and prcscrving it as community. Vhcrcas thc mystcry plays
ol mcdicval Gcrmany had thc lunction ol allowing thc individual to separate himscll lrom
thc community in privatc mcditation, thc Grccks vicwcd thc ancicnt tragcdics in ordcr to
collcct |sich sammeln| thcmsclvcs.
Solution to the Riddle of Wagners Relation to the Greeks
c arc now in a position to rcturn to Nictzschcs claim in thc lcttcr to ngclmann
(p. +: abovc) that Te Birth providcs a rcsolution ol thc riddlc ol Vagncrs rcla
tion to Grcck tragcdy. Tc cnigma was, lct us rccall, thc apparcnt contradiction bctwccn
Vagncrs carly or socialist conccption ol thc grcat artwork and his latcr or Schopcn
haucrian conccption. According to thc rst, worldimproving, conccption, thc point ol
thc work is to nd a this-.orldly salvation ol humanity through thc rccstablishmcnt ol
(socialistanarchist) community and hcncc ol mcaning in thc livcs ol individuals. And
according to this conccption, too, thc words in Nictzschcs tcrminology, thc Apollonian
clcmcnt in thc artwork havc to bc thc dominant clcmcnt. Tc work, as wc might put it,
has to bc a musicdrama. According to thc sccond, worldrcjccting conccption, howcvcr,
thcrc is no hopc ol thisworldly rcdcmption, so that thc only lunction ol thc artwork is
to intimatc thc cxistcncc ol an other-.orldly rcdcmption. According to this conccption it
is thc musical ionysian clcmcnt in thc artwork that has to bc dominant, thc words,
indccd, thrcatcn to drop out altogcthcr as at bcst irrclcvant and at worsc a distraction. Tc
work has to bc a musicdrama.
nc would think that thc only possiblc rcsolution ol thc Vagncrian contradiction would
bc to abandon cithcr thc carly, Apollonian, or thc latcr, ionysian, thcory ol thc artwork.
Howcvcr, it now bccomcs clcar that Nictzschcs intcllcctually stunning solution to thc
sccming contradiction is to show how thc artwork can bc both Apollonian and ionysian:
how it can both comlort thc individual in thc lacc ol thc nauscous charactcr ol human
cxistcncc and promotc thc ourishing ol community by gathcring it in a cclcbration and
armation ol its lundamcntal undcrstanding ol how human cxistcncc is and ought to bc.
Tough thc mctaphysical comlort brought by ionysian insight brings with it thc threat
ol 8uddhistic ncgation ol thc will, ol Hamlctlikc paralysis, thc noblc dcccption workcd
by Apollonian illusion blocks that path to nihilism and allows thc artwork to carry out
its worldarming work ol communal gathcring. And as lor thc qucstion ol prcccdcncc
bctwccn words and music (thc topic ol an cntirc opcra, Richard Strausss Capriccio) thc
answcr is that ncithcr is supcrior to thc othcr. Sincc words and music pcrlorm dicrcnt,
but cqually vital tasks, thcrc is gcnuinc cquality bctwccn Apollo and ionysus, a gcnuincly
lratcrnal union.
Tis is an intcllcctual tour dc lorcc, a sorting out ol Vagncrs contradictory position lor
which thc lccund but muddlcd composcr ought to havc bccn proloundly gratclul.
can imaginc an cnlightcncd Vagncr rcplying to rcqucsts lor a statcmcnt ol what hc rcally
thought about Grcck tragcdy with ! dont know: ask Nictzschc what ! think. (As a mattcr

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
ol lact Vagncr did say prcciscly this on rcading thc sccond ol thc Untimely Meditations
ol +8: ! am proud and dclightcd to announcc, hc wrotc Nictzschc, that ! nccd to say
nothing morc and can lcavc all lurthcr discussion to you.)
Socrates and the Death of Tragedy

cccntrically, Nictzschc thinks, with Vagncr, that Grcck tragcdy dicd in thc hands ol
uripidcs. vcn morc ccccntrically, hc thinks that thc cmincncc grisc bchind this mur
dcrous act was Socratcs. sscntially, uripidcs did two things. First, by putting thc spcc
tator on thc stagc, in othcr words, by turning tragcdy into a rcprcscntation ol cvcryday lilc,
hc killcd thc univcrsal archctypcs that raiscd it to thc lcvcl ol myth. And sccond, hc killcd
thc chorus. !nucnccd by Socratcss vicw that rcason |is| thc root ol all cnjoymcnt and
crcation, hc was pcrturbcd by thc puzzling dcpth, thc comcts tail ol signicancc, trailcd
altcr thcm by thc charactcrs ol his prcdcccssors, Acschylus and Sophoclcs. Sincc it was thc
mystcrious, dithyrambic chanting ol thc chorus that was thc sourcc ol this incomprchcn
siblc mcaning, hc climinatcd thc chorus. Tis was donc in thc spirit ol acsthctic Socratism,
thc conviction that to bc bcautilul is to bc rational.
Socratism as such Nictzschc idcntics with rcasons joy in unvciling, in gctting bcncath
thc surlacc ol things to uncovcr thcir hiddcn mcchanism. Socratic man (also Alcxandrian
man and thcorctical man) is onc who, likc thc historical Socratcs, has thc impcrturbablc
bclicl that thought, lollowing thc thrcad ol causality, rcachcs down into thc dccpcst abysscs
ol bcing, and that it is capablc, not simply ol undcrstanding cxistcncc, but cvcn ol correcting
Socratismis, in othcr words, thc laith that scicncc togcthcr with its ospring, tcchnol
ogy, has thc capacity to solvc cvcry human problcm. Tis makcs it an optimistic doctrinc
that bclicvcs in thc possibility ol carthly happincss lor all.
!t is thus not dicult to scc
why, lrom thc Socratic point ol vicw, ionysian tragcdy had to go. !t undcrmincs laith in
rcason, thc kcy to human happincss.
Nictzschc makcs two claims about Socratism. First that it is false, an illusion. Tanks
to thc cxtraordinary couragc and wisdom ol Kant and Schopcnhaucr, thanks in othcr
words to mctaphysical idcalisms conncmcnt ol causality to thc drcamworld ol appcar
anccs, wc know that ultimatc rcality is not acccssiblc to, and hcncc not corrcctiblc by, sci
Socratismis thus a lorm ol hubris on account ol which a Socratic culturc is liablc to
catastrophic and totally unanticipatcd traumas as thc childgod smashcs onc ol its sand
castlcs (scc p. +: abovc). Nictzschcs sccond claim is that Socratism is thc way wc, thc
postnlightcnmcnt Vcst, arc now. (So wc might think ol /++ or ol global warming as
just such a trauma.) Modern man is Socratic man. To thcsc claims Nictzschc adds a third:
Socratic culturc is degenerate culturc. How so:
What Is Wrong with Te Way We Are Now?
ictzschc idcntics two things as wrong with modcrn culturc. First, through thc domin
ion ol scicntistic matcrialism and thc conscqucnt loss ol thc ionysian, wc havc lost
that mctaphysical comlort which savcd us lrom bccoming rigid with lcar in thc lacc ol
thc horrors ol individual cxistcncc, in thc lacc, abovc all, ol our incvitablc dcstruction,
Fichard !agner and the Birth of Tc 8irth ol Tragcdy

!n !agner in Bayreuth Nictzschc writcs that thc individual must bc lrccd lrom
thc tcrriblc anxicty which dcath and timc cvokc.
Tis, howcvcr, our postChristian, post
mctaphysical culturc cannot do lor us. !t lollows that a Socratic culturc must bc hauntcd by
anxicty, cvasion, and ultimatcly tcrror, in thc lacc ol dcath.
Tc sccond thing wrong with our Socratic culturc, according to Nictzschc, is that wc
havc lost myth. Modcrn man is mythlcss man.
Tc rcason has to do with thc rolc ol art
in modcrnity.
Myth, wc know, whcthcr in Homcric or tragic art, bclongs to thc Apollonian. Tc ccntral
ccct ol Apollonian art is, wc havc sccn, to transgurc, to glorily, to pcrlcct. 8y using
thc tcchniqucs ol thc tradc highlighting thc attractivc, pushing thc notsoattractivc into
shadc or solt locus, and so lorth it raiscs its gurcs lrom thc mundanc to thc glorious.
!t makcs thcm shine,
thcrcby cndowing thcm with charismatic authority. Tcy bccomc
hcrocs, gurcs wc cstccm and hcncc scck to cmulatc.
Tcy bccomc, in a crudc and not
cntircly accuratc nutshcll, rolc modcls.
!t would bc loolish to dcny that things shinc in modcrnity. ur culturc is lull ol shiny
things, ol gods and hcrocs: Princcss i (as immortal as any ol thc lympians), Madonna,
thc 8cckhams, thc winncr ol thc latcst scar or rcality T\ show, and so on. All ol thcm arc
madc to shinc by Apollonian art (othcrwisc known as thc mcdia). Tc problcm, in lact, is
that too many things shinc in modcrnity, and that thcir shinc rubs o too soon.
Tis is anticipatcd with grcat prcscicncc by Nictzschc. nly by myth, hc writcs, can all
thc cncrgics ol lantasy and Apollonian drcam bc savcd lrom aimlcss mcandcring.
lcss mcandcring sccms to mc prcciscly to capturc thc cklc ickcr ol cclcbrity thc Apollo
nian drcam ol thc prcscnt agc. And what this mcans, lor Nictzschc, is that thc Apollonian
art ol Vcstcrn modcrnity is dcvoid ol mythic contcnt.
Tc important thing to noticc hcrc is that, lor Nictzschc, myth mcans somcthing likc
unicd, comprchcnsivc, and consistcnt myth. For him a myth is somcthing that can con
stitutc thc unity |Einsein| ol !olk and culturc, somcthing that can constitutc thc noblc corc
ol |a| . . . pcoplcs charactcr |!olkscharakter|, somcthing that could count as, lor cxamplc, the
Gcrman myth.
So, lor cxamplc, thc cntirc panoply ol Grcck gods and hcrocs consti
tutcs a single myth, thc cntirc rangc ol Christian divinitics and saints anothcr. Myth lor
Nictzschc mcans, in short, just what it mcans lor Vagncr a vicwin common ol thc csscncc
ol things which constitutcs thc nation itscll (p. ++ abovc). From this point ol vicw thc
problcm with modcrnity is that all wc havc is an incohcrcnt and constantly changing chaos
ol mythfragments, a pandcmonium ol myths . . . thrown into a disordcrly hcap.
Vc livc,
as Zarathustra will put it, in a motlcy town.
Vhat is wrong with thc mythlcss motlcyncss ol modcrnity: !n pointing to thc spc
cic symptoms ol this, Nictzschc dcvclops a cultural criticism which is dccply indcbtcd to
Vagncrs and which pcrsists with rcmarkablc consistcncy throughout his carccr.
Tc rst symptom is loss ol unity. Sincc thc unity ol a community, ol a pcoplc, can only
cxist whcn individuals arc gathcrcd into thc matcrnal womb ol a unicd myth, thcrc is, in
modcrnity, no community, no homcland. !nstcad, all wc havc is a wildcrncss ol thought,

Sounding much likc Sachs at thc vcry cnd ol Mastersingers, Nictzschc calls, in thc closing pagcs ol
Te Birth, lor a rebirth of German myth (8T :, Nictzschcs cmphasis.) As soon as hc had rccovcrcd
lrom his inlatuation with Vagncr, such nationalist scntimcnts disappcar lrom his thought
bccomc, indccd, anathcma to it. Vhat ncvcr disappcars, howcvcr, wc shall scc, is his commitmcnt
to thc vital importancc ol communal myth, supra-national communal myth.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
morals, and action, a homclcss wandcring about.
Modcrn socicty has bccomc thc atom
izcd world ol, in Vagncrs phrasc, absolutc cgoism, with thc only unity bcing thc articial
and opprcssivc onc ol thc statc. As a conscqucncc, communally and so individually, lilc
bccomcs mcaninglcss.
Tc sccond symptomis a grccdy scramblc to grab a placc at thc tablc ol othcrs, thc scarch
lor mcaning in thc supcrmarkct ol lorcign rcligions and culturcs.
nc might think hcrc
not only ol thc thriving astcrnguru busincss but also ol socallcd postmodcrn architcc
turc, thc raiding ol past and alicn stylcs as an cxprcssion ol thc hollowcdout cmptincss ol
our own culturc, which, Nictzschc points out, is not rcally post modcrnity at all.
Tc nal symptom is modcrnitys lcvcrish agitation. Tc loss ol thc ctcrnal, mythical
pcrspcctivc on things, thc loss ol a mcaning ol lilc, lcads to an cnormous growth in worldli
ncss, a lrivolous dcication ol thc prcscnt . . . ol thc hcrc and now.
Tis is what modcrn
Gcrman sociologists call thc Erlebnisgesellschaft thc socicty drivcn by thc lrcnzicd qucst
lor cxpcricnccs, chcap thrills, lor scx, drugs, rock and roll and cxtrcmc sports. !t is thc
socicty dcscribcd by Vagncr as borcd to dcath by plcasurc. Vithout a communal cthos
to givc aspiration and mcaning to oncs lilc, thc only way ol kccping borcdom at bay is thc
lrcnzicd scarch lor chcap thrills. Vhat Nictzschc and Vagncr both havc in mind, ! think, is
Schopcnhaucrs strcssorborcdom obscrvation (p. 8 abovc). Vithout thc (hcalthy) strcss
providcd by an idcntitydcning idcal, onc can only try to prcscrvc oncscll lrom borcdom
through thc cvcrdiminishing rcturns ol cvcr morc cxotic thrills.

!n Te Birth of Tragedy, Nictzschc calls lor thc living ol Grcck history in rcvcrsc.
what hc calls lor is somcthing that will play, in modcrn lilc, thc rolc that was playcd by thc
tragic lcstival in thc livcs ol our radiant lcadcrs, thc Grccks, at thc highcst point ol thcir
Vith Vagncr, thcrclorc, what hc calls lor is thc rcbirth ol Grcck tragcdy in thc
artwork ol thc luturc. Tc ovcrridingly ccntral mcssagc ol Te Birth its raison d ctrc is
thus thc call lor thc birth ol thc 8ayrcuth Fcstival.
War and Aftermath
nv vvvv~v~:ioxs lor Te Birth of Tragedy wcrc intcrruptcd by an cvcnt on thc
worldstagc which produccd prolound and pcrmancnt cccts on Nictzschcs think
ing. Hallway through writing a lcttcr bcgun on July +6, +8o, tclling Rohdc what a
good imprcssion hc had madc on thc Vagncrs during his May visit to Tribschcn, hc hcard
thc ncws:
Hcrc is a lcarlul thundcrclap: thc FrancoGcrman war has bccn dcclarcd and our wholc
thrcadbarc culturc is toppling ovcr with thc tcrriblc dcmon at its throat . . . Vc may alrcady
bc at thc bcginning ol thc cnd. Vhat a wastcland! Vc will nccd monastcrics oncc again.
And wc will bc thc rst brothcrs. Your truc Swiss.
Tis rcvcals somcthing ol Nictzschcs initially conluscd and ambiguous rcsponsc to thc
July + dcclaration ol war. n thc onc hand hc is horricd that uropcan culturc has lailcd
to prcvcnt thc outbrcak ol war, that it is lapsing into barbarism. 8ut onc thc othcr, alrcady
pcrcciving uropc to bc a culturc in nccd ol rcgcncration, hc sccs thc possibility ol cclls ol
rcgcncration monastcrics growing up on thc wastcland lclt by thc pcrhaps clcansing
rc ol war. (Tc monastcry or somctimcs colony lor lrcc spirits will soon bccomc a
major thcmc.) Tat hc signs thc lcttcr Your truc Swiss suggcsts that, taking advantagc ol
Swiss ncutrality, hc plans to sit thc wholc thing out. At virtually thc samc timc, howcvcr, hc
wrotc to his mothcr, Rcally, !m dcprcsscd about bcing a Swiss. !ts about our culturc! And
lor that no sacricc is too grcat! Tis damncd Frcnch tigcr.
And a couplc ol days latcr hc
wrotc Sophic Ritschl that hc lclt ashamcd ol having to rcmain inactivc whcn thc timc had
nally arrivcd lor which his military training had prcparcd him.

At rst, Nictzschc madc no movc to involvc himscll in thc war. !nstcad hc took liza
bcth, who was staying in 8ascl, lor hcr rst visit to Tribschcn, and thcn, on July o, to thc
Madcrancrtal, a wildly romantic vallcy +,oo mctrcs abovc sca lcvcl, whcrc thcy staycd at
thc hotcl Alpcnklub. Hcrc hc wrotc Tc ionysian Vorldvicw

(thc work in which thc

Apollonian/ionysian duality rst comcs to promincncc in his analysis ol Grcck tragcdy).
Staying in thc samc hotcl was a Hamburg landscapc paintcr, Adoll Moscngcl, whom thcy


vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
had alrcady mct cn routc. !ntcnsc convcrsations with Moscngcl, as wcll as ncws ol Gcrman
victorics though with hcavy losscs at Vcisscnburg and V orth, galvaniscd Nictzschc
into cmcrging lrom thc shcltcr ol Swiss ncutrality. n August 8 hc wrotc to his hcad ol
dcpartmcnt, Vilhclm \ischcr, rcqucsting lcavc lrom thc univcrsity in ordcr to lull his
German duty to thc Prussian lathcrland cithcr as a soldicr or as a mcdical ordcrly.

Hc communicatcd his intcntions to Cosima. !n spitc ol hcr Frcnch conncxions shc was
rclatcd through hcr mothcr, Maric dAgoult, to thc Frcnch war ministcr both thc Vagncrs
wcrc passionatc supportcrs ol thc Gcrman causc. Tcy thought, noncthclcss, that pcoplc
ol culturc and intcllcct had bcttcr things to do than to gct shot. Cosima tricd to dissuadc
Nictzschc lrom activc scrvicc, suggcsting that, in thc wcllorganizcd mcdical scrvicc, his
amatcurish corts would bc morc ol a hindrancc than a hclp, and that hc could bcttcr
contributc to thc war cort by scnding a hundrcd cigarcttcs to thc lront.
!n thc cvcnt, thc univcrsity grantcd Nictzschc lcavc ol abscncc but, in vicw ol Swiss
ncutrality, only to act as a mcdical ordcrly. Accordingly, accompanicd by Moscngcl and
lizabcth (who was having troublc gctting back to Gcrmany, most trains having bccn
rcquisitioncd as troop transports), hc madc thc tortuous journcy lromthc Madcrancrtal, via
Lindau on Lakc Constancc, to rlangcn, in 8avaria, whcrc hc arrivcd on August +. ur
ing thc journcy, as lizabcth rcports, thcy had bccn in high spirits and had sung jolly songs,
but sccing thc woundcd all around thcm on thcir arrival, bccamc ashamcd ol thcir prcvious
childish lrivolity.
!n rlangcn Nictzschc undcrwcnt training to bccomc a mcdical ordcrly
in thc Felddiakonie |Ficld Scrvicc|, a lorcrunncr ol thc Rcd Cross.
Te Iranco-Prussian War
hc ocial dcclaration ol war camc lrom thc Frcnch parliamcnt acting on thc instruc
tions ol thc mpcror Napolcon !!! (thc ncphcwol Napolcon 8onapartc, whomNictz
schc had so admircd as a schoolboy (pp. 8 abovc)). Tough thc lormal causc was thc
possiblc acccssion ol a Gcrman candidatc to thc Spanish thronc, thc outbrcak ol war had
to a largc dcgrcc bccn cnginccrcd by 8ismarck. Playing on Frcnch lcar ol rising Prussian
powcr and on Napolcons vanity, hc saw thc war as thc ncccssary mcans ol pcrsuading thc
southcrn Gcrman statcs to join thc North Gcrman Fcdcration in what, at thc conclusion
ol thc war in +8+, bccamc a unitcd Gcrmany, thc Sccond

Gcrman Rcich.
Tough thc war lastcd a barc six months, it was a bloodbath, in many ways a drcss
rchcarsal lor thc horrors ol thc First Vorld Var. n top ol a largc but unknown numbcr
ol civilian casualtics, thcrc wcrc somcthing approaching hall a million military casualtics
dcad or woundcd thrccquartcrs ol thc dcaths, +6,ooo, bcing on thc Frcnch sidc. Tc
Frcnch dcploycd, lor thc rst timc, a machinc gun, thc mitraillesuse, but lar morc dcadly
was thc ncw brccchloading ric, thc chassepot, with twicc thc rangc ol thc Gcrman nccdlc
gun. Tc Gcrmans, on thc othcr hand, had ncw, brccchloading artillcry constructcd out ol
stccl, dccisivcly supcrior to thc Frcnch artillcry. vcn morc importantly, thc Prussians had
compulsory military scrvicc and a population hardcncd into a militarizcd, nationalistic,
and Francophobic wholc by thc Var ol Libcration (lrom Napolcons occupying army) ol

Tc Holy Roman mpirc (which, lamously, was ncithcr holy, nor Roman, nor an cmpirc) was thc
rst. Tc third, ol coursc, was Hitlcr.
!ar and ftermath

+8++, which rcgardcd dying lor thc lathcrland in battlc as a glorious act. Anothcr vital
advantagc was thc cxistcncc ol thc rst pcrmancnt gcncral sta dcvotcd to lulltimc plan
ning lor possiblc and actual warlarc, and in FicldMarshall Hclmuth von Moltkc a military
stratcgist ol gcnius. As hc had against thc Austrians vc ycars carlicr, von Moltkc uscd thc
railways to dcploy troops with a spccd that bcmuscd thc Frcnch.
Vinning a scrics ol battlcs, though oltcn at a scvcrc cost Visscnburg, Spichcrcn,
V orth, MarslaTour, Gravclottc, Mctz thc Gcrmans advanccd through Alsacc and
dccp into Francc, until nally Napolcon surrcndcrcd at Scdan, togcthcr with +o,ooo mcn,
on Scptcmbcr :, +8o. Tc Gcrmans thcn advanccd on Paris, which thcy bcsicgcd lrom
Scptcmbcr + until nally it lcll on January :8, +8+. An armisticc was signcd on that
day, Vilhclm ! ol Prussia having bccn proclaimcd mpcror ol a unitcd Gcrmany tcn days
carlicr. Tis was lollowcd by a pcacc trcaty signcd at \crsaillcs on Fcbruary :8 which, how
cvcr, thc Paris workcrs and homc guard rcluscd to acccpt, scizing control ol thc capital on
March +8 and sctting up thc Paris Communc. Vith tacit Prussian approval, thc Frcnch
army rcconqucrcd Paris and cxccutcd tcns ol thousands ol workcrs and rcvolutionarics in
thc 8loody Vcck ol May :+:8. Tc war rcsultcd in thc ccding ol AlsaccLorrainc to
Gcrmany, lurthcr luclling thc FrancoGcrman bittcrncss that would cxplodc, lortythrcc
ycars latcr, into thc First Vorld Var.
Nietzsches War
ictzschcs mcdical training in rlangcn lastcd tcn days. vcry morning thc trainccs
wcrc taught how to drcss and bandagc wounds, practicing largcly on woundcd mcn
rcturncd lrom thc lront. bviously prcsscd lor timc but nding it ncccssary to rccord his
part in world history, Nictzschc kcpt a lragmcntary diary lor thc pcriod:
Today, Saturday |August :o, +8o| . . . wc just chlorolormcd a Frcnchman lor a plastcr
olParis cast (thc hand is shattcrcd, undcr thc anacsthctic hc callcd out Mon Dieu mon
Dieu je .ien |My God, ! am coming|). 8clorc that a girl ol clcvcn, to savc hcr lcg lrom
amputation. A lcw days carlicr in a housc, a boy with a hugc hcad wound, chlorolormcd,
vcry dicult. Ycstcrday a Prussian dicd in thc hospital, shot in thc lung, today a sccond.
A Prussian, Licbig, in a good statc, hcalthy appctitc, a good nights slccp, but littlc hopc,
armbonc shattcrcd, not possiblc to do a cast.

Lcaving lor thc lront at V orth on August :, Nictzschc, as lizabcth rccords (in hcr char
actcristically saccharinc manncr), was put in chargc ol a mcdical unit as wcll as bcing
cntrustcd with largc sums ol moncy and a wholc host ol pcrsonal mcssagcs, and thus hc had
to nd his way across thc battlcclds lrom |cld| hospital to hospital and lrom ambulancc
to ambulancc, in ordcr to comlort thc woundcd and thc dying, and to takc thc last words
ol larcwcll and rcmcmbrancc lrom dying lips.
n August :8 hc wrotc his mothcr that with this lcttcr comcs a mcmory ol thc lcarlully
dcvastatcd battlccld |ol V orth| covcrcd cvcrywhcrc with indcscribably sad human body
parts and stinking corpscs.


vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
n Scptcmbcr : Nictzschc and Moscngcl, who had bccn togcthcr all this timc, wcrc put
on a hospital train in ArssurMoscllc to accompany thc woundcd to hospital in Karlsruhc.
Sincc thc wcathcr was atrocious thc wagons had to bc kcpt shut thc cntirc journcy. Nictzschc
dcscribcd thc journcy in a lcttcr to Vagncr:
with thcsc thrcc days and thrcc nights
in thc midst ol scriously woundcd mcn, wc rcachcd
thc uttcrmost limits ol our cxcrtions. ! had a ghastly cattlctruck in which lay six scvcrcly
woundcd mcn, and ! was thc only pcrson thcrc to givc thcm thcir lood, to bandagc thcir
wounds and to scc to thcm gcncrally. |To von Gcrsdor hc adds thc dctail that hc had to
attcnd to thcir human nccds.
| All ol thcm had brokcn boncs, many had lour wounds,
and in addition ! obscrvcd that two had hospital gangrcnc. Tat ! was ablc to cndurc this
discascriddcn air, and could cvcn slccp and cat, now sccms to mc quitc miraculous.
Tough hc cndurcd thc journcy, hc did not cmcrgc unscathcd. 8y thc timc thc train arrivcd
in Karlsruhc, hc was lccling vcry ill. Vith diculty hc carricd on to rlangcn, whcrc hc
was conncd to bcd. A doctor diagnoscd scvcrc dyscntcry, togcthcr with diphthcria, both
ol which Nictzschc had obscrvcd in thc cattlctruck.
Moscngcl, hc wrotc von Gcrsdor,
has thc task ol looking altcr mc. And that was no mcan task, givcn thc charactcr ol thc
discascs. Altcr ! had bccn trcatcd lor scvcral days with opium and tannic acid |cncmas|
and silvcr nitratc thc dangcr passcd. Altcr a wcck ! was allowcd to travcl to Naumburg,
but !m still not propcrly rccovcrcd. n top ol all this thc atmosphcrc ol thc cxpcricncc has
surroundcd mc with a gloomy log lor a long timc ! had a plaintivc ringing in thc cars that
wouldnt stop.
Anothcr ccct ol his war scrvicc was that, sincc thc training in rlangcn had givcn him
an clcmcntary knowlcdgc ol drugs, Nictzschc now lclt himscll qualicd to scllprcscribc
which hc did lor thc rcst ol his lilc with, almost ccrtainly, largcly dclctcrious rcsults.
Nictzschc rcmaincd in bcd in thc Hotcl Vallsch (Vhalc) in rlangcn until mid
Scptcmbcr, altcr which hc spcnt a month rccupcrating in his mothcrs housc in Naum
burg, whcrc thc abovc lcttcr was writtcn. n ctobcr :+ hc sct o to rcturn to work in
8ascl, arriving, lrozcn, lor an ovcrnight stop in Franklurt on thc twcntysccond. n thc
twcntythird hc arrivcd in 8ascl, having strugglcd with nausca thc cntirc journcy.
Te Aftermath
hough morc or lcss rccovcrcd physically, Nictzschcs war cxpcricnccs, cvcn though thcy
lastcd barcly a month, togcthcr with his anxictics lor von Gcrsdor (who rcmaincd at
thc lront until thc bittcr cnd) and thc knowlcdgc that sixtccn ol his Plorta contcmporarics
had bccn killcd in battlc,
lclt him psychologically damagcd. To \ischcr hc wrotc that hc
was burying himscll in philological work to try to cscapc thc tcrriblc imagcs cngravcd in
his mcmory, but still sucrcd lromncrvous troublc and suddcn wcakncss.
And lizabcth
rcports that cvcn scvcral ycars latcr, whcn Rohdc (a nonparticipant) complaincd hc had
hcard vcry littlc ol Nictzschcs war cxpcricnccs, my brothcr cjaculatcd painlully: ! cannot
!ar and ftermath

spcak ol such things, it is impossiblc, onc must cndcavour to banish such mcmorics lrom
oncs mind.
Tcrc can bc littlc doubt that thcsc symptoms thc rccurrcncc ol ashback
imagcs long altcr thc cvcnt dcscribc what would now bc diagnoscd as posttraumatic
strcss disordcr.
Tc ccct ol this condition was to producc in Nictzschc a translormation not unlikc that
cxpcricnccd by thc First Vorld Var pocts on both sidcs. As wc saw, Nictzschc had bccn,
throughout his carly manhood, a passionatc Prussian cagcr to scrvc thc Fathcrland on thc
battlccld and il ncccssary dic lor it. Sincc boyhood, morcovcr, war ol any sort had bccn, lor
him as lor Prussian childrcn in gcncral, a glamorous activity, radiant with (in thc languagc
ol Te Birth of Tragedy) Apollonian splcndour. As lizabcth rccords, hc wcnt o to war in
high good spirits. 8ut thc unglamorous rcality ol stinking body parts (a rcality to which hc
was, in lact, morc cxposcd than had hc scrvcd with thc rclativc rcmotcncss ol an artillcry
occr), and thc dcaths ol his schoollcllows, barcly out ol thcir tccns, strippcd away thc
Apollonian glamour by cxposing him in thc most dircct way possiblc to thc tcrrors and
horrors ol lilc. (Tcrc is, onc may suspcct, a biographical basis to Te Births awarcncss ol
thc lragility ol thc Apollonian lic.)
To bc surc, Nictzschc did not bccomc, ovcrnight, a pacist. !n Scptcmbcr +8 hc was
still capablc ol writing Vagncr that thc onc good thing is thc Gcrman soldicr.
As with
most cxpcricnccs, it took Nictzschc a long timc to digcst his war cxpcricnccs, lor thcir lull
cccts to bccomc manilcst. Noncthclcss, thc posttraumatic strcss hc sucrcd in +8o is, in
my judgmcnt, thc dccisivc cvcnt which produccd two lundamcntal changcs in his thought.
Tc rst is an intcnsc locus on thc problcm ol human violcncc that comcs to thc lorc lor thc
rst timc in his postwar writings. And thc sccond is a ncwly critical locus on 8ismarcks
Prussia, thc truc instigator ol thc war.
ictzschc grcw up in a timc ol continual actual or immancnt war. His rst rcsponsc
to thc outbrcak ol thc FrancoPrussian war, as wc havc sccn, was to scc it as a lailurc
ol culturc: thc collapsc ol a thrcadbarc culturc, thc wintcr slccp ol culturc.
Tis makcs
it clcar that whatcvcr cxactly culturc is, il somcthing is to bc worthy ol thc namc it must
contain somc tcchniquc lor dcaling with thc problcm ol violcncc.
As in thc casc ol almost cvcry othcr human problcm, Nictzschc turns to antiquity, and in
particular thc Grccks, lor a solution. Tough hc touchcs upon it in Te Birth of Tragedy, thc
most sustaincd considcration ol thc problcm ol violcncc in his carly philosophy is Homcrs
onc ol thc Fi.e Prefaces to Fi.e Un.ritten Books prcscntcd to Cosima as a
birthday prcscnt on Christmas, +8:. Tough ncvcr publishcd, this is an important work in
which scvcral ol thc kcy thcmcs ol his maturc philosophy bccomc visiblc lor thc rst timc.
Tc humanc, that which clcvatcs humanity abovc thc animals, rcachcd its highcst dcvcl
opmcnt in thc Grccks. Yct at thc samc timc, Nictzschc writcs, thc Grccks had, at thc root
ol thcir naturc, a wanton cruclty, a tigcrlikc plcasurc in dcstruction: Alcxandcrs and
Achillcss habit ol trailing thc bodics ol dclcatcd cncmics bchind thcir chariots is a casc in
point. (Hc is writing, hcrc, in conscious opposition to thc cightccnthccntury portrait ol
thc Grccks as serenely and eortlessly humanc.)

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Tc Grccks, as wc know, arc thc polishcd mirror (pp. 68, +: abovc) in which wc can
vicw oursclvcs. !l thc most humanc ol all spccics ol humanity wcrc not lrcc ol thc dis
position to violcncc, no spccics is. Tc disposition to cruclty, aggrcssion, violcncc (latcr,
Nictzschc will spcak ol thc will to powcr) is innatc to human bcings, hardwircd into
our constitutions. Tcrc can bc, thcrclorc, no qucstion ol eliminating thc disposition to
violcncc. Tc only possibility is that culturc can somchow contain or redirect it. Tis is a
lundamcntal and vcry dicult insight on Nictzschcs part, rcquiring a radical brcak with
traditional uropcan morality. Sincc thc Christian idcal ol sclcss lovc, thc injunction that
onc ought to lovc cvcn oncs cncmics, prcsupposcs that onc can lovc cvcn oncs cncmics,
that in principlc, violcncc can bc climinatcd lrom thc human psychc, Nictzschcs insight
into its incliminability is only acccssiblc to somconc who has abandoncd thc psychological
prcsuppositions ol Christian morality.
Givcn thc rccognition ol thc incliminability ol violcncc, Nictzschc continucs, thc ancicnt
world cxhibitcd thrcc rcsponscs. Tc rst was to dcspair ol human naturc, as did thc lollow
crs ol thc rphic cult: cxposurc to a world ol combat and cruclty lcd to nausca at cxistcncc,
to thc vicwthat a lilc rootcd in such an impulsc was not worth living.
Tc sccond rcsponsc
was to givc thc impulsc lrcc rcin. Tis is what charactcriscd thc barbarian world, in which
thc statutcs ol civiliscd lilc wcrc rcgularly swcpt away by thc witchcs brcw ol scnsuality
and cruclty.
Tc third rcsponsc was that ol thc Grccks. Tc rst important lact about thcm is that
thcy acknowlcdgcd thc impulsc . . . to combat and thc plcasurc ol victory.
Tcir moral
judgmcnts, that is, had a dicrcnt colouration lrom ours: thcrc was nothing sinlul about
aggrcssion and cruclty, no willul contravcntion ol Gods laws, it was just there, a brutc lact
about thc way things arc. n thc othcr hand, thcy rccogniscd that nakcd aggrcssion was
harmlul, though not sinlul, it is, in Nictzschcs latcr languagc, stupid. And so thcir task
was to nd lor it a nondcstructivc, indccd positivcly productivc, lorm ol cxprcssion. Tcir
grcatncss was that thcy succccdcd: thcy lcarnt to purily thc will to violcncc, to translorm
thc tcrriblc into thc noblc, thc damaging into thc usclul.
Tcy did this by lcarning how
to spiritualisc violcncc,
how to nd lor it a surrogatc lorm ol cxprcssion. !n thc languagc
Frcud uscd to dcscribc a notion hc almost ccrtainly took ovcr (without acknowlcdgmcnt)
lrom Nictzschc, thcy lcarnt to sublimatc violcncc.
nc ol thc ways in which thcy did this was through art. Hcncc thcir plcasurc in Homcrs
vicious war storics and latcr on in Grcck tragcdy. Vhcrcas thc ionysian lcstivals ol thc
barbarians turncd into orgics ol scx and violcncc that oltcn includcd human sacricc, in
thc ionysian lcstival ol thc Grccks, thc tragic lcstival, thcy killcd thcir hcrocs not in lilc
but, as Nictzschc would latcr put it, in cgy.
A morc productivc way in which thcy
sublimatcd violcncc, howcvcr, was through compctition.
!n acknowlcdging human lilc as csscntially combat and victory, thc Grccks acknowl
cdgcd it as thc domain ol thc goddcss ris, thc goddcss ol cnvy, troublc and strilc. Tc
Grcck conccpt ol cnvy was, howcvcr, quitc unlikc ours. For thcy acknowlcdgcd, in lact,
t.o goddcsscs a bad ris but also a good onc. 8ad ris crcatcd war (shc startcd thc
Trojan Var by throwing hcr goldcn applc, an objcct ol univcrsal lust, among thc gucsts at
thc wcdding ol Pclcus and Tctis) but, as wc lcarn lrom Hcsiods !orks and Days, Zcus also
crcatcd good ris in ordcr to drivc mcn to work and prospcrity. Tc dicrcncc bctwccn thc
two is that whilc thc dominancc ol bad ris lcads to thc strugglc to thc dcath, good ris
lcads to compctition: as Hcsiod puts it, shc
!ar and ftermath

drivcs cvcn thc unskillcd man to work: and il somconc who lacks propcrty sccs somconc
clsc who is rich, hc likcwisc hurrics o to sow and plant. . . . vcn pottcrs harbour grudgcs
against pottcrs, carpcntcrs against carpcntcrs, bcggars cnvy bcggars and minstrcls cnvy min
As Hcsiod indicatcs, compctition, agon, dominatcd Grcck lilc, Grcck culturc was csscn
tially agonistic and was prizcd as such. ducation was agonistic: striving lor prccmincncc,
sclshncss in modcrn languagc, Nictzschc suggcsts, was cncouragcd as contributing to thc
good ol thc community as a wholc. Tc grcat playwrights ol thc lth ccntury compctcd
with cach othcr, thcy cvcn, Aristotlc rccords with amazcmcnt, compctcd with thc dcad,
abovc all with Homcr. Plato invcntcd thc dialogucs in ordcr to dcmonstratc that hc could
outdo thc Sophists in dialcctical combat. And ol coursc, thc Grccks compctcd with cach
othcr at thc lympic gamcs. Sublimatcd aggrcssion was thus what crcatcd and lucllcd thc
culturc ol thc Grccks.
Tc cnduring lcsson Nictzschc draws lrom his rccctions on thc Grccks is not mcrcly
that it is impossiblc to climinatc thc crucl and violcnt lrom human naturc but also that onc
should not .ish to do so, sincc mans . . . tcrriblc potcntialitics which arc rcgardcd as inhuman
arc . . . in lact thc lruitlul soil lrom which alonc cvcrything humanc, in lcclings, dccds, and
works can grow lorth.
Tc noblc and humanc, Nictzschc will cmphasisc in his maturc
philosophy, is not somcthing injcctcd into thc natural ordcr by a supcrnatural agcncy, but
is, rathcr, a rcdircction by culturc ol thc blond bcast in us. Vc nccd to conscrvc our cvil
potcntialitics lor thc sakc ol thc good.
ltcr his rcturn lrom FrancoPrussian battlccld, Nictzschcs lcttcrs bcgin to cvincc
scntimcnts in stark contrast to thc passionatc Prussianism ol his youth. Hc bcgins to
havc scrious doubts as to whcthcr Prussias cmcrgcncc as thc prccmincnt powcr in contin
cntal uropc is good cithcr lor Prussia or lor uropc. Lct us hopc, hc writcs von Gcrsdor
in Novcmbcr +8o,
that wc dont havc to pay too dcarly lor thc trcmcndous national succcss |in thc war| in an
arca whcrc, in my vicw, no loss at all can bc sustaincd. !n condcncc: ! hold thc Prussia ol
today to bc a highly dangcrous powcr lor culturc. Somctimc in thc luturc ! shall publicly
cxposc thc naturc ol thc cducational systcm.
Vc must, hc adds, bc philosophcrs cnough not to bc carricd away by thc gcncral cuphoria
ol victory.
Tc lollowing month hc dcscribcs thc culturc or as hc prclcrs to call it,
barbarism ol 8ismarcks Prussia as thc cncmy that grows now on thc bloody ground ol
this war. And hc adds that ur battlc stands bclorc us . . . thc bullct that will kill us will
not comc lrom guns and cannons. Tc situation must bc rcdccmcd, hc continucs, by a
ncw spirit in thc scicntic and cthical cducation |Erziehung| ol our nation that is to bc
promotcd by a ncw lorcc in classical studics.
To undcrstand what hc takcs to bc wrong with 8ismarcks Gcrmany, what hc mcans by a
ncw spirit in scicntic and cthical cducation and how hc cnvisagcs such a spirit rcdccming

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Gcrman culturc lrom its quasibarbaric condition, wc nccd to turn to thc scrics ol public
lccturcs on cducation, dclivcrcd bctwccn January and March +8:, in which hc carricd out
his thrcat to cxposc thc naturc ol thc Prussian cducational systcm.
On the Future of Our Educational Institutions
ictzschc dclivcrcd his lccturcs on cducation undcr thc auspiccs ol thc \oluntary Aca
dcmic Association, thc association lormcd, as wc saw, to root thc univcrsity in civic
pridc, cngcndcr productivc intcraction bctwccn town and gown, and allcviatc thc univcr
sitys pcrpctual shortagc ol lunds.
Tc discussion bcgins with a critiquc ol currcnt trcnds in Prussian cducation, which
widcns into a critiquc ol Prussian socicty at largc. !ts locus is thc gymnasium, thc high,
sccondary, or grammar school. Nictzschcs critiquc is conductcd lrom an csscntially con
scrvativc point ol vicw. His gcncral vicw is that Gcrman cducation was sct on thc right path
in thc wondcrlul, dccply thoughtlul, cxciting timcs ol thc Rclormation and carricd lurthcr
along that path in thc timc ol Schillcr and Gocthc,
but that in modcrn Prussia, a drcadlul
pcrvcrsion ol this noblc modcl has takcn placc. (Sincc, as wc saw, Nictzschcs own school
was a Rclormation loundation and was groundcd in thc Vcimar classicism ol Gocthc and
Schillcr, Plorta appcars to bc lunctioning, hcrc, as thc gold standard.)
To undcrstand why Nictzschc takcs thc latcninctccnth ccntury Prussian gymnasium
to bc thc pcrvcrsion ol a noblc idcal, onc nccds to undcrstand that Gcrman cducation
has traditionally dividcd sccondary schools into thc Rcalschulc, dcvotcd to training pcoplc
dcstincd lor thc tradcs and prolcssions, and thc Gymnasium, dcvotcd to thc cducation ol
a small, acadcmically giltcd clitc. To gct thc point ol Nictzschcs critiquc, onc nccds to
think ol a traditional gymnasium as morc likc a modcrn libcral arts collcgc than an Anglo
Saxon high school. Tc tcachcrs did rcscarch, and, as wc saw in thc casc ol Plorta, oltcn
movcd back and lorth bctwccn gymnasium and univcrsity. Tc studcnts usually rcmaincd
at thc gymnasium until thcir ninctccnth or cvcn, as in Nictzschcs casc, twcnticth ycar,
and, by thc timc thcy complctcd thc schoollcaving cxamination, wcrc, in lact, rcady to
bcgin graduatc study. Tat thc gymnasium was so much likc thc modcrn univcrsity givcs
Nictzschcs critiquc a somctimcs startling application to thc lattcr.

Nictzschc idcntics two dcvcloping trcnds in Prussias ncwly ccntralizcd cducational systcm
as ruinous: a broadcning ol cducation and a corrcsponding wcakcning.
ducation, hc
says, has bccomc dcmocratiscd, has bccomc cducation lor thc broad masscs.

Tc con
scqucncc is an cvcrwidcning gap bctwccn thc dcmand lor tcachcrs and thc supply ol thosc
with gcnuinc ability and vocation. Tis has thc wcakcning ccct ol lowcring thc gcncral
lcvcl ol cducation: dumbing down damagcs thc gcnuincly giltcd among both tcachcrs and
studcnts. Sincc likc dclights in likc,

mcdiocrc tcachcrs appoint lurthcr mcdiocrc tcachcrs

and cvcrincrcasing mcdiocrity bccomcs thc charactcr ol thc institution. Tis is nc lor thc
mcdiocrc. Finding a ccrtain harmonious proportion bctwccn thcir abilitics and thc spirit
ol thc institution, thcsc mcdiocrc timcscrvcrs lccl thcmsclvcs justicd.

Tc tcachcr ol
gcnuinc ability, on thc othcr hand, lccls incrcasingly alicnatcd, whilc thc studcnt ol ability
nds thc institution to havc lcss and lcss to ocr.
As to thc causc ol this ruinous condition, Nictzschc rclcrs in part to a prcvailing cthic
in thc population at largc, thc cconomic dogma that dcmands as much knowlcdgc and
!ar and ftermath

cducation as possiblc conscqucntly as much production and dcmand as possiblc con
scqucntly as much happincss as possiblc. (Tc knowlcdgc cconomy!) Tis rcduction ol thc
good lilc to happincss and happincss to moncy makcs thc production ol currcnt human
bcings thosc with uptodatc skills that lcad to thc acquisition ol wcalth both thc goal
ol, and thc motivc lor sccking, cducation.
Morc cmphatically, howcvcr, Nictzschc highlights thc Prussian statc as a causc ol thc
currcnt condition ol cducation. His rccctions on Prussia hc takcs to havc a morc than
parochial signicancc sincc, on account ol its military powcr, Prussia is bcing incrcasingly
admircd and imitatcd by othcr statcs.

Prussia, hc says, has bccomc, in thc jargon ol thc agc, a culturcstatc |Kulturstaat|.
has takcn upon itscll thc tasks ol nancing, dctcrmining thc contcnt, and cxamining thc
cndproduct ol cducation and hcncc thc task ol dctcrmining thc culturc ol socicty in

n thc mass ol its pcoplc it makcs thc dcmand: 8c awakc, bc conscious! 8c

Tc mcans it cmploys to crcatc mass cducation arc to makc gymnasium (and, in
most cascs, univcrsity) cducation thc prcrcquisitc lor admission to good positions in thc
army and thc civil scrvicc. Tis has thc ccct that thc gymnasium comcs to bc sccn as
nothing but a rung on thc laddcr ol honour to socially prcstigious cmploymcnt.
A morc subtlc mcans is thc usc ol Hcgclian philosophy as propaganda particularly
in thc schools thcmsclvcs. Sincc Hcgcl glorics thc statc as (according to Nictzschc) thc
absolutcly complctc cthical organism, it lollows that thc mcaning ol lilc lics in scrvicc to,
in sacricc pcrhaps thc ultimatc sacricc lor thc statc. From this it lollows that thc task
ol cducation is lor cach ol us to nd out thc placc and position whcrc hc can bc ol most
usclul scrvicc to thc statc.
Tc statcs aim is simplc: to achicvc omnipotcncc, in othcr words, total powcr in rclation
to othcr statcs, global dominion. So thc schools, with thc Hcgclian statc culturc propag
atcd within thcm, bccomc thc parallcl ol that othcr Prussian innovation, univcrsal military

Vhat Nictzschc is working towards, hcrc, ! think, is thc conccpt ol thc total soci
cty discusscd in Chaptcr (pp. : abovc): morc spccically that ol thc totally mobilizcd
socicty articulatcd hall a ccntury latcr by Nictzschcs admircr rnst J ungcr a socicty which
is totalitarian in thc scnsc that all aspccts ol social lilc arc drawn into, and govcrncd by, thc
aimol thc statc, which is, csscntially, conqucst and cxpansion through thc cxcrcisc ol powcr.

Nictzschc sccs thc Prussian statc as pcrsonilying thc spirit ol thc ncw, rolling agc, thc
mcchanizcd agc ol dizzying hastc.
Tc mcchanization ol cducation is an aspcct ol thc
mcchanization ol lilc in gcncral. Nictzschcs critiquc ol cducation is addrcsscd to thosc lcw
human bcings who, likc himscll, lccl out ol stcp with thc rolling agc, thosc who still do not
lccl an idolatrous plcasurc in bcing crushcd by its whccls.

!t is addrcsscd to thosc who arc

prcparcd to work towards an altcrnativc modcl ol highcr cducation and thcrcby a rcvival ol
socicty in gcncral. Tis modcl is ocrcd, not as a radical brcak with thc past, but rathcr as
a rccovcry ol thc noblc csscncc ol thc traditional Gcrman conccption ol thc gymnasium.
According to Nictzschcs modcl, thc mission ol thc gymnasium is not cducation towards
bccoming a usclul lunctionary ol thc statc, but rathcr cducation |Erziehung| towards cul
turc |Bildung|.
(Sincc Nictzschc idcntics truc cducation with this lattcr, rcgarding thc

Rolling ol coursc rclcrs to thc railways, still a tcchnological marvcl in thc +8os. To gct a scnsc
ol thcir radical impact on human lilc, it is worth noting that thc proportional incrcasc ol spccd ol
travcl thcy rcprcscntcd was grcatcr than that introduccd by cithcr thc automobilc or thc acroplanc.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
lormcr as mcrc instruction or training, his thcsis can bc cxprcsscd as a tautology: thc
propcr aim ol cducation is cducation.)
Nictzschcs usc ol Bildung is not casy to grasp. Tc cluc is to rcalisc how hcavily indcbtcd
it is to Schopcnhaucrs account ol thc acsthctic statc as an cscapc lromthc will into disintcr
cstcdncss (pp. 8 abovc). First ol all, says Nictzschc, cducation to culturc, truc cducation,
has nothing to do with thc strugglc lor cxistcncc, nothing to do with mcrc brcadwinning:
truc cducation disdains polluting itscll with thc nccding and dcsiring individual. !t aims
rathcr to producc clcvation to what Schopcnhaucr calls thc point ol vicw ol thc purc, will
lcss . . . timclcss subjcct ol knowlcdgc (p. 8 abovc). To this cnd cducation should bc carclul
to prcscrvc thc adolcsccnts natural anity with naturc, sincc in
rccognis|ing| himscll again as il in countlcss dispcrscd rccctions and miragcs in thc col
ourlul whirl ol changing appcaranccs . . . hc will unconsciously havc a lccling lor thc mcta
physical oncncss ol all things in thc grcat likcncss ol naturc, and at thc samc timc calm
himscll in its ctcrnal pcrsistcncc and ncccssity.

Communing with naturc libcratcs onc lrom thc cgoistic

will and clcvatcs onc to thc
ctcrnal point ol vicw that bclongs to Te Births primal unity, an clcvation which has a
calming ccct sincc it allows onc to rcalisc that, as thc primal unity, onc is bcyond timc,
changc, and dcath. 8ut it also raiscs onc to a condition ol knowlcdgc sincc, clcvatcd abovc
thc ux ol lashionablc opinion, onc is lrcc to bccomc thc clcar mirror ol thc ctcrnal and
unchanging csscncc ol things.

Tc capacity lor prolongcd habitation ol this statc is what Schopcnhaucr calls

And so, too, docs Nictzschc. !n his dcscription ol how thc cducation ol gcnius
is to procccd, howcvcr, thc notion acquircs various unSchopcnhaucrian lcaturcs.
Tc aimol cducation towards Bildung, Nictzschc tclls his audicncc, is that ol prcpar|ing|
thc birth ol thc gcnius and thc bcgctting ol his work.
Tc locus ol such cducation is
thc study ol Gcrman languagc and litcraturc but, cvcn morc importantly, that ol classical
antiquity, to which thc Gcrman csscncc stands in a bond which, though crucial, is lull
ol sccrcts and dicult to grasp.
Tc studcnt must bccomc lamiliar with thc mountain
pcaks ol thc truc Gcrman spirit, mcn ol authcntic gcnius such as Gocthc and Vinkcl
mann, and through thcsc high pricsts ol classical cducation bccomc intimatc with Grcck
antiquity itscll, thc right and solc homc ol cducation.

ducation, that is, must rcstorc

us to our Grcck homcland. Tc Hcllcnic, innitcly distant and cncloscd with diamond

must bccomc thc placc ol pilgrimagc lor thc bcst and most giltcd human

Vhat makcs this unSchopcnhaucrian is that whcrcas Schopcnhaucr discusscs gcnius

only in thc contcxt ol art, what Nictzschc is contcmplating hcrc is vcry clcarly moral
dcvclopmcnt as hc calls it in thc lcttcr to von Gcrsdor, an cthical cducation (p. ++
abovc). Nictzschcs aim, that is to say, is that thc rclormcd gymnasium will producc a small
who will combat thc barbarity ol thc prcscnt by bccoming thc instigators and
avant gardc ol a rcgcncration ol culturc in gcncral. 8ut to do that, to instigatc a socictywidc
commitmcnt to thc GcrmanoGrcck contcnt ol thc authcntic Gcrman spirit, thc alumni
ol thc gymnasium must thcmsclvcs burn with a consuming longing lor thc Grcck,

longing to rcalisc thc moral cxccllcnccs ol thc Grccks in thcir own livcs. Tis mcans that
thc study ol antiquity hcrc Nictzschc rcturns to his longharbourcd plans lor a rclorm
!ar and ftermath

ol classical philology is not a mcrcly scicntic cxcrcisc, but is, rathcr, thc acquiring ol
rcvcrcncc lor thc cxcmplary gurcs on whom wc arc to modcl our livcs. As hc puts it in his
notcbooks, Tc Hcllcnic has lor us |in thc truc gymnasium| that status which thc saints
havc lor Catholics.
!n thc truc gymnasium thc Grccks bccomc thc polishcd mirror in
which to vicw oursclvcs not so much as wc are but rathcr as wc aspire to bc.

8ut how cxactly arc thcsc pathndcrs to carry out thcir task ol social rcgcncration: ncc
brought to maturity, what, actually, is thc task ol gcnius: Vhat cxactly, indccd, givcn that
it is not simply a carbon copy ol Schopcnhaucrs conccption, is Nictzschcs conccption ol
!ncscapably conncctcd to thc idca ol gcnius is thc notion ol crcation, origi
nation, originality: thc Grcck origin ol thc word, gignesthai, is conncctcd to thc idca ol giv
ing birth. !n thc cightccnth ccntury thc originality ol gcnius was conccivcd as that which
cscapcs capturc by traditional rulcs. As Kant puts it, gcnius is somcthing lor which no
dcnitc rulc can bc givcn . . . which cannot bc lcarnt by a rulc.

Tcrc arc, howcvcr, two dicrcnt conccptions ol originality and ol thc kind ol rulcs in
qucstion. nc is originality ol expression, thc othcr originality ol content. Alcxandcr Popc
cmphasiscd thc rst, spcaking ol thc works ol gcnius as what olt was thought but nccr
so wcll cxprcsscd. Schopcnhaucr, on thc othcr hand, cmphasiscd thc lattcr. Vhcrcas, hc
says, thc pcrson cndowcd with talcnt thinks morc rapidly and accuratcly than do thc rcst,
thc gcnius, pcrccivcs a dicrcnt world lrom thc onc thcy scc, talcnt is likc thc marksman
who hits a targct which othcrs cannot rcach, gcnius is likc thc marksman who hits a tar
gct . . . othcrs cannot cvcn scc.
Nictzschcs crucial dcparturc lrom Schopcnhaucrs notion
ol gcnius is, it sccms to mc, that at this stagc ol his carccr, at lcast, hc thinks ol thc originality
ol gcnius in tcrms ol cxprcssion rathcr than contcnt.
!n accordancc with thc aristocratic naturc ol thc spirit, thc natural ordcr ol rank, Nictz
schc tclls his audicncc, thc propcr ordcr ol socicty is thc mastcry ol grcat individuals, thc
scrvitudc ol thc mass . . . undcr thc sccptrc ol gcnius.
Tough this is cvidcntly inspircd
by Platos pyramidal Fepublic thc mass ol craltsmcn at thc bottom, thc military and civil
scrvicc in thc middlc, and thc philosophcr king at thc top what Nictzschc is talking about
hcrc is not, in lact, thc statc, but rathcr civil socicty thc !olk |pcoplc|, as hc calls it ol
which thc statc ought to bc thc scrvant. Vhat is important to him is not that thc gcnius
should assumc political lcadcrship ol thc statc but rathcr that hc should providc spiritual
lcadcrship in thc cmpirc ol thc intcllcct,
cultural lcadcrship in thc rcalm ol civil socicty.
8ut just how is this spiritual lcadcrship to opcratc: Nictzschc says (rcpcating Vagncrs
thcsis ol thc !olk as thc truc crcator ol art (p. ++6 abovc)), that thc
highcst and noblcst cultural lorccs . . . burst lorth out ol thc unconsciousncss ol thc pcoplc,
|and| . . . havc thcir mothcrly vocation in thc bcgctting ol gcnius and thcn in thc propcr
cducation and cultivation ol thc samc.
Tc gcnius to whom thc pcoplc givc birth has, thcn, thc task hcrc wc comc to thc express-
i.e conccption ol thc originality ol gcnius ol allowing to stcp into appcarancc, to risc
lorth, thc highcst dcstiny ol a pcoplc . . . in an ctcrnal work, thcrcby anchoring its pcoplc in
thc ctcrnal, and rcdccming it lrom thc changing sphcrc ol thc momcntary,
lrom thc ux
ol lad and lashion. Tc gcnius, that is to say, is to bring about what can indccd bc callcd an

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
cducation ol thc pcoplc. Tis, howcvcr, is somcthing which cannot bc achicvcd dircctly, it
cannot bc achicvcd by, lor cxamplc, thc introduction ol univcrsal compulsory cducation by
thc statc. Rathcr,
thc authcntic, dccpcr rcgions in which thc grcat masscs gcncrally mcct with culturc, rcgions
whcrc thc !olk nourishcs its rcligious instincts, whcrc it lurthcr pocticiscs in its mythical
imagcs, whcrc it kccps up its laith in its customary morality, its right, thc soil ol its homc
land, its languagc,
can only bc rcachcd through thc work ol gcnius, thc task ol which is to articulatc that
customary morality, spiritual homcland in othcr words, to allow thc highcst dcstiny ol
a pcoplc to risc lorth.
Vhat is clcar lrom this is that wc arc back with Grcck tragcdy, with thc collcctivc art
work that collccts thc !olk in clarilying armation ol its lundamcntal cthos. Vhat is clcar
in othcr words, is that thc paradigms ol gcnius arc Sophoclcs and Acschylus and Richard
Vagncr. Tc ultimatc rcason, thcn, that cducation to culturc is important is that only by
giving birth to, and nurturing, thc gcnius and his works can a community rccall itscll lrom
a lallcn and barbarous condition to thosc ctcrnal, but innitcly distant, valucs which
makc it thc community that it is. nly, to spcak spccically to Gcrmans, through thc cul
tivation ol gcnius in thc classicslocusscd gymnasium can wc bc rcstorcd to our Grcck

! should likc to cnd with thrcc commcnts on this pcrhaps not cntircly convincing

Tc rst consists in noting that Nictzschcs call lor a rcturn to an cducation

towards Bildung is, in csscncc, thc call lor a rcturn to thc conccption ol thc humanistic gym
nasium workcd out in thc carly ninctccnth ccntury by thc cclcbratcd gcographcr, linguist,
diplomat and cducationalist Alcxandcr von Humboldt whom Nictzschc ncvcr mcntions.
Tc dicrcncc, howcvcr, is that whcrcas, lor Humboldt, Bildung was an cnd in itscll, thc
csscncc ol bccoming a nc human bcing, lor Nictzschc it is, additionally and ultimatcly
morc importantly, a mattcr ol social utility, ol producing a ourishing community through
spiritual lcadcrship. As hc puts it in his notcbooks, Tc ctcrnal task ol Bildung |is| thc
organization ol an intcllcctual castc that is indcpcndcnt ol church and statc,
such that
cvcry mcmbcr ol this castc will livc and act in thc noblcst strivings ol its !olk or ol man
kind . . . in ordcr to lrcc his pcoplc lrom crookcd paths, with his picturc ol thc idcal bclorc
his cycs.
As wc shall scc, this idca ol thc rcsponsibility ol thc cxccptional pcrson to his
community, his rcsponsibility to bccomc, in onc way or anothcr, a spiritual lcadcr ol thc
pcoplc stays with Nictzschc until thc cnd ol his carccr.
A sccond and rclatcd commcnt consists in drawing attcntion to thc csscntial Prussian
ncss ol Nictzschcs rclorm plans. According to thc Hcgclian philosophy that Nictzschc
rcjccts, thc propcr, mcaninglul lilc lor thc individual consists in commitmcnt and scrvicc
in accordancc with oncs abilitics to thc ultimatc cthical organism, thc statc. Yct hc
himscll thinks in cqually organic tcrms. His idcal socicty, is that is to say, thc orchcstra,

A critical qucstioncr might wondcr why thcrc is such an cxclusivc link bctwccn thc Gcrman and
thc Grcck, why thc JudcoChristian lails to rcccivc a mcntion, and why only artworks count as
works ol gcnius.
!ar and ftermath

an orchcstra dircctcd by a conductor ol gcnius so that cvcry movcmcnt ol cvcry individual
is harmoniously and lrccly coordinatcd with that ol cvcry othcr individual.
!t is in
mcmbcrship ol, and scrvicc to, an orchcstral socicty that thc individual nds a mcaning
lul lilc. Nictzschcs objcction to thc Hcgclian, 8ismarckian, statc is, thcn, in no way an
armation ol thc libcraldcmocratic notion ol thc primacy ol thc individual, ol thc idca
that thc lunction ol thc statc is to crcatc a spacc in which individuals livc thcir own atomic
livcs, uncoordinatcd with thc livcs ol othcrs. Rathcr, his objcction is simply that thc truc
cthical organism is not thc statc but rathcr thc pcoplc and its culturc. Tc statc should not,
hc says, bc thc bordcr guard, rcgulator, or ovcrsccr ol thc pcoplc and its culturc. Rathcr, it
should bc thc robust, muscular comradc, rcady lor battlc, and a companion on thc way, who
givcs thc admircd, noblcr . . . lricnd salc conduct through thc harsh rcalitics.
Prussian Kulturstaat has, thcn, got things prcciscly thc wrong way round. Rathcr than thc
culturc ol civil socicty bcing controllcd by, and subordinatc to, thc aims ol thc statc, thc
statc should bc subordinatc to, an cxprcssion ol, thc cthos ol civil socicty. And this mcans
that thc gcnius, thc articulator ol thc authcntic naturc ol civil socicty and thcrcby its spir
itual lcadcr, is ultimatcly thc supcrior ol thc lcadcr ol thc statc. Vhcn Martin Hcidcggcr
cxplaincd that hc joincd thc Nazi party in ordcr den F uhrer zu f uhren, to lcad thc lcadcr, hc
was in lact tuning in to a long Gcrman tradition conccrning thc rclation bctwccn politics
and culturc, bctwccn thc statc and thc lilc ol thc spirit, to which Nictzschc was an carlicr
Anal commcnt consists in calling attcntion to thc continuity bctwccn Educational Insti-
tutions and Te Birth of Tragedy. Tc lattcr work calls lor thc rcbirth ol thc collcctivc art
work, thc lormcr addrcsscs thc qucstion ol what wc should do to promotc thc birth ol such a
work. Tough at rst glancc Educational Institutions looks to havc movcd on to quitc dicr
cnt tcrritory, thc worldvicw to which it subscribcs is, in lact, idcntical with thc Vagncrian
worldvicw subscribcd to by Te Birth.
Anal Philology
iv:zscnv vv:ivxvb to 8ascl lrom his war scrvicc at thc cnd ol ctobcr, +8o,
in timc to bcgin tcaching lor thc wintcr tcrm. Hc was sucring, as wc saw, not
only lrom thc altcrcccts ol dyscntcry but also lrom posttraumatic strcss. To
thc lormcr hc attributcd continuing digcstivc problcms and stomach achcs, to thc lattcr
wc can probably attributc thc insomnia, cxhaustion, and dcprcssion which aictcd him lor
thc ncxt six months. n top ol cvcrything clsc, hc was sucring lrom hacmorrhoids. Tc
rcsumption ol lccturing convinccd him that thc tcnsion bctwccn prolcssion and calling,
philology and philosophy, was only making his hcalth worsc. Tis movcd him to writc to
Rohdc that hc planncd soon to cxit thc univcrsity complctcly in ordcr to crcatc a ncwGrcck
acadcmy allicd to thc 8ayrcuth causc.
8y thc cnd ol thc ycar, howcvcr, hc had anothcr idca:
hc would apply lor thc rcccntly vacatcd chair ol philosophy, with Rohdc taking ovcr his old
position in philology.
8y Fcbruary +8+ Nictzschcs hcalth was so bad hc was lorccd to takc sick lcavc and
rctrcat, with lizabcth in attcndancc, to thc Hotcl du Parc in Lugarno lor six wccks rccu
pcration. n rcturning to 8ascl hc lound that his application lor thc philosophy chair had
bccn rcjcctcd. Hc claimcd to havc bccn victimiscd on account ol his Schopcnhaucrian allc
gianccs but thc rcjcction was, in lact, lully justicd, sincc hc lackcd not only training in
philosophical mcthod but also a gap hc ncvcr llcd a basic knowlcdgc ol thc history
ol thc subjcct. Apart lrom thc Fhetoric, hc kncw nonc ol Aristotlcs major works, kncw
nothing ol thc mcdicval scholastics, thc contincntal rationalists or thc 8ritish cmpiricists.
And though hc did rcad Kants Critique of Judgment, hc almost ccrtainly kncw thc Critique
of Pure Feason only lrom sccondary sourccs. (!n thc hallpagc summary ol thc history ol
Vcstcrn philosophy in T.ilight of the Idols callcd How thc Truc Vorld 8ccamc a Fablc,
it is notablc that no philosophcr inhabiting thc twomillcnnia gap bctwccn Plato and Kant
rcccivcs a mcntion.) Nictzschc would, thcrclorc, havc bccn quitc incapablc ol mccting thc
tcaching nccds ol a small dcpartmcnt.
8y Scptcmbcr +8+, howcvcr, hc sccms to havc rccovcrcd lrom his dcprcssion and lrom
thc disappointmcnt ol his rcjcctcd application: 8ascl is grcat, hc wrotc von Gcrsdor,
my lricnds likc 8ascl and 8ascl likcs my lricnds.
Tis was thc mood in which, at thc

nal Philology

bcginning ol +8:, hc rcccivcd thc ocr ol a chair at thc Univcrsity ol Grcilswald, situatcd
on thc 8altic coast in northcast Gcrmany. Hc quickly rcjcctcd it, in spitc ol Grcilswalds
proximity to Kicl, whcrc Rohdc had scttlcd as Pri.atdozent, an unpaid lccturcr. 8ut hc also,
with somc cmbarrassmcnt, rcjcctcd thc torchlight proccssion thc 8ascl studcnts proposcd in
honour ol what thcy took to bc his loyalty to thcir city. Hc rcjcctcd thc proccssion bccausc
thc studcnts and thc univcrsity, too, which incrcascd his salary had to somc dcgrcc
mispcrccivcd his motivcs.
To his mothcr hc cxplaincd that onc should not bc looking lor a ncw kind ol happi
ncss whcn onc alrcady had, as hc had in 8ascl, good lricnds and a good rcputation. 8ut hc
addcd that thc rcal ground ol his rcjccting thc ocr was his lack ol ambition lor an acadcmic

Tis was a diplomatic undcrstatcmcnt, sincc hc was again cntcrtaining thc idca ol
abandoning acadcmia and its sccurc incomc complctcly, a stcp hc kncw would appal his
mothcr. His latcst lantasy was that thc still chairlcss Rohdc would succccd him in 8ascl,
lcaving him lrcc to work lulltimc lor thc Vagncr causc. His idca was to bccomc a pcri
patctic lccturcr visiting thc various Vagncr socictics that had sprung up all ovcr Gcrmany,
with thc aim ol raising thc moncy lor thc complction ol thc 8ayrcuth opcra housc. (Tat hc
would only bc prcaching to thc convcrtcd, and that a cashstrappcd projcct would hardly bc
hclpcd by having to pay him a salary, is symptomatic ol Nictzschcs always tcnuous grasp
ol nancial rcality.) Vagncr, as alrcady notcd, rcjcctcd thc ocr, but Nictzschc was still
drcaming about thc doublc coup in April ol +8:.

Tc lact is that Nictzschc was grippcd by ris good ris. Hc wantcd to go to war
war on bchall ol Vagncrian rcgcncration and against thc vandalizcd culturc ol modcrnity.
Te Birth of Tragedy had cxplaincd thc urgcncy ol thc war, now hc wantcd to put his lilc
bchind his words. Tc dcsirc lor cultural warlarc is quitc cxplicit. Rcsponding to thc now
dcmobilizcd von Gcrsdors armation ol his commitmcnt to thc Vagncrian causc, hc
writcs in Novcmbcr +8+,
!ts as though you arc still a soldicr and now strivc to provc your military disposition in thc
cld ol philosophy and art. And thats right: particularly in thcsc timcs, it is only as ghtcrs
wc havc a right to cxist, only as thc advanccd guard ol a coming agc ol whosc outlincs wc
havc, in our bcst momcnts, a dim intimation.

And thcn a couplc ol months latcr,

Vhatcvcr you do, always rcmcmbcr that wc two arc callcd to ght and work in thc vanguard
ol a cultural movcmcnt in which pcrhaps in thc ncxt gcncration, pcrhaps latcr thc
grcat mass will takc part. Tis shall bc our pridc, this shall sticn our sincws. And ! havc,
incidcntally, thc bclicl that wc arc born, not to bc happy, but rathcr to do our duty: and wc
will rcgard oursclvcs as blcsscd il wc know whcrc our duty lics.
And Rohdc, too, hc rcgards as a lcllow warrior, addrcssing him, on various occasions, as
his comradc in arms.
Tc ycar +8: bcgan with thc appcarancc ol Te Birth of Tragedy, Nictzschcs war

on January :. From thcn on, Nictzschc organizcd his lilc as a military cam
paign. Having, as hc wrotc Rohdc, concludcd an alliancc with Vagncr,
hc subordinatcd
cvcrything to his battlc plan. 8ctwccn January and March hc dclivcrcd thc alrcadydiscusscd

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
lccturcs, On the Future of our Educational Institutions, which cvcn thc Vagncrs lound ovcr
donc in thcir stridcnt tonc. !n March hc was invitcd on a trip to Grcccc by thc son ol Fclix
Mcndclssohn. And though hc was awcd and dclightcd by thc conncxion with thc rcvcrcd
composcr who had bccn thc locus ol musical lilc in Lcipzig and a lricnd ol Gustav Krugs
lathcr, hc noncthclcss dcclincd thc invitation lor lcar ol running aloul ol Vagncrs anti
Scmitism. (!t is notablc that thc thoughtlcss antiScmitic rhctoric that somctimcs mars his
carly lcttcrs incrcascs markcdly during thc Tribschcn pcriod.)
!n thc samc month Nictzschc insistcd on Rohdcs prcscncc at thc lcstival cclcbrating thc
laying ol thc loundation stonc ol thc 8ayrcuth opcra housc, thc Fcstival thcatrc |Fcstspicl
haus| (scc Platc +), on May ::, +8:: thc two Vagncrian prolcssors, hc wrotc (thc
prcvious month Rohdc had nally obtaincd a junior prolcssorship in Kicl), must not bc

Tcy both duly attcndcd along with, among othcrs, Gustav Krug, thc lricnd who
had rst inlcctcd Nictzschc with thc Vagncr bug, and thc starrycycd and dctcrmincdly
idcalistic Vagncrian Malwida von Mcyscnbug (scc Platc +6), who would soon bcgin to
play an important rolc in Nictzschcs lilc. Tough thc loundation stonc was laid in pouring
rain thc Grccn Hill abovc thc town must havc bccn a sca ol mud thcrc was a mag
niccnt pcrlormancc ol 8ccthovcns Ninth Symphony in thc Margravcs rococo thcatrc in
thc town with a chorus ol thrcc hundrcd singcrs lor thc last movcmcnt. Cosima notcd in
hcr diary that thc cvcning was quitc magniccnt and (in thc spirit ol Schopcnhaucr) that
cvcryonc lclt lrcc ol thc burdcn ol mortal cxistcncc. Rohdc rcturncd to Kicl lccling that
hc had just said goodbyc to his truc homc, and that it was, morc than cvcr, his duty to add
his wcakcr strcngth to his lricnd and lcllow warrior in this battlc lor thc highcst good.
Rohdes Higher Advertising
rcdictably, thc Vagncrians grcctcd thc appcarancc ol Te Birth of Tragedy (publishcd, as
wc know, by Vagncrs own publishcr, Fritzsch) with high cnthusiasm. Tcrc wcrc lcttcrs
ol warm apprcciation lrom Vagncr himscll, lrom Liszt, and lrom Hans von 8 ulow. 8ut as
lar as thc rcst ol thc world was conccrncd, and, in particular, as lar as thc philological world
was conccrncd (thc work did, altcr all, makc important historical claims about both thc
birth and thc dcath ol Grcck tragcdy), it was grcctcd by an ominous silcncc. Nictzschc had,
howcvcr, brought Te Birth into thc orbit ol his military planning prior to its appcarancc.
Anticipating that thc philologists would do thcir bcst to ignorc it, hc had suggcstcd to
Rohdc at thc cnd ol thc prcvious ycar that hc should pcrsonally takc thc philologists in
hand, pcrhaps in thc lorm ol a lcttcr to thc cditor ol thc Fheinisches Museum or in a|n opcn|
lcttcr to mc. !n bricl, what !m in nccd ol is highcr advcrtising.
Rhodc complicd with
an cxtcndcd rcvicw ol Te Birth. Rcjcctcd by thc Literarisches Zentralblatt, it appcarcd, in a
rcviscd lorm, in thc lcss scholarly, but strongly proVagncr Norddeutsche llgemeine Zeitung,
8crlins lcading daily ncwspapcr, whcrc it could not but crcatc a stir. Rohdc had hopcd his
rcvicw would appcar bclorc thc loundationstonc lcstival, but in thc cvcnt it appcarcd lour
days latcr, on May :6.
Rohdcs rcvicw was an act ol gcnuinc couragc. ccupying only a junior position in
thc acadcmic hicrarchy, hc riskcd irrcparablc harm to his rcputation and carccr through
alicnation ol thc philological cstablishmcnt. (Fortunatcly thc damagc turncd out to bc
only tcmporary.) !n thc rcvicw, Rohdc idcntics Nictzschc as, likc himscll, a disciplc ol
nal Philology

Schopcnhaucr and as a prophct ol thc ncw music. Schopcnhaucr, hc argucs, is signi
cant as thc pcrson who nally ovcrcamc Christian mctaphysics, Vagncr as thc pcrson who
ovcrcamc thc classical tradition in art. From this ncw, modcrn standpoint, Nictzschc, hc
suggcsts, ocrs a radically ncwintcrprctation ol thc Grccks in which thc prcvious scicntic,
valuclrcc conccption ol philological mcthod plays a much rcduccd rolc. Sidcstcpping thc
issuc ol whcthcr or not onc should bc cntitlcd to cxpcct a scicntic work lrom a prolcssor
ol philology, Rohdc calls Nictzschcs approach a philosophicalartistic modc ol obscrva
tion that providcs a much nccdcd corrcctivc to Hcgclian, scicntic optimism. Socratism,
thc ovcrvaluing ol rcason and scicncc, hc continucs, dcstroycd Grcck mythology and con
stitutcs our grcatcst dangcr in thc prcscnt agc, lor how can a sovcrcign logic which, in
its chccrlul scllcondcncc, must rcgard thc rcsolving ol all worldriddlcs as in principlc
attainablc, havc any placc lclt lor art savc that ol a charming divcrsion lor thosc hours whcn
wc arc cxhaustcd by thc work ol abstract thought: Scicncc had indccd madc grcat progrcss,
so it is no wondcr that it is gradually dcclaring all rcgions ol thc carth and thc human mind
to bc its posscssion. 8ut such arrogancc is dcadly. Humanity has an csscntial nccd lor myth.
Tc old myths arc indccd dcad. 8ut Rohdc concludcs on an optimistic notc in noblc
art thcrc still livcs thc ability, in mythical rcrccction, to placc thc hiddcn lcaturcs ol thc
grcat worldgoddcss |Gaia, prcsumably| bclorc thc cnchantcd cyc.
Wilamowitzs Counterblast
hough Cosima would havc prclcrrcd Rohdcs rcvicw to havc bccn morc acccssiblc to
thc gcncral public, Nictzschc thought it tcrric. Fricnd, lricnd, what an achicvcmcnt!
hc cnthuscd thc ncxt day, cnding his tcstostcroncllcd lcttcr with ght, ght, ght! ! nccd
And hc askcd Fritzsch to makc lty copics, and had him scnd a copy to his hcad ol
dcpartmcnt, \ischcr without inlorming thc lattcr that its author, Prol. Rohdc in Kicl,
was his bcst lricnd! Four days latcr, howcvcr, a quitc dicrcnt vicwol Te Birth appcarcd in a
pamphlct lull ol vicious invcctivc cntitlcd Philology ol thc Futurc a Rcjoindcr a pun on
Vagncrs music ol thc luturc. Tc author was onc Ulrich von VilamowitzM ollcndor,
r. phil.
Vilamowitz who cvcntually bccamc, and rcmains, a giant ol classical studics and, in
latcr lilc, rcgrcttcd his pamphlct was also a Plorta alumnus. Nictzschc, though hc was lour
ycars oldcr, kncw him slightly. (rdmann von VilamowitzM ollcndor, Ulrichs grcat
grandncphcw ironically, thc custodian ol thc collcction ol Nictzschcs pcrsonal library
in thc Anna Amalia Library in Vcimar glcclully claimcd to mc in convcrsation that
his grcatgrandunclcs animus towards Nictzschc bcgan at school whcrc Nictzschc, thcn a
prclcct, had rcportcd him lor smoking, and had bccn cxaccrbatcd whcn his marks in thc
schoollcaving cxam lailcd quitc to match up to Nictzschcs stcllar pcrlormancc.) Vilam
owitz, who had yct to nd an acadcmic position, was a young, aggrcssivc, and giltcd man
on thc makc. Vhcthcr or not it cntcrcd into his conscious calculations, it was obviously in
his intcrcst to prcscnt himscll as thc champion ol thc cstablishmcnt vicws in thc world ol
Grcck philology.
Vilamowitz bcgins his rcvicw by saying (with an unmistakablc snccr) that with
Nictzschc thc mctaphysician, thc |Vagncrian| apostlc, and ionysian prophct hc will
havc nothing to do. 8ut sincc thc author ol Te Birth is also a prolcssor ol classical

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
philology Nictzschc prcscnts himscll as Full Prolcssor ol Classical Philology at thc Uni
vcrsity ol 8ascl on thc titlc pagc it is incumbcnt on him to satisly at lcast minimal pro
lcssional standards. 8ut hc docs not do so. His worldshaking ncw intcrprctations ol thc
tcxts ol Archilochus, uripidcs, ct al. arc products ol ignorancc and a lack ol intcllcctual
intcgrity. Nictzschc lacks thc scicntic objcctivity to undcrstand thc Grcck tcxts in rclation
to thcir historical situation, and givcs thcm ridiculous intcrprctations in ordcr to producc
VagncrianSchopcnhaucrian propaganda. Hc is ignorant ol Vinkclmanns

work, ol thc archacological cvidcncc, and is wildly wrong in thc assigning ol datcs. (Hc
rclcrs, hcrc, to Nictzschcs bad rcsults in mathcmatics in his schoollcaving cxam, which
supports thc idca ol an animus bcgun at Plorta.) As an cxamplc ol Nictzschcs scicntic
incompctcncc or dishoncsty Vilamowitz mcntions his lailurc to discuss Acschyluss
Lycurgcan trilogy, in which rphcus lcd thc lollowcrs ol Apollo in a clash with thc dcvotccs
ol ionysus, a (lragmcntary) tcxt which, hc suggcsts, makcs thc idca ol an Apollonian
ionysian brothcrhood ridiculous. Nictzschc also lails to mcntion thc lact that thc Hip-
polytus ol uripidcs contains an attack on Socratcs which makcs thc idca that thc lattcr
inspircd thc lormcr absurd. Vilamowitz cnds his diatribc by saying that Nictzschcs
rcligious gospcl ! am happy to ignorc. My wcapons do not touch it. Admittcdly ! am no
mystic, no tragic man . . . to mc that will always bc a drunkcn drcam. . . nc thing how
cvcr ! dcmand, that Hcrr Nictzschc practiccs what hc prcachcs, grasps thc thyrsos |a sta
wound round with vincs that symbolizcs ionysus| . . . and rcsigns thc chair lrom which
hc is supposcd to bc tcaching scicncc, hc must gathcr his tigcrs and panthcrs

to his kncc,
or whatcvcr, but no longcr scck to tcach Gcrmanys philological youth who must lcarn to
study in ascctic sclldcnial.
Alienation of Ritschl
ilamowitzs pamphlct was not, obviously, thc rcsponsc to Te Birth Nictzschc had
hopcd lor. Much morc painlul, howcvcr, was thc rcaction ol his old tcachcr, mcntor,
and lricnd, Fricdrich Ritschl.
Altcr thc book appcarcd, Nictzschc waitcd with batcd brcath lor, abovc all, Ritschls
rcaction. 8ut nonc camc. vcntually, on January o, +8:, hc wrotc Ritschl that hc was
astonishcd not to havc hcard lrom him, thc book bcing a manilcsto to which silcncc was
not a pcrmittcd rcsponsc, lcast ol all lrom his rcvcrcd tcachcr. Tc book, hc addcd, was
lull ol hopc lor our scicncc ol antiquity, lor thc Gcrman csscncc, cvcn il a numbcr ol indi
viduals will havc to go undcr . . . Tc practical conscqucncc ol my vicws |i.c., thc introduc
tion ol a ncw way ol doing philology| . . . youll bc ablc to gucss, partially, whcn ! say that
hcrc |in 8ascl| !m dclivcring public lccturcs n thc Futurc ol ur ducational !nstitu

Johann Joachim Vinckclmann (++68), thc art historian who bcgan thc obscssion with Grcccc
that dominatcd Gcrman intcllcctual lilc at lcast until thc midtwcnticth ccntury.

Te Births cvocation ol ionysian ccstasy has ionysus approaching in a owcrstrcwn chariot

drawn by a tigcr and a panthcr (scc p. +:8 abovc).

Tc last scntcncc is probably intcndcd to bring to mind thc chargc ol corrupting thc citys youth
brought against Socratcs by thc Athcnian court, a chargc which lcd to his cnlorccd suicidc.
nal Philology

Forccd to do so, Ritschl nally rcactcd in midFcbruary. At sixtyvc, hc said, hc was too
old to propcrly cxplorc ncw spiritual worlds. And hc lackcd thc background in Schopcn
haucr to judgc that aspcct ol thc work which did not dctcr him lrom rcmarking (` a propos
Schopcnhaucrian salvation) that wc can as littlc ovcrcomc individuality as thc individual
lcavcs and blossoms ol an individual plant can rcturn to thcir roots. Noncthclcss, hc con
tinucd, il hc was compcllcd to commcnt hc wantcd to makc thc point that you can hardly
cxpcct an Alcxandrian |i.c. Socratic typc| and scholar such as himscll to condcmn
knowlcdgc and allow thc powcr to libcratc and translorm thc world to bc lound only in
art. And, as an old pcdagoguc, hc rcally had to wondcr whcthcr Nictzschcs plans lor a
rclormcd cducation would not, in lact, lcad to a juvcnilc scorn lor scicncc without gaining
thcrcby an incrcascd lccling lor art, thus opcning thc door to not poctry but rathcr gcncral
Tcrc was too much acction bctwccn Nictzschc and Ritschl lor cithcr to allow thc
straincd rclationship to brcak cntircly. Tcir corrcspondcncc continucd, Nictzschc plcascd
Ritschl by rcturning to philological work hc produccd a suitably scicntic articlc cntitlcd
Tc Florcntinc Trcatisc Conccrning Homcr and Hcsiod which appcarcd in Ritschls
Fheinisches Museum in Fcbruary, +8 and hc continucd to scnd good studcnts to Lcipzig.
Noncthclcss, a brcach had opcncd up that ncvcr propcrly hcalcd, and Ritschl rcmaincd
always dclcnsivc about his prolcssion. !n July, whilc agrccing that Vilamowitzs pamphlct
itscll lailcd to satisly scicntic standards, hc asscrtcd that ! can ncvcr agrcc with you that
only art and philosophy can tcach mankind. For mc history docs so too, in particular thc
philological branch ol thc samc.
And that hc was still angry with Nictzschc in Fcbruary
ol thc lollowing ycar is clcar lrom a lcttcr to \ischcr:
8ut our Nictzschc ycs, thats rcally a sad story . . . !t is rcmarkablc how in that singlc man
two souls livc sidc by sidc. n thc onc hand thc most rigorous mcthodology ol schoolcd,
scicntic rcscarch . . . on thc othcr, this lantasticcxaggcratcd, ovcrly clcvcr rcaching into
thc incomprchcnsiblc, VagncrianSchopcnhaucrianartmysticismrhapsodizing! Vhat
annoys mc most is his impicty against his truc mothcr who has sucklcd him at hcr brcast:
Wagners Intervention
wclvc days altcr thc appcarancc ol Vilamowitzs pamphlct, Vagncr raiscd thc tcmpcr
aturc still lurthcr by publishing an opcn lcttcr to his cstccmcd lricnd Fricdrich Nictz
schc. !t appcarcd on Junc :, +8:, in thc samc proVagncrian ncwspapcr, thc Norddeutsche
llgemeine Zeitung, that had publishcd Rohdcs rcvicw. mphasising that thc Vilamowitz
pamphlct is by a mcrc r. phil. i.c., that it is thc work ol a joblcss upstart attacking a lull
prolcssor hc rcports that, as a schoolboy, his initial passion lor philology had bccn killcd by
thc dryas(chalk)dust approach to philology cxcmplicd by Vilamowitzs smallmindcd
logicchopping. And thcn hc raiscs thc kcy qucstion: what is thc usc ol classical philol
ogy: Sincc Vilamowitz cmphasiscs its scicntic charactcr, onc would supposc, hc says,
that it would bc lound usclul by thc othcr human scicnccs. Yct thcologians, jurists, physi
cians ct cctcra cxhibit no intcrcst at all in philology as currcntly practiscd. Hcncc philolo
gists must instruct cach othcr, prcsumably with thc solc objcct ol turning out philologists,

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
i.c. highschool tcachcrs and univcrsity prolcssors who will thcn bakc a lrcsh batch ol
highschool tcachcrs and univcrsity prolcssors ad innitum. As currcntly practiscd, in othcr
words, philology is a hcrmctically closcd circlc which scrvcs only itscll and contributcs noth
ing at all to thc community that pays its hclty salarics. Vhat wc nccd, thcrclorc, is a ncw
kind ol philologist, onc who will makc thc disciplinc rclcvant to nonphilologists Vag
ncr is hcrc acccpting and cndorsing thc implication ol Vilamowitzs titlc that Nictzschc is
conccrncd to cstablish a ncwkind ol Philology ol thc Futurc. Vhat wc nccd is a philologist
who spcaks to us and not to his collcagucs and who transluscs lilc into thc purcly philolog
ical prolcssion lrom thosc lountains ol human knowlcdgc which havc waitcd hithcrto in
vain lor lcrtilising by philology.
As usual, Vagncr bludgcons his way to thc hcart ol thc mattcr. (vcry timc Vagncr
insults somconc hc raiscs a dccp problcm, Nictzschc rcmarks in his notcbooks.)
8ut in
thc prolcssion it only incrcascd Nictzschcs bad odour. Hcrmann Uscncr, Ritschls succcssor
in 8onn, callcd Te Birth shccr nonscnsc and, donning thc black cap as it wcrc, pronounccd
that scicntically, Nictzschc is dcad. As indccd hc was. Philology studcnts wcrc adviscd to
avoid 8ascl, and lor thc wintcr scmcstcr ol +8: Nictzschc had a total ol two studcnts,
ncithcr ol whom was a philology major. At a timc whcn 8urckhardt was attracting an audi
cncc ol ltythrcc lor Grcck cultural history, and Nictzschcs lricnd, Hcinrich Romundt
an unpaid junior lccturcr twcnty lor his philosophy coursc, Nictzschcs tcaching was csscn
tially conncd to thc grammar school.
Von B ulow and the Manfred Meditation
nsurprisingly, givcn thc Vilamowitz lracas, Nictzschc lcll ill with stomach and bowcl
problcms in Junc. 8ut, though distrcsscd at thc damagc to his univcrsity, hc was soon
ablc to cxhibit a ccrtain amount ol gracc undcr rc. Tough insisting that Vilamowitz must
bc slaughtcrcd and providing Rohdc with thc ammunition to do so, hc camc to vicw thc
wholc aair with slightly indulgcnt humour, suggcsting that thc chccky lad had probably
bccn cggcd on by cstablishmcnt gurcs:
writing to Krug, hc askcd him whcthcr hc had
sccn thc rcccnt pamphlct by a rathcr good pun Vilamohncwitz |Villiamwithout
!n July, howcvcr, hc rcccivcd a lurthcr blow. ncouragcd by Hans von 8 ulows cnthusi
astic rcsponsc to Te Birth thcy had mct thc prcvious May at thc laying ol thc 8ayrcuth
loundation stonc Nictzschc scnt him his Manlrcd Mcditation a piano work (composcd
in April, +8:), which trics to imitatc thc Zukunftsmusik stylc ol Tristan (track + on thc
Vcb sitc lor this book). \on 8 ulow, lamously tactlcss (hc oncc told thc tcnor hc was con
ducting as thc Knight ol thc Swan in Vagncrs Lohengrin that hc was thc Knight ol thc
Swinc), pullcd no punchcs. Tc piccc, hc wrotc Nictzschc, was
thc most cxtrcmc piccc ol lantastic cxtravagancc, thc lcast uplilting and most antimusical
sct ol marks on manuscriptpapcr ! havc comc across in a long timc. Frcqucntly ! had to
ask myscll: is thc wholc thing a jokc, pcrhaps you intcndcd a parody ol thc socallcd music
ol thc luturc:
Rcsponding to this blow, Nictzschc again displaycd gracc undcr rc. Hc thankcd von 8 ulow
lor his lrankncss, admittcd his poor musical tastc and that hc did not propcrly undcrstand
nal Philology

thc syntax ol music, and assurcd him that ! will ccrtainly ncvcr lorgct your advicc. ! say, as
childrcn do whcn thcy havc donc somcthing stupid, ! promisc ! wont do it again .
truc to his word, thc Manlrcd Mcditation markcd almost thc cnd ol his attcmpts at musical
Nictzschc scholars gcncrally takc thc vicw that von 8 ulows judgmcnt rcprcscntcd noth
ing morc than thc obvious truth about Nictzschcs talcnts as a composcr. 8ut this ignorcs
thc lact that Liszt was happy to play his Mcmorics ol a Ncw Ycars vc (scc p. +o abovc)
in 8ayrcuth, latcr on in +8:, and, whcn told ol von 8 ulows judgmcnt, commcntcd, with
a sad shakc ol thc hcad, that it was way ovcr thc top |sehr desperat|.
And indccd it sccms
possiblc that morc than musical objcctivity may havc bccn bchind von 8 ulows judgmcnt.
For thc lact is that hc himscll had tricd to bc a composcr ol Zukunftsmusik and had lailcd
dismally. Tis indccd, may havc bccn onc ol thc rcasons Cosima lclt himlor Vagncr. Vant
ing, rathcr likc Alma Mahlcr, to bc always at thc sidc ol crcativc gcnius, and sccing that
von 8 ulow had no original talcnt as a composcr, it is suggcstcd, shc jumpcd ship.
Nictzschc, to vcnturc my own opinion, was not a bad composcr. And hc was, ol coursc, a
tcrric pianist. 8ut hc had two lailings. First, hc lackcd command ol largcscalc structurc.
(nc might, indccd, say thc samc ol his philosophical writings: that thc structurclcss, aph
oristic stylc ol many ol his maturc works stcmmcd morc lrom ncccssity than lrom virtuc.)
Ncarly all ol his musical compositions last lcss than vc minutcs, and whcn hc attcmpts
a longcr work hc is unablc to providc it with gcnuinc unity. Tc Ncw Ycars vc music,
lor cxamplc (track + on thc Vcb sitc lor this book), altcr a lovcly opcning, dcgcncratcs
into vaguc mcandcrings. His sccond lailing was that hc was ncvcr ablc to nd an original
voicc. vcrything hc wrotc sounds likc somconc clsc: Schumann or Liszt on a bad day, lor
cxamplc. Sincc imitation is thc timchonourcd mcthod ol lcarning, anothcr way ol saying
this is that, as a composcr, Nictzschc ncvcr dcvclopcd bcyond thc studcnt stagc.
Retreat to the Mountains
rcaking through thc storm clouds ol mid+8: wcrc two rays ol sunlight. First, Nictz
schcs lricnd lrom Lcipzig days, Hcinrich Romundt, a philosophcr who was writing a
doctoral thcsis on Kants Critique of Pure Feason, nally agrccd to movc to 8ascl. Sccond,
on Junc :8, togcthcr with von Gcrsdor, hc travcllcd to Munich to attcnd his rst pcrlor
mancc ol Tristan (a dccadc altcr hc and Krug had rst studicd thc scorc). Nictzschc was so
ovcrcomc by thc cxpcricncc (as onc is) that, cvcn a wcck latcr, hc wrotc Rohdc that about
Tristan ! cannot spcak.
nly on July : could hc conlcss that it is thc most trcmcndous,
thc purcst and thc most uncxpcctcd thing ! know. nc swims in sublimity and happincss.
8ut onc Tristan docs not makc a summcr. So at thc cnd ol Scptcmbcr Nictzschc sct o
lor thc mountains to lick his wounds. !ntcnding to travcl all thc way to !taly, hc arrivcd
by postcoach at thc tiny villagc ol Spl ugcn, sct in a vallcy, vc thousand lcct abovc sca
lcvcl, ncar thc Swiss!talian bordcr. !t was as il ! had ncvcr known Switzcrland . . . this is
my naturc hc wrotc ol thc coach ridc along thc dramatic \ia Mala. His lcttcr to his mothcr
As wc approachcd Spl ugcn ! was ovcrcomc by thc dcsirc to rcmain hcrc. ! lound a good
hotcl, with a quitc simplc littlc room. 8ut it has a balcony with thc most bcautilul vicw.
Tis high alpinc vallcy . . . is just what ! want. Tcrc arc purc, strong gusts ol air, hills and

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
bouldcrs ol all shapcs, and, surrounding cvcrything, mighty snowcovcrcd mountains. 8ut
what plcascs mc most arc thc splcndid highroads ovcr which ! walk lor hours . . . At noon
whcn thc postcoach arrivcs ! cat with strangcrs. ! dont nccd to spcak, nobody knows
mc . . . !n my littlc room ! work with lrcsh vigour . . . on my currcnt main thcmc, Tc luturc
ol our ducational !nstitutions. |At this stagc hc intcndcd turning thc lccturcs into a
book.| . . . Now ! know a corncr ol thc carth whcrc ! can livc powcrlully and with lrcsh
activity, but cntircly lrcc ol company. Human bcings, hcrc, arc likc shadowpicturcs.
!n thc cnd, Nictzschc camc to scttlc on anothcr, cvcn highcr, vallcy in thc samc south
cast corncr ol Switzcrland, thc ngardinc. 8ut alrcady wc scc thc cmcrgcncc ol what will
bccomc an cvcr morc promincnt thcmc: Nictzschcs nccd to bc alonc with his thoughts.
Anal-Compulsive Philology
n midctobcr, Nictzschc rcturncd to 8ascl in timc to catch Rohdcs countcrattack on
Vilamowitz, which appcarcd on ctobcr +, +8: (Nictzschcs twcntycighth birth
day). csccnding to Vilamowitzs lcvcl ol invcctivc, il not lowcr, Rohdcs pamphlct at
lortycight pagcs a third longcr than Vilamowitzs was cntitlcd fterphilologie. As wcll as
mcaning pscudo, fter also mcans anus. A lrcc but lclicitous translation ol his titlc might
bc AnalCompulsivc Philology.
!n thc pamphlct, Rohdc trics to hoist Vilamowitz with his own pctard, pointing to
misquotations in ordcr to suggcst that hc lails to livc up to his own scicntic standards.
Hc continucs by noting that though Vilamowitz takcs thc part ol Socratic man who,
according to Te Birth, is thc mythdcstroying opponcnt ol an artistic culturc, hc has,
in rcality, as much to do with Socratcs whom Nictzschc rcspccts as wcll as criticising
as an apc with Hcrculcs. Rohdc cnds by suggcsting that thc joblcss Vilamowitzs call
lor Nictzschc to stcp down lrom his chair causcs onc to smilc at thc ingcnuousncss with
which thc actual motivc ol thc dcnunciatory zcal ol this ambitious doctor ol philology
stands rcvcalcd.
Ixistential Philology
hat was all this sound and lury rcally about: Tc curious lact is that whilc all parti
cipants in thc lracas including Nictzschc agrcc that thc issuc is, as Vilamowitzs
titlc puts it, thc luturc ol philology, philology is ncvcr mcntioncd in Te Birth. So what is
at issuc is not so much what is said in thc book but rathcr what it exemplies and implies.
As hc had alrcady dcmandcd ol philology in his Lcipzig days, in Te Birth Nictzschc
assimilatcs, and ultimatcly subordinatcs, his discussion ol thc Grccks to thc grcat con
sidcrations ol philosophy (scc p. 68 abovc). 8ccausc hc conccivcd thc philosophcr as thc
physician ol culturc,
ol our culturc, it lollows, as hc puts it in thc notcs lor thc unn
ishcd Vc Philologists, that thc task ol thc philologist is that ol undcrstanding his o.n age
bcttcr by mcans ol thc classical world.
Vhat, thcn, Te Birth cxcmplics, and implicitly
holds up as a modcl lor thc luturc ol thc disciplinc, is what wc might call cxistcntial phi
lology. Rohdc rclcrs to this in his original rcvicw ol thc book by suggcsting that it providcs
nal Philology

an cxplanation and justication ol thc appcaranccs

providcs us with an cxplanation,

cxplains to us, in what way, and in what scnsc, lilc is worth living. Tis, too, is what Vagncr
dcmands: a philology not just lor philologists but onc that is rclcvant to thc lundamcntal
cxistcntial issucs ol humanity at largc.
8ut this causcd ocncc to thc philological cstablishmcnt lor at lcast two rcasons. First,
it dcmandcd a synoptic vicw ol antiquity and hcncc ocndcd thc lactory workcr, thc aca
dcmic molc (p. +o abovc) burrowing away in his narrow spcciality. And sccond, by sug
gcsting that only a rclcvant philology could justily its kccp, it undcrmincd thc moral crc
dcntials ol thc ninctccnthccntury philologists complaisant assumption that his disciplinc
was an cnd in itscll.
A lurthcr way in which Te Birth ocndcd thc philological cstablishmcnt was by undcr
mining thc pcrccivcd vicwol thc Grccks as scrcncly rational. 8y cmphasising thc irrational,
ionysian clcmcnt in Grcck lilc, by cmphasising that Grcck rationality was an achie.ement
rathcr than a birthright thc works lasting, historical mcrit, it sccms to mc Nictzschc
undcrmincd thc VinkclmannGocthcSchillcr classicism to which thc cstablishmcnt was
still wcddcd.
A nal and pcrhaps suprcmc ocncc was committcd by thc portrait ol thcorctical, sci
cntic, man as so, at lcast, it could bc rcad an analrctcntivc control lrcak, tcrricd ol
thc mystcry ol lilc and out ol touch with an ultimatc rcality acccssiblc, not to scicncc, but
only to thc artist in a statc ol ionysian ccstasy. Sincc, as wc saw, thc likcs ol Vilamowitz
conccivcd ol thcmsclvcs as, prcciscly, scicntic mcn par cxccllcncc, thcy took thc portrait ol
thcorctical or Alcxandrian man Ritschl cxplicitly did this (p. + abovc) as an insult
ing portrayal ol thcmsclvcs. As von Gcrsdor put it, Vilamowitzs pamphlct rcprcscntcd
thc cry ol ragc ol thcorctical man who sccs a rccction ol his truc lcaturcs lor thc rst timc
and wants to smash thc mirror.

Vilamowitzs rcvicw did not, as it had hopcd, run Nictzschc out ol thc prolcssion. His
studcnt numbcrs cvcntually rccovcrcd and, in thc cvcnt, hc had anothcr scvcn ycars to go
as a prolcssor ol philology though thc +8 articlc on Homcr and Hcsiod (p. + abovc)
was thc last ol his philological publications. Vilamowitz did, howcvcr, sct thc scholarly
(somc would say dryasdust), antispcculativc tonc that dominatcd thc study ol classics
throughout thc lollowing ccntury. Looking back in thc light ol thc ncardcath ol classical
philology, on thc lact that it is now ncarly impossiblc to study Grcck in sccondary school,
onc might wcll comc to thc conclusion that Nictzschc was right in his pcrccption that thc
disciplinc was in nccd ol a radical rclorm that would dircct it towards rclcvancc. Noncthc
lcss, thc publication ol Te Birth and thc cvcnts surrounding it cost him dcarly. Hc lost thc
rcspcct ol thc prolcssion and ncvcr rcally rccovcrcd thc old intimacy with Ritschl. nc ol
lizabcths vcry rarc insights is that thc publication ol Te Birth cstablishcd a pattcrn
that would bc rcpcatcd by almost cvcry subscqucnt book: thosc who thought thcy kncwhim
discovcrcd in it a ncw Nictzschc lrom whom thcy lclt cstrangcd. vcry stcp lorward in his
spiritual dcvclopmcnt, shc obscrvcs, was accompanicd by loss, sucring, and lonclincss.

Relations with the Wagners

t thc cnd ol Novcmbcr +8: Nictzschc spcnt thrcc days with thc Vagncrs in Stras
bourg, whcrc thcy wcrc trying to nd singcrs to pcrlorm thc Fing cyclc. Tcy invitcd

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
him to spcnd Christmas in thc ncw housc in 8ayrcuth. Plcading cxhaustion, howcvcr, hc
dccidcd to spcnd Christmas in Naumburg, thc rst timc lor lour ycars. Altcr a strcsslul ycar
it was probably truc that hc nccdcd a dosc ol mothcrly comlort.
Vagncr was not plcascd by thc nonappcarancc at thc rst Christmas in thc ncwhousc ol
thc pcrson whom hc had told, thc prcvious Junc, hc rcgardcd him as a son.
And sincc thc
journcy lrom 8ascl to Naumburg was much longcr than to 8ayrcuth, hc was not imprcsscd
by thc cxhaustion cxcusc. !nsult was addcd to injury by thc lact that thcrc was ncithcr thc
usual Christmas prcscnt nor a card announcing that onc would bc on thc way. Nictzschc
was simply abscnt. nly at thc bcginning ol January did thc Fi.e Prefaces to Fi.e Un.ritten
Books arrivc with a dcdication to Cosima. !n Fcbruary +8, Cosima wrotc Nictzschc that
Vagncr had bccn ocndcd by thc slight but that all was now lorgivcn. Tc lollowing
month Nictzschc wrotc von Gcrsdor,
! hadnt known that V|agncr| was much ocndcd by my nonappcarancc. God knows, by
thc way, how oltcn ! havc ocndcd thc Mastcr: cach timc !m amazcd and cant cvcr quitc
gct to thc causc ol it.
8ut thcn hc shows hc rcally does know thc causc:
Plcasc givc mc your opinion conccrning my rcpcatcd ocnccs. ! cant conccivc how anyonc
can bc, in lundamcntal mattcrs, morc truc or morc dccply committcd than ! am: il ! could
think how, !d bc cvcn morc so. 8ut in littlc, subordinatc sidcissucs, and in a ccrtain, almost
sanitary, distancing lrom pcrsonal cohabitation that ! nd ncccssary, ! must grant myscll
a lrccdom, rcally only to bc ablc to prcscrvc my loyalty in a highcr scnsc.

Tis is thc rst suggcstion in Nictzschcs lcttcrs ol any cloud in thc VagncrNictzschc
sky. And though not much biggcr than a mans hand, it indicatcs both thc bcginnings and
thc charactcr ol thc storm to comc. Nictzschc nccdcd thc spacc to bc his own man, to
cscapc lrom thc ovcrpowcring prcscncc ol thc Mastcr and lrom thc constant, timc
consuming crrandrunning dcmandcd by Cosima. Tc rudcncss surrounding his Christ
mas nonappcarancc was probably a somcwhat adolcsccnt attcmpt to cstablish that spacc.
Tc othcr highly signicant lcaturc ol thc lcttcr to von Gcrsdor is thc distinction bctwccn
Vagncr the man, lrom whom Nictzschc rcquircs a ccrtain distancc, and thc lundamcntal
mattcrs ol Vagncrianism, to which hc rcmains uttcrly committcd. Tis distinction will
bc dcvclopcd in thc +86 !agner at Bayreuth into a division bctwccn thc highcr and
lowcr Vagncr. And latcr on it will dcvclop into a complctc rcjcction ol Vagncr thc
man and composcr combincd with, so ! shall suggcst, a ncvcrtobcrclinquishcd com
mitmcnt to Vagncr thc cultural critic, thc constructivc social thcorist, and thc philosophcr
ol art.
Five Prefaces to Five Unwritten Books
hc Fi.e Prefaces to Fi.e Un.ritten Books
wcrc not only latc as a Christmas prcscnt but
also somcwhat ungraciously givcn. 8ound togcthcr in an ugly brown lcathcr covcr, thcy
wcrc not wcll rcccivcd. Prol. Nictzschcs manuscript docs not rcstorc our spirits, Cosima
nal Philology

condcd to hcr diary. And shc complaincd to Malwida von Mcyscnbug ol thc clumsy
abruptncss that somctimcs accompanics thc dccp insights in his work, adding wc wishcd
hc would stick, in thc main, to Grcck thcmcs.

Quitc apart lrom thc lact that thc collcction containcd clcmcnts which wcrc, as wc shall
scc, incompatiblc with somc ol Vagncrs dccpcst bclicls, Cosima was, ! think, right to
bc disgruntlcd with thc asscmblagc. Rcalising that hc nccdcd to givc something by way ol
a Christmas prcscnt, it sccms to mc likcly that Nictzschc simply thrcw togcthcr a hasty
asscmblagc ol lragmcnts hc had lying around. Tc rcsult is ol varying quality and, duc to
thc lact that thc lragmcnts wcrc writtcn at dicrcnt timcs, intcrnally inconsistcnt. All in
all, a nonunity that should not havc bccomc a Christmas prcscnt.

Tc rst ol thc Prefaces, n thc Pathos ol Truth, is an carly vcrsion ol n Truth and Lics
in a Nonmoral Scnsc
(unjustly cclcbratcd as a work ol prolound insight by Nictzschcs
postmodcrnist admircrs), which was complctcd in thc summcr ol +8. ! shall takc thc
opportunity to discuss both works togcthcr.
Tc grcat philosophcrs, obscrvcs Tc Pathos ol Truth, think thcy havc the truth, a truth
that will last lor all timc. 8ut this is what makcs thcm tragic gurcs thcrc is no truth.
Tc idca ol absolutc truth is mcrcly thc dclusion (!ahn) ol a god. n Truth and Lics
(which bcgins by rcpcating thc antcpcnultimatc paragraph ol Tc Pathos ol Truth) sccks
to cxplain why this is so.
!t ocrs thrcc argumcnts. First, though wc think that thc way thc world appcars to our
intcllcct is the way it is, a midgc or a bcc, il it could contcmplatc thc qucstion, would
havc cxactly thc samc pucd up pridc with rcspcct to thc cntircly dicrcnt way it appcars
to thcm. For thc plant, thc wholc world is plant, lor us human rcads a notc lrom this
So truths arc illusions wc havc lorgottcn to bc such.
Sccond, thc possibility ol anything bcing cithcr truc or lalsc dcpcnds on languagc. 8ut
words arc simply convcntionally agrccd rcsponscs to particular ncrvous stimulations, as
arbitrary as thc gcndcr ol nouns. (!n Gcrman, cvcry noun is cithcr masculinc, lcmininc, or
ncutcr.) Hcncc (prcsumably bccausc othcr languagcs apply cntircly dicrcnt words to thc
samc ncrvous stimulations) thcrc is no way things which count as truc in our languagc can
bc hcld to bc truc in thc scnsc ol corrcsponding to thc way thc world rcally is.
Tird, thc conccpts (dog, lor cxamplc) wc dcploy in languagc arc abstract: thcy gathcr
individual things togcthcr as thc samc. 8ut this is to makc cquivalcnt what arc not cquiv
alcnt. Hcncc, oncc again, anyonc who thinks thcy posscss cvcn a singlc truth about thc rcal
world is pathctically dcludcd.
Tc quality ol this discussion is low and rcvcals anothcr justication lor thc 8ascl philos
ophcrs rcjcction ol Nictzschcs application lor thc philosophy chair. Vhat thc discussion
rcvcals morc than anything is brilliant though hc was Nictzschcs lack ol training in thc
craft ol tcchnical philosophical thinking. Had hc bccn schoolcd in Aristotlc and mcdicval
scholasticism had hc, lor instancc, likc Hcidcggcr, attcndcd a Catholic scminary hc
would havc produccd nonc ol thcsc slipshod argumcnts.
Lct us obscrvc, rst ol all, that, wcrc thc conclusion that truth is an illusion to bc truc,
a scrious puzzlc would bc raiscd as to how thc clcvcr animal that is man has bccn ablc to
survivc in a compctitivc cnvironmcnt. Nictzschc makcs no attcmpt in Truth and Lics to
addrcss thc lact that human survival prcscnts a prima lacic casc that, at lcast mostly, our
bclicls about thc world arc truc.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Tc sccond obscrvation conccrning Nictzschcs conclusion is that hc contradicts himscll.
!t is a good thing our supposcd truths arc illusions, hc says both in Truth and Lics and in
Tc Pathos ol Truth, sincc truth is tcrriblc: il anyonc wcrc (per impossible) to pccr through
a crack in thc chambcr ol consciousncss hc would scc that humanity, in thc indicrcncc
ol its ignorancc, rcsts on thc pitilcss, thc grccdy, thc insatiablc, thc murdcrous. Humanity
clings to drcams, as it wcrc, on thc back ol a tigcr. So, it sccms, thcrc is, altcr all, thc
possibility ol knowing thc truth about thc world ol at lcast a philosophers knowing that
truth. Nietzsche knows that bchind thc vcnccr ol civilization thc human animal is a wild
bcast. So truth is an illusion and Nictzschc knows thc truth. A contradiction.
Turning to thc rst ol thc argumcnts summariscd abovc, thc lact that thc midgc sccs thc
world dicrcntly lromus docs not, in rcality, mcan that our bclicls arc false, sincc wc and thc
midgc may both be right. Vc scc a rottcn applc, thc midgc sccs an cgglaying sitc. Vc arc both

Tc sccond argumcnt thc argumcnt about dicrcnt languagcs applying dicrcnt

signs to ncrvc stimulations conluscs scntcnccs and statcmcnts, a lallacy cxposcd in cvcry
Critical Tinking +o+ coursc. Grass is grccn is a dicrcnt scntcncc lrom (thc Gcrman)
Grass ist gr un. 8ut thcy both mcan thc samc, makc thc samc statcmcnt. And what thcy
both say is true. Tc things that arc truc or lalsc, that is to say, arc, strictly spcaking, not
scntcnccs, but statcmcnts. So thc lact that dicrcnt languagcs apply dicrcnt signs to thc
samc ncrvcstimulations has no tcndcncy at all to show that truths can ncvcr bc cxprcsscd
in thosc languagcs.
Tc nal argumcnt is wcakcst ol all, cmbarrassingly bad. Tat collics, dachshunds,
tcrricrs, and Gcrman shcphcrds arc all classicd as dogs docs not claim thcm to bc com-
pletely the same cquivalcnt. !t mcrcly claims thcm to bc thc samc in a certain respect.
Vith thc linc ol thought bcing dcvclopcd in thc rst Preface Cosima was, thcn, right to bc
thoroughly dissatiscd. Tc sccond, Toughts Conccrning thc Futurc ol ur ducational
!nstitutions, is virtually idcntical with thc prclacc to thc cponymous lccturc scrics (pp. +:
abovc) and so nccds no lurthcr discussion.
Tc third Preface, Tc Grcck Statc,
was actually writtcn in thc rst wccks ol

and had originally bccn intcndcd as a chaptcr lor Te Birth. Vagncr would havc
lound it positivcly ocnsivc sincc it praiscs both war and slavcry, thc rst hc wishcd to
ovcrcomc and thc sccond hc considcrcd an abomination.
Tc cssays tonc is that ol ovcrcoming thc squcamishncss, thc cxccssivc scnsitivity ol
modcrn man, ol uninchingly lacing up to somc hard, cruclsounding truths. Tc argu
mcnt is as lollows. Culturc is thc highcst goal sincc only through it docs naturc achicvc
hcr salvation in appcarancc, in thc mirror ol gcnius.

Tis dcmands two things. First thc

statc, ncccssary to ovcrcoming thc war ol all against all that prcccdcs it and thcrcby to
producc thc conditions ol sccurity in which alonc art can ourish. And sccond, within thc
statc, slavcry, so as to crcatc thc conditions ol lcisurc ncccssary lor thc gcnius to producc art.
(Tis hc adds, a lurthcr rcmark liablc to havc ocndcd Vagncr, is why socialists havc always
hatcd art.) Tc statc thus has to bc thc broad bascd pyramid outlincd in Platos Fepublic, in
lact, thc right ordcr ol thc statc is prcciscly that outlincd by Plato savc lor thc substitution
ol thc gcnius in thc most gcncral scnsc lor Platos gcnius ol wisdom and knowlcdgc,


Tc idca that dicrcnt pcrspcctivcs may rcvcal dicrcnt, but complcmcntary, truths about rcality is
a doctrinc ! call plural rcalism. !n chaptcr : (pp. 6 bclow) ! shall suggcst that it is, in lact,
plural rcalism that constitutcs thc maturc Nictzschcs account ol truth and rcality.
nal Philology

philosophcrking. Vhat wc nccd, in othcr words, is a statc rulcd by Sophoclcs rathcr than
Socratcs. 8ut thc statc can only ourish undcr conditions ol (actual or thrcatcncd) war: in
timcs ol pcacc, thc iron grip ol thc statc looscns and dccays. Hcncc war is ncccssary lor
Tc standard ol argumcnt in this Preface is again low. !t sucrs, in a way in which
Vagncrs writings ncvcr sucr, lrom a misusc ol history, lrom supposing that cvcry aspcct
ol an admircd pcriod in thc past must bc rcproduccd to rcproducc thosc lcaturcs which
makc it admirablc. Fairly obviously, thc argumcnt that only socictics that rcducc thc major
ity to at lcast cconomic slavcry can producc art is rclutcd by thc washingmachinc: art
indccd rcquircs thc artist to bc lrccd lrom thc ncccssity ol lilcsustaining work, but sincc
machincs can gcncratc such lrccdom thcrc is no nccd lor human slavcry. And cvcn grant
cd that thc statc nccds an cxtcrnal thrcat to cnsurc its authority, such a thrcat may consist
in cconomic, artistic, or cvcn sporting compctition rathcr than thc thrcat ol violcncc. As
Nictzschc rcaliscs in Tus Spoke Zarathustra, a nation may scck to dominatc its ncighbours
through cultural shining rathcr than military conqucst.
Anothcr wcakncss a wcakncss that runs through much ol his carly thinking is an
unclarity conccrning thc condition ol thc slavc. n thc onc hand thcrc is what wc may call
thc acsthctic lascism vicw. Tc world ol art that bclongs to a small numbcr ol lympian
mcn rcquircs thc miscry ol mcn living a lilc ol toil.

Tc pyramidal socicty ocrs nothing

but cxploitation and miscry to thc slavc, but that docs not mattcr sincc only thc lilc ol thc
gcnius through whom naturc rcachcs hcr highcst goal is ol any valuc.

8ut on thc othcr

hand, Nictzschc asks us to obscrvc
what an clcvating ccct on us is produccd by thc sight ol a mcdicval scrl, whosc lcgal
and cthical rclationship with his supcrior was intcrnally sturdy and scnsitivc, whosc narrow
cxistcncc was proloundly cocooncd how clcvating and how rcproachlul.
Tis makcs it look as though, altcr all, Nictzschc carcs about thc wcllbcing ol thc slavcs,
but wishcs to arguc that slavcry is in thc bcst intcrcst ol thc slavc typc ol pcrson sincc hc
is, rst, protcctcd by scnsitivc lcgal rcquircmcnts lrom unlimitcd cxploitation and, sccond,
livcs a lilc not ol miscry but rathcr ol cnviablc sccurity.
Tc lourth Preface, n thc Rclation ol Schopcnhaucrs Philosophy to a Gcrman Culturc,
argucs thc nccd lor a gcncral public cducation as opposcd to thc mcrc public opinion
manulacturcd by ncwspapcrs. And it attacks thc socallcd cducatcd classcs ol thc prcscnt
agc as sucring lrom philistinc complaccncy |Gem utlichkeit|. Vhat crcatcs complaccncy,
Nictzschc says, is historical consciousncss. Such consciousncss kills cnthusiasm. Vhcn
cvcrything is historically graspcd wc cntcr a spirit ol nihil admirari. So, lor cxamplc, to
bccomc awarc ol our moral valucs as just onc itcm on a vast, historical mcnu ol altcrnativc
scts ol valucs dcstroys our commitmcnt to our own valucs, sincc wc can nd no ground lor
prclcrring thcm to any ol thc altcrnativcs on display, and lapsc thcrc arc strong cchocs ol
Vagncrs critiquc ol cultural history (p. +++ abovc) hcrc into (postmodcrn) nihilism.
Action, commitmcnt, passion, Nictzschc is suggcsting, rcquircs a ccrtain chauvinism, a

Tis is what ! callcd thc onlythcsupcrmancounts vicw. For many intcrprctcrs, this is not mcrcly
somcthing hallsuggcstcd in somc ol Nictzschcs youthlul works, but thc hcart ol his maturc philos
ophy. ! shall bc conccrncd to rcjcct this intcrprctation.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
scnsc ol oncs own valucs as thc only possible valucs. (!n thc +88 Genealogy of Morals hc
will dcploy historical consciousncss to, as hc sccs it, thc bcncvolcnt cnd ol dcconstructing
Christian morality.)
Tc nal Preface, Homcrs Compctition, is by lar thc bcst and most important ol thc
sct. 8ut ! shall discuss it no lurthcr sincc it was cxamincd at lcngth in thc prcvious chaptcr
(pp. ++ abovc). Succ it to say that, writtcn ncarly two ycars altcr Tc Grcck Statc,
by pointing to thc cxistcncc ol good as wcll as bad ris, it complctcly undcrcuts thc
carlicr works argumcnt lor thc ncccssity ol war. Sincc compctition cxists as an altcrnativc
to physical violcncc, thcrc is no rcason that thc agonistic rclation ol sublimatcd violcncc
that obtains .ithin, and lucls thc lilc ol, a hcalthy statc, should not also obtain bet.een
!n sum, thcn, thc Fi.e Prefaces add up to a collcction ol highly variablc quality in which
somc parts contradict othcrs. Truly, as Cosima suggcsts, a curatcs cgg.
Untimely Meditations
iv:zscnvs +8 was markcd by two tcnsions. Tc rst was bctwccn his rolc as
a prolcssor ol classical philology and his cvcrincrcasing absorption in philos
ophy, bctwccn his Beruf |prolcssion| and his Berufung |vocation|, as hc clcgantly
dcscribcs it.
Tc sccond was bctwccn, on thc onc hand, his still total commitmcnt to vicw
ing thc world lrom within thc 8ayrcuth Horizon (p. ++: abovc) and to doing whatcvcr
hc could lor thc 8ayrcuth causc and, on thc othcr, his growing nccd to cscapc thc gigantic
shadow cast by Vagncrs pcrsonality and intcllcct, to nd a placc in thc sun in which hc
could growinto his own man. (Tc composcr Pctcr Cornclius, notwithstanding his absolutc
dcvotion to Vagncr, cxpcricnccd cxactly thc samc problcm.) Tc rst ol thcsc dilcmmas hc
attcmptcd to rcsolvc by tcaching and writing about thosc classical tcxts which wcrc susccp
tiblc to philosophical trcatmcnt. Tus, though hc would ncvcr again, altcr +8:, publish a
book dcvotcd to a classical tcxt, +8 did scc a substantial, unpublishcd study ol thc prc
Platonic Grcck philosophcrs, Philosophy in the Tragic ge of the Greeks. Tc sccond tcnsion
hc attcmptcd to rcsolvc by, on thc onc hand, writing lurious polcmics on Vagncrs bchall
and at his bchcst whilc, on thc othcr, conning his pcrsonal intcraction with thc Vagncrs
to thc virtual intcraction ol lcttcrs (Cornclius adoptcd thc samc stratcgy), gaining thcrcby
thcir disappointmcnt and disapproval. Givcn thcsc troublcd watcrs, it is no surprisc that
Nictzschcs hcalth sucrcd oncc again: +8 was plagucd by viral inlcctions, cyctroublc
and intcstinal problcms, thc lattcr probably still thc rcsult ol thc dyscntcry contractcd dur
ing his war scrvicc. !n tcrms ol hcalth, +8 sct thc pattcrn lor thc rcst ol Nictzschcs lilc:
lrom now on, up until his nal thrcc months ol sanity, hc will ncvcr bc lrcc ol such troublcs
lor morc than a lcw wccks at a timc.
Iun in Basel
hc ycar bcgan wcll. Nictzschc was askcd to judgc a compctition lor thc bcst cssay on thc
poctry ol Vagncrs Fing cyclc by thc llgemeine Deutsche Musik.erein (AllGcrmany
Music Socicty). Hc was quitc proud ol this, announcing his appointmcnt in scvcral


vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
lcttcrs proud, prcsumably, sincc thc invitation suggcstcd that hc was achicving a ccrtain
status and succcss with rcspcct to his lilcdcning goal 8ayrcuth.
Hc was also cxtrcmcly happy to havc two closc lricnds in 8ascl: vcrbcck and Romundt,
my tablc, housc and thoughtlricnds, hc wrotc to Rohdc, arc thc most cxccllcnt company
in thc world.
Romundt, who was now writing an Habilitation (sccond Ph..) on thc
thcory ol knowlcdgc, hc admircd as a tcachcr ol radical philosophical vicws who was ablc
to cxcitc his studcnts. vcrbcck hc lovcd lor his simplc goodhcartcdncss and admircd lor
his radicalism (p. +o abovc).
!n April wc lcarn somcthing ol thc charactcr ol vcrbccks radicalism:
!n my housc |hc writcs Malwida von Mcyscnbug| somcthing vcry notablc is coming about:
a charactcrisation ol our currcnt thcology with rcspcct to its Christianity. My lricnd and
brothcr in spirit, Prol. vcrbcck, to thc bcst ol my knowlcdgc thc most lrccthinking
thcologian alivc and thc posscssor ol an cnormous knowlcdgc ol Church history, works
now on this charactcrisation and will . . . makc known a startling truth.

ur housc, hc writcs, alluding to his own and vcrbccks radical disscction ol currcnt
sacrcd cows, will onc day bccomc notorious.

vcrbccks book, Ho.Christian Is Our Present-day Teology? was publishcd in Novcmbcr

+8 by Fritzsch, thrcc months altcr thc rst ol Nictzschcs Untimely Meditations appcarcd
with thc samc publishcr. !t argucd that original Christianity was a mattcr ol practicc rathcr
than thcory, ol thc hcart rathcr than thc hcad, with thc rcsult that Christian thcology is in
lact a oxymoron idcas which appcar in Nictzschcs ntichrist and which, sixty ycars latcr,
inucnccd Martin Hcidcggcrs attack on thc God ol thc thcologians. !n vcrbccks copy
ol thc rst Untimely Meditation an assault on a sacrcd cow that was as radical, as wc shall
scc, as vcrbccks Nictzschc inscribcd:
A pair ol twins lrom onc housc/Go lorth bravcly into thc world/To tcar worlddragons
limb lrom limb/Fricndship is what its callcd/Tc onc lathcr to thc othcr.

At thc bcginning ol +8, as wc saw, only two studcnts cnrollcd lor Nictzschcs coursc
on Grcck and Roman rhctoric. Hc dccidcd, thcrclorc, that thc class should mcct in his
apartmcnt in thc Gifth utte. Somctimcs bccr was providcd. Hc also oltcn cntcrtaincd his
grammarschool studcnts thcrc. nc ol thcsc, Louis Kcltcrborn, has lclt a dcscription ol
Nictzschc at homc:
nc is immcdiatcly imprcsscd by thc combination ol cxccptional courtcsy and rcncmcnt
in manncr and bchaviour with thc most charming and natural kindlincss, so that onc soon
lccls clcvatcd dircctly and automatically to a ncr and noblcr, clcancr and highcr, spiritual
atmosphcrc . . . !n complctc harmony with thc tastclulncss ol his dcmcanour and clothing,
and with his almost military prccision, arc all thc lurnishings ol thc apartmcnt in thc plcas
ant, middlcclass housc. !n lightcolourcd brccchcs and a brown lrockcoat or jackct, and,
out ol doors, wcaring a tophat |quaintly oldlashioncd, cvcn thcn| this is how hc livcs in

Tis makcs it sound as though Romundt had actually movcd into thc Gifth utte. 8ut sincc Nictzschc
writcs on April +, +8 that Romundt has bccn our houscmatc sincc ycstcrday, hc must just mcan
that hc visitcd lrcqucntly.
Untimely Meditations

my mcmory. n hot summcr days |8ascl can bccomc cxtrcmcly humid| hc tricd to lowcr
thc tcmpcraturc in his room with blocks ol icc.

Tc happincss ol Nictzschcs homc lilc was incrcascd whcn a Frau 8aumann, a truc housc
mothcr, took ovcr thc owncrship ol thc Sch utzgrabcn housc in Junc. Tis lcd to thc Gifth utte
bcing rcchristcncd Baumannsh ohle |8aumanns cavc| and to lrcqucnt rclcrcnccs to its inhab
itants (including Romundt lrom April +8) as cavc bcars. Tc cavc must havc posscsscd
a samovar (pcrhaps on account ol vcrbccks Russian background) sincc, ycars latcr, Nictz
schc scnt vcrbcck a postcard rcminding him ol thcir timc togcthcr thcrc:
\crscs lrom 8aumanns Cavc
Visdom spcaks: thcrc whcrc thoughts arc abscnt
Tcrc thc tca |Tee| arrivcs at thc right timc
A god still unknown to thc souls ol thc Grccks
Machinc god |Maschinentheos| lcts us bccomc wisc!
(Tus spokc onc ol thc cavcbcars to thc othcr as hc lcarnt how to drink tca lrom him.)
As wcll as bcing happy in his cavc, Nictzschc also cnjoycd a vibrant social lilc. Hc was
rcgularly to bc lound in thc homcs ol collcagucs and in 8ascls bcst patrician houscs oltcn
ovcrlapping catcgorics sincc, as notcd, many ol thc prolcssors camc lrom thc bcst lamilics.
!n March hc wrotc homc that
Tcrc havc bccn scvcral lcstivitics c.g. at thc \ischcrs, to cclcbratc two cngagcmcnts . . . a
ball at thc \ischcr8ischos, a hundrcd pcoplc wcrc thcrc, bclorc that Sally, Frau Valtcr,
and somc mcn put on an opcrctta. Tcn ! was onc cvcning with thc good Sicbcrs, with
Socin and Jacob 8urckhardt.

Tc Pcnguin translation ol Ecce Homo has, on thc covcr, a Caspar avid Fricdrich portrait
ol a man, sccn lrom thc rcar Nictzschc, wc arc cncouragcd to bclicvc standing alonc on
a mountaintop, gazing down into thc mistllcd vallcys bclow. Tis promotcs thc imagc
ol Nictzschc as a misanthropic social mist. Vc know alrcady, howcvcr, lrom his busy
social lilc in Lcipzig, that this romantic stcrcotypc is actually a myth. (Tc isolation ol his
latcr ycars, wc shall scc, was thc product, not ol misanthropy or social incompctcncc, but
ol appalling hcalth and a workaholic naturc.) !n 8ascl thc sociability ol his Lcipzig ycars
continucd and cvcn intcnsicd. Hcrc, lor cxamplc, is Frau !da Miaskowskis mcmory ol
him in +8:
!n wintcr wc loundcd a small social group which cvcry two wccks mct in thc cvcnings.
n onc ol thcsc cvcnings thcrc was, lor Nictzschcs bcnct, a charming pcrlormancc . . . a
tablcau vivant lromthc Mastersingers . . . Vhcn all thc gucsts wcrc asscmblcd, ! askcd Nictz
schc to play thc prizc song and opcncd thc door to thc dining room, in which thc charm
ing tablcau was sct up . . . . vcryonc was dclightcd and Nictzschc, in lact, grcatly movcd.
Hc took my two hands and prcsscd thcm again and again, in thanks lor thc charming
surprisc . . . my mmy, shc had ncvcr bccn in such a circlc ol innoccnt lun. Tc strangc
thing was that thc two chicl sourccs ol mcrrimcnt, vcrbcck and Nictzschc, wcrc known
throughout Gcrmany as tcrriblc pcssimists and Schopcnhaucrians! Last Tursday wc did a
lot ol music. Nictzschc improviscd cntrancingly and vcrbcck brought lourhandcd picccs
by Schubcrt.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
n anothcr occasion shc wrotc,
Tis cvcning is our Tucsday group. Nictzschc says hcs got a lunny book to rcad aloud |it
was a collcction ol humorous storics by Mark Twain|. Last timc it was grcat lun, wc rcad,
playcd, and jumpcd about until hall past twclvc.
And shc rccords that during thc wintcr Nictzschc camc rcgularly on Fridays to accompany
hcr whilc shc sang.
Gloom in Bayreuth
n March, +8 showing that his impulsc to composc had not bccn cntircly squashcd by
von 8 ulows savagc judgmcnt Nictzschc composcd a Monodic ` a dcux, a lourhandcd
piano work lor thc wcdding ol a Hcrr Monod (track +6 on thc Vcb sitc lor this book),

a monody is a work that has a singlc mclodic linc (as wcll as bcing a pun in its rccipicnts
namc), thc piccc was, hc pointcd out, highly symbolic lor a wcdding.

Tc lollowing month
hc nally madc his rst visit to 8ayrcuth, accompanicd by Rohdc, to spcnd thc wcck ol
astcr (April 6+:) with thc Vagncrs in thcir ncw, but lar lrom nishcd, housc, !ahnfried.
Hc caught thcm at a bad momcnt. l thc thousand sponsorship ccrticatcs that nccdcd
to bc sold bclorc work on thc Fcstspiclhaus could cvcn bcgin, only two hundrcd had actually
bccn sold. Vagncr was thus in a grumpy mood most unusually, hc said at onc point that
hc couldnt stand thc continual chattcr in thc housc sccrctly rcgrctting (with Nictz
schc) that hc had cvcr lclt Tribschcn. Harasscd by thc nccd to dcal with communications
lrom thc Vagncr socictics all ovcr Gcrmany and to cngagc in promotional activity with
thc hatcd prcss (and so morc than usually antiScmitic), hc loathcd thc distraction lrom
thc chicl task ol complcting thc orchcstration ol G otterd ammerung. Vhcn Nictzschc tricd
to chccr thcm up by playing onc ol his own compositions probably a rcduccd vcrsion ol
thc Monodic ` a dcux hc lailcd: wc wcrc irritatcd by our lricnds musicmaking hobby,
Cosima wrotc patronizingly in hcr diary. Nictzschc was, howcvcr, allowcd to rcad lrom
his workinprogrcss, Philosophy in the Tragic ge of the Greeks, on thrcc cvcnings, which
indicatcs that it at lcast was trcatcd with morc rcspcct than his music.

Tis work is chicy notablc lor its closc idcntication with Hcraclitus, an idcntication
Nictzschc rctaincd throughout his lilc. Anaximandcr, in thc oldcst known lragmcnt ol
Vcstcrn philosophy, wrotc,
Vhcncc things havc thcir coming into bcing thcrc thcy must also pcrish according to
ncccssity: lor thcy must pay a pcnalty and bc judgcd lor thcir injusticc, according to thc
ordinanccs ol timc.
All that is born is condcmncd to dcath. For Anaximandcr, cxistcncc is a kind ol punishmcnt
lor somc mystcrious guilt, somc kind ol original sin. Vith Hcraclitus, howcvcr, Nictzschc
argucs, wc lcarn how to ovcrcomc Anaximandcrs pcssimism. Unlikc Parmcnidcs, who hcld
that bccoming (changc) is an illusion, Hcraclitus agrccs with Anaximandcr that bccoming

Gabricl Monod marricd lga Hcrzcn, daughtcr ol Alcxandcr Hcrzcn, thc Russian socialist rcvolu
tionary, and lostcr daughtcr ol Malwida von Mcyscnbug, who had kcpt Hcrzcns housc lor him in
London (scc lurthcr p. :+ bclow).
Untimely Meditations

is rcal. !ndccd thcrc is nothing but bccoming it is Parmcnidcss bcing which is an illusion.
Hcraclituss achicvcmcnt, Nictzschc continucs, was to transgurc Hcsiods good ris into
a cosmic principlc. Unlikc thc lrozcn world ol Parmcnidcs, Hcraclituss world consists in
ctcrnal compctition, innumcrablc pairs ol oppositcs wrcstling in joyous combat.
8ut docs this not involvc guilt and sucring, as Anaximandcr says: Ycs, Nictzschc
rcports Hcraclitus as saying, but only lor thc limitcd human bcing who sccs divcrgcntly
not convcrgcntly. To thc acsthctic man or thc childartist (Te Birth of Tragedys hcro), it
is all innoccnt play.
!n a notc writtcn slightly carlicr, Nictzschc says that
Tc Grcck naturc kncw how to makc usc ol all thc terrible lcaturcs |ol thc world| . . . thc
usc ol thc harmlul lor thc sakc ol thc usclul is idcaliscd in thc world vicw ol Hcraclitus.
Tis cxplains thc mcaning ol convcrgcnt. Hcraclitus, Nictzschc holds, achicvcs a vicw
according to which thc world can bc joyously armcd, sincc thc harmlul ultimatcly lcads
to thc bcnccial but only in thc cycs ol somconc who asccnds lromthc point ol vicwol thc
human individual to that ol thc worldcrcating childgodartist. As in Te Birth, thcrclorc,
ovcrcoming Anaximandcrs nausca consists, lor a Hcraclitcan, in a transccndcncc ol human
Tough Cosima lound thc rcadings lromPhilosophy in the Tragic ge ncwand intcrcsting
shc rccords no commcnt lrom Vagncr, who likcly lound thc work (which mcntions ncithcr
music nor drama) tangcntial to his own, prcssing conccrns.

Four days altcr rcturning lrom8ayrcuth to 8ascl, Nictzschc humbly wrotc to Vagncr about
thc visit:
!l you sccmcd not satiscd with my prcscncc ! undcrstand it only too wcll, without bcing
ablc to do anything about it, lor ! lcarn and pcrccivc only vcry slowly. And cvcry momcnt
with you ! cxpcricncc somcthing ! had ncvcr thought bclorc and which ! wish to imprcss
on my mind. ! know vcry wcll, dcarcst Mastcr, that such a visit can bc no rclaxation lor you,
must indccd bc virtually unbcarablc. ! havc oltcn wishcd to givc at lcast thc appcarancc ol
grcatcr lrccdom and indcpcndcncc, but in vain. nough. ! ask you simply to takc mc as
your pupil . . . !t is truc that ! bccomc cach day morc mclancholy whcn ! lccl so dccply how
much !d likc to bc usclul to you in somc way or othcr, and how complctcly unsuitcd ! am
lor that, so that ! can do nothing to allcviatc your distraction or chccr you up.
Tc lcttcrs ol thc Tribschcn pcriod cxhibit re.erence lor thc mastcr. 8ut with its cchocs ol a
Christian conlcssion ol inalicnablc sinlulncss, this lcttcr can only bc dcscribcd as gro.elling.
Tc most rcvcaling linc, howcvcr, is thc rclcrcncc to thc nccd lor grcatcr lrccdom and
indcpcndcncc. Nictzschc is hcrc trying in thc most dclicatc manncr to tcll thc Mastcr to
his lacc what hc told von Gcrsdor in thc lcttcr quotcd in thc prcvious chaptcr: that hc
nccds a sanitary distancc lrom pcrsonal cohabitation with Vagncr, nccds to bc lrcc ol his
ovcrpowcring pcrsonal prcscncc in ordcr to bc truc to him in a highcr scnsc (p. +8 abovc).
Nictzschcs tcchniquc lor gaining that distancc was to rcplacc pcrsonal cohabitation
with lcttcrs ol this grovclling charactcr. vcn altcr Vagncr had rcplicd in his blu, good
humourcd way that you must comc and burdcn mc morc oltcn and that thc chil
drcn (missing him as much as thcir lathcr, prcsumably) havc bccn playing Nictzschc and

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Nictzschc continucs in his grovclling vcin, writing Vagncr in May that hc is
scnsiblc cvcry momcnt that without him, hc would bc a stillborn crcaturc.
8ut whilc
thc lcttcrs grovcl, his pcrsonal attcndancc at 8ayrcuth dwindlcs to almost nothing. !n con
trast to thc twcntythrcc visits to Tribschcn bctwccn +86 and +8:, lrom +8: to +8 hc
paid only lour visits to 8ayrcuth, and nonc at all in +8.
Scholars oltcn suggcst that this distancing ol himscll lrom Vagncr, thc man, was also
a distancing lrom Vagncr, thc artist and thinkcr. 8ut this is not so. Troughout +8 his
privatc notcbooks rcvcal not the slightest hint ol a dcparturc lrom Vagncrs worldvicw and
not thc slightcst rcscrvation about cithcr his music or his philosophy. !ndccd thcy continuc
to armthat Nictzschcs thoughts arc all 8ayrcuthhorizon obscrvations.
And thcy con
tain a grcat dcal ol Vagncr admiration in a contcxt whcrc attcry has no point: thc alrcady
quotcd vcry timc Vagncr insults hc touchcs on a dccp problcm, lor cxamplc.
First Untimely Meditation: David Strauss,
the Confessor and the Writer
n thc rst ol thc grovclling lcttcrs quotcd abovc, Nictzschc, having lamcntcd his inability
to chccr Vagncr up, continucs,
8ut pcrhaps altcr all ! can |chccr you up|, whcn !vc complctcd what !m working on,
namcly a piccc against thc lamous writcr avid Strauss. ! havc rcad through his Old and
Ne. Faith and havc bccn amazcd at its obtuscncss and vulgarity.
To this, in his plcascbcaburdcnagain lcttcr, Vagncr rcsponds, with rcgard to thc
Straussiana, thc only thing that causcs mc pain is that ! cant wait lor it. So out with
!n +868 Vagncr had bccn involvcd in a public squabblc with Strauss and had dircctcd
thrcc satirical sonncts against him. Vhcn Strausss Old and Ne. Faith appcarcd in +8:,
Vagncr had lound it, as Cosima rccords, dccply supcrcial. Nictzschc kncw, thcrclorc, that
thc attack on Strauss would plcasc Vagncr. 8ack in 8ascl at thc bcginning ol May, +8,
hc wrotc to Rohdc that hc had again spcwcd lorth somc lava. Hc had comc back lrom
8ayrcuth, hc says, in such a prolongcd mclancholy, that holy lury bccamc thc only way to
gct out ol it.
Tis was thc rst skctch ol, as von Gcrsdor would christcn it, thc Straussiade
(somctimcs ntiStraussiade), warriorNictzschcs cannonadc against Vagncrs cncmy. Tc
work was writtcn at lightcning spccd. !t was nishcd in May and (publishcrs, likc postal
scrviccs, bcing much morc ccicnt thcn than now) appcarcd with Fritzsch in July.
Vhy, howcvcr, Strauss: l all thc many gurcs both hc and Vagncr disapprovcd ol,
why did Nictzschc sclcct thc author ol Te Old and Ne. Faith, in particular, as an objcct on
which to vcnt his bottlcdup lury:
!nitially Nictzschc thought ol calling thc First Meditation, indccd his wholc projcctcd
scrics ol Meditations, thc philosophcr as physician ol culturc.
8ut in lact, as hc rccogniscs
in Ecce Homo, a mctaphor ol violcncc is morc appropriatc to thc works warlikc charactcr.
!t is, hc says, an assassination |ttentat|.
Yct as Ecce Homo also says, thc rcal objcct ol
attack is not Strauss in particular but rathcr Gcrman culturc in gcncral.
So thc attack is
in a scnsc impcrsonal Strauss is ol intcrcst only as a paradigm ol what is wrong with thc
charactcr ol thc (non)culturc ol 8ismarcks Gcrmany.
Untimely Meditations

Togcthcr with Gcorgc liot, wc saw, Nictzschc had oncc admircd Strauss: Strausss Life
of Jesus playcd a crucial rolc in his own libcration lrom Christian laith (pp. 6 abovc).
At twcnty, hc rccalls in +888, hc took grcat plcasurc in its dcconstruction ol thc 8iblc.
thc Meditation itscll hc acknowlcdgcs that Strauss had once bccn a nc scholar. Tc g
urc hc attacks, howcvcr, is thc agcd, soltmindcd Strauss who rcintroduccs by thc back
door thc rcligion which, in his days ol toughmindcd vigour, hc had kickcd out ol thc
lront. Tc author ol Te Old and Ne. Faith ocrs, Nictzschc notcs, a vcrsion ol Hcgclian
optimism a kind ol cvolutionary panthcism as an altcrnativc rcligion. Hc ocrs thc
rationality ol thc rcal
as lcading to a hcavcn on carth.
Nictzschc ocrs thrcc lincs ol
First, it is a stupid casc and contcntmcnt doctrinc. Likc Hcgclianism in gcncral, it is
mcrcly a dcication ol succcss, an apothcosis ol thc commonplacc.
!n his notcbooks,
Nictzschc rcpcats Schopcnhaucrs claim that thc Hcgclian worldproccss cnds in a lat
Prussian statc with good policc.
As Nictzschc sccs it, that is, thc Hcgclians ol thc +8os
takc Prussias triumph ovcr Francc to bc thc nal coincidcncc ol thc rational (i.c., thc
good) with thc rcal, thc cnd ol history. His objcction is that this is nothing morc than
a contcmptiblc pandcring to Strausss scllsatiscd, bourgcois audicncc, thc complaccnt
as whosc spokcsman hc appoints himscll. Alrcady in its lourth cdition altcr lcss
than a ycar in print, Strausss Old and Ne. Faith was a blockbustcr. Vc havc a low
opinion, Nictzschc writcs to Cosima, ol what nds immcdiatc succcss and acccptancc in
thcsc dcsolatc timcs.
Such pandcring might havc something to bc said lor it wcrc thcrc
anything to admirc about 8ismarcks Gcrmany. 8ut, in lact, nothing is admirablc about a
bourgcois philistinism which, likc a worm, conccivcd ol hcavcn as nothing highcr than a
lat carcass.
As wc havc sccn, what Nictzschc loathcs about Vilhclminian Gcrmany is thc mood ol
triumphalism (mirrorcd in Strausss Hcgclian triumphalism), thc assumption that military
victory ovcr Francc was somchowa prool ol thc supcriority ol Gcrman culturc. (Tc cqually
disastrous mood ol Amcricas ncocons altcr thc collapsc ol thc Sovict Union providcs a
parallcl.) Nictzschc makcs thc obvious point that thc victory ovcr Francc had nothing to
do with cultural supcriority. !t was duc, rathcr, to strict military training, supcriority in
thc scicncc ol warlarc among thc lcadcrs and unity and obcdicncc among thc lcd. nc
morc victory likc this, hc adds, and whilc thc Gcrman Rcich will survivc, thc Gcrman will
bc dcstroycd.
l coursc, thc lact that thc 8ayrcuth projcct thc onc hopc ol rcviving thc
Gcrman appcarcd to bc loundcring through lack ol lunds mcrcly conrmcd Nictzschcs
asscssmcnt ol impcrial Gcrmany as a socicty cngullcd by barbarism. Vartriumphalism,
hc notcs, is a grcatcr dangcr to thc sccrctly growing lruit

than military dclcat would havc


KSA + |+|. Tis H oldcrlinlikc phrasc is illuminatcd by a notc which rcads, H oldcrlin on
Gcrmany: Now you tarry and kccp silcnt, pondcr a joylul work/Tc only thing, likc yourscll, that
is/8orn out ol lovc and is good, as you arc./Vhcrc is your clos, whcrc your lympia,/So that
wc can all nd oursclvcs in thc highcst lcstival:/8ut how will your son gucss, what you, immortal
onc, havc long prcparcd lor yoursclvcs: (KSA : |6|). For H oldcrlin, as lor Nictzschc and
Vagncr, thc rcdcmption ol Gcrman lilc dcpcnds on thc rcturn ol thc Grcck lcstival. Vhat this
notc indicatcs, ! think, is that in thc +8os (and, in lact, all his lilc) Nictzschc idcntics his stancc
towards thc Gcrmans with that ol his lavouritc poct (pp. : abovc): thc stancc ol tough lovc, thc
lovc that spcaks thc hard truths that nccd to bc spokcn, but ncvcr givcs up hopc that thc Gcrmans
will onc day rcdccm thcmsclvcs.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Nictzschcs sccond criticism is dircctcd against Strausss panthcism. vcn il thcrc is, as
Strauss claims, a primordial sourcc ol cvcrything, how, hc asks, can it possibly bc callcd
God and madc an objcct ol rcligious vcncration givcn that, as thc sourcc ol cvcrything,
it is also thc sourcc ol all e.il:
As wc havc sccn, Nictzschc himscll is conccrncd with
this problcm ol cvil, with attaining thc Hcraclitcan vicw that sccs cvil as justicd by its
contribution to a grcatcr good (p. +6 abovc). Tus thc criticism hcrc, onc may assumc, is
not so much ol panthcism itscll as ol thc lact that Strauss has not sccn thc problcm, has
madc no intcllcctual cort to ovcrcomc what, on the face of things, is a crushing objcction to
Nictzschcs third criticism amounts to thc claim that, in thc languagc ol Te Birth of
Tragedy, Strauss is a Socratist, that hc is thc thcorctical man who bclicvcs that scicncc
can achicvc absolutc mastcry ovcr naturc and thcrcby solvc cvcry human problcm. Tc
Meditation raiscs two objcctions to thc Socratism which, rcmcmbcr, Nictzschc takcs to bc
thc dominant outlook ol thc prcscnt agc. First hc rcpcats thc claim ol Te Birth that Socrat
ism is shown to bc lalsc by Kantian philosophy. Strauss, hc says, is onc ol thosc pcoplc who
cannot undcrstand Kant. Tat hc subscribcs to thc crudcst sort ol rcalism shows that hc
has no undcrstanding ol
Kants critiquc ol rcason . . . no notion ol thc lundamcntal antinomics ol idcalism|Nictzschc
mcans antinomics that arc resol.ed by idcalism| or ol thc cxtrcmc rclativity ol all scicncc
and rcason. r: it is prcciscly rcason that ought to tcll himhowlittlc ol thc initscll |nsich|
ol things is dctcrmincd by rcason.

So, sincc it cannot know rcality, scicncc cannot control it, is powcrlcss in thc lacc ol thc
traumas crcatcd by thc crcatorchildartists dccision to smash onc ol its sandcastlcs. (l
coursc, cvcn il it could control thc world, Nictzschc bclicvcs, that would not solvc our
most csscntial problcms. Man cannot livc without thc idcalism ol inspirational myth and
Socratism, as wc know, kills myth. Strauss, hc obscrvcs, would put a visionary such as Jcsus
in a madhousc and has nothing to say about thc mythic signicancc ol thc rcsurrcction
othcr than that it is humbug.)

Nictzschcs sccond objcction to Strausss Socratism is that it is consciously dishoncst.

Tc grcat dragonkillcr pulls his punchcs lor lcar ol disturbing thc complaisant slccp ol
his audicncc. n thc onc hand hc claims to acccpt arwins thcory ol cvolution. 8ut,
on thc othcr, hc tclls onc to rcmcmbcr you arc a man not a mcrc crcaturc ol naturc.
!n othcr words, rathcr than sccing that this rcvolutionary ncw mctaphysical matcrial
ism dcmands a rcvolutionary ncw morality bascd on acccptancc ol thc war ol all against
all, Strauss tclls us wc can go on just as bclorc. !nstcad ol saying ! havc libcratcd you
lrom a hclplul and mcrcilul God, thc univcrsc is only a rigid machinc, takc carc you arc
not manglcd in its whccls,

Strauss prctcnds that cvcrything can carry on in thc samc

old way.

Vagncr lovcd thc rst Meditation, writing to Nictzschc, ! havc rcrcad it and swcar to
God that you arc thc only onc who knows what ! want.
Liszt notcd that hc was lull
ol sympathctic wondcr at thc work.

And though Cosima was lcss imprcsscd, shc was

movcd, by somc disparaging rcmarks about Nictzschc by Vagncrs sistcr, ttilic 8rockhaus,
to dclcnd him as somconc who had put his wholc carccr in jcopardy lor hcr |ttilics|
Untimely Meditations

brothcr and was his trucst lollowcr.
Gottlricd Kcllcr (thc Swiss author ol thc novcl Green
Henry, which Nictzschc grcatly admircd) on thc othcr hand thought it a juvcnilc product
ol somconc ovcrcagcr to bc a big man.

Karl Hillcbrand, thc distinguishcd man ol lcttcrs,

howcvcr, callcd it a witty work and obscrvcd, shrcwdly, that it was a sign ol a rcturn to thc
Gcrman |moral| idcalism that our grandparcnts aspircd to.
!n 8ascl, thc Straussiade did
Nictzschc no harm at all. Tc Godlcaring wcrc dclightcd by thc attack on thc notorious
athcist, thc rcmaindcr lound it amusing. !t was, in lact, shortly altcr thc appcarancc ol thc
Meditation that his collcagucs clcctcd him dcan ol thc laculty lor thc lollowing ycar. Strauss
himscll was bcmuscd, how can onc bc so lurious, hc wondcrcd, with somconc who has
ncvcr crosscd his path:,
a qucstion thc answcr to which should now bc clcar cnough.
Vhcn, howcvcr, Strauss dicd in Fcbruary ol thc lollowing ycar, Nictzschc had an attack
ol rcmorsc: ! hopc ! didnt makc thc last ycars dicult to bcar and that hc dicd without
knowing anything ol mc, hc wrotc von Gcrsdor.
Rest Cure in Ilims
hc nal pagcs ol thc rst Meditation wcrc complctcd by dictation. !n May +8, thcrc
was a dramatic dctcrioration in Nictzschcs cycsight. Hc cxpcricnccd agonizing pain in
thc cycs and by thc timc his sistcr camc to visit on Junc hc could no longcr rcad or writc.
Hc was lorccd to wcar dark glasscs whcncvcr hc vcnturcd out ol doors and in lact spcnd
most ol thc timc indoors bchind drawn curtains. Fortunatcly, von Gcrsdor, ncwly rcturncd
lrom !taly, was on hand lor Nictzschc to dictatc thc Meditation to him and to prcparc thc
nal, printrcady manuscript. !n spitc ol his own ill hcalth, von Gcrsdor altcrcd his plans
and staycd at Nictzschcs sidc as amanucnsis until Scptcmbcr my lclt cyc as wcll as my
right hand, Nictzschc dcscribcs him to Vagncr.

(Tat von Gcrsdor and soon othcrs

would pcrlorm this scrvicc indicatcs that thosc who kncw Nictzschc scnscd alrcady that
thcy wcrc dcaling with a pcrson ol cxccptional importancc.)
8y carly July, Nictzschcs condition had dctcrioratcd so rapidly that his mcdical lricnd,
r. !mmcrmann, told himthat hc would havc to canccl his grammarschool tcaching bclorc
thc cnd ol thc school ycar and undcrgo a rcst curc in somc sccludcd mountain villagc. vi
dcntly !mmcrmann lclt thcrc was a psychosomatic lactor contributing Nictzschcs
condition: hc diagnoscd ovcrstimulatcd ncrvcs and ocrcd, by way ol rcmcdy, thc instruc
tion: bc morc stupid and you will lccl bcttcr.

Taking !mmcrmanns advicc, in a manncr ol spcaking, Nictzschc and von Gcrsdor lclt
8ascl on July lor Flims, a thousand mctrcs abovc sca lcvcl to thc wcst ol Chur, whcrc thcy
staycd, until thcy rcturncd to 8ascl in thc middlc ol August, in a chalctpcnsion abovc thc
villagc, ovcrlooking Lakc Caumau. Latcr Romundt joincd thcm. \on Gcrsdor dcscribcs
thc holiday in a lcttcr to lizabcth:
wc arc thoroughly satiscd . . . thc rcgion is hcavcnly . . . thc housc is on thc high road
and is vcry ncw and clcan. Tc bcds arc cxccllcnt thc lood substantial . . . cxccllcnt homc
cooking . . . onc can undcrgo a milk curc. Fritz docs so. At vcthirty in thc morning and
vc in thc cvcning a largc glass . . . !n thc mornings, wc havc so lar walkcd in thc lorcst
bcncath larchcs and rs |shadc lor Nictzschcs cycs|, in thc sight ol sublimc mountains wc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
havc rcad !alk ure, Siegfried, and T.ilight of the Gods. Tis is thc right placc to cxpcricncc
twilight. Altcr lunch wc pull Plutarch apart, altcr which wc havc a sicsta lying on thc
moss or thc grass. Fivcthirty wc go swimming. At scvcn thc cvcning mcal, always a hot
onc. And so our timc ows by, wcll uscd, as thc rcsdcn songbook puts it, to all ctcrnity.
Just now Fritz rcccivcd a unusual visit. r \cttcr, a grammar school tcachcr lrom Chur,
discloscd himscll as thc winncr ol thc oo talcrs |lor thc cssay compctition on thc Fing lor
which Nictzschc had bccn a judgc.|

n August 8th, thc rst bound copics ol thc Straussiade arrivcd in Flims by post. \on
Gcrsdor takcs up thc story in a lcttcr to Rohdc:
At hallpast thrcc wc madc our way down to thc grccn Lakc Caumau. Vc cngravcd thc
initials U. 8. !. F. N. 8./8. +8

on a sloping slab ol marblc. Tcn wc swamout to a rock that

rosc up out ol thc grccn watcrs in thc middlc ol thc lakc. Hcrc wc surrcptitiously inscribcd
U. 8. F. N. C. G. H. R. 8./8. +8,

altcr which wc tarricd a whilc on thc dclightlul

Rhcingold rock. Tc sun . . . smilcd down on thc carth out ol whosc dark dcpths thc rock
rosc up. Altcr thc swim wc blcsscd thc rst stonc and its inscription with winc . . . !n thc
cvcning it was divincly purc and clcar. Tis is how wc cclcbratcd thc ntistraussiade.
Te Rosalie Nielsen Aair
osalic Niclscn may wcll havc bccn thc rst, as onc might dcscribc it, lcltwing Nictz
schcan. Tc Niclscn aair startcd shortly altcr thc appcarancc ol Te Birth of Tragedy.
A wildly cnthusiastic lan, this somcwhat cldcrly, ugly widow, who imagincd hcrscll to bc
thc lcmalc incarnation ol ionysus, dcvclopcd a longdistancc inlatuation with thc books
author and bcgan to bombard him with lcttcrs accompanicd by photographs ol a symbolic
naturc. !n thc summcr ol +8 shc bcgan to visit him, visits which hc rcccivcd pcrhaps
unlortunatcly with his usual quict courtcsy. Altcr rcturning to Lcipzig it appcars that shc
madc an attcmpt to buy Fritzsch, thc Vagncrians housc publishcr, in ordcr, so shc claimcd
to Nictzschc, to cnsurc that thcir writings wcrc wcll carcd lor. Fritzsch, aictcd with strikcs
by lcltwing tradcs unions and in nancial dicultics, was indccd ripc lor a takcovcr. Sincc
Niclscn appcarcd to havc conncxions with Mazzini and thc !talian Marxists, ctobcr lound
Nictzschc lcaring an intcrnational conspiracy to takc control ol Vagncrs publishcr with
thc aim ol swccping this rcncgadc socialist o thc stagc.

Tough Fritzsch was indccd in

troublc, it appcars that thc conspiracy cxistcd cntircly in Nictzschcs, or pcrhaps Niclscns,
hcad. !n any casc hc was soon ablc to laugh at thc wholc aair, but not as hcartily as Vag
ncr, who composcd ninc vcrscs ol doggcrcl to cxprcss his gratitudc lor Nictzschcs conccrn
lor (cvcn imaginary) thrcats to ntcrprisc 8ayrcuth. nc rcads as lollows (thc cnd ol cvcry
linc savc thc last rhymcs):

Unzeitm assige Betrachtung I |Untimely Meditation I|, Fricdrich Nictzschc, 8.8.+8.

Unzeitm assige Betrachtung Fricdrich Nictzschc, Carl Gcrsdor, Hcinrich Romundt, 8.8.+8.
Untimely Meditations

Sch.ert, Stock und Pritzsche
kurz, .as im !erlag .on Fritzsche
schrei, l arm or quietzsche
das schenk ich meinem Nietzsche,
. ars ihm zu .as n utzen.
Sword, stick and lools wand
in short, whatcvcr in Fritzschs rm
shricks, dins or squcaks
! givc to my Nictzschc,
May hc nd it usclul.
\agucly comical though thc cpisodc is, it docs rcvcal Nictzschcs alrcady wclldcvclopcd
hostility to socialism and organizcd labour, attitudcs rcinlorccd in thc patrician houscs ol
8ascl, whosc owncrs wcrc thcmsclvcs having troublc with union activism. !n a notc ol thc
pcriod hc writcs that hc has a lcw pious wishcs: rcmoval ol thc univcrsal right to votc,
rctcntion ol thc dcath pcnalty, and rcstriction ol thc right to strikc.
Tc ground ol his
hostility is ol coursc thc vicw outlincd in Tc Grcck Statc that sincc art rcquircs thc
lcisurc ol thc lcw crcatcd by thc toil ol thc many, art and socialism arc sworn cncmics
(scc p. +6o abovc). (Sincc Vagncr saw through this spurious opposition, hc was ablc
to takc a lcss paranoid attitudc to socialism and hcncc took thc Niclscn aair morc
Summons to the Germans
hc nancial situation ol thc 8ayrcuth projcct, bad at thc timc ol Nictzschcs astcr visit,
had dctcrioratcd still lurthcr ovcr thc summcr, so that by August it was dccidcd that
thcrc should bc a ncw public appcal lor lunds. Vagncr suggcstcd that Nictzschc should
writc a manilcsto to bc prcscntcd lor approval at thc mccting ol thc combincd Gcrman
Vagncr socictics (i.c., Vagncrs nancial sponsors) to takc placc in 8ayrcuth on ctobcr
+. Nictzschc agrccd but lound thc manilcsto dicult to writc, not lcast bccausc, on account
ol his cycs, hc had to dictatc thc wholc thing to Romundt. Tc dralt was postcd to Vagncr
on ctobcr :.
Tc Summons bcgins by warning thc Gcrmans that thc cycs ol thc world arc upon thcm
to scc whcthcr thcy will mcasurc up to thc 8ayrcuth artwork, an artwork which, scparating
itscll lrom thc disgracclul triviality ol thc currcnt Gcrman thcatrc, will lor thc rst timc
constitutc a sitc lor thc national spirit. o you not, Nictzschc dcmands ol his audicncc,
lccl compcllcd to hclp in this rccrcation ol thc Gcrman nation through thc artwork ol thc
luturc: Can you stand idly by whilc this crucial attcmpt is bcing madc: Tc Gcrmans arc
rcputcd to bc thc pcoplc ol thinkcrs. 8ut pcrhaps thc rcst ol thc world is wondcring
thcy havc comc to thc cnd ol thcir thinking. Tat, ccrtainly, is what thc rcpcatcd attacks on
Vagncrs projcct suggcst. Tc 8ayrcuth vcnt ol May +8: (thc laying ol thc loundation
stonc) was not, Nictzschc continucs, thc gathcring ol a musical scct. !t was rathcr thc com
ing togcthcr ol thc nation and a purication ol dramatic art ol worldwidc signicancc. Tc
Vagncrian artwork is thc nations drama, a drama which constitutcs thc most important

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
possibility ol rccovcring an original, authcntically Gcrman, way ol living. Tosc who arc
unsclsh and prcparcd lor sacricc will commit thcmsclvcs to this projcct, and whcn this
happcns Gcrmany will cut a ncw kind ol gurc on thc worldstagc:
Tc Gcrman will appcar honourablc and thc bringcr ol hcaling only whcn hc has shown
that hc is to bc lcarcd and yct through the straining of his highest and noblest artistic and cultural
po.ers .ill make it forgotten that he .as fear-inspiring.
Vc must, Nictzschc concludcs, support with all our powcrs a grcat artdccd ol thc Gcrman
gcnius, this purication and dcdication through thc sublimc magic and tcrror ol authcntic
Gcrman art, othcrwisc thc powcrlully arouscd drivcs ol political and nationalistic pas
sions . . . will lorcc our succcssors to concludc that wc Gcrmans havc lost oursclvcs just as
wc had rcdiscovcrcd oursclvcs.

Troughout thc cightccnth and ninctccnth ccnturics, thc Gcrmans wcrc known, and
camc to know thcmsclvcs, as Das !olk .on Dichten und Denken, thc pcoplc ol poctry and
thought. !n contrast to thc commcrcial drivc and military might ol impcrial 8ritain, thc
Gcrmans wcrc thought ol as pcacclul, somcwhat drcamy pcoplc who prclcrrcd writing
pocms to acquiring colonics. Tis is thc scnsc ol thc Gcrmans Nictzschc conjurcs up with
thc phrasc pcoplc ol thinkcrs. Tough hc is not opposcd to a militarily strong and politi
cally unitcd Gcrmany, poctry and thought is thc morc csscntial, original naturc to which hc
rclcrs, thc Gcrman soul that is thrcatcncd with dcstruction by thc grccdy matcrialism and
lust lor powcr ol thc 8ismarckian prcscnt. Nictzschcs Summons docs not abandon nation
alistic passions, rathcr it rcdirccts thcm. !nstcad ol bcing lcarcd as thc prccmincnt military
powcr in uropc, thc Gcrmans should strivc to shinc
through cultural prccmincncc.
8ad ris must bc translormcd into good ris (hard into solt powcr). Tis is thc scnsc
ol thc lollowing notc lrom carly +8:
!t is quitc lalsc to say that prcviously thc Gcrmans wcrc acsthctic now thcy arc political.
Tc Gcrmans sought an idcal in thcir Luthcr, Gcrman music, highcr than anything clsc wc
know as culturc. Tc qucst lor that should stop bccausc thcy havc powcr: Prcciscly powcr
(on account ol its cvil naturc) should dircct thcm thcrc morc strongly than cvcr. Hc |sic|
must apply his powcr to his highcr cultural goal . . . Tc glorication ol thc modcrn statc
can lcad to thc dcstruction ol all culturc.

Nictzschc tricd out a dralt ol thc Summons on Rohdc who said that, though spokcn
lrom thc hcart, givcn that it was supposcd to addrcss thc unconvcrtcd rathcr than thc
convcrtcd, to win ovcr thosc prcviously opposcd to 8ayrcuth, its cocrcivc rhctoric (thc cycs
ol thc world arc upon you, ctc.) was unlikcly to bc ccctivc.
And though Vagncr likcd
it and Cosima thought it vcry bcautilul and that spcaking with laith and truth rathcr
than mcrc clcvcrncss

was just what was rcquircd, thc committcc ol sponsors agrccd with
Rohdc. !t was rcjcctcd as too sharp and rcplaccd by a morc innocuous pamphlct by a
Prolcssor Stcrn lromrcsdcn. Nictzschc took thc rcjcction with his usual gracc in advcrsity,
admitting to Rohdc without rancour that all along his had bccn thc right rcsponsc to thc

Untimely Meditations

Second Untimely Meditation: Te Uses and Disadvantages
of History for Life
ictzschc was philosophical about thc rcjcction, pcrhaps bccausc hc had a morc impor
tant sh to lry. Troughout thc ycar hc had bccn mcditating in his notcs on a qucstion
ol grcat momcnt to both himscll and Vagncr, thc qucstion ol whcthcr historical knowlcdgc
is a good or bad thing. Tcsc ruminations culminatcd, in about Novcmbcr, in thc idca ol
dcvoting a sccond Meditation to thc topic. For Nictzschc, ol coursc, history is abovc all
Grcck history, so that thc Meditation on thc uscs and abuscs ol history (thc notcbooks, at
onc point, contcmplatc this as a possiblc titlc) arc, oncc again, to a largc dcgrcc, a mcditation
on his own prolcssion, on thc uscs and abuscs ol classical philology. Tc work was com
plctcd by Christmas, again with cxtcnsivc sccrctarial hclp lrom Romundt and vcrbcck,
and appcarcd, oncc morc with Fritzsch, in Fcbruary +8.
Tc sccond Meditation is a major work, on a dicrcnt lcvcl to its, ultimatcly somcwhat
journalistic, prcdcccssor. As thc titlc indicatcs, it is about thc uscs and misuscs ol history,
whcrc history mcans not thc past but rathcr rcprcscntations ol thc past, historiography.
Tc gcncral argumcnt is that whilc history ol thc right sort is csscntial lor lilc, history ol
thc wrong sort kills it. 8y lilc, hcrc, Nictzschc mcans somcthing likc hcalth, that is to
say, growth: good history is csscntial to thc growth ol a living thing whcthcr this living
thing bc a man or a pcoplc or a culturc,

bad history stunts it. Nictzschc distinguishcs

thrcc typcs ol history that can promotc growth.

Monumental History. Rcprcscntations ol thc past, writcs Nictzschc, lunction monumcnt
ally arc placcd, as it wcrc, on a pcdcstal whcn thcy arc uscd to prcscnt us with g
urcs that arc cxcmplary and worthy ol imitation,
modcls ol sclltransguration.

mythic gurcs promotc grcatncss by inspiring imitation. Tcy arc thc objccts ol cclcbra
tion at popular lcstivals in thc Grcck tcmplc or mcdicval cathcdral, lor cxamplc. Trough
thc ctcrnalizing powcr ol art and rcligion, thcir powcr to invcst gurcs with pious illusion,
with charismatic authority,
thcy bcstow upon cxistcncc thc charactcr ol thc ctcrnal and

Vhat Nictzschc is talking about hcrc is moral cducation. Monumcntal gurcs

rolc or, lcss crudcly, lilcmodcls arc thc rcappcarancc ol thc imagcs ol myth which,
according to Te Birth, must bc thc unnoticcd but cvcrprcscnt dacmonic guardians undcr
whosc tutclagc young souls grow up and by whosc signs thc grown man intcrprcts his lilc
and his strugglcs (p. +o abovc).
ntiquarian History. A pcrson and historian with an antiquarian stancc to thc past
is thc prcscrving and rcvcring soul who
wants to prcscrvc lor thosc who . . . comc altcr him thc conditions undcr which hc himscll
camc into cxistcncc. An antiquarian pcrson rcvcrcs thc past in toto, his soul is, indccd,
constitutcd by thc totality ol thc past.
Tis kind ol pcrsonality somconc who wants cvcrything to rcmain ctcrnally thc samc
can bc ol grcat valuc as a limit on thc cxccsscs ol monumcntal history. Vhilc rolc modcls
always nccd a ccrtain amount ol rccrcation poctic invcntion, to makc scnsc in thc currcnt
contcxt thc !talians ol thc Rcnaissancc wcrc inspircd by Grcck modcls, but that did not

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
mcan donning togas and sandals this can casily gct out ol hand, lcading to gurcs which,
as lrcc poctic invcntions, havc no gcnuinc conncxion with thc past at all. Tis can causc
grcat harm to thc continuity ol a culturc, indccd dcstroy it. Rcvolutions typically happcn
through thc glamorization ol monumcntal gurcs that havc no authcntic roots in history
at all (Stalin, Hitlcr or Mao, lor cxamplc). Tc antiquarian spirit is a vital salcguard against
thc worshiping ol lalsc idols such as thcsc.
Tc downsidc ol thc antiquarian soul, howcvcr, consists in thc lact that it rcvcrcs
e.erything that is past: cvcn thc trivial, circumscribcd, dccaying and obsolctc acquirc thcir
own dignity and inviolability through thc lact that . . . thc soul ol thc antiquarian man has
cmigratcd into thcm and thcrc madc its homc. Tis makcs it blind to thc nccd lor any kind
ol changc. And this rclusal to rccognisc thc nccd to do away with thc dccaying and obsolctc
can lcad to a mummication ol thc spirit which can causc grcat harm to both individual
and community.
Tis is thc point at which critical history bccomcs important.
Critical History. nly monumcntal history, writcs Nictzschc, can bc crcativc. !t alonc
can cmbody a vision ol thc luturc, inspirc architccts ol thc luturc.
Purc antiquarianism,
on thc othcr hand, paralyscs crcation. Hcrc it bccomcs clcar, hc says, that critical history
is also ncccssary in thc scrvicc ol lilc. To ourish, man must posscss and lrom timc to
timc cmploy thc strcngth to brcak up and dissolvc a part ol thc past, and this is what thc
rcadincss to condcmn aspccts ol thc past achicvcs. 8ut how docs thc critical spirit judgc
which aspccts ol thc past nccd to bc abandoncd: n thc basis ol lilc, says Nictzschc. Tc
critical historian dctcrmincs which aspccts ol tradition, as impcdimcnts to thc hcalth and
growth ol socicty, nccd to bc abandoncd.
Nictzschc says that all thrcc ol thc abovc typcs ol historiography, providcd thcy intcract
in thc right way, scrvc lilc. Monumcntal history inspircs cultural changc, changc which,
through continuity with thc past, prcscrvcs thc idcntity ol a culturc. Tc antiquarian spirit,
on thc othcr hand, by placing a brakc on thc wildcr uscs ol thc monumcnt, hclps to cnsurc
that cultural changc rcally is idcntityprcscrving, that it takcs thc shapc ol rclorm rathcr
than rcvolution.
Tc critical spirit makcs thc wholc proccss possiblc. 8y countcracting
thc ossilying cccts ol purc antiquarianism, it crcatcs thc ground on which it bccomcs
possiblc to crcct ccctivc monumcnts.

History Not in the Ser.ice of Life. Rcpcating a linc lrom thc rst Meditation, Nictzschc
dcncs culturc as unity ol artistic stylc in all thc cxprcssions ol thc lilc ol a pcoplc:
lilc ol all thc pcoplc, with no division into cultivatcd and uncouth, hc cmphasiscs, cchoing,
il not Vagncrs socialism, at lcast his communitarianism.
Tc usc ol stylc hcrc might, disconccrtingly, sccm to makc culturc a mattcr ol lorm
rathcr than contcnt, but, in lact, that is not Nictzschcs intcntion. Stylc is not opposed to
substancc, rathcr (as in our usc ol lilcstylc) it cmbraccs it. Tis is clcar lrom thc lact that
Nictzschc gocs on to dcnc culturc as unity ol lccling among a pcoplc.
As wc know lrom Te Birth of Tragedy (pp. +o+ abovc), unity ol lccling is crcatcd by
thc posscssion ol gods who providc a mythical homcland lor a community as a wholc. !t
is crcatcd, in othcr words, by a panthcon ol monumcntal gurcs who collcctivcly cmbody
communal cthos.
Rcpcating Vagncrs cultural criticism and that ol his own carlicr works, Nictzschc says
that, by thc abovc standards, modcrnity lails to count as a culturc, that it is mcrcly a col
lcction ol atomic individuals hcld togcthcr by that articial cntity, thc statc. Vc havc no
Untimely Meditations

culturc, only civilization, hc writcs in his notcbooks ol thc pcriod,
no culturc, mcrcly
plumbing and thc policc. Tc rcason lor this is that modcrnity has bccomc a lairground
motlcy, a chaotic jumblc ol dicrcnt lilcstylcs,
a mcrc cncyclopacdia ol scraps ol
past and lorcign culturcs.
(Tis is what ! callcd thc motlcy critiquc ol modcrnity.) And
thc principal causc ol this is thc misusc ol history, thc usc ol history in a lilcdamaging
Uscd in a hcalthy way, Nictzschc cmphasiscs, history is an art. nc docs not approach thc
past omnivorously but sclccts oncs points ol locus on thc basis ol thc valucs thcy cmbody
and how instructivc thcy arc with rcspcct to thosc valucs. (Tc Vhig vicw ol 8ritish his
tory or, lor that mattcr, prcsumably, thc Hcgclian vicw ol Gcrman history would count as
artistic lorms ol historiography.) And thc hcalthy tclling ol history must bc artistic in that
it must bc donc in a way that surrounds its hcrocs with thc pious illusion discusscd abovc,
without which thcy cannot motivatc: only il history can cndurc bcing translormcd into a
work ol art will it pcrhaps bc ablc to prcscrvc instincts or cvcn cvokc thcm.
Notc that
this is just a rcarmation ol thc inspirationally didactic approach to history and philology
outlincd in On the Future of our Educational Institutions (pp. + abovc).
Tis hcalthy practicc ol history is, howcvcr, dcstroycd by thc modcrn conccption ol his
toriography as valuclrcc scicncc. !n two ways. First, history as scicncc is history rcduccd
to statistics and historical laws. 8ut thcsc only show man as a hcrd animal. Tc individual,
and in particular thc grcat, inspirational individual, disappcars into thc mass.

And sccond,
through indiscriminatc rcproduction ol thc past, scicntic history rcvcals our own sct ol val
ucs as just onc sct on a smorgasbord ol altcrnativcs. Tis produccs, as Nictzschc says in thc
lourth ol thc Fi.e Introductions to Fi.e Un.ritten Books, thc spirit ol nihil admirari (scc p.
+6+ abovc). !n sctting our cthos sidc by sidc with a myriad ol othcr options, history (and
cultural studics in gcncral, onc might add) dcconstructs it, dcprivcs it ol its unconditional
authority ovcr us. As in thc Roman mpirc, modcrnitys cosmopolitan carnival ol gods
turns modcrn man into a strolling spcctator, his mood onc ol cynical scnility.

ol naivc condcncc in our inhcritcd conccption ol thc propcr lilc, wc comc to distrust our
instincts and bccomc incapablc ol committcd action. Postmodcrn nihilism has arrivcd.
Notes from the Underground
tylistically, Nictzschcs publishcd works bclorc +86 bclong rmly to thc Gcrman ninc
tccnth ccntury. Vhcthcr hc is dcploying thc poctic, dithyrambic stylc ol Te Birth or thc
polcmical stylc ol thc Straussiade, thc vocabulary is orid and hypcrbolic, thc scntcnccs long
and hcavy. As Nictzschc himscll obscrvcd in +886, Te Birth is (to a modcrn scnsibility)
badly writtcn, clumsy, cmbarrassing, with a ragc lor imagcry and conluscd in its imagcry,
cmotional, hcrc and thcrc sugary to thc point ol ccminacy, uncvcn in pacc, lacking in thc
will to logical clcanlincss . . . pondcrous.

Tcrc is no wit (as opposcd to bombast) in Te Birth, or in any ol thc carly publishcd works.
8cncath thc public surlacc, howcvcr, in thc privacy ol his notcbooks, bcginning in thc sum
mcr ol +8, a ncw Nictzschc is starting to takc shapc, a Nictzschc ol short, dancing scn
tcnccs, witty cpigrams, morc Frcnch than Gcrman in lccling. Tough hc will not makc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
his rst public ight until +88, in thc notcbooks, Nictzschc thc aphorist, is growing his
wings, oltcn by rccording thc aphorisms ol othcrs, Gocthc, Luthcr, Lichtcnbcrg, but also by
cralting his own. Somc cvcn contain a laint ccho ol his contcmporary, scar Vildc. Hcrc
arc somc cxamplcs: !l happincss wcrc thc goal, thc animals would bc on top. Tcir cyn
icism consists in lorgctting: that is thc quickcst routc to happincss, cvcn il its onc thats not
worth much.
Hc spcaks morc clcarly than hc thinks.

Luthcr: !l God had thought

about thc hcavy guns hc wouldnt havc crcatcd thc world . Forgctlulncss bclongs to all
Paraphrasc ol culturc a tcmpcraturc and mood which allows many originally
hostilc lorccs to play a singlc mclody.

!l philosophcrs would drcam up a polis |citystatc|

today it would ccrtainly not bc Platos polis but rathcr an apragopolis (town ol strolling spcc
And so on.
!t is not, howcvcr, mcrcly thc bcginnings ol wit that makcs thc notcbooks ol thc carly
+8os worth rcading. Vhat also rccommcnds thcm is lact that thcy dcal with mattcrs
touchcd on in thc publishcd works ol thc pcriod cithcr only lightly or not at all. ! shall
bricy prcscnt somc ol thcsc notcbook discussions arrangcd according to topic.
Idealism.ersus Fealism. !dcalism, Nictzschc writcs, indicating that hc is still convinccd by
Kant and Schopcnhaucrs argumcnts, is not an hypothcsis but a lact. nc spcaks ol natural
things and proccsscs but thcy arc all containcd in thc rcprcscntation ol thc subjcct. Tc
brain docs not think: rathcr wc (thc worldtransccndcnt subjcct) think thc brain.
scnsations arc not thc work ol our scnsc organs. Rathcr, scnsc organs arc cntitics wc crcatc on
thc basis ol scnsations.
For all this, Nictzschc continucs, onc could still obscrvc, against
Kant, that, cvcn grantcd all his argumcnts lor idcalism, thc world might still bc cxactly
as it appcars. 8y a happy coincidcncc, in othcr words, thc worldstory thc human mind
constructs might just happcn to cxactly match thc way rcality in itscll is. 8ut actually,
Nictzschc adds, it would not bc a happy coincidcncc at all. For onc could not livc with such
Vc need thcrc to bc anothcr world and lor it to havc a quitc dicrcnt charactcr
lrom this world. Vc nccd somc kind ol othcrworldly salvation, il not ol a Christian, thcn
at lcast ol a Schopcnhaucrian kind.
Te Limits of Science. arly in +8, Nictzschc bcgan to makc up lor thc abscncc ol natural
scicncc lrom his Plorta cducation. From thc 8ascl univcrsity library hc borrowcd a con
sidcrablc numbcr ol books on physics, chcmistry, and astronomy. (Tc most important ol
thcsc, thc Philosophiae naturalis Teoria by thc Croatian Jcsuit Rogcr 8oscovich, dcvclopcd
an atomic thcory in which atomic puncta arc cxtcnsionlcss points in spacc lrom which
causal lorccs arc cxcrtcd an anticipation ol thc lorcc clds ol modcrn scicncc.) !t would
bc a mistakc, howcvcr, to scc intcrcst in natural scicncc as rcprcscnting a turn to thc world
vicw ol scicntic matcrialism. Tc truth is rathcr thc oppositc. Tc notcs ol +8: arc
dominatcd by rcmarks conccrning thc limitations ol scicncc and ol scicntic man. Tc
lattcr, lor cxamplc, is said to bc onc who, surroundcd by thc most tcrriblc cxistcntial prob
lcms, plucks a owcr to count thc numbcr ol ccllthrcads it contains. 8ut as (according to
Nictzschc) Pascal pointcd out, hc docs so cvasivcly. His motivc is to cscapc thc cxistcntial
qucstions ol why: and whcrc to: qucstions which makc him shuddcr and to which hc
has no answcr.
Tc propcr stancc towards scicncc on thc part ol philosophy, howcvcr, is, not to dcstroy,
but rathcr to control it, placc it in pcrspcctivc by attcnding to its philosophical prcsupposi
Tis is what Kant did. Vhcn hc wrotc in thc introduction to thc Critique of Pure
Untimely Meditations

Feason, ! must bcat back knowlcdgc in ordcr to makc room lor laith, hc said somcthing
vcry signicant, somcthing that answcrcd to a cultural nccd.
Nictzschc writcs that though it has tcrriblc conscqucnccs lor art, rcligion, and morality
(thc conscqucnccs Strauss rcluscd to conlront), arwins thcory ol cvolution is somcthing
! hold to bc truc.
!s this not inconsistcnt with his cndorscmcnt ol Kantian idcalism: Not
so: nc spcaks ol gcological and arwinian proccsscs . . . but it is complctcly impossiblc to
think thc (worldcrcating) subjcct away.
arwinism, in othcr words, is truc all right, but
only .ithin a ccrtain human pcrspcctivc. Tat rcality in itscll is arwinian (or cvcn
spatial or tcmporal) wc havc no right to assumc sincc rcality in itscll is tcrra incognita.
Te genius. !n all its phascs, Nictzschcs philosophy attachcs cxtrcmc importancc to thc
cxccptional individual, rclcrrcd to, at dicrcnt timcs, as thc gcnius, thc lrcc spirit, thc
highcr typc, thc philosophcr ol thc luturc, and thc supcrman. As alrcady intimatcd, a
lundamcntal intcrprctativc issuc is this: docs Nictzschc takc thc outstanding individual to
cxist ultimatcly lor thc sakc ol thc cntirc community, or, convcrscly, docs hc supposc thc
community to cxist lor thc sakc ol thc outstanding individual: !n thc +8 notcs, picking
up on thc ncccssity ol slavcry thcmc, Nictzschc says that talk ol thc subordination ol thc
individual to thc wcllbcing ol thc wholc is oltcn misundcrstood: it should bc subordina
tion not to thc statc or to powcrlul individuals but to thc highcst individual, thc highcst
cxcmplar, not to thc strongcst but to thc bcst. Tcsc highcst typcs arc thc crcativc mcn,
whcthcr thcy bc thc bcst morally or usclul in somc othcr, largc scnsc, in othcr words, thc
purcst typcs and improvcrs ol humanity.
Tis cmphasis on utility implics that thc com
munity as a wholc indccd dcrivcs somc kind ol contribution to its wcllbcing lrom thc
privilcgcd cxistcncc it grants to thc gcnius (lor cxamplc, by raising hugc sums ol moncy lor
!n discussing Te Future of Our Educational Institutions, wc saw thc naturc ol thc bcnc
t thc community dcrivcs lrom thc gcnius. Tc paradigmatic gcniuscs arc Sophoclcs and
Vagncr (p. +6 abovc), and what thcsc spiritual lcadcrs do is to articulatc through thc grcat
artwork that lundamcntal cthos without which thc community cannot be a community. Tis
thought sccms to bc rcpcatcd in thc rcmark in thc notcs that it is in thc work ol gcnius that
thc cthical powcrs ol a nation show thcmsclvcs.
!n thc notcs, howcvcr, anothcr kind ol justication ol thc gcnius can bc obscurcly lclt.
Nictzschc quotcs Gocthc as saying that thc nal causc, thc ultimatc purposc, ol thc world is
dramatic poctry.
thcr notcs suggcst thc idca lying bchind this. !n thc grcat gcnius . . . thc
will rcachcs its salvation.
!t docs so, thc notcs somctimcs suggcst, bccausc thc purposc ol
thc world, that is, thc primal unitys purposc in crcating it, is its own acsthctic pcrccption,
and this it achicvcs through and only through thc vision ol thc artistic gcnius.

!t is not
clcar how scriously Nictzschc takcs this idca and how much hc is simply playing around
with thc Schopcnhaucrian mctaphysics ol Te Birth. 8ut whatcvcr its status, this kind ol
justication ol thc gcnius a justication which makcs it thc communitys busincss to scrvc
thc gcnius (who in turn scrvcs thc primal unity) rathcr than vicc vcrsa is cntircly dcpcndcnt
on Schopcnhaucrian mctaphysics. ncc Nictzschc abandons that mctaphysics, ! shall (as
alrcady promiscd) arguc, hc is cntircly clcar that communal intcrcsts arc prior to thosc ol
thc cxccptional individual.
Nationalism .ersus Cosmopolitanism. For much ol his youth, wc know, Nictzschc was a
proud and passionatc Prussian, an ardcnt nationalist. 8ut in his maturc works, wc shall scc,

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
hc pridcs himscll on his anti-nationalism, on bcing, not a Gcrman, but a good uropcan.
!n thc notcs ol +8 wc can, ! think, idcntily thc momcnt ol transition lrom nationalism
to cosmopolitanism.
Tc notcbooks covcring thc pcriod lrom thc cnd ol +8: to thc bcginning ol +8 nd
Nictzschc rcgularly complaining about thc subscrvicncc ol thc Gcrmans to Frcnch cultural

!n thc notcs running lrom thc spring to thc summcr ol +8 wc still nd Nictz
schc dcploring thc abstract uropcan man, a man who imitatcs cvcrything badly.

by thc autumn ol that ycar wc nd him saying that
lundamcntally, cosmopolitanism must sprcad out. Tc arbitrary boundarics ol thc nation
statc gradually losc thcir mystcry and appcar, much morc, as tcrriblc and bad. Tc antag
onisms bccomc sharpcr in a way that cannot bc ovcrcomc. Fcvcr produccs dcath.
nc should not ovcrcmphasisc this rccction Nictzschcs notcs arc always cxpcrimcnts in
thought rathcr than cnunciations ol doctrinc. Yct thc notc is signicant as thc rst occasion
on which Nictzschc sccs that thcrc is somcthing, pcrhaps, to bc said in fa.our of cosmopol
itanism, namcly, that it hclps ovcrcomc war.
!hy Philosophy? Rcccting on thc PrcPlatonic philosophcrs, Nictzschc obscrvcs that
nonc ol thcm crcatcd a mass lollowing. Vhat thcn, hc asks, is thc usc ol philosophy judgcd
against thc ultimatc good, thc cultural hcalth ol thc community: Philosophy can do various
things: it can subduc thc mythical by strcngthcning thc scnsc ol scicntic truth, as did
Talcs and cmocritus, or do thc rcvcrsc, as did Hcraclitus. And it can smash cvcry kind
ol dogmatism, as did Socratcs.

Tc judicious philosophcr thus nccds to bc thc physician

ol culturc: to diagnosc thc cultural nccds ol his timcs and prcscribc accordingly. For us,
Nictzschc continucs, thc task ol thc philosophcr is to combat worldlincss (matcrialism),
to limit thc barbarising ccct ol thc drivc to knowlcdgc. Tc cultural physician ol today
must bc guidcd by thc knowlcdgc that culturc can only cvcr procccd lrom thc ccntralizing
signicancc ol an art or an artwork. His lundamcntal task is to prcparc thc way lor such
an artwork
lor, in othcr words, 8ayrcuth.
And should such an artwork and culturc onc day rcturn, what would thcn bc thc task ol
thc philosophcr:
Tc philosophcr ol thc luturc: Hc must bc thc highcr tribunal ol an artistic culturc, likc
thc sccurity lorcc opposcd to all stcpping out ol linc.

!n a hcalthy culturc, whcrc thcrc is no longcr any nccd lor thc cultural physician, thc philos
ophcrs task is to bc a cultural guardian who prcscrvcs that hcalth lor as long as possiblc (a
thcmc which will rcappcar at thc cnd ol Nictzschcs carccr in Te ntichrist).
Te Future of Feligion. Vith rcgard to rcligion onc noticcs an cxhaustion onc is nally
tircd ol thc old important symbols . . . it is timc lor thc invcntion ol somcthing ncw,
ncw rcligion. Tis wc know alrcady. 8ccausc, as Te Birth of Tragedy cmphasiscs, a grcat,
artistic culturc such as that ol thc Grccks is at thc samc timc a rcligious onc, thc rcturn ol
an artistic culturc is a fortiori thc rcturn ol a rcligious onc. 8ut what will this ncw rcligion
bc likc: From Schopcnhaucr, wc know how dccp thc ncw rcligion must bc. For it must bc
such that
Untimely Meditations

(+) both thc immortality thcmc and thc lcar ol dcath disappcar |it must, as thc Schopcn
haucrian worldvicwdocs, ovcrcomc lcar ol dcath .ithout postulating pcrsonal immortality|
(:) thc scparation ol body lrom soul disappcars () it contains thc insight that thc sucring
ol cxistcncc cannot bc ovcrcomc by corrcctivc mcasurcs ol a palliativc sort |it must ovcr
comc Socratism| () that thc rclationship to a God is past () |it must cnjoin| compassion
(not lovc ol scll but thc oncncss ol all that livcs and sucrs).
Nictzschc adds that thc countcrimagc to culturc occurs whcn rcligion is no longcr pos
Tis concluding rcmark is vcry important sincc, ! shall suggcst, Nictzschcs wholc
lilc and philosophy is, abovc all clsc, a strugglc to nd a ncw rcligious outlook that will
rclound culturc.
Aimez-vous Brahms?
iv:zscnv svvx: thc Christmas and Ncw Ycar ol +8 in Naumburg. c
spitc bcing sick with thc usual litany, hc was as thrillcd as cvcr by his Christmas
prcscnts, itcmising thcm in a lcttcr to von Gcrsdor with boyish glcc: among oth
crs, a gilt photo album lor largc photographs, a woodcn lcttcr holdcr with a carvcd oral
dcsign lrom lizabcth, itcms madc ol Russian lcathcr lrom Princcss Tcrcsc ol Altcnburg
(his lathcrs lormcr pupil), and a largc Raphacl rcproduction.
From Naumburg hc madc
a sidc trip to Lcipzig to chcck up on how thc sccond Untimely Meditation was going with
Fritzsch and to visit Ritschl, who subjcctcd him to a vcrbal barragc conccrning thc awlul
ncss ol Vagncrs poctry, vcrbccks book, and Nictzschcs supposcdly proFrcnch stancc
supposition bascd, prcsumably, on his critiquc ol Vilhclminian Gcrmany).
8ack in 8ascl at thc bcginning ol January, hc was sick most ol thc timc through to thc
bcginning ol April with thc usual intcstinal troublcs and nausca. And his cycsight was as bad
as cvcr. Fortunatcly, howcvcr, his highschool pupil, Adoll 8aumgartncr, whom hc lound
both talcntcd and sympathctic,

ocrcd his scrviccs as amanucnsis. Son ol a nowdcccascd

Alsatian industrialist, Adoll introduccd Nictzschc to his mothcr, Maric, with whom, wc
shall scc, hc lormcd a warm lricndship.
epression, Marriage, and ropping Out
or much ol thc rst hall ol +8 Nictzschc was again dcprcsscd. At thc bcginning ol
April hc rcports that though his physical hcalth is now cxccllcnt hc is vcry dissatis
cd with lilc.

Tc lollowing month hc writcs that hc is conscious ol a dccp mclancholy

undcrlying all |his| . . . chccrlulncss.

(Chccrlulncss rcmaincd at lcast thc outcr charactcr ol

his lilc, his 8ascl social calcndar bcing as lull as cvcr.)
Tc gallows humour
pcrvading his lcttcrs allowcd 8ayrcuth to gct wind ol Nictzschcs
dcprcssion. Vorricd, thcy discusscd his condition within thcir circlc ol lricnds. Cosima
wrotc to Malwida von Mcyscnbug that shc lcarcd hc would lollow H oldcrlin into madncss,

imez-.ous Brahms?

an idca shc got lrom von Gcrsdor who put it to Nictzschc dircctly that hc had an clcmcnt
ol H oldcrlins naturc in him.

Tc mcditations on what to do about Nictzschcs statc ol mind culminatcd in Vagncrs

writing to himon April + putting his own, crudcly vulgar, gloss on thc conscnsus diagnosis:
Among othcr things ! think that thc masculinc lilc you livc in 8ascl in thc cvcnings |with
vcrbcck and Romundt| is somcthing ! ncvcr lcd . . . it sccms that you young mcn lack
womcn: that is to say . . . why takc and not stcal: !n an cmcrgcncy onc can always stcal.
Vhat ! mcan is, you must marry or composc an opcra . . . h God, marry a rich woman!
Vhy is only von Gcrsdor a propcr malc! . . . composc your opcra, but it will bc damncd
dicult to gct it pcrlormcd. Vhat kind ol dcvil madc you just a pcdagoguc! . . . ! bathc
now cvcry day bccausc ! cant bcar my bclly. o thc samc! And cat mcat! |Nictzschc and
von Gcrsdor had bccn irting with vcgctarianism.|
As a lollowup to this lcttcr, von Gcrsdor (whosc lcttcrs, sincc thc prcvious ycar, oltcn
sccm morc sympathctic to thc Vagncrs than to thcir crrant son) wrotc that hc lully sup
portcd thc advicc to marry which hc had discusscd with thc Vagncrs. Tcrc arc plcnty ol
womcn around, hc wrotc, adding gcncrously that nding thc right onc is your busi

Nictzschc was amuscd. Tough, hc wrotc von Gcrsdor, hc lound thc idca ol you
and thc 8ayrcuthcrs sitting togcthcr in a marriagcadvisorycommission dcciding what to
do about his status truly hcavcnly, hc did not quitc scc himscll sctting out on a crusadc
to rcach such a promiscd land. And anyway, hc pointcd out, von Gcrsdor was no morc
advanccd in that dircction than hc was.
Vagncrs lcttcr, as wcll as bcing vulgar, dcmonstratcs prcciscly why Nictzschc nccdcd to
distancc himscll lrom, as hc would call it, Vagncrs tyrannical naturc that rccogniscd no
pcrsonality othcr than his own (p. +86 bclow). 8ccausc hc, Vagncr, is highly scxcd (Tristan
and Isoldes Licbcstod is surcly thc most cxplicit cvocation ol scxual orgasm in thc history
ol music) so must Nictzschc bc. 8ut hc has no outlct givcn that all his intimatc rclations arc
with mcn, and is liablc, Vagncr clcarly hints, to nd thc scxual urgc divcrtcd into pcrvcrtcd
channcls. !n lact, howcvcr, scx is cntircly bcsidc thc point. Tc only scnsiblc advicc Vagncr
givcs is that hc should marry a rich wilc to rclicvc him ol thc burdcn ol tcaching. For this
was, in lact, thc root ol thc problcm.
At thc bcginning ol May, +8, Nictzschc wrotc to von Gcrsdor that hc was in a
vcry good statc and that any kind ol dcprcssion or mclancholy is lar and dccp bcncath
mc. Hc adds that hc is now making vcry good progrcss on his third Untimely Medita-
Vhcthcr or not thc rcport is accuratc, thc conjunction is signicant. For what rcally
got Nictzschc down wcrc thc multiplc distractions, inscparablc lrom thc lilc ol a univcr
sity and grammarschool tcachcr, that prcvcntcd him gctting on with his rcal work. Tc
sourcc ol his dcprcssion was thc conict bctwccn, on thc onc hand, his mcmbcrship ol an
acadcmic world which, according to his cducationcritiquc, had sold out on thc task ol truc
cducation, and, on thc othcr, thc vocation to bc, in cvcry scnsc, a lrcc writcr ol cxplosivc
philosophical books, a vocation in tcrms ol which, incrcasingly, hc dcncd his truc bcing.
!n othcr words, thc sourcc ol his dcprcssion was thc scnsc ol lailing to bc his truc scll, his
lailurc to lollow his own dcmand that onc should bccomc who onc is.
Vriting to Malwida von Mcyscnbug on thc complction ol thc third Meditation in
ctobcr, Nictzschc obscrvcs that a trcmcndous happincss lics in making progrcss, stcpwisc,

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
with oncs task and now ! havc complctcd thrcc ol thc |as hc planncd at this timc| thir
tccn Meditations.
!ngraincd into Nictzschc, to rcpcat, was thc work cthic ol his Protcstant
homcland. Happincss, skybluc happincss, hc obscrvcs in Zarathustra, is (mcaninglul, lilc
dcning) work. Morc cxactly, it is production, thc only surc prool ol work. Vithout pro
ductivity, hc condcs to his notcbooks, lilc is worthlcss and unbcarablc.
And to Rohdc
hc wrotc at thc bcginning ol Junc: !min a rcasonably productivc mood and hcncc chccrlul,
havc my sistcr hcrc, in bricl ! rcscmblc a happy pcrson insolar as ! knowwhat happincss is.
!n lact, though, production sucicnt to satisly Nictzschcs drivcn, Protcstant conscicncc
was impossiblc so long as hc rcmaincd a prolcssor:
You can gucss |hc wrotc von Gcrsdor in April| how lundamcntally mclancholy and dc
spondcnt ! am, as a productivc bcing! All ! ask is somc lrccdom, somc rcal air to livc and
dclcnd myscll. ! bccomc outragcd at thc many, uncountably many, unlrccdoms that hold
mc imprisoncd. Tcrc can bc no qucstion ol a rcal productivity whcn onc cmcrgcs so littlc
lrom unlrccdom, lrom thc sucring and burdcnsomcncss ol imprisonmcnt.
And Nictzschc was spcaking no morc than thc obvious truth: on top ol tcaching thirtccn
hours a wcck, six at thc univcrsity and scvcn at thc P adcgogium,
a truly appalling load lor
any acadcmic lct alonc onc who was hallblind, hc had bccn rcsponsiblc, sincc thc bcginning
ol +8, lor all thc administrativc dutics associatcd with bcing a dcan. Now a ncw occ
on my back !vc had cnough, hc wrotc, cxaspcratcdly, to von Gcrsdor.
nc ol thc rccurrcnt symptoms ol Nictzschcs dcprcssion is thc rcpcatcdly cxprcsscd
dcsirc to drop out, a dcsirc which always ccntrcs round thc nccd to rcsolvc thc conict
bctwccn prolcssion and vocation in lavour ol thc lattcr. At thc bcginning ol Fcbruary, +8,
hc writcs his mothcr, !d lovc so much to havc a tiny larmand thcn !d hang my prolcssorship
on thc nail. !vc now bccn a prolcssor lor ycars, ! think thats cnough.
Tc lollowing
month hc rcports that my sistcr is visiting mc and day by day wc lorgc thc most bcautilul
plans lor an idyllic and simplc luturc lilc llcd with work.
And to Vagncr hc writcs that
hc hopcs thc Mastcr will not bc upsct il onc day ! am not ablc to stand thc univcrsity with
its pcculiar scholarly air any morc. ! think cach summcr about bccoming indcpcndcnt in
thc most modcst ol circumstanccs (undcr which !m proud to say that ! can livc).
Tough hc spokc to his mothcr ol a larm, by May thc sctting lor his rctrcat has changcd
to a morc urban sctting:
!vc choscn RothcnburgobdcrTaubcr as my privatc lortrcss and hcrmitagc . . . Tcrc its
at lcast all traditionally Gcrman |altdeutsch|. ! hatc thc charactcrlcss, mixcd |i.c., motlcy|
citics |ol modcrnity| that havc lost thcir wholcncss. Tcrc ! can work out my thoughts, !
hopc, and makc plans lor dccadcs ahcad and bring thcm to complction.
(Tis passagc rcvcals morc than Nictzschcs dcsirc to bc a lulltimc writcr. Rothcnburg was
and still is a small, mcdicval, town ncar Nurcmbcrg in Franconia, visually untouchcd by
modcrnity. Likc Nictzschcs Naumburg cntircly circumscribcd by an ancicnt wall, it is vcry
much likc thc Nurcmbcrg cclcbratcd in Vagncrs Mastersingers as a placc ol cultural unity,
continuity and sccurity. Vhcn Nictzschc rcmarks in his notcs that Vagncrs chccrlulncss
|in thc Mastersingers| is thc lccling ol sccurity that bclongs to somconc who has rcturncd
imez-.ous Brahms?

lrom thc grcatcst dangcrs and cxccsscs into thc boundcdncss ol thc homcland,
hc is
cxprcssing his own, as wcll as Vagncrs, nostalgia lor thc community ol thc past: a com
munity which, as such, nccds to bc wallcd, bccausc, as Hcidcggcr rcmarks, a boundary is
whcrc somcthing starts as wcll as whcrc it stops.)
Wagner in the Balance
ictzschcs crcativc gcnius was, thcn, bccoming incrcasingly alicnatcd lromlilc in 8ascl.
Hc was alicnatcd, in particular, lrom thc burdcns ol univcrsity lilc which wcrc only
incrcascd by his inability to dischargc his dutics with anything lcss than hundrcdpcrccnt
Prussian conscicntiousncss. Alicnation lrom thc univcrsity was incrcascd by thc dcath, in
July +8, ol his lathcrly lricnd \ischcr8ilngcr who had bccn rcsponsiblc lor his original
appointmcnt and stuck by him through thick and thin:
ur good old \ischcr is dying |hc wrotc Rohdc|. Hc is without doubt ol all 8asclcrs thc onc
who gavc mc thc most signicant and dccpcst trust . . . ! losc a grcat dcal and will bccomc
cvcn morc alicnatcd lrom thc univcrsity than ! alrcady am.
A potcntially cvcn morc traumatic alicnation, howcvcr, was occurring, lrom thc bcginning
ol +8, in thc notcbooks: alicnation lrom Vagncr, alicnation, at lcast, lrom ccrtain aspccts
ol that titanic gurc, an alicnation that providcd somc ol thc matcrial which cvcntually gavc
risc to thc lourth ol thc Untimely Meditations, Fichard !agner in Bayreuth.
! cmphasiscd in thc prcvious chaptcr that throughout +8 Nictzschcs notcbooks contain
not a brcath ol criticism ol Vagncr. Privatc rccctions on thc Mastcr arc as rcvcrcntial as
public pronounccmcnts. So it comcs as a bolt out ol thc bluc whcn, lrom thc bcginning
ol +8, onc bcgins rcgularly to stumblc upon rcmarks ol thc ordcr ol nonc ol our grcat
composcrs was, at twcntycight, still so bad a composcr as Vagncr,
or From 8ach or
8ccthovcn thcrc shincs out a purc naturc. Vagncrs ccstasics arc oltcn violcnt and not naivc
Vhat rcally startlcs about such rcmarks is not that thcy arc ovcrwhclmingly
critical, which thcy arc not, but that thcy arc critical at all. Vagncr, that is to say, has ccascd
to bc thc Mastcr, an objcct ol quasircligious rcvcrcncc, and has bccomc a mcrc mortal
posscssing many ol lrailtics that go with that condition. Hc has, in short, bccn rclcgatcd
lrom thc lcaguc ol thc gods to that ol thc human, indccd alltoohuman.
A lcttcr writtcn to Rohdc in Fcbruary cxplains what it was that lcd Nictzschc to turn
Vagncr into an objcct ol critical appraisal. Rclcrring to rumours ol a miraclc (thc +oo,ooo
talcrs donatcd by Ludwig ol 8avaria at thc cnd ol thc lollowing month without which thc
cntirc 8ayrcuth projcct would havc collapscd), Nictzschc says,
Lct us hopc its truc. Sincc thc bcginning ol ncw ycar it has bccn a dismal outlook |lor
8ayrcuth| in thc lacc ol which ! was nally ablc to rcscuc myscll in thc wcirdcst manncr: !
bcgan, with thc grcatcst coldncss ol obscrvation, to invcstigatc why thc projcct might lail.
!n doing so ! havc lcarnt a lot and bclicvc ! undcrstand Vagncr much bcttcr than bclorc.
!l thc miraclc is truc thcn thc rcsults ol my analysis wont upsct anything. Rathcr, wc shall
want to cclcbratc and havc a party.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Vhat Nictzschc is doing hcrc is indccd, as hc says, dccply wcird. Fcaring thc collapsc
ol thc 8ayrcuth projcct, which up to now has bccn thc mcaning ol his lilc, hc dccidcs to
analysc thc rcasons lor its likcly lailurc whilc simultancously hoping against hopc that it
will not lail. !t is as il a lanatical supportcr ol a lootball tcam, losing condcncc in his tcam
on thc cvc ol thc big match, sct out to cxplain thc causcs ol its dclcat, whilc still hoping
against hopc that it will triumph on thc day.
Nictzschcs cxamination ol thc Vagncr phcnomcnon, it should bc said, although indccd
coldly lorcnsic, is nothing likc thc assassination ol Strauss or thc assassinations ol
Vagncr that would comc latcr. !t is not an assassinationattcmpt, rst, bccausc hc attributcs
much ol thc troublc with thc 8ayrcuth projcct not to Vagncr but rathcr to thc audicncc
and culturc hc is lorccd to work with and within, and, sccond, bccausc whilc itcmising
Vagncrs wcakncsscs, hc also givcs duc wcight to his strcngths. Tc ovcrall charactcr ol thc
discussion is that ol a balancc shcct. And on balancc, Nictzschc nds thc wcakncsscs to bc
prctty much cqual to thc strcngths.
Tc criticisms coalcscc, it sccms to mc, around lour main points. Tc rst is that Vagncr
is at thc root ol his naturc an actor.
Rathcr than allowing thc audicncc to ovcrhcar, as
it wcrc, somcthing arising lrom inncr ncccssity, Vagncr is at cvcry momcnt conscious ol
his audicncc, always calculating how to producc thc maximum ccct. His music, that is
to say, is a kind ol acctpainting aimcd at casting thc audicncc into an intoxication ol
scnsory ccstasy, its aim is to mo.e at any pricc.
(!s thc prudish pastors son shockcd, onc
wondcrs, by Tristans ovcrt scxuality, and by his own rcsponsivcncss to it:)
Tc sccond criticism is that not only is Vagncr an actor, hc is an actor ol a particularly
tyrannical naturc. Tis cxplains thc lact that his works arc in cvcry rcspcct colossal

Parsifal lasts vcandahall hours, thc Fing cyclc scvcntccn hours (minus intcrvals), and
thc nccd lor a ncw opcra housc was gcncratcd by Vagncrs dcmand lor orchcstral and stagc
rcsourccs on a scalc no prcvious composcr had cvcn drcamcd ol. Vagncr aims not just to
movc but to o.er.helm, to intimidatc by thc shccr scalc ol his works.
Hc is, in Nictzschcs
latcr tcrminology, thc will to powcr incarnatc. Vagncrs tyrannical naturc (wc must bc
thanklul, Nictzschc rcccts, that hc has no political powcr)
accts both his rcsponsc to
othcr composcrs and his social thinking:
Tc tyrannical |in him| allows validity to no othcr individuality savc his own and that ol
his intimatcs |i.c., cloncs|. Tc dangcr lor Vagncr is grcat, whcn hc docs not allow 8rahms
to bc valid. r thc Jcws.
r Nictzschc hcncc thc nccd lor distancc. Tis is an important notc lor two rcasons.
First, bccausc ol thc rclcrcncc to 8rahms, shortly to bccomc, as wc shall scc, thc topic
ol a painlul cncountcr bctwccn Vagncr and son, and sccond, bccausc ol thc rclcrcncc
to thc Jcws. Tc notc rcprcscnts thc rst occasion on which thc unplcasant but mindlcss
antiScmitism that mars Nictzschcs carly corrcspondcncc is rcplaccd by an cxplicitly anti
Scmitic rcmark. !t shows, in othcr words, that thc bcginning ol Nictzschcs qucstioning ol
Gcrman antiScmitism lay in his qucstioning ol thc Vagncr phcnomcnon.
Johanncs 8rahms, supportcd by thc Vagncrhating \icnncsc music critic duard
Hanslick, was rcgardcd in thc latc ninctccnth ccntury as thc agbcarcr lor classicism
lor classical rcstraint as opposcd to thc romantic cxccss ol 8ayrcuth. Tis introduccs thc
imez-.ous Brahms?

third ol Nictzschcs criticisms, a criticism in which hc rcturns to his own innatc musical
conscrvatism: Vagncr, all to oltcn, lacks mcasurc and limit, though it has to bc said to
his crcdit that, at timcs, in parts ol thc Fing and in Meistersinger, hc rccovcrs it.

Vagncr, that is, onc oltcn strugglcs in vain to nd barlincs and hcncc rhythmic ordcr in
his music. Tis lack ol mcasurc, Nictzschc continucs, cvokcs thc wandcring innity ol thc

(an ccct, wc know, Vagncr consciously sought to producc). Tc only agc in which
Vagncr, thc thinkcr, nds no ccho ol himscll is thc agc ol classical rcvival, thc Rcnais

Tis lack ol a classical scnsibility might bc portraycd as authcntic, honcst, ruggcd

Gcrman crudcncss, but to do so would mistakc thc Gcrman musical tradition. For Gcr
man music is by no mcans mcrc pcasant burping it was savcd lrom that by importing
rcncmcnt ol lorm lrom !taly.
Yct all that acquircd gracc and dclicacy (Mozart) and
dialcctical prccision (8ach) is lacking in Vagncr.

Translatcd into thc languagc ol Te Birth of Tragedy, this criticism ol Vagncrs lack ol
thc classical boils down to thc criticism that it lacks Apollonian structurc, is a kind ol
purc, scalikc ionysianism. !n othcr words, a grcat dcal ol Vagncrs music is unmc
diatcd ionysianism. Tis connccts with Nictzschcs lourth and nal criticism: Vagncrs
art transccnds rathcr than transgurcs thc world. !t is a Schopcnhaucrian art ol ight,
ol worlddcnial. 8ut ol what usc is such an art, an art in which thc will to lilc nds no
cxprcssion: !t is an art that can havc no moral ccct othcr than quictism which, Nictzschc
implics, docs not count as a propcrly moral ccct at all.
Tis criticism rcpcats Te Birth of Tragedys point that only thc Apollonian, conccptual
clcmcnt in thc artwork can pcrlormthc lilcarming lunction ol collccting thc community
in clarilying armation ol it lundamcntal cthos, only an Apollonian, classical artwork (as
Vagncrs carlicr conccption ol thc artwork armcd) can havc moral signicancc. Tus, to
thc cxtcnt that Vagncrs latcr works, Tristan and thc ycttobccomposcd Parsifal, bccomc,
in both thcory and practicc, almost purcly ionysian, thcy cannot pcrlormthc community
crcating lunction which, so it sccmcd, was thc wholc point ol thc 8ayrcuth projcct. Tcrc
is, thcrclorc, a latal contradiction bctwccn thc avowcd purposc ol thc 8ayrcuth projcct,
that ol crcating a national thcatrc, and thc charactcr ol thc artwork that will bc prcscntcd
Tc qucstion thcsc rccctions prcscnt is this: what has happcncd to Te Births, as !
callcd it, tour dc lorcc, its dcmonstration ol thc compatibility ol thc worldimproving and
worlddcnying Vagncr, thc dcmonstration that thc collcctivc artwork could both gathcr
community and providc a ionysian comlort in thc lacc ol pain and dcath (pp. ++:
abovc): !t is hard to say. Pcrhaps it is a mattcr ol which opcra onc attcnds to, which is
uppcrmost in Nictzschcs mind. !l onc thinks ol Tannha user, Te Flying Dutchman, thc rst
hall ol thc Fing, or, ccrtainly, ol Meistersinger, thc collccting, Apollonian myth is without
qucstion morc than adcquatcly prcscnt. !t is pcrhaps rclcvant, howcvcr, to rccall that lairly
rcccntly, Nictzschc has witncsscd his rst, proloundly accting pcrlormancc ol Tristan
(p. + abovc), thc dramalcss musicdrama that thrcatcns onc with cxpiring in a spas
modic unharncssing ol all thc wings ol thc soul.

Pcrhaps Nictzschc sccs, in Tristan, thc

luturc dircction ol Vagncrs art and sccs, thcrclorc, that thc work ol rcconciliation undcr
takcn in Te Birth has bccomc rcdundant.

Tough thc abovc rcmarks rcprcscnt scrious criticisms, othcr notcs mitigatc thcir lorcc. nc
ol thc ways in which thcy do this is by putting a dicrcnt spin on thc samc phcnomcna

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
that wcrc objccts ol criticism. Tus, approaching thc qucstion ol Vagncrs lack ol classical
rcncmcnt, his crudcncss, lrom anothcr pcrspcctivc, onc notc obscrvcs that it is
not to bc lorgottcn: . . . Vagncrs art spcaks thc languagc ol thc pcoplc and that mcans that,
unavoidably, cvcn thc noblcst things undcrgo a markcd coarscning. !t is intcndcd to work at
a distancc and to knit togcthcr thc chaos within thc community. .G. thc !mpcrial March
(Tcrc is an unspokcn allusion hcrc, ! think, to Grcck tragcdy: bccausc thc actors spokc
in thc opcn air bclorc an audicncc oltcn numbcring thirty thousand, thcy had to shout
thcir lincs.) Turning to thc mainly pcjorativc dcscription ol Vagncr as an actor, Nictzschc
obscrvcs that an actors rhctoric is morc honcst than socallcd objcctivc art bccausc (likc a
conjurcr) it makcs no attcmpt to disguisc its intcntion, to hoodwink.
Tc principal linc ol mitigation, howcvcr, consists in highlighting thc unhclplul con
ditions undcr which Vagncr has to work. Vc livc, that is to say, in thc agc and placc ol
Tcatrc, in particular, is somcthing Vagncr cannot pcrsuadc thc Gcrmans to
takc scriously.

Vhat hc attcmpts is to mobilisc thc mass ol thcatrcgocrs so that soci

cty as a wholc bccomcs a thcatrocracy |Teatrokratrie|. !l hc had bccn an !talian (whcrc
thcy arc scrious about opcra) hc would unqucstionably havc succccdcd in bringing about
thc social translormation hc sought. 8ut Gcrmans havc no rcspcct lor opcra, vicwing it as
importcd and unGcrman.

Vagncr, that is to say, makcs hugc claims lor thc signicancc

ol art lor socicty: hc is a Luthcr gurc, who sccks to producc a ncw Rclormation ol thc
wholc community. 8ut thc Gcrmans ol today nd such aims immodcst, arc not attuncd
to grcatncss.

Vagncr, it is truc, has his lollowcrs. 8ut thcy arc lar lrom bcing thc gcnuinc
rclormcrs hc nccds. Rathcr, thcy arc musicians intcrcstcd only in novcl cccts, singcrs with
notvcrygood voiccs, worshippcrs mcsmcriscd by thc cult ol gcnius, or listcncrs borcd with
thc old art and with lilc in gcncral, intcrcstcd only in intoxication.
All in all, thc timcs
arc cntircly unripc lor a sccond Rclormation.

Nictzschcs account ol Vagncrs positivc virtucs boil down to onc, lor Nictzschc suprcmcly
important, word: unity.
Tc music isnt much good, nor thc poctry, nor thc plot nor thc acting which is oltcn mcrc
rhctoric. 8ut its all, as a wholc, a unity, and all at thc samc hcight. Vagncr as a thinkcr is
on cxactly thc samc lcvcl as Vagncr thc musician and poct.

Vagncrs strongcst powcr, in lact, is his lccling lor

unity in dicrcncc, outsidc himscll as an artist and within himscll as an individual. Hc has
an innatc capacity to pcrccivc thc rclation ol thc arts to cach othcr and thc conncxion ol
statc and socicty to art.
Vagncrs lccling lor unity in dicrcncc makcs him a gcnuinc bcarcr ol culturc.

So that
actually (a momcnt ol optimism),
!t is scriously possiblc that Vagncr can wcan thc Gcrmans lrom thcir obscssion with thc
individual, isolatcd arts. Pcrhaps it will cvcn bc possiblc to dcrivc lrom his altcrmath thc
imez-.ous Brahms?

picturc ol a unicd culturc |Bildung| that can ncvcr bc achicvcd through thc mcrc addition
ol individual skills and rcgions ol knowlcdgc to cach othcr.
!n othcr words, lor all Vagncrs laults, and lor all that that thc cxccssivc dominancc ol his
scalikc, ionysian music oltcn conluscs and contradicts thc 8ayrcuth idcal, wc can still
hopc that lromthc altcrccct ol his work will growsomcthing that rcally is a Rclormation
ol thc community as a wholc.
Tat, in any casc, is thc notc on which Nictzschc concludcd his rcappraisal ol thc Vagncr
phcnomcnon. Vriting to thc Vagncrian, Carl Fuchs,

at thc cnd ol April, hc suggcsts that

latcr, altcr a lcw ycars, wc shall think togcthcr about our kind ol culturcwar
|Kulturkampf |

(as thc curscd phrasc has it) to lound a public thcatrc latcr whcn wc
havc a lcw morc namcs and arc not so thin on thc ground. Until thcn wc must all ght
alonc ! havc lorgcd a good wcapon with my . . . Untimcly Mcditations with which ! hit
pcoplc ovcr thc hcad until somcthing comcs out.
!n sum, thcn, at thc conclusion ol his mcditations on Vagncr, Nictzschc rcmains, in spitc
ol scrious rcscrvations about thc man, thinkcr, and artist, as committcd as cvcr to thc
8ayrcuth idcal, to thc rcbirth ol thc communitygathcring thcatrc ol thc collcctivc artwork.
Tc split that bcgins to appcar, hcrc, bctwccn Vagncr, on thc onc hand, and what wc may
call thc Vagncrian idcal, on thc othcr, rcmains with Nictzschc until thc cnd ol his carccr.
Tough his rcscrvations about thc lormcr continuc to incrcasc, thc lattcr, so ! havc promiscd
to arguc, rcmain with Nictzschc until thc cnd.
Te Home Iront, a New Publisher, Women
canwhilc, on thc homc lront, Romundt was bccoming somcthing ol a worry. Hc
lailcd in January, +8 to gct a pcrmancnt position in philosophy at 8ascl and his
wholc prolcssional luturc bcgan to look cxtrcmcly blcak. (Tc position wcnt, instcad, to
Max Hcinzc, Nictzschcs lormcr tutor at Plorta. Tough hc rctaincd cordial pcrsonal rcla
tions with Hcinzc, hc rcgardcd him as an intcllcctual athcad.)
Nictzschc attributcd

Fuchs rcprcscntcd anothcr lricndship that grcwout ol thc 8ayrcuth circlc and which, though Nictz
schc oltcn placcd it undcr strcss, cndurcd until his nal collapsc. Fuchs was a lormcr studcnt ol von
8 ulow, an organist and pianist and a wcllknown publicist on acsthctic qucstions who had writtcn
a Ph.. thcsis on Schopcnhaucrs philosophy ol music. For many ycars hc was musical dircctor lor
thc city ol anzig (Gcdansk). !n +oo, thc ycar ol Nictzschcs dcath, hc was rcsponsiblc, along with
thc conccrt pianist Valthcr Lampc, lor crccting a mcmorial to Nictzschc on thc Chast c pcninsula
in Lakc Sils ncar Sils Maria (scc Platc :6), a lavouritc spot ol Nictzschcs. Tc lricndship was
conductcd mainly by lcttcr: thc two mct only thrcc timcs.

Kulturkampf was thc phrasc coincd in +8 to dcscribc 8ismarcks attcmpts to climinatc thc Cath
olic Church as a rival sourcc ol powcr within Gcrmany by bringing its lunctions, such as marriagc
and cducation, undcr thc control ol thc statc. Tough no lricnd ol thc Catholic pricsthood, Nictz
schc vicwcd 8ismarcks antiCatholicism with a jaundiccd cyc rcgarding it as part ol his attcmpt to
construct a Kulturstaat (p. + abovc), a quasitotalitarian statc.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
thc lailurc, as hc did his own lailurc to gain thc chair ol philosophy, to lcar ol Schopcn

Givcn, howcvcr, that hc rcportcd in Fcbruary that hc and vcrbcck wcrc worricd
about thc cxccllcnt Romundt |sincc| hc has bccomc a joylcss mystic . . . clarity was ncvcr
his thing, cxpcricncc ol lilc also not, and now hc is dcvcloping a wcird hatrcd ol all cul

thcrc may havc bccn othcr causcs.

At thc cnd ol March lizabcth arrivcd (scc Platc +) to spcnd thc summcr kccping
housc in thc poison cottagc, now 8aumanns Cavc. Hcr practicc sincc +8o had bccn to
spcnd thc summcrs in 8ascl and thc wintcrs in Naumburg, though Franziskas posscssivc
ncss rcquircd diplomacy on Fritzs part to prcscrvc thc arrangcmcnt. Tc strugglc bctwccn
himscll and his mothcr, lizabcth rcports him as saying, rcscmblcd thc ght lor Hclcn
bctwccn thc Trojans and anaans.

!n May, brothcr and sistcr spcnt a holiday in a vcstar hotcl ncxt to thc Rhinc Falls ncar
Schahauscn (thc largcst watcrlalls in uropc) whcrc, lizabcth rccords, thcy laughcd a
lot, a mcrrimcnt which cnablcd Fritz to rccstablish thc cquilibrium bctwccn rcality and
conccntratcd thinking. Amusingly, shc rccalls that Fritz would havc nothing to do with any
table dh ote, calling it thc grazing ol hcrds. Rcsponding to an cxorbitant bill, hc dcclarcd
with a solcmn pun (it is not cntircly clcar that lizabcth got it) that onc always has to pay
dcarly lor grazing away lrom thc hcrd.

n July Nictzschc rcccivcd what was ccctivcly a hcadhunting lcttcr lrom rnst
Schmcitzncr in Chcmnitz. Schmcitzncr wrotc that hc proposcd to sct up a ncw publishing
housc spccialising in thc bcst in Gcrman philosophy, litcraturc, and acsthctics, and askcd
lor a work lrom Nictzschcs pcn.

8ccausc Fritzsch had bccn unablc to pay thc honorari

ums lor thc last two publications, Nictzschc rcspondcd lavourably. n July +8 hc scnt hima
dralt ol thc third Untimely Meditation and askcd him to takc ovcr its two prcdcccssors lrom
thc troublcd Fritzsch which, by thc cnd ol thc ycar, Schmcitzncr did. l coursc, this scp
aration lrom thc Vagncrians housc publishcr markcd a lurthcr widcning ol thc distancc
bctwccn Nictzschc and thc Vagncrs, particularly bccausc Schmcitzncr was, as wc shall scc,
lrom thcir point ol vicw, politically suspcct.

Tc ycar +8 sawtwo ncwwomcn lricnds cntcr Nictzschcs lilc. !n addition to his continu
ing cxchangc ol lcttcrs with Malwida von Mcyscnbug, hc dcvclopcd a short but bcautilul
lcttcrlricndship with an !talian noblcwoman, mma GucrricriGonsaga, who had bccn
grcatly imprcsscd by thc sccond Untimely Meditation. Agrccing with Nictzschc that thc old
rcligion was dcad, and was in any casc unacccptablc on account ol its lics cxposcd by avid
Strauss, hcr qucst, shc wrotc, was lor a luturc rcligion built on complctcly philosophical
Askcd whcthcr hc agrccd, Nictzschc rcplicd that his answcr would bc lound
in his third Untimely Meditation

(to which wc shall turn shortly).

A lurthcr lricndship dcvclopcd with Maric 8aumgartncr, thc mothcr ol his pupil and
amanucnsis, Adoll, whom hc startcd to visit in L orrach ncar to 8ascl, just ovcr thc boardcr
in Gcrmany. Highly cducatcd and libcralmindcd, Maric, though now ocially Gcrman
as a rcsult ol hcr rcmarriagc to a Hcrr K ochlin, was a loyal Alsatian, originally lrom Mul
hauscn. !dcntilying lar morc with Frcnch than with Gcrman culturc shc translatcd Nictz
schcs third Untimely Meditation into Frcnch shc hatcd thc Gcrman anncxation ol Alsacc
at thc cnd ol thc FrancoPrussian war and publishcd tracts against it.
!n that vcin, shc
rcspondcd strongly to Nictzschcs rcmark, in thc introduction to thc rst Meditation, that
imez-.ous Brahms?

Gcrman postwar triumphalism thrcatcns to bc thc dcstruction ol thc Gcrman spirit lor
thc sakc ol thc Gcrman Rcich,
sccing an anity bctwccn a Gcrman and an Alsatian
protcst against thc arrogancc ol Gcrman impcrialism.
Marics lcttcrs to Nictzschc rcvcal a morcthanmothcrly intcrcst shc writcs that shc
drcams ol him though ncithcr would lor a momcnt havc contcmplatcd transgrcssing
bourgcois convcntions. Tirtccn ycars oldcr than Nictzschc, thc rclationship rcscmblcd that
bctwccn him and Cosima, ol whom shc was jcalous. A kccn idcalist and Schopcnhaucrian,
shc was onc ol thc many lricnds who wcrc grcatly upsct by Nictzschcs positivist turn in
+86, writing to him, with rclcrcncc to Human, ll-Too-Human (thc rst public manilcs
tation ol thc turn), that
this ncw book sccms at many placcs dcsigncd to shock, to block any |human| closcncss
and yct your wholc bcing and doing is such that onc must lovc you . . . ! shall ncvcr givc up
my bclicl in human goodncss . . . what kind ol happincss can thcrc bc il this is cxtcrmin
!n spitc ol thc spiritual gull opcncd up by Human, ll-Too-Human, whcn Nictzschc lclt
8ascl in +8, shc was movcd to tcars.
Tc rolcs in which Nictzschc cast his womcn lricnds took scvcral lorms: thc purc mothcr,
Malwida von Mcyscnbug, thc sistcrlovcr, Cosima, thc mothcrlovcr, Maric, thc purc
lricnd, Mcta von Salis, thc purc lovcr, Lou Salom c, and thc purc sistcr, lizabcth. Vhat
ncarly all his womcn lricnds (lizabcth cxccptcd) havc in common, howcvcr, is that thcy
wcrc intclligcnt, highly cducatcd, and widcly rcad. 8iographically, thcrclorc, it is no sur
prisc that whcn thc application ol a Fr aulcin Rubinstcin lrom Lcipzig to cnrol lor a Ph..
programmc brought thc qucstion ol admitting womcn to thc univcrsity bclorc thc commit
tcc ol 8ascls combincd lacultics on July +o, +8, Nictzschc was among thc lour mcmbcrs
who votcd for thcir admission. 8ccausc, altcr a twohour discussion, six laculty mcmbcrs
(including 8urckhardt) votcd against admission, thc motion was lost. 8ut Nictzschc and
thc othcr thrcc supportcrs ol thc motion must havc bccn upsct by thc rcsult, bccausc thcy
rcqucstcd that thcir disscnting vicwbc cxplicitly rccordcd.
Nictzschcs maturc writings arc
lamously antilcminist, cvcn misogynistic. Latcr on wc shall havc to ask what happcncd to
this carly, at lcast partial support lor cmancipationist dcmands.
Berg un

n July +, thc summcr holidays having startcd, Nictzschc travcllcd with Romundt
to 8crg un. n thc way hc stoppcd at Chur whcrc, so hc wrotc lizabcth, hc
almost dccidcd to marry a Fr aulcin 8crta Rohr, whom thcy had mct thc prcvious ycar
in Flims.
lizabcths disapproval callcd Fritzs lamilydiplomacy into play oncc again, as
hc assurcd hcr that hc was just joking.
8ut bccausc hc told von Gcrsdor at thc samc
timc that hc had bccn rcluctant to lcavc Chur on 8crtas account,
onc suspccts this was
not cntircly truc. !ndccd, as a rival to thc thcory that Nictzschc was rcally gay, onc might
suggcst that it was thc obscssivc, quasiinccstuous jcalousy lizabcth displaycd towards any
womcn who thrcatcncd to bccomc closcr to Fritz than hcrscll, rathcr than thc lovc that darc
not spcak its namc, that provcd thc major impcdimcnt to his lollowing thc instructions ol
thc 8ayrcuth marriagccommission to nd a wilc.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
8crg un lics +,oo mctrcs high in thc Albula \allcy (lbulatal), ncar to Spl urgcn and to
Nictzschcs cvcntual summcr homc, Sils Maria. Hcrc thcy staycd in thc Hotcl Piz Acla.
Nictzschc dcscribcs thc holiday to von Gcrsdor:
Hcrc (in 8crg un, takc a look at 8acdcckcr) . . . wc arc thc solc gucsts in a hotcl that hundrcds
ol travcllcrs pass by cvcry day on thcir way to or lrom St. Moritz. l coursc, wc do not havc
a lakc hcrc likc thc onc wc had in Flims: rcccntly wc lound onc about thrcc hours up thc
mountain at about 6,ooo lcct, bathing and swimming in it until wc almost lrozc, cmcrging
rcd as lobstcrs ( feuerrot).
And to vcrbcck:
Hcrc wc arc living in a nc hotcl, whcrc wc arc wcll takcn carc ol and not ovcrchargcd . . . Up
to nowwc havc sccn a cli ncar thc Albula bridgc, which connccts and ovcrlooks two loncly
vallcys in thc high mountains a placc whcrc ! would likc to build myscll a towcr and
a sulphur spring in onc ol thc sidc vallcys: wc brought somc ol thc watcr homc with us
in bottlcs in ordcr to gct rid ol somc minor constipation causcd by |a charactcristically
cxtraordinary diagnosis| our consumption ol \ctlincr winc.
Towards thc cnd ol July thc mist and rain closcd in, as so oltcn happcns in thc high Alpinc
tcrriblc rain thc last scvcral days, cvcryoncs sucring cabin lcvcr |sehr ungeduldig| that
is thc way it is in this isolatcd placc. nly ! dont sharc it sincc ! am busy thinking about
and nishing my ncw work |thc third Untimely Meditation|. ngagcd in that, onc livcs in
a dicrcnt placc whcrc onc docsnt havc anything to do with rain any morc.
Brahms Banned in Bayreuth
avc lor thc knowlcdgc that hc was pcrsona non grata in thc Vagncr camp, 8rahms had
ncvcr riscn abovc Nictzschcs musical horizon bclorc thc middlc ol +8. Hc was, until
thcn, tcrra incognita. !n Junc, howcvcr, all that changcd. Nictzschc wrotc to Rohdc lrom
Your countryman |both Rohdc and 8rahms wcrc born in Hamburg| was hcrc rcccntly and
!vc hcard much ol his music, abovc all his Triumphlied |Triumphal Song| which hc himscll
conductcd. To mc it was thc most dicult problcmol acsthctic conscicncc to comc to tcrms
with 8rahms.
So takcn with thc Triumphlied was Nictzschc that hc travcllcd to Zurich to hcar it again on
July +:. (Givcn that, ol thc works lor which 8rahms is lamous, only thc German Fequiem
had bccn complctcd to datc, thc choicc is not as wcird as it sccms.)
8rahms composcd thc Lied to cclcbratc victory in thc FrancoPrussian war. Vagncr had
composcd his Kaisermarsch |March !mpcrial| lor thc samc purposc. 8ut whcrcas Vagncr
imez-.ous Brahms?

had no rcal acction lor thc Hohcnzollcrn dynasty and composcd thc !mpcrial March only
in an (unsucccsslul) attcmpt to drag thc mpcror into thc projcct ol making 8ayrcuth a
national Gcrman thcatrc, 8rahms was gcnuincly dcvotcd to thc mpcror and proud ol thc
Travclling lrom8crgr un, Nictzschc arrivcd in 8ayrcuth on August with thc scorc ol thc
Triumphlied ticking away likc a bomb in his suitcasc. Sick as usual altcr travcl, hc bookcd
himscll into thc Sonne |Sun| Hotcl. Vagncr, howcvcr, on hcaring ol his arrival, rushcd ovcr
and insistcd hc stay in thc now ncarly complctcd !ahnfried. Nictzschc quickly rccovcrcd
and thcir rst cvcning togcthcr wcnt o wcll. Tc lollowing cvcning, howcvcr, mattcrs took
a dicrcnt turn.
Tings must havc got o to a bad start bccausc, as Cosima rccords in hcr diary, Nictzschc
told thcm hc and vcrbcck had acccptcd an ocr lrom Schmcitzncr to publish with him.
Tcy wcrc thus lorccd to scrvc thc Social cmocratic |socialist| Party bccausc that was
thcir only way ol gctting publishcd.
8y this timc, ol coursc, thcrc was no lovc lost bctwccn
Vagncr and thc socialists.
Altcr dinncr, gathcrcd in thc hugc drawingroom stucd to ovcrowing with \ictorian
objccts Richards piano, his big writingdcsk, Cosimas smallcr writingdcsk, picturcs,
busts, books, souvcnirs, and pottcd palms Richard cntcrtaincd thc gucsts, who includcd
thc conccrt pianist Paul Klindworth and, according to Nictzschc, thc grcat Vagncrian so
prano Lilli Lchmann, by playing a piano rcduction ol thc Rhincmaidcns sccnc lrom thc
cnd ol G otterd ammerung.

As soon as hc had nishcd, Cosima rccords, Nictzschc burst

lorth with thc scorc ol 8rahms Triumphlied.
Lct us rccall, hcrc, Nictzschcs privatc rccctions on Vagncrs tyrannical naturc, that thc
dangcr lor Vagncr is grcat, whcn hc docs not allow 8rahms to bc valid. r thc Jcws (p. +86
abovc). angcr mcans, hcrc, somcthing likc dangcr that all thc promisc will bc crushcd
out ol thc Vagncrian cntcrprisc by a tyrannical naturc that rcluscs to allow anyonc clsc to
brcath. So what, it sccms, Nictzschc was trying to do was to rclorm Vagncrs charactcr a
prcsumptuous cntcrprisc givcn that, at sixtyonc, Vagncr was thirtyonc ycars his scnior. r
clsc hc was trying to provokc a nal brcach in thc cvcnt ol lailing to pcrsuadc Vagncr at lcast
to givc 8rahms a lair hcaring. Hc was, it sccms, ocring somcthing likc an ultimatum: stop
bcing such a tyrant or clsc !m o. l coursc what rcally mattcrcd was Vagncrs pcrccivcd
tyranny towards Nietzsche: 8rahms, onc may suspcct, was a surrogatc lor himscll. !n any
casc thc cort camc to nothing bccausc, Cosima rccords, R|ichard| laughcd loudly at thc
idca ol sctting thc word Gerechtigkeit |justicc| to music.
n thc lollowing altcrnoon, somconc, it is unclcar who, sat down at thc piano and
playcd thc ocnding piccc. Vagncr bccamc lurious, lamcnting, writcs Cosima, thc dismal
charactcr ol thc composition which . . . lricnd Nictzschc had praiscd. !t was, hc claimcd,
dcrivativc lrom Handcl, Mcndclssohn, and Schumann, and lackcd both Liszts spirituality
and authcntic cmotion.

Tc rcmaindcr ol thc day saw no lurthcr talk ol 8rahms. !n thc

cvcning, altcr playing somc picccs lrom opcras by Aubcr, Vagncr nally lormally buricd
8rahmss piccc ol jingoism by playing his own, by implication, innitcly supcrior vcrsion
ol thc samc thing, thc Kaisermarsch.

Tc opcra and with it thc cntirc Fing cyclc would bc nally complctcd thrcc months latcr on
Novcmbcr :+, twcntysix ycars altcr Vagncrs rst thoughts on thc subjcct.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Vagncrs pcrccption ol thc traumatic occasion is rccordcd by lizabcth. Vagncr told hcr,
shc writcs, that
Your brothcr laid thc rcd book |containing thc Triumphlied| on thc grand piano, and
whcncvcr ! camc down to thc drawingroom this rcd objcct starcd right at mc it lit
crally inamcd mc, just as a rcd rag docs a bull. ! could vcry wcll scc that, by mcans ol
it, Nictzschc wishcd tacitly to say, Just look! hcrc is somconc who has donc good work
too! Vcll, thc cnd ol it was that onc cvcning ! simply lcll into a passion, and lcll almost
to bits as wcll! 8ut what did my brothcr say: ! dcmandcd anxiously. Hc said nothing,
Vagncr rcplicd, hc simply blushcd and gazcd at mc with minglcd surprisc and calm dig
nity. ! would givc a hundrcd thousand marks lor a bcaring such as Nictzschcs always
distinguishcd, always dignicd!

Nictzschc ncvcr mcntioncd thc 8rahms incidcnt in any lcttcr. lizabcth rccalls that whcn,
sitting with him on a bcnch in a park in 8adcn8adcn, shc askcd him why hc had ncvcr
told hcr thc story ol 8rahmss Triumphlied hc rcplicd Lizzic, on that occasion Vagncr was
not grcat.

Vagncr also gavc an account ol thc incidcnt to his lricnd, Hans von Volzogcn. Vagncr
told him, Volzogcn rccollccts, that
Nictzschc said that ! had to gct to know thc music in ordcr to havc a propcr opinion about
it. ! rcluscd, but hc kcpt on at mc. !n thc cnd ! bccamc lurious with him (you know how !
am whcn ! gct angry my poor Cosima has had to sucr lrom it oltcn cnough). ! bccamc
crudc my God ! did ! Nictzschc cw out ol thc door. Ycs, thats thc way ! am and he
ne.er came back! And now. . . !m supposcd to lovc 8rahms on whosc account !vc lost my
Nictzschc rcmaincd in 8ayrcuth until August +, Cosimas diplomacy prcvcnting an opcn
brcach. 8ut clcarly rclations bctwccn thc onccrcvcrcd Mastcr and thc onccrcvcring gucst
wcrc now undcr grcat strain. Nictzschc causcd Vagncr many dicult hours, Cosima
rccords. Among othcr things, hc |Nictzschc| maintaincd that thc Gcrman languagc gavc
him no plcasurc, and that hc would rathcr talk in Latin, ctc. anothcr dclibcratc provoca
tion ol thc nationalistic Vagncr.

Vagncr is right that hc lost Nictzschc on this occasion. Tough Nictzschc continucd
to support thc 8ayrcuth causc, though thc Vagncrs continucd to bc cnthusiastic about
Nictzschcs publications lor anothcr ycar, and though sporadic lcttcr cxchangcs continucd
(in +8 Nictzschc wrotc a total ol vc lcttcrs to thc Vagncr houschold), thc old intimacy
ncvcr rcturncd. Tc 8rahms occasion was thc last timc Nictzschc would cvcr stay as a gucst
in Vagncrs homc. From now on, until opcn warlarc was dcclarcd, thc rclationship was
political rathcr than pcrsonal.

Compounding thc disastcr ol thc visit to 8ayrcuth, on thc rcturn journcy to 8ascl, Nictzschc
had his bag stolcn at V urzburg railway station. !t containcd, among othcr things, a signcd
copy ol thc librctto ol thc Fing cyclc. Vriting as il making a major discovcry about human
naturc, hc concludcs his account ol thc incidcnt to von Gcrsdor with Moral: onc shouldnt
lcavc oncs suitcasc unattcndcd on railway stations, othcrwisc thcrc will bc somc horriblc,
imez-.ous Brahms?

cunning brutc waiting thcrc, on thc lookout lor suitcascs.
Nictzschc was, as lizabcth
rcmarks a propos this incidcnt, somcwhat naivc rcgarding thc ways ol thc world.
Tird Untimely Meditation: Schopenhauer as Educator
hc complctcd third Untimely Meditation was scnt to Schmcitzncr on August + and
appcarcd on ctobcr +, +8 (Nictzschcs thirticth birthday). Nictzschc had compli
mcntary copics scnt to Vagncr, von 8 ulow, Malwida von Mcyscnbug, Maric 8aumgartncr,
mma GucrricriGonzaga, Krug (but not Pindcr), Rohdc, von Gcrsdor, and a couplc ol
othcrs. Tis list is ol somc signicancc givcn Nictzschcs rcmark that only thc rcactions ol
six or scvcn rcadcrs arc ol any signicancc.

(Tat hc writcs only lor thc lcw, or cvcn no

onc, bccomcs, wc shall scc, an important thcmc in his maturc work.)
Nictzschc always rcgardcd thc third Meditation as a crucial work. !n +88: hc rccom
mcndcd it to Lou Salom c as prcscnting his lundamcntal attitudc to cvcrything, prc
!ts topic is what, lty ycars latcr, Hcidcggcr would call authcnticity. !t is about
ovcrcoming thc lazincss that makcs human bcings sccm likc lactory products . . . pscudo
mcn dominatcd by public opinion. Tough most ol us inhabit that condition, nonc ol us
(nonc, at lcast, ol Nictzschcs propcr rcadcrs) is rcally comlortablc with bcing a mcrcly hcrd
typc. !t is, morcovcr, a condition wc can cscapc: Tc man who docs not wish to bclong to
thc masscs nccds only to . . . lollow his conscicncc, which calls to him: 8c yourscll! All you
arc now doing, thinking, dcsiring, is not you yourscll .
8ut how is onc to discovcr this
scll onc is to bccomc:
PostFrcudian psychothcrapy typically thinks ol thc truc scll or cgo as a kind ol drivc or
prcssurc buricd within cach uniquc individual, struggling to burst through thc lid ol social
rcprcssion. Nictzschc dismisscs this picturc complctcly: your truc naturc lics, not conccalcd
dccp within you but immcasurably high abovc you, or at lcast abovc that which you usually
takc yourscll to bc.
Tc truc scll is a task to bc pcrlormcd rathcr than a prcssurc to
bc rclcascd. And to discovcr oncs task onc nccds to ask what onc has truly lovcd up to
now, what it is, in othcr words, which has drawn |oncs| . . . soul alolt:
8ut how is onc
to discovcr that:
At this point, thc considcrations ol thc third Meditation bcgin to convcrgc with thosc
ol thc sccond. To discovcr oncs truc lovc and task onc is to scck out a rcvcrcd objcct
which supplics onc with thc lundamcntal law ol |oncs| . . . own truc scll . !n thc sccond
Meditation such hcrocs wcrc dcscribcd as monumcntal gurcs. Hcrc thcy arc dcscribcd
as cducators.
Nictzschcs point is not dicult to grasp. Vhat hc is talking about, oncc
again, is thc rolc modcl. Christians, lor cxamplc, oltcn trcat Jcsus in this way. Pondcring,
in a dicult situation, how to act in accordancc with thcir inncrmost conscicncc, thcy oltcn
ask thcmsclvcs: Vhat would Jcsus do in this situation: To do this is to takc Jcsus as, in
Nictzschcs scnsc, an cducator.
Nictzschc now turns to thc possibility ol thc philosophcr as cducator. Hc makcs clcar
that by philosophcr hc mcans somconc whosc thought is cmbodicd in thcir lilc, so that
thcy can providc an cxamplc onc can lollow. Kant was a grcat thinkcr but, in this scnsc, no
philosophcr, bccausc, lor all thc call to moral couragc containcd in his thcorising, in lilc,
hc cravcnly submittcd to pctty convcntions ol acadcmic lilc and prctcndcd (lor thc sakc ol
his job) to a rcligious bclicl hc did not havc.

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
8ccausc thc lunction ol thc cducator is to cnablc us to stand out against public opinion
and bccomc our individual sclvcs, hc must abovc all himself stand out against public opinion.
Tis is particularly truc in thc dcstitutc timcs ol modcrnity markcd, as thcy arc, by (a) loss
ol community wc livc in an agc ol atoms, ol atomistic chaos, (b) low matcrialism, grccd
lor moncy, (c) cgoism, all mcn lccl in thcmsclvcs only thc scllsccking worm, (d) thc
rcduction ol individuals to mcdiacontrollcd automata, (c) a moral vacuum Christianity
dcstroycd thc natural valucs ol antiquity but has now, itscll, lost thc powcr to dircct pcoplcs
livcs and (l ) hastc and hurry, so that, cvcn il wc kncw what thcy wcrc, wc would havc
no timc to allow ctcrnal valucs to govcrn our livcs, no timc lor moral cquanimity.
!n thc
morally vacuous agc ol thc mcchanizcd, atomizcd, harricd, consumcr socicty, thc cducator
must bc, abovc all, out ol stcp with thc spirit ol thc agc: untimcly.
And hcrc wc comc, nally, to Schopcnhaucr, whom, cvcn altcr his turn against him in
+86, Nictzschc continucs to dcscribc as my rst and only cducator.
Vc comc, that is,
to Schopcnhaucr, not as a collcction ol writings, but rathcr as a living man, bccausc, ol
coursc, only thc living man can providc a modcl for life.
Schopcnhaucrs most salicnt charactcr trait, Nictzschc suggcsts, is prcciscly his ruggcdly
couragcous untimclincss. Unlikc Kant, hc scorncd thc scholarly cliquc ol prolcssors who
might othcrwisc havc givcn him a job, and, in an agc dominatcd by Hcgcls triumphalist
optimism, did not hcsitatc to propound his incvitably unpopular philosophical pcssimism.
isplaying thc hcroism ol truthlulncss, Schopcnhaucr acknowlcdgcd thc lact that a happy
lilc is impossiblc, that thc highcst lorm ol humanity is thc hcroic lilc, a lilc that acccpts
thc sucring involvcd in bcing truthlul
in bcing a kind ol cxistcntial whistlcblowcr.
For othcr swimmcrs against thc tidc thc social ostracism to which thcy condcmncd
thcmsclvcs provcd too much. H oldcrlin wcnt mad and Klcist committcd suicidc. 8ut, likc
Vagncr, Schopcnhaucr posscsscd thc iron constitution which cnablcd him to withstand
thc solitudc to which hc was condcmncd.
Nictzschc now asks what circlc ol dutics can bc drawn lrom this idcal. How can wc
show that it points towards practical activity, that is to say, cducatcs our li.es:
haucr himscll was ncithcr a critic ol current socicty nor a social rclormcr. Hc did not think
modcrnity was any bcttcr or worsc than any othcr agc bccausc hc thought that all human
lilc in all agcs was cqually painlul and worthlcss. Tus it comcs as no surprisc whcn Nictz
schc acknowlcdgcs that it is a hard . . . task to show that anything practical lollows lrom thc
loltincss ol Schopcnhaucrian man, that onc might wcll takc lromhimthc rcjcction ol any
participation in thc world ol action.
Noncthclcss, in a startling passagc ol thought, hc
managcs to cxtract practical dutics lrom thc adoption ol Schopcnhaucr as rolc modcl.

dutics that dcrivc lrom thc modcl arc not, hc says,
thc dutics ol a solitary: on thc contrary thcy sct onc in thc midst ol a mighty community
hcld togcthcr not by cxtcrnal lorms but by a lundamcntal idca. !t is thc lundamcntal idca
ol culture, insolar as it scts lor cach onc ol us but onc task: to promote the production of the
philosopher, the artist and the saint .ithin us and .ithout us and thereby to .ork at the perfecting
of nature.

As wc havc sccn, Schopcnhaucr does rcjcct participation in action. Tc highcst insight into thc
naturc and valuc ol lilc is cmbodicd in thc transition lrom virtuc to asccticism (p. 8 abovc). Vhat
Nictzschc is suggcsting is that hc undcrstands Schopcnhaucrs systcm bcttcr than Schopcnhaucr
himscll, that its implications arc actually dicrcnt lrom what Schopcnhaucr takcs thcm to bc.
imez-.ous Brahms?

!n support ol this startling lcap ol thought Nictzschc says that naturc nccds both thc philos
ophcr and artist to achicvc its mctaphysical goal . . . ol its own scllcnlightcnmcnt, and hcrc
hc rcpcats Gocthcs rcmark that dramatic poctry is thc causa nalis |ultimatc purposc| ol thc
world. And Naturc nccds thc saint (as conccivcd by Schopcnhaucr) bccausc only through
him can naturc achicvc nal rcdcmption lrom itscll .

As with thc carlicr rclcrcncc to Gocthcs rcmark (p. + abovc), this strangc passagc ol
thought takcs us back to thc vcrsion ol Schopcnhaucrs mctaphysics prcscntcd in Te Birth
of Tragedy. Vc arc all, hc suggcsts thcrc, nothing but gurcs in, as it wcrc, a painting ol a

constructcd by and lor thc only rcal bcing, thc Primal Unity or Vill or
Naturc, as it is now callcd. !t lollows that bccausc wc arc thc Primal Unitys crcaturcs it
is our duty to collaboratc in allowing this worldcrcating childartist to scc his own naturc
rccctcd in thc puricd worldpicturc paintcd by thc philosophcr and thc artist. And it
lollows, too, that wc must collaboratc in thc appcarancc ol thc saint: lor only by cxpcricn
cing, through thc saints insight, thc ncccssity lor dcnial ol thc will can Primal Vill scc
thc nccd lor its own, and mans, rcdcmption through thc abolition ol thc world ol pain it
has constructcd. nly through thc insight (or pcrhaps onc should say rapturc) ol thc saint
can wc hopc that onc day thc world will comc to an cnd.
Tis barcly intclligiblc passagc has vcry littlc to bc said lor it, lost, as it is, in thc darkcst
and most scllcontradictory rcgions ol Schopcnhaucrs mctaphysics. Tc unanswcrablc
qucstion is: Vhy on carth should wc havc any duty to thc worlds crcator, particularly
onc ol so qucstionablc a charactcr as Te Births Primal Unity: Tanklully, howcvcr, Nictz
schc will soon makc his turn against Schopcnhaucrian mctaphysics, and whcn hc docs, as
alrcady notcd, thc idca ol art as Naturcs causa nalis will disappcar without tracc.
Tcrc is, howcvcr, a quitc dicrcnt linc ol thought by which Nictzschc sccks to arrivc
at approximatcly thc samc conclusion, onc that will bccomc morc and morc salicnt as his
philosophy maturcs. Mankind, hc says, must work continually at thc production ol indi
vidual grcat mcn that and nothing clsc is its task.
(8ccausc hc conccivcs ol grcatncss
as acccntuating thc dicrcncc bctwccn humans and animals to thc maximum dcgrcc,

grcat individual will havc to bc a geistige |spiritualintcllcctual| gurc, approximatcly, in
othcr words, a philosophcr, artist or saint.) !n cxplaining why this is our ovcrriding task,
Nictzschc appcals, not, this timc, to highown mctaphysics, but rathcr to biology:
How much onc would likc to apply to socicty and its goals somcthing that can bc lcarnt
lrom obscrvation ol any spccics ol thc animal or plant world: that its only conccrn is thc
individual highcr cxcmplar, thc morc uncommon, morc powcrlul, morc complcx, morc
lruitlul how much onc would likc to do this il inculcatcd lancics as to thc goal ol socicty
did not ocr such tough rcsistancc! Vc ought rcally to havc no diculty in sccing that,
whcn a spccics has arrivcd at its limits and is about to go ovcr into a highcr spccics, thc
goal ol its cvolution lics, not in thc mass ol its cxcmplars and thcir wcllbcing . . . but rathcr
in thosc apparcntly scattcrcd and chancc cxistcnccs which lavourablc conditions havc hcrc
and thcrc produccd.
So, concludcs Nictzschc, mankind ought to scck out and crcatc thc lavourablc conditions
undcr which thosc grcat mcn can comc into cxistcncc. And lor thc rcst ol us, our livcs
acquirc thcir highcst valuc whcn wc livc lor thc good ol thc rarcst and most valuablc

vvivbvicn xiv:zscnv
Nictzschc hcrc is appcaling to a vcrsion ol (social) arwinism rcmcmbcr that hc had
dccidcd by thc bcginning ol +8 that arwins thcory ol cvolution was truc.

And what
hc is appcaling to, in particular, is thc valuc ol, in arwinian languagc, thc random muta
tion. According to cvolution thcory, hc is obscrving, a spccics cvolvcs into a highcr spc
cics whcn it produccs a mutation which is bcttcr adaptcd to thc currcnt statc ol thc cnvi
ronmcnt. 8ccausc thc mutations brccd succcsslully whcrcas thc rcmaindcr tcnd to dic out
bclorc doing so, gradually thc spccics cvolvcs into a ncw spccics bcttcr adaptcd to thriv
ing in thc currcnt cnvironmcnt. 8ccausc human bcings and human socictics bclong, just
likc plants and animals, to thc rcalm ol biology, Nictzschc concludcs, wc ought to apply
this samc principlc to socicty and so do cvcrything possiblc to promotc thc appcarancc ol
chancc cxistcnccs, random mutations. (Tis idca may havc dcvclopcd in convcrsation with
Vagncr bccausc it appcars in mctaphorical lorm in Meistersinger: as Hans Sachs cvcntually
convinccs thcm, thc mastcrsingcrs must acccpt thc wild novclty ol Valtcrs prizc song, must
admit Valtcr into thcir guild, bccausc thc law ol lilc is: changc or dic.)
As ! havc m