1875

January 4 through mid-July: Basel

The three housemates living at Schützengraben 45 (FN, Franz Overbeck, Heinrich Romundt) make extensive visits in the Basel community. FN visits weekly Marie Baumgartner-Köchlin (1831-1897), mother of FN's student Adolf Baumgartner. Gersdorff visits for most of March.

Heinrich Romundt is unable to secure an appointment as professor of philosophy. In April, he decides to convert to Catholicism and leaves Basel, much to the distress of his housemates and Rohde. In the end Romundt does not convert. Instead, he becomes a high-school teacher and publishes writings on Kant and the philosophy of religion.

Marie Baumgartner translates the third Betrachtung into French; FN's publisher Schmeitzner has no luck finding a publisher in Paris. A negative review of the Schopenhauer book appears in Revue Critique d'histoire et de litterature (January 23, 1875, pp. 63-64). FN's comment in a letter to Schmeitzner: "Die 'Kritik' muss wohl eher von einem französischen Kellner sein als einem französischen Gelehrten" [The 'critique' is more likely by a French waiter rather than a French scholar (KGB II-5, #426)].

Travels to Luzern for February 14 and 15 to escape the chaos of Basel Carnival. To Wagner FN writes: "Augenblicklich bin ich auf der Flucht vor dem Baseler Trommellärm; nicht länger als 4 Stunden hielt ich's aus, dann bin ich Hals über Kopf fort gereist und befinde mich jetzt in Luzern..." [At the moment I am in flight from the din of Basel's drums; I couldn't stand it longer than four hours, I left head over heels and am now situated in Luzern (KGB II-5, #427)]

FN's sister Elisabeth agrees to look after the Wagners' house in Bayreuth while they are away on a concert tour. She is in Bayreuth from February 15 to March 28. At this point, Elisabeth and Cosima are on such friendly terms that they use the familiar "Du" form of address in their correspondence. [Diethe, p. 25]

In February, Adolf Vischer-Sarasin gives FN a copy of Dürer's work Ritter, Tod, und Teufel [Knight, Death, and the Devil]. FN is much taken by the picture. He writes to Malwida: "Ein hiesiger Patrizier hat mir ein bedeutendes Geschenk in einem ächten Dürerschen Blatte gemacht; selten habe ich Vergnügen an einer bildnerischen Darstellung, aber dies Bild 'Ritter Tod und Teufel' steht mir nahe, ich kann kaum sagen, wie. In der Geburt der Tragödie habe ich Schopenhauer mit diesem Ritter verglichen; und dieses Vergleiches wegen bekam ich das Bild" [A local patrician gave me a substantial present in the form of genuine Dürer print; yet this picture 'Knight Death and Devil' stands very close to me, I can hardly say how. In Birth of Tragedy I compared Schopenhauer with this knight; I was given the picture because of that comparison. KGB II-5, #436]. In 1885 FN will give it to his sister as a wedding present.

FN works on a meditation to be entitled Wir Philologen [We Philologists], but this work is never completed. Summer semester lecture is a continuation of the lecture on Aristotle's Rhetoric.

Review of the initial three Betrachtungen appears in "The Westminister Review and Foreign Quarterly Review" (April 1, 1875). Overall the review is critical: "According to Schopenhauer and his admiring pupil, existence is a lying puppet show and endless game of nonsense, which the booby Time plays before us and with us. This wonderful universe... is hollow, deceptive, stale and unprofitable; human nature is without dignity, human love without beauty, human destiny without grandeur...A happy life is impossible, the highest attainable life is the heroic life... From...the third of Dr. Nietzsche's opposition pamphlets, we trace our way back to the first of the three, in which an attempt is made to damage the reputation of a truth-loving, high-hearted man, whose aim was not so much to construct a philosophy as to explain the origin of a religion."

Early July: the brother of FN's future brother-in-law, Dr. Paul Förster, stops in Basel in order to make FN's acquaintance. Of this visit FN writes: "Ein Dr. Förster aus Berlin kam, mich kennen zu lernen. Ich habe durch freie Ässerungen einen abstossenden Eindruck gemacht." [A Dr. Förster from Berlin came by to meet me. Because of my candid remarks I made a bad impression. (KGB II-5, #467)]

Travels to and stays in Bern from April 25 to May 4 in order to relax, think, and make plans for the future. May 14-17: travels to Baden-Baden with is his sister.

July 15 until August 12: Cure in Steinabad

FN travels to the Black Forest region to take a cure for his physical ailments. While there, FN consults with Dr. Josef Wiel, who diagnoses FN as having "chronic stomach catarrh." Wiel is able to alleviate FN's symptoms to some extent, especially the stomach discomfort, by recommending an involved dietary regime.

Overbeck, Rohde and Gersdorff travel to Bayreuth to hear the rehearsals of Wagner's Ring. FN, due to ill health, is unable to join them.

At the end of his cure, FN makes a characteristic remark: "Lieber Himmel gieb, dass wir freien Geistes seien, alles andre kannst du für dich behalten." [May heaven grant that we are free spirits, everything else you can keep. (KGB II-5 #479)]

Comments from the notebooks

"Socrates, um es nur zu bekennen, steht mir so nahe, dass ich fast immer einen Kampf mit ihm kämpfe." [Socrates, just to acknowledge it, stands so close to me, that I am almost continuously locked in struggle with him.] (KGW IV-1 S. 173)

"Meine allgemeine Aufgabe: zu zeigen, wie Leben Philosophie und Kunst ein tieferes und verwandtschaftliches Verhältniss zu einander haben können, ohne dass die Philosophie flach ist und das Leben des Philosophen lügenhaft wird." [My general task: to show how life philosophy and art can have a deeper and affinitive relationship with each other, without philosophy becoming flat and the life of the philosopher becoming dishonest."] (KGW IV-1 S. 180)

Mid-August through December: Basel

FN forsakes Overbeck and moves to Spalenthorweg 48. Elisabeth acts as homemaker. Despite his cure, FN still suffers instances of headache and stomach discomfort. On September 20 he writes: "Die vorigen Woche lief schlimm für mich ab, ich war vom ersten Tag an krank und musste Donnerstag und Freitag im Bette zubringen." [Last week was a bad one for me, from the first day I was sick and had to spend Thursday and Friday in bed. (KGB II-5, #486)]

Work on the Betrachtung on Wagner continues. In October FN is dissatisfied with drafts of both meditations (on Wagner and philology).

Rohde visits in early September; Malwida von Meysenbug and Gersdorff in mid-October. Heinrich Köselitz (1854-1918; later "Peter Gast") and Paul Widemann (1851-1928) come to Basel to hear FN's lectures, armed with recommendations from FN's publisher Schmeitzner.

Courses delivered during winter semester 1875/1876. Lecture: third and concluding part of the history of Greek literature (11 students); lecture: religious culture of the Greeks (8 students); seminar: Diogenes Laertius (12 participants); Pädagogium: Plato, Symposium.

FN's move to his hew residence proved more expensive than planned, so he is forced to ask his friend Gersdorff for a loan of 100 Thaler (300 marks), promising to pay it back by April 1877. Because of a later quarrel with Gersdorff, the repayment does not take place until 1894.

Readings: Paul Rée, Pyschologische Beobachtungen [Pyschological Observations]; novels of Walter Scott (together with his sister); Sutta Nipata.

Late December: a new decline in FN's health, with discomfort both in the eyes and stomach.

Jump to top