1879

January through March: Basel

FN's year begins with a low point in his health; his letters are filled with descriptions of his physical misery. Remarks such as this one in a letter from February 9 are typical: "Drei Tage konnte ich nicht eine Zeile schreiben, wieder sehr schlimm, auch die ganze Woche schlecht..." [Three days I could not write a single line, again very badly off, felt poor the entire week... (Chronik p. 444)] And from late February: "..seitdem habe ich unbeschreiblich gelitten. Ein 4tägiger und ein 6tägiger Anfall der allerhärtesten Art --- Erbrechen über Erbrechen dabei..." [since then I have suffered indescribably. A 4-day and a 6-day attack of the most brutal kind --- attack upon attack of nausea... (Chronik p. 444)]

Heinrich Köselitz, now residing in Florence, assists FN in correcting the page proofs for Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche. Cosima rejects Elisabeth's attempts to initiate a reconciliation between Wagner and FN. To Gersdorff Cosima remarks that she has learned, through FN's sister, that FN is mentally ill. (Chronik p. 443)

Due to the association with FN, Wagner terminates the contract with Schmeitzner concerning the publication of the Bayreuther Blätter.

Title page of Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche

Titel page for Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche

Mid-March: publication of Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche. To prepare the manuscript, FN takes a transcription of aphorisms (prepared by Marie Baumgartner) and cuts the pages up into the individual aphorisms. These he rearranges, adds additional ones, and then sends the manuscript off to Schmeitzner. FN and Köselitz correct the proofs. Complimentary copies are sent to Rohde, Paul Widemann, Reinhart von Seydlitz, von Meysenbug, Hans Herig, Gustav Krug, Louise Rothpelz, Marie Baumgartner, Burckhardt, Romundt, Eugen Kretzer, Emmerich Du Mont, and Köselitz. As always, the sales for this book are very poor; when Fritzsch buys the edition in 1886 he finds that of the original one thousand copies 674 are still on hand. [Chronik p. 446]

Mid-March through mid-April: Geneva

FN departs for a second stay in Geneva on March 22. This vacation does little to improve his health; he writes Overbeck: "Mein Leben ist mehr Torture als Erholung" [My life is more torture than recuperation]. In a letter to Rée, initial speculation about resigning his professorship due to ill health (KGB II-5 #842). Yet FN directs Overbeck to announce his courses for the coming semester.

Pleasure in receiving a favorable letter from Jakob Burckhardt concerning Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche.

Mid-April through late May: Basel, Schloß Bremgarten

FN returns to Basel and on May 2 submits his resignation on grounds of ill health. This is officially accepted on June 14, along with an official expression of regret and thanks. FN's successor is Jacob Wackernagel, a former student of FN's. FN is granted a pension of 3000 Swiss francs, which is two-thirds of FN's regular salary.

Discussion amongst FN's friends and associates (publisher Schmeitzner, Widmann, Gast, Overbeck, Rohde, Gersdorff) on how FN might receive financial support. Schmeitzner suggests the creation of a "Nietzsche-Verein" similar to the one for Wagner. Bernhard Förster, Elisabeth's future husband, suggests initiating a private collection on FN's behalf.

News of FN's resignation provokes expressions of sympathy even from Bayreuth. Cosima Wagner writes to Gersdorff: "Gott, mit wie offnen Herzen und Armen hätten wir unser Heim angeboten, und wie hätte er noch an unserer Sache, als bedeutendster Faktor sich betätigen können!" [God, how we would have offered him our home with open arms and hearts, and how active he could have been as the most significant factor on behalf of our cause]

Elisabeth comes to Basel. FN's furniture is sold and the majority of his personal library is stored in Zürich.

End of May through September 17: Wiesen and St. Moritz

Schmeitzner makes significant attempts to gain attention for FN's writings. He sends copies of Allzumenschliches (as well as Wagner's reply) to Eduard Hanslick and Paul Lindau; Gast writes an anonymous reviews; Otto Busse promises to write a review for the Nationalzeitung. Karl Hillebrand, correctly anticipating the future of FN's writings, as he writes to Schmeitzner: "...in zehn, fünfzehn Jahren werden Nietzsche's Schriften eine gewaltige Nachfrage finden..." [in ten, fifteen years Nietzsche's writings will be in great demand]

In spite of continual headaches and other aliments, FN composes a new set of aphorisms, which he sends to Gast in September for a clean transcription. Yet he despairs of recovery; to his mother he makes a remark typical of his correspondence of this period: "An Genesung ist gar nicht zu denken, es ist sehr viel, wenn ich es erträglicher habe." [Recovery is out of the question, it's much just when things are bearable. KGB II-5 #863]

Mid-August: Rohde visits the Overbecks in Zürich. August 20 to 23: Overbeck visits FN in St. Moritz.

Reads Les Moralistes sous l'empire romain, philosophes et poètes by B.-C. Martha.

Late September through December: Naumburg

FN sends a final set of aphorisms to Gast for transcription. In early October he notifies Schmeitzner of the new work and meets with him in Leipzig on October 19, at which time FN gives Schmeitzner the manuscript to Der Wanderer und sein Schatten [The Wanderer and His Shadow] Gast, in Venice, assists FN with the correction of page proofs; this process is delayed in November due to a fresh reversal in FN's health.

Title page of Der Wanderer und sein Schatten

Titel page for Der Wanderer und sein Schatten

The volume Der Wanderer und sein Schatten is published on December 20. It is received enthusiastically by FN's friends. In a letter to Schmeitzner written on December 18, FN remarks: "Der vollendete 'Wanderer' ist mir fast etwas Unglaubliches... Die ganze 'Menschlichkeit' mit den 2 Anhängen ist aus der Zeit der bittersten und anhaltendsten Schmerzen - und scheint mir doch ein Ding voller Gesundheit. Dies ist mein Triumph." [The completed 'Wanderer' is to me something almost unbelievable... The entire 'humanity' with the 2 supplements is from a time of the most bitter and continual pains - and yet seems to me to be a thing full of health. This is my triumph]. This time Köselitz transcribed the aphorisms, which FN again cuts up and arranges with respect to order. Once again Schmeitzner has one thousand copies printed and bound. Complementary copies to Overbeck, Louise Rothpletz, Marie Baumgartner, Rée, Burckhardt, Rohde and others. The volume sells for six marks. This book, too, fails to sell; Fritzsch will receive 808 copies in 1886. [Chronik, p. 464]

FN's mother reads to him from a wide variety of authors: Lermontow, Macaulay, Möser, Pestalozzi, Gogol, Bret Harte, Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe. FN turns 35 on October 15.

Wagner inquires of Overbeck the status of FN's health. Rumors of FN's death circulate around the end of October.

Readings: Gogol, Lermontoff, Bret Harte, M. Twain, E. A. Poe.

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