1881

January through April: Genoa

Manuscript of Morgenröthe sent to Köselitz on January 25th for copying. This is no easy task for Köselitz, as FN himself admits in the accompanying letter: "Nun heißt es wieder, Freund, 'in Ihre Hände befehle ich meinen Geist!' und noch mehr: 'in ihren Geist befehle ich meine Hände!' Ich schreibe zu schlecht und sehe alles krumm. Wenn Sie nicht errathen was ich denke, so ist das Manuscript unentzifferbar." [So it is again, friend, 'in your hands I commend my spirit!' and still more: 'in your spirit I commend my hands!' If you cannot unravel what I think, then the manuscript is indecipherable"] Köselitz himself remarks in a letter to an acquaintance that he has nearly "written himself blind" in deciphering FN's handwriting. FN and Köselitz work on the correction of the proofs.

In an article Bruno Bauer calls FN "the German Montaigne, Pascal, and Diderot." FN comments on this to Köselitz: "Wie wenig Feinheit in solchem Lobe, also: wie wenig Lob!" [How little subtlety in such praise, therefore: how little praise!]

Through Köselitz FN learns in late February that in Bayreuth there is brief discussion about publishing FN's old Mahnruf an die Deutschen [Admonition to the Germans] from 1873.

During this time FN comes up the the pseudonym "Peter Gast" for his friend Heinrich Köselitz. The idea is that the invented name is more suitable for a composer of operas, which is what Köselitz aspired to be. Also during this period, FN takes up correspondence again with his friend Gersdorff, albeit via the oddly roundabout way of using Köselitz as a middle man. FN and Gersdorff consider spending a few months together in Tunis; this plan is rendered impossible when France annexes Tunis in the midst of a colonial war. This discussion is conducted entirely by correspondence; FN and Gersdorff are destined not to meet again after their meeting in Bayreuth in 1876.

22-28 March: Rohde visits Overbeck in Basel.

At Köselitz' suggestion, FN reads J. R. Mayer's Mechanik der Wärme [Mechanics of Warmth, first edition 1867]. Although N largely dismisses the book as the work of a "great specialist," Janz is probably correct in supposing that the book, with its discussion of topics such as the conservation of engery and the reduction of warmth to movement, spurred FN into trains of thought that lead eventually to the notion of eternal recurrence. Certainly over the coming months, FN reads a number of works dealing with the natural sciences.

Comments from the notebooks
"Die Wissenschaft hat viel Nutzen gebracht, jetzt möchte man, im Mißtrauen gegen die Religion und Verwandtes, sich ihr ganz unterwerfen. Aber Irrthum! Sie kann nicht befehlen, Weg weisen: sondern erst wenn man weiß wohin?, kann sie nützen." [Science has brought many benefits, now one, out of mistrust against religion and related matters, would like to subject oneself to it utterly. Yet an error! It cannot command, show the way: when one first knows whither? then it can be useful.] (KGW V-1.733)

"Zuletzt begreifen wir: ein Ding ist eine Summe von Erregungen in uns: weil wir aber nichts Festes sind, ist ein Ding auch keine feste Summe." [Finally we grasp it: a thing is a sum of excitatons in us: because we however are not firm solids, so too is a thing no firm sum.] (KGW V-1.767)

"Die Welt, soweit wir sie erkennen können, ist unsere eigene Nerventhätigkeit, nichts mehr." [The world, as far as we can know it, is our own nervous activity, nothing more.] (KGW V-1.766)

"Das Guthören ist also wohl ein fortwährendes Errathen und Ausfüllen der wenig wirklich wahrgenommenen Empfindungen... Was wirklich geschehen ist, ist nach unserem Augenschein schwer zu sagen; --- denn wir haben fortwährend dabei gedichtet und geschlossen." [Listening closely is therefore a continual guessing and completing of those few actual sensations... What really has happened is difficult to say, according to what meets the eye; --- since we have continuously fabricated and drawn conclusions."] (KGW V-2.343)

May through early July: Recoaro

Title page of Morgenroete

The title page for the first edition of Morgenröthe.

On 8 July 1881 there appears in publication: Morgenröthe Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurtheile. [Dawn. Thoughts on moral prejudices.]. On the title page is the Rigveda quote: "Es gibt so viele Morgenröthen, die noch nicht geleuchtet haben." [There are so many dawns that have yet to shine] N had initially intended "Die Pflugschar" [The Plowshare] as the title, one he had intended to use for one of the thirteen Betrachtungen. Yet when Köselitz jotted down this quote when he returned the manuscript, N was so taken by it that he decided to adopt it. Although Köselitz claimed it was taken from the Rigveda, Janz reports that no quote like it exists in that text [Janz II 65].

FN requests that Overbeck send him Keller's Grünen Heinrich.

Early July through September: Sils-Maria

FN's initial residency in Sils-Maria. FN departs on July 2, intending to go to St. Moritz, but encounters some difficulties with the trains. On the advice of the some Swiss fellow travelers, he travels to Sils-Maria.

In early August, the significance of the idea of eternal recurrence strikes FN. FN will recount this event in his autobiography Ecce Homo, in the section on Zarathustra: "Die Grundconception des Werks [des Zarathustras], der Ewige-Wiederkunfts-Gedanke, diese h–chste Formel der Bejahung, die ¸berhaupt erreicht werden kann , geh–rt in den August des Jahres 1881: er ist auf ein Blatt hingeworfen, mit der Unterschrift: '6000 Fuss jenseits von Mensch und Zeit'." [The fundamental concept of the work [Zarathustra], the thought of eternal return, the highest forumla of affirmation that can ever be attained -, belongs in August of the year 1881: it is jotted down on a piece of paper, with the label: "6000 feet beyond man and time."]

In an attempt to make the task of writing easier, FN attempts to buy a typewriter. The typewriter had been invented 10 years earlier in the United States and had been in production by the Remington company since 1873. FN's experiment with the typewriter will not prove successful. [Janz II 81]

Readings: Hellwald, Culturgeschichte and Die Erde und ihre Bewohner [The Earth and its Inhabitants]; Kuno Fisher (on Spinoza). FN asks Overbeck to send books from the Basel university library: the neo-Kantian Otto Liebmann, Kant und die Epigonen and Analysis und Wirklichkeit.

October through December: Genoa

FN's future brother-in-law, Bernard Förster, gives a lecture in Berlin entitled "Das Verhältnis des modernen Judenthums zur deutschen Kunst" [The Relationship of modern Jewry to German Art]. One excerpt: "Alle diese höchsten Erzeugnisse deutscher Kunst sind so aus dem Innersten des deutschen Geistes geboren, daß sie gleichzeitig zum allerschärfsten Protest gegen das Judenthum werden. Man kann sich etwas 'Antisemitischeres' als die Beethovenschen Symphonien und den Don Juan, den Faust und Werther, die Meistersinger und den Ring des Nibelungen gar nicht denken." [All of these highest products of German art have been born so much out of the depths of the German spirit that they have become simultaneously the sharpest protest against the Jews. One can scarcely imagine anything more anti-Semitic than the Beethoven symphonies and Don Juan, Faust and Werther, the Meistersinger and Ring of the Nibelungen] He publishes a book containing these and other views. The title of the book is the same as the lecture.

FN discovers Bizet's opera Carmen, attending a performance for the first time at the Politeana Theater on November 27.

Overbeck's friend, the historian Heinrich von Treitschke, begins to publish his multi-volume work Deutsche Geschichte [German History]. Treitschke was involved in the so-called "Berliner Antisemistismusstreit" [Berlin antisemitism controversy], contributing article that warned that the "germanisch-nationale Identität" [germanic national identity] was in danger of becoming a "deutsch-j¸dich Mischkultur" [german-jewish jumble culture]. For Ovebeck this was completely unacceptable. On November 11, Treitschke writes to Overbeck: "Und gerecht war es nicht, wenn Du meine Deutsche Geschichte mit ein paar wegwerfenden Worten abfertigtest. Dein Unglück ist dieser verschrobene Nietzsche..." [And it is not fair when you write off my German History with a few words of dismissal. Your misfortune is this odd-ball Nietzsche] (Overbeck, Werke und Nachlaß, 7/2, p. xv)

FN suffers from continued ill health.

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