January through March: Genoa

FN sends to Köselitz in Venice a new manuscript, conceived as a "continuation of Morgenroethe."

Rée's visit begins on February 4; he brings FN a typewriter. Together they make several day excursions, including one to Monaco. Rée departs on March 13 for Rome, but on the way he gambles in Monte Carlo. He loses all of his cash and must borrow funds to be able to continue his journey to Rome. He arrives on March 16 and meets Lou von Salomé (1861-1937). Rée and Malwida von Meysenbug write FN enthusiastic letters about Lou.

FN learns through his sister that the antisemite Bernhard Förster is an admirer of his.

April: Messina

Unannounced FN boards ship on March 29 for Messina. FN is quite pleased; he writes that Messina "is as if made for me." It is of interest to note that Wagner was also on Messina during this time, from April 10-14, after having spent the winter in Palermo working on his new opera Parsifal. Since the newspapers were full of the news of Wagner's presence on Messina, one must wonder if FN's stay on Messina was entirely accidental.

FN's publisher Schmeitzner launches a journal, the Internationale Monatsschrift. Although FN initially declines to contribute, he sends Schmeitzner a set of poems, Idyllen aus Messina, which appear in the June issue.

Letter from Rée on April 20, in which he already suggests a "Zusammensein" [community] that would include himself, Lou, FN and an "elder woman." In spite of a climate that is antithetical to his health, FN departs for Rome on April 24.

End of April: Rome

On April 24 FN arrives in Rome and, a few days later, meets Lou von Salomé (1861-1937, later, after her marriage to Fred Andreas, Lou Andreas-Salomé) at St. Peter's church. According to Lou's memoirs, FN is so taken with her that he asks Rée to carry his proposal of marriage to Lou, not realizing that Rée himself had already made such a proposal the previous month. Most of N's more recent biographers doubt that a proposal was made [see the sidelight "Did Nietzsche propose to Lou?"]. All this does not prevent the three from making initial plans to spend some time together in study.

A letter, supposedly from FN to Elisabeth in which he secretly divulged his acquaintance with Lou, is a forgery. May 1: Lou and her mother depart for northern Italy. FN, due to a dip in health, remains in Rome with Rée until May 5. They then catch up with Lou and her mother. FN is able to embark alone on a hike with Lou under Monte Sacro. It is possible that Lou and FN kissed. Janz notes that Lou was both taken with and taken aback by FN: philosophically they were in some ways kindred spirits, but they also had their differences.

First half of May: Orta, Basel, Luzern

N, with Lou, Rée, and Lou's mother Louise, spend the first days in May on Lake Orta, in the northwestern part of Italy. With Rée left behind to provide companionship for Louise, N and Lou undertake a hike up the Monte sacro, located at the northern end of the lake. While alone on this walk, N and Lou have an intense philosophical conversation, during which N is greatly impressed by Lou's intellectual acumen. Lou's later account adds some spice to the episode: "Ob ich Nietzsche auf dem Monte sacro geküßt habe?--ich weiß es nicht mehr." [If I kissed Nietzsche on Monte saco?--I no longer recall. Janz, II, p. 128] Cate dismisses this, stating that Lou by then "was merely posing for posterity." [Cate, p. 331]

May 8-12: FN visits Overbeck unannounced in Basel. Overbeck is much surprised by FN's good spirits and relative good health.

May 13: FN takes the train to Lucerne, where he is met at the train station by Lou and Rée. While still in Basel, FN had written to Rée, saying that he needed to have a private conversation with Lou and suggested the lion memorial in Lucerne as the location. So after his arrival in Lucerne, the three wander over to the memorial and FN has his private conversation with Lou. According to Lou's memoirs, during this conversation N made his second proposal to her, this time without Ree as intermediary. But as with the story of the Rome proposal, many recent biographers doubt the veracity of the Lucerne proposal as well.

Day excursion to Tribschen, where FN and Lou visit the site of FN's idyllic days with the Wagners. During this stay in Luzern, the famous photograph of the three of them, with Lou holding a whip and FN and Rée pulling her cart, was taken. According to Lou's recollection, FN orchestrated the picture (the "whip photo") down to the small details.

On May 16, all three depart in separate directions, with the best of intentions of holding to the plans for communal study during the coming winter. Lou and Rée have drawn close, moving to the more intimate "Du" form of address. Lou and FN, on the other hand, remained on more formal terms.

Mid-May through June 24: Naumburg

May 16: On the way from Luzern to Naumburg, FN spends a day visting the Overbecks in Basel.

FN's Idyllen aus Messina appears in Schmeitzner's Monatsschrift [Monthly Magazine]. Work on the clean manuscript for Fröhliche Wissenschaft proceeds: Elisabeth reads, FN corrects ("die einzige Rolle, die ich jetzt spielen kann" [the only role I can now play]), and a bankrupt businessman transcribes. This proves to be an agonizing experience that painfully concludes on the last day of his stay.

On May 30, Lou visits the Overbecks in Basel and engages in a long conversation with Ida Overbeck. The latter writes a summary of their conversation in her diary, which includes the remark: "Sie [Lou] hat einen Blick für Nietzsches zweideutiges Wesen, wohl ihr. Er hatte ihr über das Verhältnis zu seiner Schwester die unrichtigsten, schwärmerischsten Vorstellungen erregt" [She [Lou] has an eye for Nietzsche's ambiguous aspect, good for her. He gave her the most incorrect and fantastic impressions about his relationship to his sister].

June 16-17. Upon learning that Lou was leaving Hamburg to go to Berlin, FN travels himself to Berlin, in the hopes of seeing Lou there. FN also is curious to see the Grunewald, a forest near Berlin, as it was recommended to him by a "forester" as a possible vacation location. FN's trip is a failure on both counts. He does not succeed in meeting Lou and the Grunewald is a dissappointment, crowded as it is already with vacationers. FN has no choice but to return to Naumburg. And the forester who recommended the Grunewald? It was Paul Arthur Förster--brother of FN's future brother-in-law Bernhard, who, as was Bernhard before his dismissal, is a teacher at a Berlin Gymnasium. [Chronik, p. 517]

June 21-22. Quick trip to Leipzig to discuss publications.

Plans continue for the "Dreieinigkeit" [trinity] to study in Vienna in fall and winter. Once FN has the manuscript for Fröhliche Wissenschaft complete, he travels to Berlin to show it to Lou. But in vain, as Lou has already departed for Stibbe to visit Rée and his family.

June 25 through August 27: Tautenburg

Title page, first edition, Froehliche Wissenschaft

The first edition of Die fröhliche Wissenschaft contained the first four books of the later edition.

With Köselitz' assistance the correction of the page proofs begin. FN receives the first copies of Fröhliche Wissenschaft on August 20. The book was originally conceived as a continuation of Morgenröte, but in May 1882, FN decides to publish it as a separate work. Work on the corrections conclude in early August. Complimentary copies go to Gersdorff, the Basel university library, Burckhardt, Marie Baumgartner, Rée, Rohde, Paul Förster (an odd choice!), von Meysenbug, Max Heinze, Gottfried Keller, and Romundt. The print run is one thousand copies; of these, 788 are still on hand for Fritzsch in 1886. [Chronik, p. 527-8]

Late July: FN travels to Naumburg to accompany Lou and Elisabeth to Bayreuth to hear Parsifal. FN knows all too well that he is persona non grata in Bayreuth, but hopes that perhaps he might receive an invitation from Wagner after all. He decides, therefore, to camp out near Bayreuth, in order to be able travel quickly to Bayreuth. Upon recommendation of his sister, he goes to the village Tautenberg in the vicinity of Jena. FN is in Tautenburg from June 25 to August 27. Before he departs for Tautenburg, however, he finally tells his mother and sister about Lou.

As it turns out, Malwida von Meysenbug apparently did attempt to initiate a reconciliation with Wagner. Wagner however, according to Lou's later recollection, ended that discussion by storming out of the room, demanding that the name Nietzsche never again be spoken in his presence [Janz II 140].

Elisabeth had accompanied her brother to Tautenburg on June 25, but departs on June 27.

Lou and Elisabeth, who had tickets for the July 28 performance of Parsifal, meet in Leipzig on July 24 and then travel on to Bayreuth. For Elisabeth, this period in Bayreuth was too much. On the one hand, Lou threatens to eclipse her relationship with her brother. As Janz points out, Elisabeth was a 36 year old single woman, desparate to escape the narrowness of Naumburg, and had never come close to receiving a proposal of marriage. In Bayreuth, she is forced to witness Lou's "scandalous" behaviour, flirting with men and fending off numerous marriage proposals. This stay at Bayreuth causes Elisabeth's pot to boil over.

Elisabeth and Lou meet on August 7 in Jena at the house of Professor Gelzer (father of Emily Gelzer who in 1896 became engaged to Fritz Koegel, then editor of the Nietzsche edition). Here there was apparently a great scene, with Elisabeth accusing Lou of scandalous behavior and Lou reacting forcefully to Elisabeth's accusations. Contributing to the flow of accusations is FN's notion, mentioned to Rée in conversation and correspondence, that for him a marriage should be limited to two to three years in length. This notion of a "wilde Ehe" [wild marriage] apparently surfaces during this argument between Elisabeth and Lou.

In spite of this altercation, the two women travel on to meet FN in Tautenburg. FN, of course, has no idea of this development; indeed, he spends his time "nesting" in Tautenburg, arranging to have benches set out along the hiking trails. He even bestows names on these benches, naming one "the dead man" and another "fröhliche Wissenschaft."

In spite of Elisabeth's presence, FN and Lou have, overall, an enjoyable time, engaging in long walks and deep conversations. They jointly work on aphorisms, with Lou drafting them and FN applying corrections. Lou, in order to keep Rée from being consumed by jealousy, keeps a journal during her stay in Tautenburg, sending it to Rée in installments. Lou: "Wir sind sehr heiter miteinander, wir lachen viel..." [We are very cheerful with each other, we laugh a great deal]. Rée didn't have to worry; a much as FN and Lou share during this time, Lou is clear that there were also deep differences. In her mind, there is no possibility of a romantic relationship. On August 18 she writes of FN in her journal: "Sind wir uns ganz nah? Nein, bei alledem nicht... Und in irgend einer verborgenen Tiefe unseres Wesens sind wir weltenfern von einander." [Are we very close? No, in spite of everything... and in some concealed depth of our beings we are worlds apart. (Janz II 149)] Meanwhile Elisabeth is largely ignored by both.

On August 26, Lou leaves for Stibbe, but before departing presents FN with a poem she had composed in 1880 while still a student: "Lebensgebet" [Life Prayer]. FN is so taken with the poem that he immediately sets it to music, using the melody from his earlier composition "Hymnus an die Freundschaft" [Hymn to Friendship].

The Dreieinigkeit plans first for Munich instead of Vienna, then decides on Paris.

FN departs for Naumburg; Elisabeth stays behind in order to spare their mother the aspect of her "verweinten Augen" [cried-out eyes].

While in Zürich in the fall of 1881, Lou von Salomé had composed a number of poems, including her "Lebensgebet" [Life Prayer]. FN was so impressed with her poem that he set it to music, using his "Hymnus auf die Freundschaft" composed in 1874. In FN's original version he used only the first stanza of the poem. In 1887 he allowed Heinrich Köselitz to prepare a version for choir and orchestra; Gast incorporated the second stanza as well. Gebet an das Leben became the only musical composition that FN published. The work was published by E. W. Fritzsch, who was Wagner's publisher and who issued new versions of FN's works in 1886/87. The text of Salomé's poem was altered slightly; the text as used in FN's song is as follows.

Gewiß, so liebt ein Freund den Freund,
Wie ich Dich liebe, rätselvolles Leben!
Ob ich in Dir gejauchzt, geweint,
Ob Du mir Leid, ob Du mir Lust gegeben.

Ich liebe Dich mit Deinem Glück und Harme
Und wenn Du mich vernichten mußt,
Entreisse ich schmerzvoll mich Deinem Arme,
Gleich wie der Freund der Freundesbrust.

[Surely, so loves a friend the friend,
As I love you, mysterious life --
Whether I find in you joy or tears,
Whether you give me happiness or pain.

I love you with all your joy and harm,
And when you must finally end me,
I tear myself painfully from your arms,
Just as a friend from the friend's embrace.]

Late August to early September: Naumburg

Although at first the move of the trinity to Paris seems only days away, suddenly and for reasons unknown the move is called off. Arguments with his mother begin; she thinks the famous picture of Lou, Rée, FN and the whip is scandalous and refuses to have Lou in her house. His mother declares FN a "Schande für das Grab seines Vaters" [scandal for the grave of his father].

End of August: Rohde visits Overbeck in Dresden.

September through mid-November: Leipzig, Basel

Important letter from Jacob Burckhardt on receiving and reading Fröhliche Wissenschaft.

September 17: Overbeck visits FN in Leipzig.

Final meeting of the trinity in October. Jealousy and other feelings contribute to the dissolution and to a final misunderstanding between FN and Rée. By mid-November FN has definitively cancelled plans for Paris. Brief visit for Franz Overbeck's birthday. FN, according to Ida Overbeck, gives no explanation about the dissolution of the trinity, even though he is clearly quite upset about it.

Late November through December: Santa Margherita, Rapallo

FN spends a difficult and depressing month in Rapallo. Through letters, relations with Lou and Paul Rée worsen. Breaks off his correspondence with his mother and sister. To Overbeck at Christmas FN writes "Dieser letzte Bissen Lebens war der härteste, den ich bisher kaute..." [This last bite of life was the hardest I've ever chewed...]

December: Overbeck quits the Bayreuther Patronatsverein (Bayreuth patron society).

Letters from Heinrich von Stein, who sends FN page proofs from his book Helden und Welt [Heroes and the World].

Jump to top