Early in the year, FN's condition deteriorates; the "gains" made in early 1890 now begin gradually to fade. In early February Köselitz visits FN in Naumburg. To Carl Fuchs he writes "Ich glaube... daß er jetzt, wenn auch langsam, immer mehr in Apathie versinkt. Anstatt einer Antwort, erhält man ein Lachen oder bloßes Kopfnicken, sehr eigentümlich" [I think... that he (FN) is sinking, even if only gradually, ever deeper into apathy. Instead of an answer you get a laugh or a nodding of the head, very peculiar] and to Overbeck: "Im vorigen Jahr hörte ich ihn am Klavier spielen und erstaunte noch über die Logik und Steigerung in seinen Improvisationen: in diesem Jahr war das alles dahin. Er hat gar kein rhythmisches Gefühl mehr, alles is verworren und falsch." [Last year I heard him play the piano and was astonished by the logic and development of his improvisations: this year that's all gone. He no longer has any kind of feeling of rhythm, everything is confused and false]
During a trip to Berlin at this time, Elisabeth meets Fritz Koegel (probably through Cosima Wagner), who a few years later will assume the editorship of FN's works.
By the end of March, the publisher Naumann has Zarathustra IV printed, bound, and ready to send to bookstores. Paul Lauterbach, during a visit to Naumburg, raises the prospect of legal action against the book. On March 31, FN's mother and sister refuse to grant permission for publication, taking exception particularly with the "Eselsfest" [Festival of the Asses] section. Köselitz notes in a letter to Overbeck: "Eigentlich ist es zum Kranklachen, zwei gottesfürchtige Weiber und einen Landpfarrer [Edmund Oehler] über die Veröffentlichbarkeit von Schriften eines ausgemachten Antichristen und Atheisten zu Gericht sitzen zu sehen." [Actually it is quite hilarious, watching two god-fearing women and a rural minister sit in judgment on the writings of a pronounced atheist and opponent of Christianity. Letter to Overbeck, April 4, 1891; Hoffmann, p.8]
Early April: Overbeck visits Rohde in Heidelberg.
In autumn, however, Naumann surprises everyone by announcing the completion of the second edition of some of FN's works, which he did without consulting the Nietzsche family, Overbeck, or Köselitz. He also presents a bill for 3000 marks for the printing costs of these new editions and for storage costs for the earlier editions. The size of this bill astonishes everyone. Elisabeth counterattacks, engaging a lawyer and collecting statements from other publishers, including FN's earlier publishers Fritzsch and Schmeitzner. By late December, when the dust settles, not only has Naumann retracted his bill, but pays out 3500 marks for the second edition he prepared.
Edmund Oehler dies on September 5. His place as co-guardian is taken by Adalbert Oehler, nephew of Edmund and FN's mother.