He listened to the talk of the students. Some repeated without any ardour of conviction the formulas of Hegel, of Fichte, of Schelling: those great systems had lost all their power to stimulate. Nietzsche read these treatises, but did not re-read them. He was a poet and had need of lyricism, intuition, and mystery; he could not be contented with the clear and cold world of science. Those same young people, who called themselves materialists, also called themselves democrats; they vaunted the humanitarian philosophy of Feuerbach; but Nietzsche was again too much of a poet and, by education or by temperament, too much of an aristocrat to interest himself in the [Pg 45] politics of the masses.
He conceived beauty, virtue, force, heroism, as desirable ends, and he desired them for himself. But he had never desired a happy life, a smooth and comfortable life: therefore he could not interest himself in men's happiness, in the poor ideal of moderate joy and moderate suffering. Little satisfied as he was by all the tendencies of his contemporaries, what joy could he experience? Repelled by a base politics, a nerveless metaphysics, a narrow science, whither could he direct his mind? Certainly he had his clear and well-marked preferences. He was certain of his tastes. He loved the Greek poets, he loved Bach, Beethoven, Byron.
But what was the drift of his own thought? He had no answer to the problems of life, and now in his twenty-first, as formerly in his seventeenth year, preferring silence to uncertain speech, he kept himself under a discipline of silence. In his writings, his letters, his conversation, he was always on his guard.
His friend Deussen suggested that prayer has no real virtue, and only gives to the mind an illusory confidence.
hehopefisypi.gq | Nietzsche | | R. J. Hollingdale | Boeken
The same Deussen was speaking on another occasion of the Life of Jesus which Strauss had just published in a new edition, and expressing approval of the sense of the book. Nietzsche refused to pronounce upon the subject. A letter addressed to his sister removes this impression. The young girl, who had remained a believer, wrote to him: "One must always seek truth at the most painful side of things. Now one does not believe in the Christian mysteries without difficulty. Therefore the Christian mysteries are true.
Do you think that such acceptance is more difficult than a struggle against the whole mass of one's habits, waged in doubt and loneliness, and darkened by every kind of spiritual depression, nay more, by remorse; a struggle which leaves a man often in despair, but always loyal to his eternal quest, the discovery of the new paths that lead to the True, the Beautiful, and the Good? Shall we recover those ideas of God, the world, and redemption which are familiar to us?
To the genuine seeker must not the result of his labours appear as something wholly indifferent? What is it we are seeking? Rest and happiness? No, nothing but Truth, however evil and terrible it may be. So are the ways of men marked out; if you desire peace of soul and happiness, believe; if you would be a disciple of Truth, enquire Nietzsche tried to endure this painful life.
He walked in the country. Alone in his room he studied the history of art and the life of Beethoven. They were vain efforts; he could not forget the people of Bonn. Twice he went to listen to the musical festivals at Cologne. But each return added to his malaise. In the end he left the town. At midnight I was on the quay of the Rhine accompanied by my friend M. I was waiting for the steamship which comes from Cologne, and I did not experience the slightest impression of pain at the moment of leaving a country-side so flourishing, a place so beautiful, and a band of young comrades.
On the contrary, I was actually flying from them. I do not wish to begin again to judge them unjustly, as I have often done. But my nature could find no satisfaction among them. Everything obtruded on me, and I could not succeed in dominating my surroundings I felt in an oppressive manner that I had done nothing for science, and little for life, and that I had only clogged myself with faults. The steamer came, and took me off. I stayed on the bridge in the damp wet night, and as I watched the little lights which marked the river bank at Bonn slowly disappear, everything conspired to give me the impression of flight.
He went to spend a fortnight at Berlin with a comrade whose father was a rich bourgeois, ready with his censure and his regrets. He judged Germany from the students of Bonn and saw his own sick discomfort everywhere. At the concert he suffered from being in community of impressions with a low public. He was determined not to see Bonn again, and decided to go to Leipsic to complete his studies.
He arrived in the unknown town and at once inscribed himself on the roll of the University. The day was a festival. A Rector harangued the students and told them that on that same date a hundred years before Goethe had come to inscribe himself among their elders. Goethe was not a good student; do not take him for model during your years of study. He resumed work, burnt some verses which had remained among his papers, and disciplined himself by studying philology according to the most rigorous methods. Alas, weariness at once laid hold of him again.
He feared a year similar to that at Bonn, and one long complaint filled his letters and notebooks. Soon there was an end, and this is the event which delivered his soul. On a bookstall he picked up and turned over the pages of a work by an author then unknown to him: it was Arthur Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Idea. The vigour of a phrase, the precision and flair of a word struck him. The introduction to the book is grandiose: it consists of the three prefaces which the neglected author wrote at long intervals, for each of the three editions of , , and They are haughty and bitter, but in no way unquiet; rich in profound thoughts, and in the sharpest [Pg 49] sarcasm; the lyricism of a Goethe shows itself in union with the cutting realism of a Bismarck.
They are beautiful with that classic and measured beauty which is rare in German literature. Friedrich Nietzsche was conquered by their loftiness, their artistic feeling, their entire liberty. The world which Schopenhauer describes is formidable. No Providence guides it, no God inhabits it, inflexible laws draw it in chains through time and space; but its eternal essence is indifferent to laws, a stranger to reason: it is that blind Will which urges us into life.
All the phenomena of the universe are rays from that Will, just as all the days of the year are rays from a single sun. That Will is invariable, it is infinite; divided, compressed in space. Life is a desire, desire is an unending torment. The good souls of the nineteenth century believe in the dignity of man, in Progress.
They are the dupes of a superstition. The Will ignores men, the "last comers on the earth who live on an average thirty years. He experienced a strange and almost startling emotion. Schopenhauer condemns life, but so vehement an energy is in him that in his accusing work it is yet life that one finds and admires. For fourteen days Nietzsche scarcely slept; he went to bed at two o'clock, rose at six, spent his days between his book and the piano, meditated, and, in the intervals of his meditations, composed a Kyrie.
His soul was full to the brim: it had found its truth. That truth was hard, but what matter? For a long time his instinct had warned and prepared him for this. No, truth alone, however terrible and evil it may be. What was this evil Will, the slave of its desires, but under another name, that fallen nature pictured by the Apostle, yet more tragic, now that it was deprived of the divine ray which a Redeemer had left to it? The young man, in alarm at his inexperience and his temerity, had recoiled before so formidable a vision.
Now he dared to look it in the face. He no longer feared, for he was no longer alone. By trusting in Schopenhauer's wisdom he satisfied at last one of the profoundest of his desires—he had a master. He struck even a graver note in giving to Schopenhauer the supreme name in which his orphaned childhood had enshrined a mystery of strength and tenderness—he called him his father.
He was exalted; then, suddenly swept by a desolating regret. Six years earlier Schopenhauer still lived; he might have approached him, listened to him, told him of his veneration. Destiny had separated them! Intense joy mixed [Pg 51] with intense sorrow overwhelmed him; and he was shattered by a nervous excitement.
He grew alarmed, and it needed an energetic effort on his part to bring him back to human life, to the work of the day, to the sleep of the night. Young people experience a need to admire, it is a form of love. When they admire, when they love, all the servitudes of life become easy to bear. It was as Schopenhauer's disciple that Friedrich Nietzsche knew his first happiness. Philology caused him less weariness.
Some pupils of Ritschl, his comrades, founded a society of studies. He spoke with vigour and freedom, and was applauded. Nietzsche liked success and tasted it with the simple vanity which he always avowed. He was happy. When he brought his memoir to Ritschl and was congratulated very warmly upon it, he was happier yet. He wished to become, and in fact did become, his master's favourite pupil. No doubt he had not ceased to consider philology as an inferior duty, as a mere intellectual exercise and means of livelihood, and his soul was hardly satisfied; but what vast soul is ever satisfied?
Often, after a day of parching labour, he was melancholy, but what young and ardent soul is ignorant of melancholy? At least his sadness had ceased to be mournful, and a fragment of a letter like the following, which opens with a complaint and ends in enthusiastic emotion, suggests an excessive plenitude rather than pain. My Schopenhauer, the music of Schumann, and lastly solitary walks.
Yesterday a heavy storm gathered in the sky; I hastened towards a [Pg 52] neighbouring hill it is called Leusch, can you explain the word to me? What mattered to me, then, man and his troubled Will! How different are lightning, storm, and hail, free powers without ethics! How happy they are, how strong they are, those pure wills which the mind has not troubled!
At the beginning of the summer of Nietzsche was spending all his days in the library of Leipsic, engaged in deciphering difficult Byzantine manuscripts. Frederick the Great's kingdom once more found a chief: Bismarck, the passionate, irascible, and crafty aristocrat who wished to realise at last the dream of all Germans and to found an empire above all the little States.
He quarrelled with Austria, whom Moltke humiliated after twenty days of fighting. He did not stop his work, but political preoccupations entered into his thoughts. He felt the pride of national victory; he recognised himself as a Prussian patriot, and a little astonishment was mixed with his pleasure: "For me this is a wholly new and rare enjoyment," he writes. Then he reflected on this victory, and discerned its consequences, which he enunciated with lucidity.
It is inevitable that we should make an effort to upset this equilibrium, or at least to try to upset it. If we fail, then let us hope to fall, each of us, on a field of battle, struck by some French shell. He is not troubled by this view of the future, which satisfies his taste for the sombre and the pathetic. On the contrary, he grows animated and is ready to admire. Was it not a similar sentiment which he had experienced on that hill with the queer name, Leusch, on a stormy day, by the side of that peasant who was cutting the throats of two lambs with such calm simplicity?
How happy they are, how strong, those pure Wills which the mind has not troubled! The second year which he passed at Leipsic was perhaps the happiest of his life. He enjoyed to the full that intellectual security which his adhesion to his master Schopenhauer assured him. The waters of trouble, to express myself in images, do not sweep me out of my road, because they come no higher than my head; I am at home in those obscure regions.
It was a year of composure and of comradeship. He [Pg 54] did not worry himself about public affairs. Prussia, on the morrow of her victory, fell back to the low level of everyday life. The babblings of the tribune and the press succeeded the action of great men, and Nietzsche turned away from it all.
Nevertheless he knew—Schopenhauer had taught him—that history and politics are illusory games. He had not forgotten; he wrote in order to affirm his thought, and to define the mediocre meaning and value of human agitations. The great 'ideas' in which many people believe that they find the directing forces of this combat are but reflections which pass across the surface of the swelling sea.
They have no action on the sea; but it often happens that they embellish the waves and thus deceive him who contemplates them. It matters little whether this light emanates from a moon, a sun, or a lighthouse; the waves will be a little more or a little less lit up—that is all. His enthusiasm had no other object but art and thought, the study of the genius of antiquity. He conceived a passion for his master Ritschl: "That man is my scientific conscience," said he. He planned more undertakings than he had time for, and then proposed them to his friends.
He elected to study the sources of Diogenes Laertius—that compiler who has preserved for us such precious information with regard to the philosophers of Greece. He dreamed of composing a memoir which should be sagacious and rigorous, but also beautiful: "All important work," he wrote to Deussen, "you must have felt it yourself, exercises a moral [Pg 55] influence. The effort to concentrate a given material, and to find a harmonious form for it, I compare to a stone thrown into our inner life: the first circle is narrow, but it multiplies itself, and other more ample circles disengage themselves from it.
In April Nietzsche collected and systematised his notes, wholly preoccupied with this concern for beauty. He did not wish to write in the manner of scholars who misunderstand the savour of words, the equilibrium of phrases. He wished to write, in the difficult and classical sense of the word. The categorical imperative, 'Thou shalt write, it is necessary that thou writest,' has awakened me.
I have tried to write well It is a thing which I had forgotten since leaving Pforta, and all at once my pen lost its shape between my fingers. I was impotent, out of temper. The principles of style enunciated by Lessing, Lichtenberger, Schopenhauer were scolding in my ears. At least I remembered, and it was my consolation, that these three authorities agreed in saying that it is difficult to write well, that no man naturally writes well, and that one must, in order to acquire a style, work strenuously, hew blocks of hard wood Above all, I wish to imprison in my style some joyous spirits; I shall apply myself to it as I apply myself upon the keyboard, and I hope to play at length, not only the pieces that I have learnt, but free fantasies, free as far as possible, though always logical and beautiful.
A sentimental joy completed his happiness: he found a friend. Nietzsche had long been faithful to the comrades of his early childhood: one was dead, and the other, their lives and occupations having been separate for ten years, was becoming a stranger to him. He wrote to them with much zeal, but an exchange of letters could not satisfy that need for friendship which was an instinct of his soul.
Finally, he made the acquaintance of Erwin Rohde, a vigorous and perspicacious spirit; he liked him at once; he admired him, for he was incapable of loving without admiring; he adorned him with the sublime qualities with which his soul overflowed. Every evening, after laborious hours, the young men came together. They walked or rode, talking incessantly.
Ordinarily, we dispute strongly, for we are in disagreement on a multitude of points. But it suffices for our conversation to take a more profound turn; and then at once our dissonant thoughts are silenced, and nothing resounds between us but a peaceable and total accord. They had promised each other that they would spend their first holiday weeks together.
At the beginning of August, being both free, they left Leipsic and sought isolation in walks in a tramp on the frontiers of Bohemia. It is a region of wooded heights, which recalls, with less grandeur, the Vosges. Nietzsche and Rohde led the life of wandering philosophers. Their luggage was light, they had no books, they walked from inn to inn, and, throughout the days unspoilt by a care, they talked about Schopenhauer, about Beethoven, about Germany, about Greece. They judged and condemned, with youthful promptitude; they were never weary of defaming their science. He it was who held it up to the Germans, absorbed always on the confines of a dream, as an example of rich and clear beauty, a model of perfect form.
The professors followed him. They have explained the [Pg 57] ancient world, and, under their myopic eyes, that wonderful work of art has become the object of a science. What is there that they have not studied? In Tacitus, the ablative case, the evolution of the gerund in the Latin authors of Africa; they have analysed to the last detail the language of the Iliad, determined in what respect it is connected with this other and that other Aryan language.
What does it all signify? The beauty of the Iliad is unique; it was felt by Goethe, and they ignore it. We shall stop this game; that will be our task. We shall go back to the tradition of Goethe; we shall not dissect the Greek genius, we shall revitalise it, and teach men to feel it. For long enough the scholars have carried out their minute enquiries. It is time to make an end. The work of our generation shall be definitive; our generation shall enter into possession of the grand legacy transmitted by the past.
And science, too, must serve progress. After a month of conversation, the young men left the forest and went to Meiningen, a little town in which the musicians of the Pessimist school were giving a series of concerts. A letter of Friedrich Nietzsche's has preserved a chronicle of the performance. But the music was awful. Liszt, on the contrary, succeeded remarkably in finding the character of the Indian Nirvana in some of his religious compositions; for example, in his Beatitudes.
Alone at Naumburg, Nietzsche took up work of various kinds and read widely. He projected an essay, perhaps a sort of manifesto upon the man whom he wished to give to his contemporaries as a master, Schopenhauer. He is brave, it is the first quality of a chief. Friedrich Nietzsche notes rapidly: "Ours is the age of Schopenhauer: a sane pessimism founded upon the ideal; the seriousness of manly strength, the taste for what is simple and sane.
Schopenhauer is the philosopher of a revived classicism, of a Germanic Hellenism He was working ardently, and then, suddenly, his life was turned upside down. He had been exempted from military service on account of his very short sight. But the Prussian army in had great need of men; and he was enrolled in a regiment of artillery, in barracks at Naumburg. Nietzsche made the best of this vexation. It was always a maxim of his that a man should know how to utilise the chances of his life, extracting from them, as an artist does, the elements of a richer destiny.
Therefore, since he had to be a soldier, he resolved that he would learn his new trade. The military obligation had, in this time of war, a solemnity which it lacks to-day. It is a constant appeal to the energy of man which has a value above all as an antidote against that paralysing scepticism the effects of which [Pg 59] we have observed together. In the barracks one learns to know one's nature, to know what it has to give among strange men, the greater part of whom are very rough Hitherto it has appeared to me that all have felt kindly towards me, captain and privates alike; moreover, everything that I must do, I do it with zeal and interest.
Has one not reason to be proud, if one be noted, among thirty recruits, as the best rider? In truth, that is worth more than a philological diploma. Whereupon he cites in full the fine Latin and Ciceronian testimonial written by old Ritschl in praise of his memoir, De fontibus Laertii Diogenii. He is happy in his success and does not conceal his pleasure at it. The fact amuses him. This valiant mood lasted only a short time. Nietzsche was soon to avow that an artilleryman on horseback is a very unhappy animal when he has literary tastes, and reflected in the mess-room on the problems of Democritus.
He deplored his slavery, and was delivered from it by an accident. He fell from his horse and injured his side. He suffered, but he was able to study and meditate at leisure, which was what he liked in life. However, when the exquisite May days arrived and he had been laid up for a long month, he grew impatient and sighed for the hours of exercise. For he was suffering; his wound remained open, and a splinter of a bone appeared one day with the discharge of matter. The frailty of our being never appears so plainly ad oculos as at the moment when one has just seen a little piece of one's own skeleton.
The voyage to Paris, here mentioned, was the last conceived, and the dearest of his dreams. At last he was cured. In the first days of October, feeling a lively need for the pleasures which Naumburg had not to offer—music, society, conversation, the theatre—he reinstalled himself at Leipsic. Both masters and comrades gave him a warm welcome. His re-entry was happy. He had scarcely completed his twenty-third year and a glorious dawn already preceded him. An important review in Berlin asked him for some historical studies, and he gave them.
In Leipsic itself he was offered the editorship of a musical review: this he refused, although importuned. He interested himself in everything, except politics. The din and confusion of men in public meeting assembled was insupportable to him. Bismarck gives me immense satisfaction.
I read his speeches as though I were drinking a strong wine; I hold back my tongue that it may not swallow too quickly and that my enjoyment may last. The machinations of his adversaries, as you relate them to me, I conceive without difficulty; for it is a necessity that everything that is small, narrow, sectarian and limited should rebel against such natures and wage an eternal war upon them. Then to so many satisfactions, new and old, was added the greatest of joys: the discovery of a new genius, Richard Wagner. The whole of Germany was making [Pg 62] the same discovery about this time.
Already she knew and admired this tumultuous man, poet, composer, publicist, philosopher; a revolutionary at Dresden, a "damned" author at Paris, a favourite at the Court of Munich; she had discussed his works and laughed over his debts and his scarlet robes. It was by no means easy to pass a clear judgment on this life which was a mixture of faith and insincerity, of meanness and greatness; on this thought which was sometimes so strong and often so wordy. What kind of man was Richard Wagner?
An uneasy spirit? One scarcely knew, and Nietzsche had remained for a long time in a state of indecision. Tristan and Isolde moved him infinitely; other works disconcerted him. The musician whom he then preferred was Schumann. Wagner had the art of imposing his glory on the world. In July, , he produced at Munich the Meistersinger, that noble and familiar poem in which the German people, heroes of the action, filled the stage with their arguments, their sports, their labours, their loves, and themselves glorified their own art, music.
Germany was then experiencing the proud desire of greatness. Wagner was acclaimed; he passed during the last months of that invisible border-line above which a man is transfigured and exalted, above glory itself, into a light of immortality. Friedrich Nietzsche heard the Meistersinger. He was touched by its marvellous beauty and his critical fancies [Pg 63] vanished.
I try in vain to listen to his music in a cold and reserved frame of mind; every nerve vibrates in me She was a woman out of the ordinary; and her friends affirmed that they recognised in her a little of the genius of her brother.
Nietzsche wanted to approach her. This modest desire was soon satisfied. It goes without saying that I went out at once to seek the excellent Windisch, who was able to give me some further information. He told me that Wagner was at Leipsic, at his sister's, in the strictest incognito; that the Press knew nothing about his visit, and that all the servants in the Brockhaus household were as mute as liveried gravediggers. Madame Brockhaus, Wagner's sister, had presented to him only one visitor, Madame Ritschl, whose judgment and penetration of mind you know, thus allowing herself the pleasure of being proud of her friend before her brother and proud of her brother before her friend, the happy creature!
While Madame Ritschl was in the room Wagner played the Lied from the Meistersinger, which you know well; [Pg 64] and the excellent lady informed him that the music was already familiar to her, mea opera. Thereupon pleasure and surprise on the part of Wagner: he expresses a keen desire to meet me incognito.
They decide to invite me for Friday evening. Windisch explains that that day is impossible to me on account of my duties, my work, my engagements: and Sunday afternoon is suggested. We went to the house, Windisch and I, and found the professor's family there, but not Richard: he had gone out with his vast skull hidden under some prodigious headdress.
I was presented to this very distinguished family, and received a most cordial invitation for Sunday evening, which I accepted. It so chanced that my tailor had promised to deliver me on Sunday a black coat: everything promised well. Sunday was a frightful day of snow and rain. One shuddered at the idea of leaving the house. So I was far from displeased to receive a call during the afternoon from R——, who babbled about the Eleatics and the nature of God in their philosophy—because as candidandus he is going to take the thesis prescribed by Abrens, The Development of the Idea of God down to Aristotle, while Romundt proposes to solve the problem Of the Will, and thereby to win the University prize.
The evening draws on, the tailor fails to arrive and Romundt departs. I go with him as far as my tailor's, and entering the shop, I find his slaves very busy on my coat: they promise that it will be delivered in three hours. I leave, more content with the course of things; on my way home I pass Kintschy, read the Kladderadatsch, and find with satisfaction a newspaper paragraph [Pg 65] to the effect that Wagner is in Switzerland, but that a beautiful house is being built for him at Munich.
As for me, I know that I am about to see him, and that a letter arrived for him yesterday from the little King, bearing the address: To the great German composer, Richard Wagner. I read very comfortably a dissertation on the Eudocia, a little distracted from time to time by a troublesome though distant noise. At last I hear the sound of knocking at the old iron grille, which is closed It was the tailor; Nietzsche tried on the suit, which fitted him well; he thanked the journeyman, who, however, stayed on, and asked to be paid. Nietzsche, being short of money, was of another opinion; the journeyman repeated his demand, Nietzsche reiterated his refusal; the journeyman would not yield, went off with the suit, and Nietzsche, left abashed in his room, considered with displeasure a black frock-coat, greatly doubting whether it would "do for Richard.
A quarter past eight! I precipitate myself into the dark and rainy night, I too a poor man, all in black, without a dress coat, but in the most romantic of humours. Fortune favours me; there is something mysterious and unusual in the very aspect of the streets on this night of snow. I am introduced to Richard, to whom I express my veneration in a few words; he asks me very minutely how I became a faithful disciple [Pg 66] of his music, bursts out in invectives against all the productions of his work, those of Munich, which are admirable, alone excepted; and gibes of the orchestra conductors who counsel paternally: 'Now, if you please, a little passion, gentlemen, a little more passion, my friends!
As a talker he is incredibly swift and animated, and his abundance and humour are enough to convulse with gaiety a circle of intimates such as we were. Between whiles I had a long conversation with him about Schopenhauer. Ah, you wall understand what a joy it was for me to hear him speak with an indescribable warmth, explaining what he owes to our Schopenhauer, and telling me that Schopenhauer, alone among the philosophers, understood the essence of music. Then he wanted to know what is the present attitude of the philosophers with regard to Schopenhauer; he laughed very heartily at the Congress of Philosophers at Prague, and spoke of philosophical domesticity.
Afterwards he read us a fragment of his Memoirs, which he is now writing, a scene from his student-life at Leipsic, overwhelmingly funny, of which I cannot think even now without laughing. His mind is amazingly supple and witty. He also entrusted me with the [Pg 67] mission of making his music known to his sister and his parents: a mission which I shall discharge with enthusiasm.
I will write you of the evening at greater length when I am able to review it from a little further off, and more objectively. To-day, a cordial greeting and, for your health, my best wishes. That day of calm appreciation, which Nietzsche was waiting for, did not come. He had come in contact with a godlike man. He had felt the shock of genius, and his soul remained shaken by it.
He studied the theoretical writings of Wagner, which he had hitherto neglected, and meditated seriously on the idea of the unique work of art which was to be a synthesis of the scattered beauties of poetry, the plastic arts, and harmony. He saw the German spirit renovated through the Wagnerian ideal, and his swift mind went off in that direction. Ritschl said to him one day: "I am going to surprise you. Would you like to be appointed a Professor in the University of Basle? He was in his twenty-fourth year, and had not obtained his final degrees.
The astonishing proposition had to be repeated to him Ritschl explained that he had received a letter from Basle; he was asked what sort of man was Herr Friedrich Nietzsche, author of the fine essays published in the Rheinisches Museum; could he be entrusted with a Chair of Philology? Ritschl had answered that Herr Friedrich Nietzsche was a young man who had ability enough to do anything he chose to do. He had even dared to write that Herr Nietzsche had genius. The matter, though suspended for the moment, had already gone pretty far. Nietzsche listened to the news with infinite anxiety.
It made him proud and yet left him broken-hearted. The [Pg 68] whole year of liberty which he had thought to be still before him suddenly vanished, and with it his projects of study, of vast reading, of travel. He was losing a happy life swollen with dreams. How could he reject so flattering an offer?
He had, it appears, contrary to all good sense, a certain hesitation against which Ritschl had to fight. The old savant felt a real tenderness for this singular pupil of his, this sagacious philologist, metaphysician and poet; he loved him and believed in him. But he had one anxiety: he feared lest Nietzsche, under the incessant solicitation of instincts almost too numerous and too fine, should disperse his energy on too many objects and waste his gifts. For four years he had been iterating in his ears the same counsel: Restrict yourself in order to be strong; and he now repeated it in pressing terms.
Nietzsche understood, and gave way. He wrote at once to Erwin Rohde: "As to our Parisian voyage, think of it no longer; it is certain that I am to be appointed to this Professorship at Basle; I who wished to study Chemistry! Henceforward I must learn how to renounce. Down there how much alone I shall be—without a friend whose thought resounds to mine like beautiful thirds, minor or major!
He obtained his final diploma without examination, in consideration of his past performances and of the unique circumstance. The professors of Leipsic did not like the notion of examining their colleague of Basle. Friedrich Nietzsche remained some weeks at Naumburg with his own people. The family were full of joy and pride: so young and a University professor! Once more I must say adieu: the golden time in which one's activities are free and unfettered; in which every instant is sovereign; in which art and the world are spread out before our eyes as a pure spectacle in which we hardly participate—that time is past beyond recall.
Now begins the reign of the harsh goddess of daily duty. Bemooster Bursche zieh? You know that poignant student-song. Yes, yes! Offices and dignities are not to be accepted with impunity. The whole thing is to know whether the chains which you are forced to carry are of iron or of thread. This is, if you will, the future and surpassing of humans in evolution. Overman must overcome being human. Note title of his first major work: Human All Too Human. Overman must liberate humans from the weaknesses imposed by Christianity's taming of the human tendency to create futures in struggle.
Humans must re-embrace the will to power in intelligence. In doing so the individual must take responsibility for: The revaluation of values. The creation of values. This is stark movement away from Christianity. While there are several other famous and important sub-themes in Nietzsche's work the death of God, the eternal recurrence, the revaluation of values and so on , the brief sketch above is the bare bones minimum and heart of Nietzsche's view according to Hollingdale. I think it is important to emphasize that Hollingdale is arguing strongly that the very essence of Nietzsche is not a nihilistic philosophy, but just the opposite, an attempt to save humans from meaninglessness, giving us a system of meaning rooted in human choice and responsibility the will to power rather than in God, religion or the close substitute, natural law.
In a Afterword for this revised edition Hollingdale tackles briefly the question of other scholarly accounts of Nietzsche. This fascinated me and pointed me in the direction of my next second source reading on Nietzsche -- Jacques Derrida. Hollingdale allows that his own understanding of Nietzsche was deeply enriched by Derrida's extensive analysis of Nietzsche. Hollingdale is also influenced by the work of Walter Kaufmann.
He says his own view is not much different from Kaufmann's except that Kaufmann gives up a more "humanistic" Nietzsche than Hollingdale believes is justified. Koselleck, R. Krebs, C. In The Cambridge Companion to Tacitus, ed. Woodman Cambridge: Cambridge University Press : — Norton and Company. Lacoue-Labarthe, P. Lakoff, G.
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