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Lou von Salomé, Paul Rée and Friedrich Nietzsche
Very often, a certain circle of Rome's society met for evening discussions and presentations at Malwida von Meysenburg's Rome residence in the Via Polveriera 6, in which Lou also took part as an acknowledged member, very soon.
Into this scenario enters Dr. Paul Ree, without a penny in his pocket, having arrived from Monte Carlo via Genoa and Nietzsche, in Rome, on the 15th or 16th of March, 1882, and turns directly to Malwida in order to be able to pay his traveling expense debts. During nightly walks, he soon falls in love with Lou to such a degree that he asks her mother for Lou's hand in marriage; of course, he – as Gillot – is receiving a gentle refusal and is directed towards a relationship with Lou on the basis of friendship and collaboration. Lou describes this very vividly in her Lebensrückblick.
From the correspondence that starts after this between Nietzsche ("Send my regards to this Russian lady if it makes any sense; I am yearning for this kind of soul.") Ree and Malwida von Meysenburg before his arrival in Rome, we have already quoted in Part 1 of these pages; of great importance with respect to the evaluation and the actual sequence of events in the "triumvirate" envisaged by by Lou is particularly her letter to Hendrik Gillot of the end of March, 1882, thus at a time at which she did not even know Nietzsche, yet. In this letter, she formulates her goals and intentions with respect to both men that she has already arrived at: "...[you are assuming that] I can not appropriately judge men who are that much older than I and superior to me, as Ree, Nietzsche and others. But hou are wrong in this. the essential (and the essential in this, to me, is, at a human level, only Ree) one either knows right away or not at all."
Nietzsche, coming from Messina, arrives in Rome on April 23 or 24 and is, after he has overcome his "usual" attack of ill health when traveling, cordially received by Malwida and, when enquiring aobut Ree, directed by her to St. Peter's Basilica, where he and Lou are presently staying. Lou [on this] in her "Lebensrückblick" (p. 80): "I recall this solemnity from the outset of our very first meeting that took place in St. Peter's Basilica where Paul Ree, in a confessional booth that was favorably located with respect to its exposure to light, was eagerly and devotedly poring over his research notes, and where Nietzsche was therefore directed to. His first words addressed to me in greeting were: 'From what stars have we fallen to meet here?'"
On the one hand, Nietzsche might have been justified in his use of these somewhat high-flying welcoming words (that have also become famous), if one considers the events leading up to them, since Ree and Malwida had praised Lou in their letters to him; on the other hand, this wording might not have been a spontenous one; rather, Nietzsche would certainly have thought about as to how he could make an impression under these circumstances – well, he appears to have been successful with them ...
In her book Friedrich Nietzsche in seinen Werken, Lou renders a detailed description of Nietzsche's outer appearance and impression which plastically reflects Nietzsche's appearance and effect, that "the overall impression of his essence was already formed by his profound inner life and still was also the determining factor with respect to that which he was holding back and hiding. I would like to say: this hidden part, this hint at his unrevealed loneliness – that was the first, strong impression that was fascinating with respect to Nietzsche's appearance" . . . "I remember that, when I spoke with Nietzsche for the first time, – it was on a spring day in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome – his deliberately-formal behavior of the first moments fooled and flabbergasted me."
In his immediately erupting enthusiasm, Nietzsche, too, had nothing more urgent on his mind than, of all things, even with the mediation of Rée, propose to Lou–and therefore, within a short period of time, Lou had to refuse the third marriage proposal. "What had begun seo well, then took a turn that caused me and Rée to start worrying about our plan, in that this plan had been unforeseeably complicated by a third party. Nietzsche, however, meant to simplify the situation with it; he appointed Rée as emissary with respect to his marriage proposal to me." (Lebensrückblick p. 80)
From the entire course of events one has to conclude that Rée did not inform Nietzsche of his own marriage proposal, and thus there develops right from the beginning a sour note between the two friends due to both of their courtships of Lou in that Lou and Rée always already know more than Nietzsche; both of them also ponder together as to how one can, on the one hand, dissuade Nietzsche from pursuing his marriage plans without, on the other hand, completely insulting him and putting him off. Peculiarly enough, both of them to not develop a bad conscience with respect to the awkward situation into which they maneuver Nietzsche with it. Lou is probably motivated by her "intellectual egotism" since she wants to have her thirst for knowledge in philosophical matters quenched by Nietzsche, and Rée probably out of jealousy in order to win lou for himself. This is somewhat surprising of a thinker such as Rée, who had habilitated himself with a thesis on the topic of the possibility of rendering an evolutionary viable explanation or rationale with respect to the development of conscience and who had published a book on the origin of moral concepts, and would confirm his own premise of "Progressus moralis nullus est in rebus humanis" ... [There is no progress possible with respect to matters of human interaction.] Read here, how H. F. Peters, Lou's well-meaning biographer, describes this first rejection.
Of course, Nietzsche does not notice any of it in his enthusiasm, rather, plans are being made eagerly as to how and where this "triumvirate" could settle down for study purposes in the near future, Vienna and Paris are being discussed as choices – what, under the circumstances of those days, was only possible by including into the company an older lady as a chaperone for Lou, such as, for example, Malwida who, in spite of her idealism with respect to defending women's rights, was not in the mood for that but rather viewed this entire matter, from her life experience, and perhaps not without good reason, with suspicion.
Lou in her Lebensrückblick p. 79: "The yet unexpected happened that Nietzsche, as son as he heard of Paul Rée's and my plan, joined our ranks as the third member. Even the place of our future activities was decided on: it was to be Paris (originally and for a while, we thought of Vienna) where Nietzsche wanted to attend certain courses and there both Paul Rée, from earlier, and I via St. Petersburg, had our connections. Malwide was even somewhat relieved to see us being chaperoned there by her foster daughters Monod and Natalie Herzen who even kept up her own circle where young girls met to read literature. However, Malwida would have preferred for Mme Rée to accompany her son and for Miss Nietzsche to have accompanied her brother."
In his Dokumente, Ernst Pfeiffer features a Letter by Nietzsche to his sister Elisabeth from the end of April, in which he allegedly reports about Lou and drops a few derogatory remarks about her. If this letter were genuine, it would show Nietzsche in an unfavorable light. However, the authenticity of this letter is highly questionable, see our document page. And thus one has an opportunity to see Elisabeth Nietzsche busy in her forgery of Nietzsche's writings.
In the interaction of those involved in this situation, it appears to me that Lou faced the same situation of self-contradictory behavior that Malwida did when she, on the one hand, speaks of a basic feeling of an immeasurable one-ness in fate with all that there is [see part 1 of this feature], on the other hand, however, feels indifferent with respect to her own effect on the living human being Friedrich Nietzsche, and with whom she even toys to some degree, as we will still see, although she, on the other hand, knows exactly what she, herself, wants and what not: this might well be considered an unholy alliance of egotism and idealissm. ... Here, too, it is the overall view of "mankind" that allows the use of and the disregard for a concrete human partner.
Thus matters were, at first, progressing according to Lou's wishes – as "chaperone" she now wanted to use her mother who had accompanied her on her European travels, this far.
On April 27, 1882, Nietzsche and Rée wanted to look for an idyllic place in Northern Italy to which the ladies should follow them. Since Nietzsche was again, at this very moment(!), afflicted with his usual attack of ill health for several days, and since Rée looked after him in Rome, the ladies set out towards Lake Orta, first, where the men then followed them.
This lake is situated approximately 15 km west of the southern part of Lago Maggiore – visit Lake Orta, Monte Sacro and their sights on the Internet!
In his biography, H. F. Peters renders a vivid
description of this place.(p. 96 f.):
With respect to the stay there of this peculiar group of travelers can only be ascertained that they were staying there together for a few days at the beginning of May, since Nietzsche arrived at Basle to see Overbeck on May 8th and told him about Lou. As the latter (Overbeck) reports, Nietzsche showed himself full of vigor and zest for life, without having even one of his usual health attacks during these days. What had inspired Nietzsche that much?
Well, on one of these days at Lake Orta, on May 5th, Nietzsche had actually managed to make an excursion to Monte Sacro, alone with Lou, while Rée entertained Lou's mother who was tired from their previous excursions.
This excursion was far too long, or rather, "inexcusably" long, for Rée (due to his jealousy) and Lou's mother, who was naturally worried for her daughter. Lou on this in her Lebensrückblick:
"In-between, we stopped, as, for example at Orta at the Upper-Italian Lakes where nearby Monte Sacro appeared to have fascinated us – , at least, an unintended insult towards my mother occurred due to the fact that Nietzsche and I stayed at Monte Sacro for too long in order to puck her up at the right time, what also Paul Rée – who kept her company in the meantime – noted with displeasure."
During this excursion, Nietzsche and Lou had obviously formed a closer connection, but how close was it? Did they or did they not? This might well be one of the most intriguing "kiss" questions of biographical literature that has to remain unanswered as results from a Comment by E. Pfeiffer. However, a different impression forms itself when one takes as one's basis for the consideration of this matter Nietzsche's description of this event to Overbeck at Basle, in which he declares his independence with respect to his philosophical aims as the most important criterium; Ida Overbeck reported to Bernoulli on it, whereby one has to to go out from the consideration that Nietzsche was not able to be open about it – mainly, perhaps, due to the fact that he, himself, was not quite clear about his own emotional involvement and could not even have been so, yet, due to the brevity of the experience.
Still from Lucerne, before he reached Basle, Nietzsche wrote to Rée on May 8th and arranged for a meeting in Lucerne at the so-called Löwengarten: "I definitely have to speak to Miss Lou once more."
During this meeting of May 13th, he proposed to Lou again, was however, rejected again; in any event, Nietzsche kept his cool, and they still stayed together until May 16. Lou reports of this in her Lebensrückblick (p. 81):
"After we had left Italy, Nietzsche went to Basle for a brief spell to see Overbeck, joined us there, however, once again at Lucerne, since Paul Rées Roman intervention on his behalf did not appear satisfactory to him and since he, therefore, wanted to speak to me personally, which happened at the Lucerne Löwengarten. At the same time, Nietzsche also arranged for the three of us to the photographed, despite Paul Rée's objections, who, heretofore, had misgivings with respect to having a picture taken of him. Nietzsche, in high spirits, not only insisted on it, but also eagerly and enthusiastically looked after the details of this undertaking – as for example, after obtaining the (too small) car and even after the tacky lilac branch that was attached to the whip, etc."
group photograph that Nietzsche arranged
How close Nietzsche wanted to see himself to Lou is also demonstrated by a trip to Tribschen during these days where he told her "with a soft voice of those past times" with Wagner and broke out into tears over it.
After this, Nietzsche went to Naumburg where he pursued the completion of the printing of the Fröhliche Wissenschaft under somewhat adventurous circumstances, Rée went home to his parents' estate at Stibbe, Eastern Prussia (where Lou was to follow him!), while the ladies went to Berlin via Zurich and Hamburg, meanwhile being accompanied by Lou's brother Eugène whom the family had dispatched to pick up his mother. Finally, Lou had gotten her way and was, so-to-say, handed over by her brother to Rée's family, whose mother received Lou like a foster daughter.
On May 25th, Nietzsche wrote to Lou from Naumburg, "...
The mocking birds are singing all night long at my window. In
Rée is a better friend than I am and could be: please
observes this difference carfully! – When I am entirely alone, I very often say
your name out loud – to my greatest delight!" (KSB, 6, No. 231, p. 194)
However, he would not have had to warn Lou with respect to himself, since she, on her way to Rée, foregoes a possible meeting in Berlin that Nietzsche wants, which puts Nietzsche into a "melancholy" mood – after all, he wanted to proudly present to her his just-completed introduction to the Fröhliche Wissenschaft, Scherz, List und Rache, but he had gone to Berlin, in vain ...
From this introduction in rhymes also stems the following famous poem that expresses Nietzsche's self-confidence at that time:
While the plans for the anticipated "tri-unity" of common studies in Vienna or Paris were still not worked out at all, yet, it was already determined that Lou was to attend the Bayreuth Festival of this year and see the premiere of Parsifal; Nietzsche would escort her to Bayreuth, perhaps still silently hoping that Wagner would extend a formal invitation to him – for that reason he chose, with the assistance of his sister, a not too far away domicile at Tautenburg where he went on June 25th. Rée, on the other hand, stayed at Stibbe which was, on the one hand, not very easy for him since he had to "leave" Lou to the Bayreuth society and later to Nietzsche alone – it was made easier for him, however, due to the fact that – contrary to Nietzsche – he already conversed with Lou in the "first person" of the German "du" and that he already received her daily diary notes with which she kept him updated on everything (of which Nietzsche knew nothing, of course).
Rather, Nietzsche reveled in his wishful thinking and wrote to Lou on June 26th, "So far, I have never thought that you should >read to me and write for me<; but now I would like very much to be your teacher. At last, to tell you the truth: I am looking for people who could be my heirs; I am carrying a lot around with me that is not written in any of my books, yet – and for this, I am looking for the most beautiful and fertile soil. Can you see my egotism!" (KSB, 6, No. 249, p. 211)
In his letter to Lou of June 27th, Nietzsche had told her that he had finally informed his sister about his plans and that she would act as chaperone at Tautenburg; in return, on June 30th, Lou accepted Nietzsche's invitation for a summer holiday at the beginning of August, after the Bayreuth festival. Nietzsche thanked her euphorically on July 2nd: ": "Now, the sky above me is bright! Yesterday at noon, it felt like it was my birthday."
Howe he, himself, saw his relationship with Lou at that
time – which could be something entirely different from that which existed in
form of his potential wishful thinking – he wrote to Peter Gast in his letter
of July 13th:
(Here, too, the discrepancy between the content of this letter and the one of the end of April discussed above shows Nietzsche's sister at work in her doctoring on her brother's documents.)
At least, Nietzsche was quite clear with respect to his "official" and "objective" position towards Lou, and from his point of view, everything looked quite beautifully taken care of – also, for example, with respect to finally entering into a contest with Rée with whom Lou still stayed at Stibbe at that time, if he could only have her to himself for a longer period of time. He could neither now that Lou – and that right from the beginning – had quite a different relationship with Paul Rée, partially behind his back, (and both, as their correspondence shows, were aware of this), nor could he guess that his sister's jealousy and moral concepts (who had an opportunity to observe Lou's behavior at the Parsifal premiere at Bayreuth, would put so much poison into this relationship. (After all, Nietzsche, the great path-finder in the area of the human psyche, behaved quite naively and gullable towards his real-life fellow human beings... which also applies to his relationship with Lou.)
And thus he was able to write to Lou in high-spirited anticipation in the middle of July: "Well, my dear friend, so far, everything is fine, and on Saturday in 8 days, we will see each other again. ... With respect to Bayreuth, I am quite satisfied that I do not have to be there; and yet, if I could be near you like a spirit, whispering this and that into your ear, even the music to Parsifal might be bearable to me (otherwise, I can not bear it) ... And how happy I am, my beloved friend Lou, to be allowed to say with respect os us: "Everything is just beginning and, yet, everything is clear!" Trust me! Let's trust in ourselves!"
A day before her departure for Bayreuth on July 23rd, Nietzsche still had explicitly prepared his sister Elisabeth for the Music of Parsifal–by sending her the just published and acquired piano reduction of it – and with it, he demonstrated his inner connection with that which he, himself, once wanted of (this) music!
While Nietzsche returned to Tautenburg and, while waiting for Lou, continued to work on the corrections of his Fröhliche Wissenschaft, Lou met up with Elisabeth in Leipzig on July 24th, and both went to Bayreuth together. The premiere of Parsifal took place on July 26th. The ladies had tieckets for the second performance on July 28th. Malwida introduced Lou at Wahnfried, where, in -between performance days, "high society" met in Wagner's house. Lou describes these meetings with Richard and Cosima – who, of course, each were the center of attention in their own particular way – , quite lively.
In her description, she openly admits her own non-musicality – neither Parsifal nor Wagner's msuic as such, and also his personality never gain any special significance or meaning in her life. Therefore, in NIetzsche's acquaintance with Lou, there is missing that bridge of music that is otherwise so important to him which points to profound differences in their personalities, in spite of all superficial similarities in their "philosophizing" – their paths and goals are completely different, and that which they have in common is thus more like a coincidental meeting at cross-roads and therefore, in her Nietzsche book, Lou does not have appropriate access to this important side of Nietzsche, who himself, does not tire in emphasizing the importance of music to his philosophical work.
As might be expected of a young woman of interesting appearance and of a bright mind, Lou found herself at the center of attention of young men, and that obviously in such an "unconventional" way that gossip about it even reached Stibbe and put Rée into a state of jealousy, while the otherwise certainly very liberated Malwida wrote to Nietzsche as late as half a year later, "Since Bayreuth, however, I do not know, anymore, what I should think of her. ..."
Elisabeth who (not only) in this circle, at 36 years of age at that time, was still leading the life of an un-courted wallflower and drew her self-worth and self-confidence mainly from the importance of her brother, was able to observe all of this from close up – and this Lou was supposed to be her new rival for the attention and love of her brother, she who, on the one hand, behaved so "scandalously", flirted with men, and, on the other hand, boasted with her intimate knowledge of philosophical matters and who presented herself as Nietzsche's confidante and, at the same time, showed the Lucerne photograph (see above) everywhere to the laughter of her "audience"?? Never, ever, could she (Elisabeth) allow it that her brother would fall prey to such a "loose" girl – and therefore, she had nothing more urgent on her mind than write to her brother at Naumburg who had returned there, in the meantime, due to inclement weather, and to fill him in on the Bayreuth events from her viewpoint. This causes Nietzsche to begin hedging doubts about Lou that he mentions towards Gast, but above all, towards Lou a letter to her. Since Lou vehemently refutes such allegations, he finally gives in on August 4th: "Please, do come, yet, I suffer too much from having made you suffer. Together, we shall bear it better." – and Lou agrees to arrive at Tautenburg on August 7th.
Elisabeth who can and does not want to give in to her rival meets up with Lou at Jena on this day, from where they are supposed to make their way to Tautenburg. In Jena, at the house of the Geler family with whom the Nietzsches are befriended, the inevitable clash happens: Elisabeth, whom Lou had, up to this point, almost considered her "sister" to whom she was "sincerely grateful" (see her letter to Nietzsche of August 2nd), at the house of the Gelzers, confronts here right on the spot and in a surprise attack with her "indecent" conduct at Bayreuth that was harmful to her brother's reputation – and Lou fights back icily. Let Janz report to us with respect to the details of this unpleasant story that sheds a light on all those involved (II, 144 f.):
"C. A. Bernoulli erzählt in seinem Aufsatz >Nietzsches Lou-Erlebnis< eine Anekdote aus der Sorrentiner Zeit. Danach »sprach eine junge Sorrentinerin in regelmäßigen Zwischenräumen in dem Landhause vor. Sie kam für Nietzsche. Aber bei ihm war die Rücksichtnahme auf äußere Korrektheit, die Scheu vor Anstoß und Geschwätz so ausgeprägt, daß er seinen Freund Rée bat, die Besuche des Landmädchens vor dem Fräulein von Meysenbug auf seine Kappe zu nehmen. Paul Rée erwies Nietzsche diesen Dienst, da er in dem Kapitel ganz vorurteilsfrei empfand, sogar mit einigem Vergnügen.« Leider gibt Bernoulli keine Quelle für diese Nachricht an, so daß ihre »Wahrheit« etwas fraglich bleibt. Sollten sich die Dinge aber wirklich so verhalten haben, so bleibt möglich, daß Paul Rée es Lou noch vor ihrer Reise nach Bayreuth und Tautenburg erzählt hat, um ihr zu beweisen, daß ihr neuer Freund nicht ganz so harmlos und ungefährlich sei wie er sich gebe und wie er dargestellt werde. Rée litt an Eifersucht, denn auch er liebte Lou und fürchtete sie zu verlieren.
In her letter of September 24th to October 2nd, 1882,
to Frau Gelzer, Elisabeth repeated Lou's words – and here, she appears to have
stuck to the truth (Dokumente p. 251 ff. re. Peters p. 118):
No attempt at discussing the veracity of this information or Janz' thoughts on it shall be made here (even if the creating and spreading of such rumors as the supplying of prostitutes appears very problematic in Nietzsche's case and his infection with syphilis – and Bernoulli is not necessarily a "friend" of Nietzsche...just as Peters is not); we also do not have to discuss further Elisabeth's behavior here – Nietzsche should have known his "Lama" in this respect and kept her out of all of his contact with Lou, as he initially correctly did.
In my opinion – and most authors do not do this – in this case, particularly the behavior of Lou and Rée has to be "appreciated" appropriately since in it can be found an important motive for Nietzsche's subsequent sharp reactions, behind whose back all of this was going on. From Lou as well as from Rée–both of whom held great stakes in their philosophical and psychological abilities – one could have expected more prudence in their behavior (we already discussed what there can be discussed with respect to Nietzsche's alleged >concubinate< concept, in part 1) – Rée's intention of putting NIetzsche into a questionable light (and that before Nietzsche resorted to this mistake, himself) is quite obvious – what Lou does (not complain about in his case (as later about Nietzsche), to the contrary, without hesitation, she allows Rée to provide her with ammunition, in cold blood, she uses this information in her confrontation with Elisabeth against the latter and thus indirectly also against Nietzsche. This does not necessarily leave a good impression of her strength of character – rather, she, who was actually the initiator of the idea of the "triumvirate" as Elisabeth rightfully mentions, stoops down to Elisabeth's small-minded level at this point.
Ordinarily, both women would have had to step back at this point – however, their respective fights for what ever was important to them in their relationships to Nietzsche obviously took precedence for them, and therefore, both put up with traveling to Tautenburg together and even with living together under one roof, since both "ladies" found lodgings in the house of the village pastor, a Pastor Stölten; NIetzsche himself lived in a farm house with the Hahnemanns
Specially for Nietzsche, the village had its walking paths in the forest put into shape and had benches put up. "One is very kind to me: altogether, five new benches are being put up in my area, and the most beautiful around a beech tree, quite suitable for my needs for grat solitude: I shall call it >Die Fröhliche Wissenschaft<." (To his sister on July 3rd, 1882)
In the evening of August 7th, both ladies arrived from Jena and were joyfully received by Nietzsche. – and Elisabeth has nothing more urgent to do than telling her brother about her quarrel with Lou that had taken place a few hours before. This necessitates a confidential discussion between Lou and Nietzsche that takes place the next morning and this will be repeated on several occasions: "Every five days, we have our little tragedy scene."
Lou stays at Tautenburg until August 26th – in constant, intensive conversation with Nietzsche, at either lodging or on extensive walks, whereby his sister is either left behind or does not understand any of what is being discussed. Nietzsche is able to converse with Lou for up to ten hours each day, often until late at night, he writes a Style Guide for Lou, he corrects aphorisms from her pen, himself.
Nietzsche also presents to Lou a style guide in form of a poem:
Lou continues to write and send her diary notes to Rée by mail, of which Nietzsche also knows nothing. In any event, due to them, we are in a position to render an authentic report on those days (from: Die Dokumente ihrer Begegnung, p. 181-190):
<Lou von Salomé's diary for Paul Rée>
Tautenburg <Monday> 14th of August
It is again that time of warm sunshine, dear Hüsung [nickname for Paul Rée]. Again, it shines on us from above and its rays, filtered by the foliage of Tautenburg's village woods, spin their golden web across the entire ground.
The sun's rays are thus shining on us from within, – after they have first brightened all dark spots in us, ourselves.
N., by and large of great consequence, is, in particular, a violent man of moods. I knew that, if we were to spend some time together, what we, in the beginning and in the storm of emotions, avoided, would find each other in our deeply-related natures soon enough, above all small-minded prattle. I told him that in writing already in reply to his first, peculiar letter, and so it really happened after a day together during which I tired to be open, natural and cheerful–the old ... had already taken place. He repeatedly dropped by and in the evening he took my hand and kissed it twice and began to say something that was not said out loud. The next day, I had to stay in bed, he sent letters to my room and spoke to me through the closed door. Now, my old feverish cough has subsided and I got up. Yesterday, we were together all day, today, we spent a beautiful day alone in the quiet, dark spruce forest with squirrels and the sunshine that was filtering through. Elisabeth went to visit the Dornburg in the company of acquaintances. At the village inn, where on sits under the bid linden trees with their big branches, they consider us as much as belonging together as you and I, when I arrive with my cap on and Nietzsche without Elisabeth.
Carrying on a conversation with Nietzsche is incredibly beautiful – well, you must know that better. However, there exists a special delight in the meeting of similar thoughts, similar feelings and ideas, one can almost converse by only using half as many words (as usual). Once he uttered, surprised about it, "I believe that the only difference between us is that of our ages. We have lived and thought in the same fashion."
Only due to the fact that we are so much alike, he was able to experience the difference between us or that which appeared to him as such with such vehemence, only due to it was he so shaken up about it. When one is as little alike as you and I, one notices the similarities and delights in them, – if one is as much alike as Nietzsche and I, one feels the differences and suffers from them. The general dissimilarity, nay, even the differences and contrasts between two people can evoke both sympathy and antipathy. Certain few dissimilarities in the event of an overall similarity means interrupted and disturbed sympathy, it is always awkward, – and it alone is what has a separating effect.
I had intended to write our conversations down, however, this is almost impossible; during our excursions into the farthest and closest areas of thought, they can not be narrowed down adequately enough to result in detailed, pointed remarks. And the actual content of our conversations consists of that which is not expressed at present but rather emerges due to our "meeting in the middle", by itself. He is enjoying our conversations so much that he confessed to me that even during our first quarrel here, when I arrived, during which he felt very sick at heart, he was not able to suppress an accompanying delight in my way of refuting his allegations.
He has read my treatise on woman by himself and found the style of the first part terrible. What he says (about it) otherwise is too complex to convey. In the end, he took my hand and said seriously and obviously moved, >Don't ever forget that it would be a shame if you would not erect a memorial to your innermost, < ... > profound mind, as long as you have to live. The latter referred to his desperately low opinion of my health. Just imagine, he had already undertaken medical studies on my behalf.
He advised me to continue my quick, little work and wrote down some books for me in connection with it. I was delighted when he said: all production went sincerely against his grain if it was not something excellent, – he would, therefore, not advise me (to pursue it) if he could not do so with his best conscience. I would be able to know how to write in one day since I was ready for it. I have an extreme confidence in his teaching ability. We understand each other so well. However, if it is good that he spends all day in conversation with me, and thus not with his work – , I told him so, today, he nodded and said, "I have the opportunity for personal conversation so seldom and enjoy it like a child." The same evening, he said, "I must not live near you for very long."
We often recall our days in Italy and < ... > (when we) walked up the narrow path, he said, "Monte Sacro, – the most delightful dream of my life, I owe it to you." – We are very cheerful in each other's company, we laugh a lot. To Elisabeth – 011's outrage (who, by the way, is almost never with us), when Nietzsche enters my room, it is immediately haunted by ghostly knocking and causes us much delight. We also must have this terrible trait in common. I am glad that the sorrowful expression which hurt me so much has left his face and that his eyes have regained their old fire and their old capability of lightening up.
We also spend beautiful hours at the edge of the forest where "his" farmhouse and where a bench invites us to rest. How wonderful it is to sit, laugh and dream here in the evening glow when the last sunlight filters through the trees.
Friday, the 18th of August.
At the very beginning of my acquaintance with Nietzsche I wrote to Malwida about him from Italy, that he is a religious nature, and aroused her strongest objections with it. Today, I want to doubly underline this remark. The religious has, perhaps, emerged so strongly, since we are free thinkers in the highest sense. In tree thinking, religious feelings can not refer to anything divine and to a heaven beyond in which these forces that form religion, such as weakness, fear and greed, would find a room. In free thinking, the religious need that has been created by the religions, – that nobler descendant of particular forms of faith-can, virtually thrown back into itself, become the heroic force of its essence, towards the motivation of self-sacrifice for a great goal.
In N.’s character there lies a heroic trait and it is certainly his essential one, the one that lends to all of his traits and motivations its combining, unifying force and characterization. – We shall live to see that he will rise as the prophet of a new religion, and then it will be of such a character that will recruit heroes as its disciples.
How very much we think alike about it and how we virtually take the words out of each other's mouth. During these three weeks, we virtually talk ourselves to death and peculiarly enough, he can endure 10 hours daily of it. During our evenings, when the light, covered with ta red cloth like an invalid so as not to hurt his eyes, is only dimly shining in the room, we return to discussing common projects and how glad am I to have before me a recognized certain task. He has completely abandoned his plan to become my teacher, he says that I must never have such assistance but rather I have to search ahead entirely independently, – I should also never behave merely like a pupil, but rather, I should learn while I am creating and create while I am learning. – It is peculiar that in our discussions, we come close to those pinnacles, to those dizzying places that we might have climbed alone, before, in order to look into the abyss. We have always chose the paths of the mountain goats and if someone would have listened to us he would have thought that two devils were talking to each other.
Are we quite close? No, we are not, in spite of all of this. It is like a shadow of those imaginations regarding my feelings that Nietzsche was filled with only a couple of weeks ago, that is separating us and that is coming between us. And in some deeply hidden recesses of our natures, we are worlds apart from each other – in his nature, like in an old castle, N. has many a dark dungeon and hidden cellar that does not surface in the course of a brief acquaintance, yet could contain his very essence.
It is strange, lately, the thought went through me with a sudden force, that some day, we could even confront each other as enemies.
Monday, the 21st of August.
Yesterday, N. laughed when he took your picture from my desk and also found it decorated with some ivy leaves, – on that occasion, we studies your features in the picture and I told him that one could find your entire character in it. At the point where your forehead and nose meet, the character of your thinking is expressed: your capability of keen observation and its cutting effect, combined with a boldness, – it conveys the impression of intellectual bravery and mastery. The expression in your eyes is somewhat of a contrast to this – they express precisely that what Malwida calls your dualism, and this is the most intriguing trait in you: You are like a black [beauty with blue eyes – soft around your mouth, and tired of lie, – nay, even with a] disdain for life – the entire pessimism of your temperament. This expression around your mouth makes you (look) older than you are, you must already have had it when you wrote your psychologische Betrachtungen, these gray-haired sentences in the midst of your youth. Your outer appearance is more telling than that of N. whose character traits could hardly be discerned by studying his picture. – Your greatest difference is that in N., the relentless striving for knowledge and realization is the force that virtually holds him together, which holds all of his various inclinations and character traits in its grip, – a kind of religious strength or force that brings the entire man into a devoted direction towards this one God of knowledge and realization. With you, this same striving takes on the form of relentless truthfulness and honesty with yourself, a force that splits your nature into an intriguing duality. Towards his God of knowledge and realization, N. still behaves like a believer towards his God, like the metaphysician towards his metaphysical nature, and puts his mind as well as the strength of his character into the its service. He is still concerned with seeing and recognizing himself in such a manner as he wants to appear before his God of knowledge and realization, and due to this, he is easily not as absolutely honest with himself as you are. Your honesty with yourself which causes you to show disregard for precisely those traits that must be in which you are superior to all others, is not only an act of your mind but also of your character. In N., your strength of character has put itself into the service of knowledge and realization, and while with him, this service has a religious overtone and thus, in the end, does not exclude his self-appreciation, you act purely self-analytical, indifferent, which means that you see yourself purely as an object of investigation.
However, it is the wealth of a fierce, forceful, violent world of emotions that contains all religious and great emotions that hinders N. in this respect, – as, for example, Stein, due to other reasons, is prone to remaining stuck in the errors of metaphysics, on the basis of a similar amount of strength of emotions, in spite of his most intensive striving for realization. With such a world of emotions, it is difficult to purely observe oneself as an object of investigation as, for example, the physiologist looks at his experimental cat, and to life oneself up to that unselfishness of the investigating mind that hovers over others as well as over itself in equal tranquility. However, as I said, such a world of emotions is a wealth and a philosophical wealth, foremost, for the psychologist who can never feel and experience deeply and inclusively enough in order to arrive at an understanding of everything. I want to have walked in the shoes of all men.
Your above-mentioned difference is also expressed very clearly in minor details, i.e. your (views on) styles. Your style wants to convince the reader and therefore, it is scientifically clear and strict, avoiding all emotion. N. wants to convince the entire man, with his word, he wants to reach into the innermost of man and turn it inside out, he does not want to teach, he wants to preach and convert.
All of your differences of opinion are a result of the differences of your interests that arise from your different natures, they begin where your work ends: at practical morality. If you were to postulate it, it would be a means of confirming the theory, with N. it is self-purpose and all theoretical digressions are the means to it.
Your different ways of working is also significant with respect to your different natures. N. is, as I am, obsessed with his work, every emotion that is not related to it appears to him as a kind of unfaithfulness against it and would disturb the progress of his work, which means that you have it in your grip, you can, as we did in Stibbe, talk with me with your watch in your hand, for a certain amount of time, and this does not disturb the continuation of your work, rather, you can, possibly return to it refreshed, since it does not absorb your emotions to such a degree. You do not have your heart stuck in your brain and indissolubly connected with it in the same degree as N. – the egotist in great style. – With you, it can also have the reason that in general, you are indifferent towards and tired of life and, in order to fill yourself with a zest for life and with an interest in work, something joyful and attractive can not hinder you, and the same that would distract and hinder N., would give you the incentive to it.
< ... > means to calm each other down and to serve each other. At the same time his goal, due to his character, attains, I would want to say, a Christian, religious connotation, in that he reaches out of a state of his painful need of salvation in order to save himself. My entirely similar long-term goal took hold of me in a complete state of happiness: it is the difference that is most apparent in us and that can also be proven in all of our developmental struggles. Nietzsche, for example, threw religion overboard when he did not feel anything for it, anymore and when he, in his emptiness and in his tiredness looked for another aim that could fill him. With me, my disbelief hit me like lightning right in the hear or rather in my mind which forced my heart which was bound to faith with child-like devotion, to give up that faith. With N., his pain was always the cause of a new developmental stage and also of his present goal, with me it was a means that I had chosen for myself in order to grasp the new, higher goal. With him it was a state and with me it was more of an action in which the transition to a new development took place. This passive nature of his pain finds itself peculiarly expressed in that he had to physically endure so much, while with me, pain and struggle became synonymous through my entire former lifestyle.
In this inclination of N. lies also the reason why he has pursued so many goals and given those pursuits up again, while I was driven towards one and, so-to-say, necessitated by nature, very early. Goals were not a choice for me, as I have not known the feeling of choice, at all, but rather found within me a great analogy to forces of nature that were necessarily at work, – due to which the concept of free will did not entice me very much.
Through this searching for a goal that allowed him a choice and which was supposed to save him from his painful state of the depletion of his strength, also arises the fact that with him, unlike with me, it does not appear to him as the highest activity of his own nature, as most intensive self-expression, but rather as something that is separated and different from him. (<by the ways:> And changes like the forms of government or state – always according to the dominating inclinations.) While I would thus find myself, busy myself, fulfill myself to the same degree the greater and the more exclusive my devotion to my goal is, to him, his kind of devotion appears as a kind of self-destruction which, however, is only a salvation of his self, and is only meant to be aimed at being that. And while I quite agree with what N. said of me, that for a nature that is concentrated in itself as I am, which develops in a similar manner, out of a necessity of nature, one would actually have to think of its last goal as one that manifests itself in action – it was a peculiar turn of my nature that it was diverted and distracted from goals that require actions by my intellectual development – he, in turn, feels that his goal is one that has to be endured.
In these two points: that out of given reasons his goal appears to him as one that he things of as being separated from himself and as one that has been endured, – his devotion to it thus appears to him as a self-destruction, I find to be Nietzsche's explanation for his concept of the heroic.
The self-sacrifice of the martyr for his religious idea was heroic since its moral import ranked high with him. I do not know exactly to what extent the word heroic is legitimate without any moral import. In any event, it pre-supposes self-inflicted suffering for the sake of the erected goal. With Nietzsche, this suffering is life itself. It is the endurance of life for the sake of knowledge and realization. In my eyes, his heroism does not lie in the fact that he inflicts this suffering on himself for the sake of knowledge and realization, since for this, the goal of knowledge and realization would have to have a moral value. Of course, without religion and without morality, we can found a self-religion and a self-morality, however, these remain stuck in us and can achieve heroic means but not heroic purposes, for their aim is only that what is most dear to us, thus happiness, be it even in form of the lust of pain. However, if the word heroism is still legitimate without its moral import or connotation, then I see his heroism in his force of self-preservation, – in that force that takes up the suffering of life voluntarily since it feels creative forces in itself. again and again to turn the same to a means for (the attaining of) his goal, in which it feels itself carried beyond pain and suffering. I see his heroism in the creative force to which even the hardest and most cumbersome material is not too hard and cumbersome and since it is still superior to him and still capable of molding its divine images out of him.
For us free thinker who do not have anything sacred, anymore, that we can be devoted to in prayer as something religious or morally great, there is still greatness that demands our admiration, nay, even reverence. I senses this greatness in Nietzsche already as I spoke to you about him at the Italian Lakes: His laughter is hid deed.
There is no longer any
appreciation of the directions that man takes, – but there is a g r e a
t n e s s o f
These documents of Lou speak for themselves; they show both her view of the relationships between the individuals as well as her understanding of Nietzsche's philosophy that she was able to arrive at in direct contact with him. In this, to her, it is obviously clear much sooner than to Nietzsche how much their actual goals differ (see above). From Nietzsche one hears such statements only after their personal contact has been severed.
I want to particularly refer to that part in which both draw conclusions with respect to Rée's character traits when studying his features on his photograph, and that for two reasons:
1. From this, it would have become clear to NIetzsche that there had already developed a special relationship between Lou and Rée. >From all of his known statements that have, in part, already been conveyed here and that will, in part, still follow here, it can be concluded that he had accepted this situation – although reluctantly – and that he was (thus) only concerned with furthering Lou, and that not even necessarily in the direction of his own philosophy – also to her he says: Become who you are!
2. Much speaks for the possibility that those negative statements of Nietzsche with respect Rée that Lou complained of to him (and which she, in the reverse case had tolerated), might have fallen precisely due to their studying of Rée's photograph; with this, the situation would become quite a different one, since Lou had provided the cause for such statements, herself, in the first place and insofar, it can not be said with certainty that such "derogatory" remarks that may have been made by Nietzsche at that time had at their aim the discrediting of Rée in the eyes of Lou. Rather, Nietzsche might quite simply have stated his honest opinion as it arose out of his personal knowledge of Rée in connection with his study of his photograph.
What I do not want to withhold from you here is Lou's description of her days at Tautenburg, as she rendered it in her Lebensrückblick.
In addition to their mutual work at the aphorisms and the "style guide" it should still be pointed out – and this for relevant reasons since Nietzsche's view of women is known as being the subject of many controversies–, that both, on the occasion of Lou's writings on this topic they also discussed it and that Nietzsche prepared for Lou a very enlightening statement that can be read here in the document section.
Nietzsche's awareness of Lou's pending departure obviously results in one of his usual attacks of headaches and stomach aches, and on August 25th, he writes to her, "To bed. Most violent attack. I despise life. F.N."
However, the next day, he pulls himself together, "My
dear Lou, pardon yesterday! A violent attack of my stupid headache – gone
today. And today, I see some things with new eyes..–
With Lou's departure on August 26th for Stibbe, high-spirited and eventful days ended, such as Nietzsche, contrary to Lou, would never experience again. Lou, more prudent than Nietzsche, had retained an entirely positive memory of these days, different from Nietzsche who, hardly having returned to Naumburg, had to face the strongest criticism on the part of his family.
To the Third Part (in preparation)