Conversations with Nietzsche: A Life in the Words of His Contemporaries
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Nietzsche's friend, the philosopher Paul Rée, once said that Nietzsche was more important for his letters than for his books, and even more important for his conversations than for his letters. In Conversations with Nietzsche, Sander Gilman and David Parent present a fascinating selection of eighty-seven memoirs, anecdotes, and informal recollections by friends and acquaintances of Nietzsche. Translated from the definitive German collection, Begegnungen mit Nietzsche, these biographical pieces--some of which have never before appeared in English--cover the entire span of Nietzsche's life: his boyhood friendships, his arrival at the University of Bonn, his appointment to professor at Basel at age twenty-four, the impact of The Birth of Tragedy, his friendship with Wagner, his life in Italy, his confinement at the Jena Sanatorium, and his death. They present the philosopher in dialogue with friends and acquaintances, and provide new insights into him as a thinker and as a commentator on his times, recounting his views on some of the greats of history, including Burckhardt, Goethe, Kant, Dostoevsky, Napoleon, and numerous others. In his selections, Gilman has carefully balanced documents concerning Nietzsche's personal life with others on his intellectual development, resulting in an entertaining and informative book that will appeal to a wide audience of educated readers.
evening there and to await his return, which soon took place. Since I was as unfamiliar with his thinking as anyone could be and he was far from pushing his ideas on anyone, the conversation naturally at first consisted of cheerful conversation about the immediate topics of the day, events back home, common acquaintances, advice on how I could best employ the next day, and the like. The conversation took a higher turn only when Nietzsche mentioned a pamphlet published shortly before, National
Nietzsche said that of all lives he most envied Mazzini's, this complete concentration on a single idea which became, as it were, a mighty flame consuming every individual trait. The poet frees himself from the violence of deeds which is in him, by incarnating it in forms and extrapolating deeds and suffering outside himself. He is like the will itself, he must objectify himself, streaming out his urge for action into phenomena; every feeling, every passion exists in him as a capacity, thus he
not only absurd but very harmful to us." From these dismal days my memory always likes to roam back to those times of Sorrento in the year 1877;—"Those were delightful days for me." There were precisely thirty-five days in all! For seventeen of them, however, our friend was sick; only on eighteen days did we enjoy his company, and he ours and the magic world of Sorrento. "We" means, in this case, the little Sorrento community at the time, Fraulein [Malwida] von Meysenbug, Dr. [Paul] Ree, Mr.
I was still completely immature compared with Nietzsche, who was only five years older but a complete master in his first profoundly insightful books, and I simply had to hear this man, who was charging ahead intellectually at such a young age, and to hear his judgment of Duhring. My bashful reserve intensified when I saw the young professor associating closely with Jakob Burckhardt, all of whose university classes Nietzsche moreover attended. My teaching schedule in the three upper classes of
around with a La Rochefoucauld or a La Bruyere in his pocket and he had retained this same mentality ever since his first little book, On Vanity. About Nietzsche, however, one already could feel what was to lead him beyond his collections of aphorisms and toward his Zarathustra: the deep movement of the God-seeker Nietz he who came from religion and was heading toward religious proph cy. In one of my letters from Tautenburg to Paul Ree, dated August 18th, one reads: "At the very beginning of my