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NIETZSCHE, Friedrich (1844-1900). Autograph letter signed (‘Dr Friedrich Nietzsche’) to [Reinhart von Seydlitz], Villa Rubinacci, Sorrento, 16 December 1876.
NIETZSCHE, Friedrich (1844-1900). Autograph letter signed (‘Dr Friedrich Nietzsche’) to [Reinhart von Seydlitz], Villa Rubinacci, Sorrento, 16 December 1876.
NIETZSCHE, Friedrich (1844-1900). Autograph letter signed (‘Dr Friedrich Nietzsche’) to [Reinhart von Seydlitz], Villa Rubinacci, Sorrento, 16 December 1876.
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NIETZSCHE, Friedrich (1844-1900). Autograph letter signed (‘Dr Friedrich Nietzsche’) to [Reinhart von Seydlitz], Villa Rubinacci, Sorrento, 16 December 1876.

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NIETZSCHE, Friedrich (1844-1900). Autograph letter signed (‘Dr Friedrich Nietzsche’) to [Reinhart von Seydlitz], Villa Rubinacci, Sorrento, 16 December 1876.

In German. Four pages, 210 x 135mm, bifolium. Provenance: Stargardt, 21 March 1996, lot 578.

Nietzsche against Wagner. Reminding Seydlitz that he has his health and happiness in mind, Nietzsche has not given up all hope of welcoming his friend to ‘our little Sorrentine community’, where the weather is so mild that a friend of his swims in the sea almost daily, and Nietzsche himself climbs in the mountains to try and ease his headache (with limited success). However, ‘If one has to be ill, then it should at least be in such surroundings and among such friends as I have, first among them Mrs von Meysenburg, a truly beautiful soul, as I have already described to you. The Wagners were with us for 14 days. It is not impossible that they will retrace their steps to the south next summer, assuming – as I fear must be assumed – that the Bayreuth summer festival will fail next year: the clouds are too dark and ominous for Art to pitch its tent again’. If so, they will see the Wagners again without having to move an inch. Nietzsche ends the letter in affectionate tone: ‘I would like, dear friend, to have a piece of life in common only with you: who knows what could be built on such a foundation?’

Nietzsche had been a close friend to Richard Wagner and his wife Cosima; they drew him into their circle after the two men first met in Leipzig in 1868 and Nietzsche greatly admired Wagner’s philosophy. The German writer Malwida von Meysenburg (1816-1903) was a friend of both, who had met Nietzsche at the laying of the Bayreuth foundation stone in 1872; in 1876, she invited them to Sorrento, where Nietzsche was to begin work on Human, All too Human, his first collection of aphorisms. The book, which was published in 1878, marked Nietzsche’s public break with Wagner and his philosophy, which would culminate in his famous critical essay of 1889, Nietzsche contra Wagner, but the seeds of the rift between the two were sown in 1876: Nietzsche was disappointed by what he saw as the banality of the Bayreuth summer season, along with Wagner’s championing of German culture, and quickly became alienated from his former friend. Reinhart von Seydlitz (1850-1931) was a writer and artist, one of Wagner’s circle who first met Nietzsche at the Bayreuth Festspiele in 1876; the following year, both men would stay as guests of Malwida von Meysenburg in Sorrento.

Published in the Digitale Kritische Gesamtausgabe Werke und Briefe, BVN-1876, no 578.
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