Nietzsche and Rée: A Star Friendship

Nietzsche and Rée: A Star Friendship

Nietzsche and Rée: A Star Friendship

Nietzsche and Rée: A Star Friendship

Synopsis

Nietzsche and Reis about the intellectual partnership of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and Paul Re (1849-1901). Robin Small combines biography with philosophy to give the first full-length account of a friendship that made major contributions to modern thought before it ended in intellectual differences and a painful breakdown of personal relations. Drawing on a wealth of original scholarship, Small presents an absorbing and often dramatic story, shedding valuable new light on of one of the most important of modern thinkers.

Excerpt

One of the most thoughtful, and graceful, of Friedrich Nietzsche's personal reflections can be found in his book The Gay Science, under the heading 'Star Friendshipa'.

We were friends and have become estranged. But this was right, and we do not want to conceal and obscure it from ourselves as if we had reason to feel ashamed. We are two ships each of which has its own goal and course; our paths may cross and we may celebrate a feast together, as we did—and then the good ships rested so quietly in one harbour and one sunshine that it may have looked as if they had reached their goal and as if they had one goal. But then the almighty force of our tasks drove us apart again into different seas and sunny zones, and perhaps we shall never see each other again; perhaps we shall meet again but fail to recognize each other: our exposure to different seas and suns has changed us. That we have to become estranged is the law above us; by the same token we should also become more venerable for each other—and the memory of our former friendship more sacred. There is probably a tremendous but invisible stellar orbit in which our different ways and goals may be included as small parts of this path: let us rise up to this thought. But our life is too short and our power of vision too small for us to be more than friends in the sense of this sublime possibility.—Let us then believe in our star friendship even if we should be compelled to be earth enemies.

Most commentators have assumed that this poetic passage refers to Richard Wagner but, in her 1894 book on Nietzsche, Lou Salomé asserted that it was a farewell to his friendship with Paul Rée. Either interpretation could be seen as appropriate. Her version is at least based on a close personal knowledge of both men, and she later told Erich Podach that Nietzsche had confirmed this interpretation when asked directly—although Podach suggests that this may mean only that Nietzsche did not give an outright denial. There is clearly room for doubt about the account—but in any case,

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