Nietzche contra Wagner on the Jews
The mature Nietzsche once described himself as “Wagner's antipode.” In his own view, he was as opposed to Wagner as the North Pole is to the South. Moreover, it was his break with Wagner in the mid 1870s that finally allowed Nietzsche to find his own identity, to develop his own intellectual personality and mission. In the 1880s Nietzsche continued to take Wagner seriously even as a fierce opponent. He looked upon Wagner as a temptation he had to overcome, as a servitude and even as an “infection” or “disease” he had to experience before liberating himself and coming into his own. Under the heading of “Wagner,” Nietzsche did not only mean the music dramas, but a whole complex of attitudes and a worldview, which included romanticism, Schopenhauer's negation of the will, German nationalism, and anti-Semitism, among others. Similarly, in calling Wagner his “antipode” Nietzsche intended to dissipate all these intertwined shadows—including anti-Semitism— which Wagner's domineering figure had cast in his way. For Nietzsche, his overcoming of Wagner was at the same time a powerful selfovercoming for Nietzsche—so deep had Wagner penetrated his own self, albeit as an alien and self-alienating force.
Nietzsche was Wagner's junior by thirty-one years. When he first met