Ecce Homo

Page 13 of 30

[1] Those Germans who, like Nietzsche or Goethe, recognised that politics constituted a danger to culture, and who appreciated the literature of maturer cultures, such as that of France, are called un-deutsch (un-German) by Imperialistic Germans.—Tr.

[2] Aristotle's Poetics, c. vi.—Tr.

[3] This number and those which follow refer to Thoughts out of Season, Part I. in this edition of Nietzsche's Works.—TR.



The four essays composing the Thoughts out of Season are thoroughly warlike in tone. They prove that I was no mere dreamer, that I delight[Pg 76] in drawing the sword—and perhaps, also, that my wrist is dangerously supple. The first onslaught (1873) was directed against German culture, upon which I looked down even at that time with unmitigated contempt Without either sense, substance, or goal, it was simply "public opinion." There could be no more dangerous misunderstanding than to suppose that Germany's success at arms proved anything in favour of German culture—and still less the triumph of this culture; over that of France. The second essay (1874) brings to light that which is dangerous, that which corrodes and poisons life in our manner of pursuing scientific study: Life is diseased, thanks to this dehumanised piece of clockwork and mechanism, thanks to the "impersonality" of the workman, 1 and the false economy of the "division of labour." The object, which is culture, is lost sight of: modern scientific activity as a means thereto simply produces barbarism. In this treatise, the "historical sense," of which this century is so proud, is for the first time recognised as sickness, as a typical symptom of decay. In the third and fourth essays, a sign-post is set up pointing to a higher concept of culture, to a re-establishment of the notion "culture"; and two pictures of the hardest self-love and self-discipline are presented, two essentially un-modern types, full of the most sovereign contempt for all that which lay around them and was called "Empire," "Culture," "Christianity," "Bismarck," and "Success,"—these two types were Schopenhauer and Wagner, or, in a word, Nietzsche....

[Pg 77]


Of these four attacks, the first met with extraordinary success. The stir which it created was in every way gorgeous. I had put my finger on the vulnerable spot of a triumphant nation—I had told it that its victory was not a red-letter day for culture, but, perhaps, something very different. The reply rang out from all sides, and certainly not only from old friends of David Strauss, whom I had made ridiculous as the type of a German Philistine of Culture and a man of smug self-content—in short, as the author of that suburban gospel of his, called The Old and the New Faith (the term "Philistine of Culture" passed into the current language of Germany after the appearance of my book). These old friends, whose vanity as Wrtembergians and Swabians I had deeply wounded in regarding their unique animal, their bird of Paradise, as a trifle comic, replied to me as ingenuously and as grossly as I could have wished. The Prussian replies were smarter; they contained more "Prussian blue." The most disreputable attitude was assumed by a Leipzig paper, the egregious Grentzboten; and it cost me some pains to prevent my indignant friends in Ble from taking action against it. Only a few old gentlemen decided in my favour, and for very diverse and sometimes unaccountable reasons. Among them was one, Ewald of Gttingen, who made it clear that my attack on Strauss had been deadly. There was also the Hegelian, Bruno Bauer, who from that time became one of my most attentive readers. In his later years he liked to refer to[Pg 78] me, when, for instance, he wanted to give Herr von Treitschke, the Prussian Historiographer, a hint as to where he could obtain information about the notion "Culture," of which he (Herr von T.) had completely lost sight. The weightiest and longest notice of my book and its author appeared in Wrzburg, and was written by Professor Hoffmann, an old pupil of the philosopher von Baader. The essays made him foresee a great future for me, namely, that of bringing about a sort of crisis and decisive turning-point in the problem of atheism, of which he recognised in me the most instinctive and most radical advocate. It was atheism that had drawn me to Schopenhauer. The review which received by far the most attention, and which excited the most bitterness, was an extraordinarily powerful and plucky appreciation of my work by Carl Hillebrand, a man who was usually so mild, and the last humane German who knew how to wield a pen. The article appeared in the Augsburg Gazette, and it can be read to-day, couched in rather more cautious language, among his collected essays. In it my work was referred to as an event, as a decisive turning-point, as the first sign of an awakening, as an excellent symptom, and as an actual revival of German earnestness and of German passion in things spiritual. Hillebrand could speak only in the terms of the highest respect, of the form of my book, of its consummate taste, of its perfect tact in discriminating between persons and causes: he characterised it as the best polemical work in the German language,—the best performance in the art of polemics, which for[Pg 79] Germans is so dangerous and so strongly to be deprecated. Besides confirming my standpoint, he laid even greater stress upon what I had dared to say about the deterioration of language in Germany (nowadays writers assume the airs of Purists[1] and can no longer even construct a sentence); sharing my contempt for the literary stars of this nation, he concluded by expressing his admiration for my courage—that "greatest courage of all which places the very favourites of the people in the dock." ... The after-effects of this essay of mine proved invaluable to me in my life. No one has ever tried to meddle with me since. People are silent. In Germany I am treated with gloomy caution: for years I have rejoiced in the privilege of such absolute freedom of speech, as no one nowadays, least of all in the "Empire," has enough liberty to claim. My paradise is "in the shadow of my sword." At bottom all I had done was to put one of Stendhal's maxims into practice: he advises one to make one's entrance into society by means of a duel. And how well I had chosen my opponent!—the foremost free-thinker of Germany. As a matter of fact, quite a novel kind of free[Pg 80] thought found its expression in this way: up to the present nothing has been more strange and more foreign to my blood than the whole of that European and American species known as litres penseurs. Incorrigible blockheads and clowns of "modern ideas" that they are, I feel much more profoundly at variance with them than with any one of their adversaries. They also wish to "improve" mankind, after their own fashion—that is to say, in their own image; against that which I stand for and desire, they would wage an implacable war, if only they understood it; the whole gang of them still believe in an "ideal." ... I am the first Immoralist.

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