Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Nachlass and "The Will to Power," once again

Mazzino Montinari, Bernd Magnus, and (maybe?) R.J. Hollingdale all raised important doubts about the canonical status of the Nachlass material in the 1970s and 1980s.  On the standard narrative,  it appears Nietzsche wanted much of this material destroyed, and it was only the intervention of others, independent of Nietzsche, that resulted in the material being saved for posterity.  More recently, Julian Young (in his 2010 biography:  539-542) confirmed and documented Nietzsche’s abandonment of a project organized under the rubric Will to Power in favor of one organized around the idea of a Revaluation of All Values.  

Unsurprisingly, commentators committed to the centrality of “will to power” to Nietzsche’s thought have tried to resist this evidence.  Paul Katsafanas, for example, admits in his 2013 book that “if Nietzsche consigned so many of his writings on will to power to the wastebasket, he can hardly have regarded those notes as important,” but then claimed, surprisingly, that this “story [the familiar narrative] is apocryphal” (2013:  248), relying only on Hollingdale, whom Katsafanas reports says Nietzsche was only discarding the “page proofs of Twilight of the Idols” (2013:  248). 

It appears, however, Katsafanas did not consult the original German source for the story, namely, Carl Albrecht Bernoulli’s Franz Overbeck und Friedrich Nietzsche:  Eine Freundschaft (1908).  The text is a bit hard to decipher, given the font, but it does appear that Bernoulli, a student of Overbeck’s, reported that when Nietzsche left his flat in Sils Maria in September of 1888, he instructed his landlord Herr Durisch to “burn” his papers and notebooks, though the landlord disregarded the instructions (1908:  301).  Nietzsche left for Turin a couple of weeks later, and suffered his final mental collapse in early January of 1889.   Bernoulli does not specify the exact contents of the voluminous material Nietzsche asked to be destroyed, but Young reports that “many” of the “693 fragments” that Nietzsche’s sister put into the posthumous Will to Power “had in fact been consigned to Nietzsche’s wastepaper basket in Sils, from which, for unknown reasons, Durisch retrieved them” (Young 2010:  628 n. 9).  Thus, it appears a version of the standard narrative is correct:   much of what we have in the book known as The Will to Power—including its famous concluding section about will to power (as Montinari specifically documented)—represent work Nietzsche had rejected.


Paul Katsafanas said...

Brian, I think your reading comprehension could use some work. Your claim that I rely only on Hollingdale is demonstrably false (I discuss all the materials that you mention in this post), and in fact Hollingdale claims the opposite of what you attribute to him.

In my book, I note that (1) Hollingdale claims that Nietzsche wanted his notebooks burnt; (2) Hollingdale’s only citation for this claim is a newspaper article; (3) as Magnus points out, that newspaper article actually claims that wanted page proofs of Twilight destroyed; (4) as Magnus points out, Hollingdale may have been relying on the book by Bernoulli, published 18 years after the fact, which makes an ambiguous and unsupported claim about Nietzsche wanting various notebook materials destroyed.

Notice, also, that when Young claims that Nietzsche threw many of his notes in the wastebasket, no reference or citation is given.

Here's what I say in my book:

"Let’s start with the first story. From June to September 1888, Nietzsche stayed at a guesthouse in Sils-Maria and composed many notes on will to power and other topics. Hollingdale (1999, 250) claims that when Nietzsche departed, he left behind and instructed his landlord to throw out many of these 1888 notebook writings; however, Hollingdale tells us that the landlord saved the manuscripts, and some of them were ultimately published in the Will to Power. Others have repeated Hollingdale’s story, claiming that Nietzsche wanted his notebooks destroyed; see, for example, Leiter (2002, xvii) and Young (2010, 628 note 9). This story is often cited in support of the idea that Nietzsche abandoned his will to power project: after all, if Nietzsche consigned so many of his writings on will to power to the wastebasket, he can hardly have regarded those notes as important! However, the story is apocryphal. Hollingdale’s only cited source for this story is a magazine article from 1893, but as Magnus (1986) points out, this article is flatly inconsistent with Hollingdale’s claims: the article says that Nietzsche left behind and instructed his landlord to throw out not notebooks, but page proofs of Twilight of the Idols. [Footnote: Magnus speculates that Hollingdale’s actual source for the story must be a “similar but by no means identical tale” in a 1908 work entitled Franz Overbeck und Friedrich Nietzsche: Eine Freundschaft by Carl Bernoulli. For a discussion, see Magnus (1986, 88).] So this story appears to be a mere myth that has somehow managed to live on in certain areas of Nietzsche scholarship."

Paul Katsafanas

Brian Leiter said...

My "failure of "reading comprehension" consists in saying Hollingdale when I should have said Magnus was your source for the claim that it was page proofs of Twilight.

Your evidence still doesn't show the story is apocryphal. Take a look at the account in Bernoulli, whose source was presumably Overbeck. Bernoulli is unambiguous that Nietzsche handed off papers and notebooks to the landlord to be burned. That would be consistent, of course, with what we do know, namely, that the notebooks contained materials Nietzsche had passed over for publication when producing other books in the intervening years.

Paul Katsafanas said...

Yes, I’ve looked at the Bernoulli book. It’s quite vague (it doesn’t say which writings Nietzsche wanted to discard) and it seems to be based on conversations that occurred almost two decades after the alleged event. If this is the best support you can produce for the claim that Nietzsche rejected his will to power theory, then I’m not worried!

Also, let’s just step back from the particulars for a moment and think about how flimsy this general argumentative strategy is. Suppose someone produces definitive proof that, in the weeks before he slipped into insanity, there was a day when Nietzsche wanted his notebooks destroyed. Why should this be taken as important? We know, as a matter of fact, that there are writings from Dec. 1888 in which Nietzsche expressly states that he’s still working on a project involving revaluation and will to power, and in which he refers to The Antichrist as the first volume of that work (see the Appendix to my book, where I discuss Brobjer and others on this point. Here's a quote from Brobjer that I've lifted from my book:

"when Nietzsche very carefully revised his EH manuscript—“weighing each word on a gold scale” (KSB 8: letter to Ko ̈selitz, 9 December 1888)—in early December, he did not change the reference to A as “the first book” . . . Still more important, when he revised his NCW in the latter part of December, which he had begun writing and compiling on December 12, he then again refers to A as the “first book of the revaluation of values.”" (Brobjer 2010, 21–2)

Aside from this, there’s plenty of material on will to power in the published works. (Again, see my book on this point.)

Paul Katsafanas said...

Oh, and I should also point out: there's a huge leap from the claim that Nietzsche wanted SOME (or even ALL) of the notes from June-Sept. 1888 destroyed to the claim that Nietzsche wanted "much of what we have" or "many of his writings on will to power" destroyed. If Bernoulli is right, the former is true; but there's absolutely no evidence for the latter.

Brian Leiter said...

You're running together a few issues here. One issue is the status of the Nachlass material generally. Another (the issue in my 2000 paper on N's metaethics) is the textual basis for the Millian-style argument based on will to power. A third is the textual evidence for the strong doctrine of the will to power of the kind on which your reading depends.

On the first, we know that throughout the 1880s, Nietzsche left behind Nachlass material as he published other material from his notebooks. From Bernouilli we know that some significant number of papers and notebooks were to be trashed. (I've no idea why you think this comes from a conversation two decades after the fact. The book appeared in 1908, when the research was done, or how it was done, when he learned of this from Overbeck etc., is unclear from the discussion circa 300-301, is there evidence elsewhere in the book?) The landlord didn't trash them. Your hypothetical is not the real situation: Nietzsche didn't decide this the day before his mental collapse. He decided it months before, and in so doing it was consistent with his publication practices, i.e., he effectively discarded lots of this material by passing it over when culling materials for his books. By early fall of 1989, he had apparently decided to just leave the stuff behind (there's no dispute he didn't take these papers with him).

On the second, the Millian-style argument for will to power as the objective standard of value appears only in Nachlass material, and never in the published works. This is not relevant for your particular thesis, but it is relevant for my purposes.

On the third, the evidence in the published work for the form of the will to power doctrine you need is not as strong as you think, and there is much inconsistent with your way of taking the doctrine. The best evidence actually is also from the Nachlass. I haven't argued that here, however.

Brobjer's point is consistent with Young's point: the project became The Revaluation of Values, after having originally been The Will to Power. Whether the Antichrist was the first or entire project is neither here nor there.

Brian Leiter said...

"early fall of 1888" not "early fall of 1989," above.

Matt Meyer said...

Brian, Paul:

I’m glad that Brian has raised this issue on his blog and that Paul has had the opportunity to respond. In my view, it is very important because it is not just about how we interpret Nietzsche, but it is about what we are supposed to be interpreting. I will say in advance that I side more with Paul than Brian, but that Brian is right to point to Bernoulli as evidence for a *version* of his claim. Moreover, there seems to be further evidence to support the account we find in Bernoulli that has not been mentioned here. Nevertheless, I still stand by the more general claim that I make in my own book that Brian is overstating the conclusions we can draw from such evidence. Let me explain.

Let’s start with Brian’s claim that Nietzsche wanted “much of this [Nachlass] material destroyed, and it was only the intervention of others, independent of Nietzsche, that resulted in the material being saved for posterity.” To begin, it must be said that Brian himself is not fabricating a sort of “fake news” story in Nietzsche scholarship to suit his interpretive project. Instead, in the worst case scenario, he’s latched on to claims already present in the Anglo-American secondary literature—claims put forth by Hollingdale and repeated by others—that nevertheless do not withstand further scrutiny. This, I think, is the reason why Paul uses the term “apocryphal” to describe Brian’s position.

My own view, expressed in my book, was a bit more tempered than Paul’s. I simply did not find enough justification for Brian’s claim that what Nietzsche wanted burned was “much” of his Nachlass. As Magnus points out, the source Hollingdale seems to rely on—an 1893 article in Magazin fuer Literatur—does not say what Hollingdale claims it says. Instead, it simply tells a story of how Fritz Koegel discovered an unpublished variant to the preface of Twilight of the Idols in perusing the proofs for the text that Nietzsche had left at Sils. As Magnus also notes, Hollingdale’s real source for this claim seems to be the account given by Bernoulli, and this is the evidence to which Brian now refers.

In my book, I did not consider Bernoulli to be legitimate evidence for Hollingdale’s claim because it seemed to be based on the same questionable source: the aforementioned Magazine fuer Literatur (Bernoulli, to my knowledge, does not refer to any other sources). So unless there was some further evidence to corroborate Bernoulli’s and so Hollingdale’s claims, I did not think we could be justified in believing Bernoulli’s claim that Nietzsche left “Blaetter, Kladden und Korrekturbogen” in Sils to be burned by his landlord, Durisch. Instead, the most we could believe was that Nietzsche wanted the proofs of Twilight burned (I mistakenly claimed in my book that Nietzsche wanted a variant to the preface of TI burned), which is what Magnus reports the Magazine fuer Literatur as claiming (I have not personally verified Magnus’ claims about the magazine article). ...(Part I of II)...

Matt Meyer said...

However, I have since discovered another account (although not firsthand) that I think corroborates Bernoulli’s claims. The account is by Nietzsche’s sister, Elizabeth Foerster-Nietzsche, and can be found in Das Nietzsche-Archiv, seine Freund und Feinde (1907; one year prior to Bernoulli’s 1908 book) (pp. 25-28). As I understand it, Elizabeth gives an extended account of how a certain Herr Petit, an admirer of her brother, went looking in Sils for something from Nietzsche’s hand to have as a piece of memorabilia only to stumble upon a trove of documents that Nietzsche had left behind and instructed Durisch to burn (Elizabeth explicitly uses “verbrennen” (p. 28)). As the story goes, Durisch never got around to doing this, and Petit was shocked to find that Durisch was willing to give these away to admirers like himself. The story soon got out, and when she heard about this, Elizabeth set out to acquire these documents from Durisch. Now in her possession, she incorporated these notes into what became known as The Will to Power. So assuming I’m not mistaken, Elizabeth’s account confirms a version of what Brian has been claiming: Nietzsche wanted some of what we now find in The Will to Power—and so Nietzsche’s Nachlass—to be burned.

The problem, however, is that Brian claims that Nietzsche wanted “much” of his Nachlass material destroyed, and there is reason to think that the material he left behind in Sils only constitutes a small portion of the Nachlass. Indeed, Elizabeth seems to tell us precisely which “aphorisms” (her term) in The Will to Power are based on this compromised material (p. 27). It is my understanding that the 1067-section version of The Will to Power was first published in volumes IX and X of the paperback edition of Nietzsche’s collected works in 1906 (one year prior to her account in Das Nietzsche-Archiv), and Elizabeth identifies the following sections of those volumes as based on the material that Nietzsche left behind in Sils: 32, 256, 395, 417, 534, 673 (Vol. IX) and 732, 902, 1040, 1061 (Vol.X).

If this is right, then Brian seems to have overstated the conclusions we can draw from the story: there are, it is true, a few sections of The Will to Power based on material that Nietzsche left behind to be burned. This, however, is only a small fraction of The Will to Power, and, even more importantly, The Will to Power is only a small fraction of Nietzsche’s entire Nachlass. So the claim that Nietzsche wanted “much” of his Nachlass material destroyed does not seem to be supported by any of these accounts. Perhaps there are other sources that support what Brian claims is the “standard narrative,” but I am not aware of these.

Of course, it could also be that Elizabeth (or I) have understated the amount of material left behind in Sils that has since made its way into the Nachlass. Since this is an issue that affects readings of Nietzsche worldwide (and not just Anglo-American scholarship), it would only make sense to ask someone affiliated either with the archive or the critical edition of Nietzsche’s works which of the Nachlass material was left behind in Sils. I will say, however, that I would be surprised if Brian’s view were vindicated by such a process (I also think that Brian mischaracterizes Montinari’s position, but that’s for another post). This is because a number of German scholars—Abel, Figl, Mueller-Lauter, and Gerhardt—closely associated with either the critical edition of Nietzsche’s works or the Nietzsche Studien have produced prominent readings of Nietzsche that rely heavily on Nachlass material. Of course, it could be that the likes of Holllingdale, Young, and Brian have some insight into Nietzsche’s Nachlass that has been overlooked by these scholars. In any case, it’d be nice to get everyone—to the extent possible—working on the same page, and so it’d be good to get the facts straight in this matter. I do hope that by pointing to Elizabeth’s account in Das Nietzsche-Archiv that I’ve contributed in some way to this end.

Best regards,
Matt Meyer

Matt Meyer said...

This is just a supplement to what I said above. In the letter that Elizabeth quotes, Petit does claim that "countless proofs and manuscripts" were laid out before him (p. 26). So it does seem like a lot of material, even more than what I note above. However, Petit also says that the majority of this material consisted in corrections, and among the manuscripts, he noticed that most were variations and sketches that belonged to works that he already knew (p. 27). Finally, Elizabeth insists that even though her brother may have told Durisch to burn "some pieces of paper," this did not mean that this material was "wertlos"; it also did not mean that her brother wanted all of this material burned simply because the pieces of paper were placed in the same cabinet as the other material.

Hope this helps!


Paul Katsafanas said...

Hi Brian,

I don't want to perpetuate this indefinitely, but let me just point out one thing: you are equivocating on your central claim.

Your original claim was that Nietzsche wanted "much" of the "Nachlass material in the 1970s and 1980s" destroyed. That's completely fictional. Unless you have some hitherto unrevealed source, what we have (weak) evidence for is a much more modest claim: that Nietzsche trashed some unspecified portion of the material that he wrote during a four-month portion of 1888.

Your new claim, in the most recent comment, is that Nietzsche "effectively discarded lots of this material by passing it over when culling materials for his books." Of course he did. Throughout his career, he passed over various notebook materials. There's plenty of material on naturalism, free will, critiques of moral norms, etc. that's present in the notebooks but not in the published works. But now "effectively discarding" doesn't mean actually discarding; it just means not publishing.

So, in your original post and your published writings on this topic, you make the very strong claim that Nietzsche wanted to destroy many of his notebooks. You've now endorsed the completely different claim that Nietzsche "trashed" his notebooks merely in the sense that he didn't publish all of the materials in them. The first claim is false (or at least unsupported by any evidence that you've revealed); the second is obvious and uncontroversial. Moreover, the second claim applies equally well to notes on will to power, naturalism, freedom, morality, agency, and so forth. If not publishing a significant portion of the notes on topic X shows that Nietzsche abandons topic X, then we'd be forced to conclude that Nietzsche also abandons his arguments about naturalism, morality, agency, and so forth.

Also, on the Brobjer point: Nietzsche's notes show that he's frequently changing the title of his planned four-volume work on revaluation and will to power. What's important is not whether he would have titled it "Revaluation of All Values" or "Will to Power"; what's important is the content. Most of the plans for the work give will to power a prominent role. And the first volume of the work, The Antichrist, explicitly states that will to power is Nietzsche's criterion of evaluation and then goes on to use this criterion to assess Christianity and Christian morality ("What is good? Everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself." (A 2)) I discuss this here:


Brian Leiter said...

Paul, repeating the words "fictional" and "acrophyal" and "false" does not make it so. It is not false, it is true, that Nietzsche left behind a substantial amount of Nachlass material in Sils to be burned. Bernoulli reports it (though, contra Matt, I don't see the evidence that he was relying on the same source as Hollingdale) and, as Matt now reports, Elisabeth confirms it. As Matt notes, there is a factual question about how many papers were to be destroyed and how much of that material made its way into the Will to Power. That's the only live question; Paul simply overclaims in his 2013 book, without having consulted the Bernoulli, or the sources Matt has now called to our attention.

Matt, if you have any ideas how to solve the crucial factual question--namely, how much of the Nachlass and the later Will to Power were to be burned--please let me know.

Paul, this is minor, but since you persist in mangling my points: it's been my standing principle of interpretation for a long time to utilize the Nachlass when its themes and arguments are continuous with the published works. One of the more striking discontinuities pertains to ambitious claims about the will to power, unlike the other topics you mention. My only point is that someone who had been in the habit of culling publishable material from his notebooks, and leaving other stuff unpublished, might have decided to finally discard the passed over material. Is that what happened in Sils in 1888? We don't know, but it's quite plausible that it was.

In any case, the claim here and in my published works has been the same: the available evidence indicates that Nietzsche wanted his Nachlass destroyed. Bernoulli supports that point, as does Elisabeth from the evidence Matt discusses above. There is an open question, as already noted, how much material this was, and how much of it ended up in The Will to Power.

Matt, this is also minor, and I doubt you'll disagree, but Elisabeth's judgment about the value of the material isn't itself of much value! She had no philosophical judgment, and every motive in the world to mine this material for her own enrichment. As to the German scholars that utilize the Nachlass, I don't find that relevant: first, many of these scholars have weak philosophical judgment; and second, too many of them have been influenced by Heidegger's perverse judgment that the Nachlass was the real Nietzsche.

Matt, am I right that the references for a lot of what you discuss here are in your book?

Brian Leiter said...

I just looked again at the Bernoulli account, and it's interesting that he mentions, papers, journals, drafts and proofs as the materials Nietzsche asked the landlord to burn--so it is explicitly in Bernoulli's account a quite wide-ranging set of materials.

Matt Meyer said...

Hi Brian (Paul):

So your last question first: No, much of what I am now discussing is not in my book. I do express a judgment somewhat similar to Paul’s in the book (and talk about Magnus in a way that I now think is slightly mistaken), but all of this stuff about Elizabeth being the source of Hollingdale’s story is something I’ve just come across since you ran this important post. In this sense, I feel like I’m reporting my findings as I’m doing my reading and research, and so I would read and assess what I have to say here with that in mind.

To your second to last point: Yes, I didn’t mean to endorse Elizabeth’s value judgment. I was just “reporting” what I found in her book. I will say here that if I am right that Elizabeth is the source of Hollingdale’s story, then you wouldn’t want to undermine her credibility altogether. Also, I noticed that Elizabeth gives more accounts of her brother wanting other material burned. You can find the text here ( and despite the style, you can still search under “verbrennen” to find a handful of different passages in which she mentions materials being “burned”. So this may add more fuel to your fire!

To your third to last point: I am nevertheless surprised that you are still saying—in your most recent post—that “Nietzsche wanted his Nachlass destroyed” rather than just some small part of it (and remember, the Nachlass is much greater than The Will to Power). As far as I can tell, the relevant material from Sils that made its way into The Will to Power was written on pieces of loose paper, not the notebooks that I understand make up much of the Nachlass, and so I don’t think that this story would affect very much of the Nachlass.

As for how we might determine which materials were retrieved from Sils, my sense is that we could contact Ralf Eichberg. He’d either know himself or he’d be able to point us to someone who does (assuming that this knowledge is available). I think *if* you want to take the strong stance that we cannot rely *at all* on materials gathered from Sils, then an effort should certainly be made to figure out which material this is. Again, I’m only researching this now, but it seems that some of the sections of The Will to Power that were based on this material did *not* make it into KSA.
...(Part I of II)...

Matt Meyer said...

Now to your initial point: To the best of my recollection, my reason for originally thinking that Bernoulli’s source for his story was the Magazin fuer Literatur was because he references it on p. 301. So my thought when I wrote what I did in my book—a thought based on Magnus’ account—was that the origin of the misreporting of the story was the movement from this Magazin to Bernoulli (and then on to Hollingdale), and since Magnus claimed that the Magazin was only about a preface for TI (and proofs), I didn’t have reason to trust Bernoulli’s account and so I did not count it as *clear* evidence for your position (in retrospect, I perhaps should have stated this explicitly, rather than merely pointing readers to Magnus’ footnote). What I now see is that Elizabeth’s account provides the sort of evidence I did not find in Bernoulli, and so I now consider it a reason to put some trust in both accounts. (As an aside, I have now tracked down the relevant piece from the Magazin and have read through it. As Magnus rightly reports, it is largely about an unpublished variant to the forward for TI and how this was discovered in Sils among various proofs for his published works (which could be proofs for more than just TI) that were left there. However, I don’t find anything about Nietzsche’s interest in having this and the other material burned. So, again, it seems that Elizabeth (and her reporting of Petit’s letter) is the source for this story.)

As a final comment, I will say that I, like Paul, am worried about your use of “discard” especially in relation to your account of Montinari's position. It seems to me that Montinari believes that we *can* use WP 1067 to help us interpret BGE 36, and the reason why Nietzsche did not include WP 1067 in the final plans for The Will to Power was because Nietzsche felt that BGE 36 had already expressed the ideas in WP 1067. In short, publishing WP 1067 in Nietzsche’s final version of The Will to Power would have been repetitive, and so M.'s position is not that Nietzsche "discarded" (especially not in the sense of wanting it "destroyed") the note, but that he did not "select" it for publication.

I hope this helps. I will say that I don’t have a huge stake in this debate, and I even think we need to spend a lot more time focusing on the published works—rather than piecing together positions from the unpublished Nachlass. However, I do think that the Nachlass is very important for understanding the published works, and so I don’t see enough evidence here to think that we should stop relying on it for this purpose (perhaps you agree, but in some matters, such as BGE 36-WP 1067, you seem to reject the use of the Nachlass in this sense). In any case, I think we owe it to ourselves and others to get the facts straight in this matter (to the extent possible), even if our interpretation of those facts might diverge.


Brian Leiter said...

Matt, thanks for all this information. A couple of more observations/questions:

First, thanks in particular for the link to Elisabeth's book. I was discounting her philosophical judmgnet, not her credibility!

Second, I agree with you it's an open question how much material was being thrown out, but if you look at Bernoulli's description of the different materials to be burned, it sounds like rather a lot of different kinds of material! You note that "the relevant material from Sils that made its way into The Will to Power was written on pieces of loose paper, not the notebooks that I understand make up much of the Nachlass, and so I don’t think that this story would affect very much of the Nachlass." Bernoulli's description of the material N. asked the landlord to burn is compatible with both being included. (Here's another question: do we know what papers N. had with him in Turin upon his collapse? Do we know if the notebooks were possessed by others even when N. was in Sils? Or did he travel with them everywhere?)

More coming...

Brian Leiter said...

Bernoulli does mention the 1893 article, that's correct, but I found it ambiguous whether it was his source from what he says at the bottom of p. 301, but it could be you're right.

I'll have to look again at the Montinari, but it's fair to say that WP 1067 and BGE 36 are rather different passages, and there's a reason will to power enthusiasts prefer the former to the latter!

Again, thanks for this guidance.

Brian Leiter said...

Also, for anyone: is the fall 1893 Magazin fur Literatur article on-line anywhere?

Matt Meyer said...

Here's the link to the Magazin article (see pp. 702-704):

Yes, Bernoulli does mention "Blaetter, Kladden und Korrekturbogen". I'm not familiar with "Kladden" but it seems to mean some sort of notebook (or notebooks). So there may have been more material (and more important material) than I claimed above.

As for Bernoulli using the Magazin article as a source, I'm just explaining what I now recall as my thinking when writing my book. I'm not saying that this is right.

As for your question about the papers Nietzsche had with him in Turin and what he carried around with him, that might be answered in the two texts we've been discussing (Elizabeth's and Bernoulli's). What may be of interest to you is that Elizabeth explains the way in which, in 1885, she showed her brother a box/crate/chest of writings/manuscripts from his youth that he had both forgotten and even gave--again!--to her to burn, but that she instead kept in the said box in Naumburg (Elizabeth uses this story to explain how her brother, upon seeing the materials, told her that she was born to be his biographer). What this suggests is that a good portion of the Nachlass materials (at least from his youth and maybe up until 1885?) were stored away in Naumburg.

As a final note, you should look at p. 21 of Elizabeth's account. She does say that her brother had a tendency to want to burn his older writings so that they wouldn't get into the hands of strangers and she backs this up by quoting Gast as saying that he and Friedrich burned the first three parts of the manuscript to Zarathustra in Venice in 1887.

Again, I hope this helps.


Paul Katsafanas said...

Hi Brian and Matt,

I'll just note that I agree completely with Matt. I don't go into this material in detail in my book; I'm not an archivist, and others will know more about this than I do. I simply report that the Hollingdale story is apocryphal (that is, "of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true"). I stand by that judgment: as we've now established, Hollingdale's citation for the story talks about page proofs of Twilight rather than Nachlass materials. We can speculate, with Magnus, that Hollingdale meant to cite Bernoulli. But, as Matt points out, even Bernoulli doesn't support Hollingdale's claim: all that Bernoulli says is that Nietzsche wanted unspecified set of notes burnt, not that he wanted the entirety of his notebooks burnt. So, again, the Hollingdale-inspired claim that Nietzsche wanted many notes burnt is based on rather flimsy evidence.

I don't have much stake in this; as I point out in my book, I don't think anything important turns on whether the Hollingdale story is correct. And I agree with Brian's claim that the notebook materials should be used only when they are continuous with the published works.

I would urge Brian, however, to be more cautious in his formulations. Consider the difference between these claims:

Brian's claim: "the available evidence indicates that Nietzsche wanted his Nachlass destroyed." (Note that Nietzsche's Nachlass is something like ten thousand pages.)

Bernoulli's claim: Nietzsche wanted some unspecified set of notes and papers burnt

Elisabeth's claim, according to Matt: Nietzsche wanted to destroy ten of the notes that made it into Will to Power (that's less than 1% of the 1067 notes that made it into Will to Power, which is itself a tiny fragment of Nietzsche's Nachlass)

Brian's very strong claim would be interesting if true, but we have yet to see any evidence for it; as far as I can see, we've only been given evidence for the weaker claims. I'm happy to be corrected on this if I'm wrong. But, again what's the evidence for Brian's strong claim supposed to be?


Brian Leiter said...

Matt, thanks for those interesting extra details and the link, which I'll check out shortly.

Paul, you've ignored Matt's other post above, where he notes that, "In the letter that Elizabeth quotes, Petit does claim that 'countless proofs and manuscripts' were laid out before him (p. 26). So it does seem like a lot of material, even more than what I note above." But, again, its precise contents are uncertain, as with Bernoulli's accounting. But as Matt now points out, Nietzsche was in the habit of burning unused material, or asking that it be burnt, including (on Elisabeth's account) all the material stored at Naumburg through 1885. Until we get answers to some of the questions I raised above (e.g., what papers did N. take with him to Turin in the fall of 1888, what papers were found there, beyond the manuscripts for the final books, etc.) we may not be able to pin this down. But between Bernoulli and now Elisabeth, it appears Nietzsche wanted to be rid of all the unused papers prior to 1885, which would greatly reduce the page count from 10,000 by the time we get to Sils in September 1888.

Brian Leiter said...

This has been a very useful set of comments, thanks to both of you for discussing this and to Matt for the new research!

Matt Meyer said...

Yes, Elizabeth's account does add fuel to Brian's fire--to continue the pun--but let's again be careful. This may be in part my fault from what I say in my 2:04pm post above, but I would advise Brian against claiming that "it appears Nietzsche wanted to be rid of ALL the unused papers prior to 1885" (my emphasis).

All we know from what Elizabeth says (assuming it's all true) is that (based on the bottom of p.8 and top of p. 9):

1) She has a box of ordered materials in Naumburg that she's collected from Friedrich's youth perhaps up to 1885. **This does not mean, however, that everything her brother had written during this time and has since been made part of his Nachlass is in that box.**

2) She claims that her brother had forgotten about the existence of such material and that he even gave *most*--not *all*--of it to her to have burned. So this does support a modified version of Brian's position.

3) However, upon showing and even reading some of this material to Friedrich, he was so overjoyed--possibly that she had preserved it--that he began to cry. This is when Elizabeth claims that she was baptized his biographer (again, this makes me wonder about the authenticity of the story).

So in this particular case, it seems that even though Friedrich gave Elizabeth **some** of his writings from this time to be burned, he was--upon learning of their existence--happy to know that she had not carried this out (and there is nothing in Elizabeth's account indicating that he again wanted these materials burned). Indeed, it seems that if Friedrich had really wanted these materials burned he would have just done it himself.


Brian Leiter said...

Matt, thanks again for this useful clarification of what the evidence shows.