Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Old Professor

And speaking of longevity: far as I am concerned I live here like a hard-working Professor of History, and am content if everything remains as it is; not that everything is perfect, but with advancing years one no longer expects any special gain from changes.  I too have had some heavy sorrows, of the kind that do not make men young.  I worked out seven-eighths of my Art of the Renaissance in the winter of 1862-63, but then found it inadequate both in principle and in execution, and put it back in my desk, probably for ever, as I can't hope to make good the lacunae with only six months in Italy.  Here we never have more than four or at the most five weeks' holidays at a stretch, and that does not allow of a journey such as I need.  My consolation is that at least I was not afraid of a great work.

I now consider my modest literary career as finally closed, and feel much better and more content reading sources, as I only study and make notes for teaching and not for possible book-making.  The historical market is tremendously overcrowded as things are, and it will be worse if peace lasts.  Then, my good kind publisher died ten days ago, and my opera omnia of which there are cart-loads, are to be moved en masse,,= i.e., they may perhaps be bought by some wholesaler in Leipzig, and offered for a time at reduced, indeed, very reduced prices, and then pulped, all of which I look upon with stoical calm and a genuine secret joy.   My cure is: after eight in the evening I go to the cafĂ© ((sci. Weinkeller) or into society, to gossip.  Saturday evening to some nearby village, and Sunday afternoon I walk a little further.  For years now I have avoided concerts, because of the slavery involved, which is balanced  by the fact that I have acquired a pianino, and make my own music.

Some years ago I asked you to look out my letters to Kugler and after having read them if you wished to, to destroy them.  I should be pleased if that were to happen, as there are quite a lot of things in them that are not meant for the uninitiate.  Let me know what happens!
Jakob Burckhardt to Paul Heyse, Basle, 5 April 1863.  a month shy of his 45th birthday.  He lived on to the age of 79.  Heyse was a young poet, in his own time the winner of a Nobel Prize for literature.  "Kugler" is Franz Kugler, art historian and Burckhardt's mentor.  Burckhardt had already published the two works for which he is best remembered: the Age of Constantine the Great (1853) and Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860).

The young Friedrich Nietzsche attended Burckhardt's lectures beginning in 1869.  They became cordial acquaintances, though Burckhardt seems to taken pains to keep his distance from what he saw as Nietzsche's dafter ideas.  There is a fictional account of their relationship in Herman Hesse's Magister Ludi, where Burckhardt appears as the wise Father Jacobus,  and Nietzsche as the passionate youth, Tegularius.

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