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Nietzsche spends Christmas with the Wagners

Nietzsche spent the final days of 1870 with Richard and Cosima, revelling in the unmatched philosophical discussion. But his love for them could not last

By Sue Prideaux  

Photo: Photo of Nietzsche by Gustav Adolf Schultze [de], 1882

In 1870, Nietzsche was 26. He had recently been promoted to full professor at Basel University when the Franco-Prussian war broke out. This presented him with a moral dilemma. Basel being in Switzerland, the university wanted him to stay in his teaching job. But Nietzsche, being German, felt it his duty to defend his country despite his loathing of mindless German nationalism. “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, that is the end of German philosophy!” he wrote. He absolutely did not want to…

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