Under current restrictions, our shops are closed to the public, but we are still processing online, telephone and email orders as normal.

NIETZSCHE, Friedrich.

Götzen-Dämmerung oder Wie man mit dem Hammer philosophirt.

Leipzig: C. G. Naumann, 1889 [but 1888] Stock Code: 126701
Reserve Ask us a question

Peter Gast's annotated copy

First edition, first issue, of Nietzsche's last great work before his psychological collapse in January 1889, with an excellent association; the heavily annotated copy of Heinrich Köselitz, Nietzsche's amanuensis and most frequent correspondent, and the person responsible for the title of this work, with the surname of his pseudonym, "Gast" (a name given to him by Nietzsche), pencilled on the title page.

Köselitz (1854-1918), alias "Peter Gast", was a close friend and assistant to Nietzsche. A writer and composer, Gast had transferred to the University of Basel in October 1875 to study under Nietzsche. He eventually began to take on a number of responsibilities, including reading to the ailing Nietzsche, taking dictation, performing secretarial work, and reviewing and preparing all subsequent manuscripts for publication. It has been suggested that his pseudonym, when translated from Latin and German to mean "stone guest", was a reference to Mozart's Don Giovanni, and it is under this name that his own operas were published.

Gast's involvement was an invaluable part of Nietzsche's writing and publishing process. For Menschliches, Allzumenschliches Human, All Too Human, for example, he had "taken down many passages by dictation, helped with the preparation of the final manuscript, and worked with Nietzsche on the proof corrections. Nietzsche acknowledged this assistance in Ecce Homo, writing: 'Ultimately, Herr Peter Gast, who was then studying at the University of Basel and very devoted to me, has this book on his conscience. I dictated, my head bandaged and in pain; he wrote and also corrected: fundamentally, he was really the writer while I was merely the author" (Small, p. 37).

Nietzsche had completed Götzen-Dämmerung Twilight of the Idols by the end of September 1888, under the working title Müssiggang eines Psychologen A Psychologist at Leisure. It was Gast who convinced him to change the title, arguing that it was "much too unassuming I plead - if an incompetent may make such a request - let us have a more respendent, a more radiant title!" (cited in Schaberg, p. 167). 1,000 copies were printed by mid-November, and Nietzsche received four on 24 November. He subsequently distributed advance copies to friends and acquaintances, of which Gast was one (see Schaberg, p. 168 for more details). Despite exhausting all his advance copies and requesting more, Nietzsche asked Naumann to delay Götzen-Dämmerung's public appearance: it finally appeared in bookstores on 24 January 1889, just a couple of weeks after Nietzsche's mental breakdown and hospitalization. Not all of the 1,000 copies were bound in the original rear cover; a variant, in which the rear cover advertises works by several other authors in addition to Nietzsche, was issued later by Naumann (Schaberg 56b).

Gast's notes in this copy, written using black and red ink, pencil, and blue crayon, offer both a spirited commentary on the text and a serious consideration of its printed format. The opening aphorisms of the first chapter, "Sprüche und Pfeile", are especially heavily annotated, but the markings continue throughout. The first sentence, "Müssiggang ist aller Psychologie Anfang", is prefaced by Gast with "Frage", the subsequent sentence with "Unter Denkern", the third with "Das Beste vergessen!" (p. 1). To the question "Wie? ist der Mensch nur ein Fehlgriff Gottes?" he responds "Entscheide dich!" (p. 2). Thematic headings are inserted before several sentences: "Musik und Politik" (p. 4); "Horren- sic und Erklaren- Wahrschaftigkeit" (p. 6); "Ein Buch der Verfähraus" (p. 72). His longer comments are more contemplative, such as "im Manuscr. no?. : - hierin ist es jenem sic logischen Prozess verwandt, der fälschisch 'Abstrahiren' gennant wird" (p. 77).

The stylistic and formatting corrections include those to capitalized letters and incorrect punctuation, as well as the insertion of divisional lines (pp. 10-11) and sometimes the direction "Absätze" (pp. 26-7) to mark suggested page and paragraph breaks, which are reflected in his renumbering of the contents page. He substitutes words (for example, replacing "Einsiedler" with "Philosoph sic", p. 62), corrects proper names (p. 80), marks possibilities for new sub-headings (pp. 86, 88), and amends citations (that to Also sprach Zarathustra on p. 141 is corrected from "3, 90" to "III 308", likely a reference to a later edition, perhaps gesturing to the annotations having been made while Gast worked on new editions at the Nietzsche Archive). A select number of errata are also recorded on the lower wrapper in ink.

On Nietzsche's death in 1900, Gast accepted employment at the Nietzsche Archive founded by Nietzsche's sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Together they worked on his Nachlass and several editions of writings and letters, now considered to be poorly and selectively edited. Gast left the Archive in 1909.

Provenance: this copy is presumed to have passed from Gast to Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche's cousin and close collaborator Dr Richard Oehler (1878-1948); thence by descent to his son Christoph Oehler (1928-2001); thereafter to a private collection.

In all, this is an exceptional association copy which aptly demonstrates the critical eye and attentiveness to detail which made Köselitz so important to the circulation of Nietzsche's work during the last two decades of the philosopher's life.

Confused? Read our glossary


Octavo. Wire-stitched in 10 gatherings, as issued, with the original grey printed lower wrapper still present, but missing the upper wrapper and the spine, the lower wrapper chipped with small losses and a tape repair to the upper corner verso. Housed in a custom green cloth flat-back box.


Contents tanned with the occasional mark, extremities chipped and with some small marginal tears, crease to title leaf, a few spots of dampstain, a few of the leaves fragile and splitting along the fold; withal a well-preserved copy of a fragile publication.


With the exception of framed items*, Peter Harrington offers free delivery on all UK orders of rare books, maps and prints placed through this website. Delivery to USA and the rest of the world is similarly free for orders over £200.

View Full Delivery Details



Established in 1969, Peter Harrington is one of the leading rare book firms in the world. It is a proud member of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association – along with ILAB, the PBFA and Lapada – and from shops in Mayfair and Chelsea, London, sells rare books, prints and ephemera to customers across the world.

Email: mail@peterharrington.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)20 7591 0220

ABA Antiquarian Bookseller Association ILAB International League of Antiquarian Booksellers LAPADA The Association of Art and Anatique Dealers PBFA Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association

Our Guarantee Page

Ask us a question


Contact us with details of the book you are interested in or selling and we will contact you

Sell Old Books Help me find a book