Human, All-Too-Human: A Book for Free Spirits, Part 1 Complete Works, Volume Six

By Friedrich Nietzsche

Page 109

fetters of Franco-Greek art have been
thrown off, but unconsciously we have grown accustomed to consider all
fetters, all restrictions as senseless;--and so art moves towards its
liberation, but, in so doing, it touches--which is certainly highly
edifying--upon all the phases of its beginning, its childhood, its
incompleteness, its sometime boldness and excesses,--in perishing
it interprets its origin and growth. One of the great ones, whose
instinct may be relied on and whose theory lacked nothing but thirty
years _more_ of practice, Lord Byron, once said: that with regard to
poetry in general, the more he thought about it the more convinced
he was that one and all we are entirely on a wrong track, that we are
following an inwardly false revolutionary system, and that either our
own generation or the next will yet arrive at this same conviction.
It is the same Lord Byron who said that he "looked upon Shakespeare
as the very worst model, although the most extraordinary poet." And
does not Goethe's mature artistic insight in the second half of his
life say practically the same thing?--that insight by means of which
he made such a bound in advance of whole generations that, generally
speaking, it may be said that Goethe's influence has not yet begun,
that his time has still to come. Just because his nature held him fast
for a long time in the path of the poetical revolution, just because
he drank to the dregs of whatsoever new sources, views and expedients
had been indirectly discovered through that breaking down of tradition,
of all that had been unearthed from under the ruins of art, his later
transformation and conversion carries so much weight; it shows that
he felt the deepest longing to win back the traditions of art, and to
give in fancy the ancient perfection and completeness to the abandoned
ruins and colonnades of the temple, with the imagination of the eye at
least, should the strength of the arm be found too weak to build where
such tremendous powers were needed even to destroy. Thus he lived in
art as in the remembrance of the true art, his poetry had become an
aid to remembrance, to the understanding of old and long-departed ages
of art. With respect to the strength of the new age, his demands could
not be satisfied; but the pain this occasioned was amply balanced by
the joy that they have _been_ satisfied once, and that we ourselves can
still participate in this satisfaction. Not individuals, but more or
less ideal masks; no reality, but an allegorical generality; topical
characters, local colours toned down

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