Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten).

The Wanderer and his Shadow, the second supplement to Human, All Too Human, first published in 1880.


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THE WANDERER AND HIS SHADOW.  The Shadow: It is so long since I heard you speak that I should like to give you an opportunity of talking.  The Wanderer: I hear a voice — where?  whose?  I almost fancied that I heard myself speaking, but with a voice yet weaker than my own.  The Shadow (after a pause): Are you not glad to have an opportunity of speaking?  The Wanderer: By God and everything else in which I disbelieve, it is my shadow that speaks.  I hear it, but I do not believe it.  The Shadow: Let us assume that it exists, and think no more about it.  In another hour all will be over.  The Wanderer: That is just what I thought when in a forest near Pisa I saw first two and then five camels.  The Shadow: It is all the better if we are both equally forbearing towards each other when for once our reason is silent.  Thus we shall avoid losing our tempers in conversation, and shall not at once apply mutual thumb screws in the event of any word sounding for once unintelligible to us.  If one does not know exactly how to answer, it is enough to say something.  Those are the reasonable terms on which I hold conversation with any person.  During a long talk the wisest of men becomes a fool once and a simpleton thrice.  The Wanderer: Your moderation is not flattering to those to whom you confess it.  The Shadow: Am I, then, to flatter?  The Wanderer: I thought a man's shadow was his vanity.  Surely vanity would never say, "Am I, then, to flatter?"  The Shadow: Nor does human vanity, so far as I am acquainted with it, ask, as I have done twice, whether it may speak.  It simply speaks.  The Wanderer: Now I see for the first time how rude I am to you, my beloved shadow.  I have not said a word of my supreme delight in hearing and not merely seeing you.  You must know that I love shadows even as I love light.  For the existence of beauty of face, clearness of speech, kindliness and firmness of character, the shadow is as necessary as the light They are not opponents — rather do they hold each other's hands like good friends; and when the light vanishes, the shadow glides after it.  The Shadow: Yes, and I hate the same thing that you hate — night.  I love men because they are votaries of life.  I rejoice in the gleam of their eyes when they recognise and discover, they who never weary of recognising and discovering.  That shadow which all things cast when the sunshine of knowledge falls upon them — that shadow too am I.  The Wanderer: I think I understand you, although you have expressed yourself in somewhat shadowy terms.  You are right.  Good friends give to each other here and there, as a sign of mutual understanding, an obscure phrase which to any third party is meant to be a riddle.  And we are good friends, you and I.  So enough of preambles!  Some few hundred questions oppress my soul, and the time for you to answer them is perchance but short.  Let us see how we may come to an understanding as quickly and peaceably as possible.  The Shadow: But shadows are more shy than men.  You will not reveal to any man the manner of our conversation?  The Wanderer: The manner of our conversation?  Heaven preserve me from wire drawn, literary dialogues!  If Plato had found less pleasure in spinning them out, his readers would have found more pleasure in Plato.  A dialogue that in real life is a source of delight, when turned into writing and read, is a picture with nothing but false perspectives.  Everything is too long or too short.  Yet perhaps I may reveal the points on which we have come to an understanding?  The Shadow: With that I am content.  For everyone will only recognise your views once more, and no one will think of the shadow.  The Wanderer: Perhaps you are wrong, my friend!  Hitherto they have observed in my views more of the shadow than of me.  The Shadow: More of the shadow than of the light?  Is that possible?  The Wanderer: Be serious, dear fool!  My very first question demands seriousness.  

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