Saturday, September 18, 2010

His books went unread

R. J. Hollingdale, English translator of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil:

"Like all his books from Human, All Too Human onwards, Beyond Good and
Eveil got off to a very slow start. It was written in the summer of
1885 and the winter of 1885-6, with addition during the spring of
1886, printed during June and July, and published in August under the
imprint of C.G. Naumann, of Leipzig. It was the immediate successor of
Zarathustra, the first two parts of which had been published in 1883,
and the third in 1884, by Ernst Schmeitzer, Chemnitz [...]; all three
volumes had sold very badly, and the fourth part, which should have
appeared in 1885, was spared similar embarrassment by being merely
privately printed in forty copies. Nietzsche blamed Schmeitzner for
this lack of success, and when Beyond Good and Evil was ready he
decided on the experiment of becoming his own publisher: he bore the
expense of printing the book and Naumann distributed it. His ambition
was modest enough: he hoped to cover his costs by selling 300 copies;
but by June 1887 only 114 had been sold, and this time Schmeitzner
could not be blamed. The results were, in fact, precisely what they
had been since Human, All Too Human appeared in 1878 and only 170
copies were sold in its first year: his books went unread."

Beyond Good and Evil, Penguin Kindle edition, 10% into the book.