4 eyes are opened wider and are more intent on the prospect toward which everything seems to lead. I write this for you, the refractory and rebellious who are tired of all slavery. I write this for you, who feel that you have reached maturity and no longer want to be treated as a child, not even by fate. I write this for you, the proud and the evil; yes, for the wantonly wicked who despises the meek and the just. I write this also for you, the earnestly good who wants to love his enemy, but cannot. The complaisant and contented, the adjusters and compromisers, the advocates and flatters of God, those who shun anxiety and stop their ears against too blatant a truth - they had better read something else; there are plenty of pleasant and entertaining books for amusement. And the slaves of reason, who tread in a circle around their stake as far as the cord of their logic reaches, they too cannot be my readers. Only he who has overcome the word, who has forsaken the idolatry of the "true word" - he can read me with profit and understanding. Listen, then: I am an old man proclaiming the glory of a new era. I am lonely and forsaken, but nevertheless I have a share in the great human world and the life of the gods. I sit here serenely in my sombre, cool, old house, with its musty odor of old wood and memories of past generations. I look out upon the harbor and I hear the continuous murmur of the sea-breeze in the tall elms on the dike, and the screams of the gulls speaking of the vast and briny life of the sea. And yet, in the solitude of this quiet, forgotten life, I feel that I am mightier than the mightiest, a match for fate. I rule life; it shall bow to my wishes. I wrestle with the gods, even to the Most High. Sometimes I tremble, when a careless glance, with some semblance of deeper import, from one of the persons about me makes me think that a spark of this seething life within me has been discovered. But no one sees it, happily, nor knows me! Had I told you this, (is it not so, dear reader, though you be ever so
5 wise?), and I came not in a fiery chariot with a halo of glory and in dazzling raiment, but in my citizen's clothes, then after all you would undoubtedly have shrugged your shoulders and taken me for a poor fool. But now I am a rich sage, because I write and hold my peace. You are still a person, dear reader, but I have gone a step beyond - I am dead and no longer a person. Now, now while you are reading this. In this now, that is also now for me. I am no person, but more than that, and therefore can say to you what, from any person, would annoy you. For you there is left only a still, small book, that meekly submits to being closed up and laid aside - and then again, as patiently as ever, resumes its tranquil message, when opened. II My parents were Italian aristocrats and my childhood days in the paternal home in Milan and our country estate near Como loom up vaguely before me in pictures half memories, half dreams. I cannot clearly distinguish what is purely memory and what a dream, or dream-memory, of these olden days. Memory is like tradition; one does not remember the first impression, but only the memory of it, and who knows how much that was already distorted; and so the picture changes from year to year, like a vaguely-told tale. My childhood days fell towards the middle of the nineteenth century. It was my time of luxury and state. Our home was a palace with a pillared courtyard, wide stairway of stone with statuary, and a marble dolphin spouting water. We had carriages and servants and I wore velvet suits with wide lace collars and colored silk ties. I remember my father at the time as a tall, dark, proud man, most fastidiously groomed and dressed. He had shiny black whiskers and long, thick, wavy and glossy hair that fell over his forehead with an artful curl. He wore tight trousers with gaiters and patent leather shoes that always creaked softly. He had a calm but very decided manner, and impressed me immensely by his gentle way of giving orders and the confidence with which he could make himself obeyed. Only my mother resisted him with a power equally unshakable and equally restrained. As a child I saw this conflict daily and, without appearing to do so or being myself quite conscious of it, gave it much thought.