Danish Critic and+ Scholar
Georg Brandes, fully Georg Morris Cohen Brandes
Danish Critic and+ Scholar
Any feeling that I was enriching my mind from those surrounding me was unfortunately rare with me.
I admired in others the strength that I lacked myself.
It is not with this idea of immediately resigning his personality again that the young man in our day desires to become himself and seeks an educator. He will not have a dogma set up before him, at which he is expected to arrive.
Six hours a day I lived under school discipline in active intercourse with people none of whom were known to those at home, and the other hours of the twenty-four I spent at home, or with relatives of the people at home, none of whom were known to anybody at school.
Under the dominion of the priests our earth became the ascetic planet; a squalid den careering through space, peopled by discontented and arrogant creatures, who were disgusted with life, abhorred their globe as a vale of tears, and who in their envy and hatred of beauty and joy did themselves as much harm as possible.
Being gifted needs courage.
I became an ardent, but never a specially good, dancer.
It was jolly in the country. A cow and little pigs to play with and milk warm from the cow.
That a literature in our time is living is shown in that way that it debates problems.
We had in Denmark a great man who with impressive force exhorted his contemporaries to become individuals. But Søren Kierkegaard’s appeal was not intended to be taken so unconditionally as it sounded. For the goal was fixed. They were to become individuals, not in order to develop into free personalities, but in order by this means to become true Christians. Their freedom was only apparent; above them was suspended a “Thou shalt believe!” and a “Thou shalt obey!” Even as individuals they had a halter round their necks, and on the farther side of the narrow passage of individualism, through which the herd was driven, the herd awaited them again one flock, one shepherd.
Birth was something that came quite unexpectedly, and afterwards there was one child more in the house.
I came into the world two months too soon, I was in such a hurry.
Just about this time, when in imagination I was so great a warrior, I had good use in real life for more strength, as I was no longer taken to school by the nurse, but instead had myself to protect my brother, two years my junior.
The ascetic priest … keeps the whole herd of dejected, faint-hearted, despairing and unsuccessful creatures fast to life. The very fact that he himself is sick makes him their born herdsman. If he were healthy, he would turn away with loathing from all this eagerness to re-label weakness, envy, Pharisaism and false morality as virtue. But, being himself sick, he is called upon to be an attendant in the great hospital of sinners the Church. He … teaches the patient that the guilty cause of his pain is himself. Thus he diverts the rancour of the abortive man and makes him less harmful, by letting a great part of his resentment recoil on himself. …He mitigates suffering and invents consolations of every kind, both narcotics and stimulants.
We lived in the country ourselves, for that matter, out in the western suburb, near the Black Horse (as later during the cholera Summer), or along the old King's Road, where there were beautiful large gardens.
But I did not find any positive inspiration in my studies until I approached my nineteenth year.
I did not know what it was to be happy for a whole day at a time, scarcely for an hour.
My father, though, could run very much faster. It was impossible to compete with him on the grass. But it was astonishing how slow old people were. Some of them could not run up a hill and called it trying to climb stairs.
The Culture-Philistine … everywhere meets with educated people of his own sort, and since schools, universities and academies are adapted to his requirements and fashioned on the model corresponding to his cultivation. Since he finds almost everywhere the same tacit conventions with respect to religion, morality and literature, with respect to marriage, the family, the community and the state, he considers it demonstrated that this imposing homogeneity is culture. It never enters his head that this systematic and well-organised philistinism, which is set up in all high places and installed at every editorial desk, is not by any means made culture just because its organs are in concert. It is not even bad culture, says Nietzsche; it is barbarism fortified to the best of its ability, but entirely lacking the freshness and savage force of original barbarism; and he has many graphic expressions to describe Culture-Philistinism as the morass in which all weariness is stuck fast, and in the poisonous mists of which all endeavor languishes.
We need only think of the number of talented men who sooner or later make their apologies and concessions to philistinism, so as to be permitted to exist.
But my doubt would not be overcome. Kierkegaard had declared that it was only to the consciousness of sin that Christianity was not horror or madness. For me it was sometimes both.
I encountered among my comrades the most varied human traits, from frankness to reserve, from goodness, uprightness and kindness, to brutality and baseness.
My first experiences of academic friendship made me smile in after years when I looked back on them. But my circle of acquaintances had gradually grown so large that it was only natural new friendships should grow out of it.
The Danish glee: the national version of cheerfulness.
What [Nietzsche] calls slave morality is to him purely spite-morality; and this spite-morality gave new names to all ideals. Thus impotence, which offers no reprisal, became goodness; craven baseness became humility; submission to him who was feared became obedience; inability to assert one’s self became reluctance to assert one’s self, became forgiveness, love of one’s enemies. Misery became a distinction