Monday, 20 March 2017

Friedrich Nietzsche’s Typewriter

In 1881, Friedrich Nietzsche’s eyesight started failing, so he decided to buy a typewriter (then it was called a “writing ball”) to enable him to continue his writing.

Remington typewriters were available but Nietzsche wanted a simple to use and portable typewriter which would allow him to travel, when necessary, to more salubrious climates. The Malling-Hansen Writing Ball seemed to fit the bill.

In 1882, Nietzsche received his Malling-Hansen Writing Ball directly from the inventor. Unfortunately he was not satisfied with his purchase because he could not master the use of the instrument.

A number of theories have been proposed to explain why Nietzsche was unable to take advantage of his Malling-Hansen Writing Ball. According to some accounts, the instrument was damaged during a trip to Genoa. The inept mechanic who tried to repair it may have inflicted further damage.

Nietzsche immortalized his struggle with the writing ball with this verse:

“The writing ball is a thing like me: 
Made of iron yet easily twisted on journeys. 
Patience and tact are required in abundance 
As well as fine fingers to use us.”

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