Finally, however: why should we have to say what we are and what we want and do not want so loudly and with such fervour? Let us view it more coldly, more distantly, more prudently, from a greater height; let us say it, as it is fitting it should be said between ourselves, so secretly that no one hears it, that no one hears us! Above all let us say it slowly . . . This preface is late but not too late what, after all, do five or six years matter? A book like this, a problem like this, is in no hurry; we both, I just as much as my book, are friends of lento9. It is not for nothing that I have been a philologist10, perhaps I am a philologist still, that is to say, a teacher of slow reading: in the end I also write slowly. Nowadays it is not only my habit, it is also to my taste a malicious taste, perhaps? no longer to write anything which does not reduce to despair every sort of man who is 'in a hurry'. For philology is that venerable art which demands of its votaries one thing above all: to go aside, to take time, to become still, to become slow it is a goldsmith's art and connoisseurship of the word which has nothing but delicate, cautious work to do and achieves nothing if it does not achieve it lento. But for precisely this reason it is more necessary than ever today, by precisely this means does it entice and enchant us the most, in the midst of an age of 'work', that is to say, of hurry, of indecent and perspiring haste, which wants to 'get everything done' at once, including every old or new book: this art does not so easily get anything done, it teaches to read well, that is to say, to read slowly, deeply, looking cautiously before and aft, with reservations, with doors left open, with delicate eyes and fingers . . . My patient friends, this book desires for itself only perfect readers and philologists: learn to read me well!
9. lento: "prolongation" (of time).
10. philologist: literally, "lover of words." One who studies literature, esp. of classical antiquity. Classical philology, the discipline in which Nietzsche was trained, was viewed as a Wissenschaft (a science) in the nineteenth century.