Preface to the Second Edition.
PERHAPS more than one preface would be necessary for this book; and after all it might still be doubtful whether any one could be brought nearer to the experiences in it by means of prefaces, without having himself experienced something similar. It seems to be written in the language of the thawing-wind : there is wantonness, restlessness, contra diction and April-weather in it; so that one is as constantly reminded of the proximity of winter as of the victory over it : the victory which is coming, which must come, which has perhaps already come. . . . Gratitude continually flows forth, as if the most unexpected thing had happened, the gratitude of a convalescent for convalescence was this most unexpected thing. "Joyful Wisdom": that implies the Saturnalia of a spirit which has patiently withstood a long, frightful pressure patiently, strenuously, impassionately, without submitting, but without hope and which is now suddenly overpowered with hope, the hope of health, the intoxication of convalescence. What wonder that much that is unreasonable and foolish thereby comes to light : much wanton tenderness expended even on problems which have a prickly hide, and are not therefore fit to be fondled and allured. The whole book is really nothing but a revel after long privation and impotence : the frolicking of returning energy, of newly awakened belief in a tomorrow and after-tomorrow; of sudden sentience and prescience of a future, of near adventures, of seas open once more, and aims once more permitted and believed in. And what was now all behind me! This track of desert, exhaustion, unbelief, and frigidity in the midst of youth, this advent of grey hairs at the wrong time, this tyranny of pain, surpassed, however, by the tyranny of pride which repudiated the consequences of pain and consequences are comforts, this radical isolation, as defence against the contempt of mankind become morbidly clairvoyant, this restriction upon principle to all that is bitter, sharp, and painful in knowledge, as prescribed by the disgust which had gradually resulted from imprudent spiritual diet and pampering, it is called Romanticism, oh, who could realise all those feelings of mine! He, however, who could do so would certainly forgive me everything, and more than a little folly, boisterousness and "Joyful Wisdom" for example, the handful of songs which are given along with the book on this occasion, songs in which a poet makes merry over all poets in a way not easily pardoned. Alas, it is not only on the poets and their fine "lyrical sentiments" that this reconvalescent must vent his malignity : who knows what kind of victim he seeks, what kind of monster of material for parody will allure him ere long?
Incipit tragcedia, it is said at the conclusion of this seriously frivolous book; let people be on their guard! Something or other extraordinarily bad and wicked announces itself: incipit parodia, there is no doubt...