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Remembering Friedrich Nietzsche:
October 15, 1844–August 25, 1900

Friedrich+Nietzsche+Gravestone+art+museum662 words

Friedrich Nietzsche was born this day in 1844 in the small town of Röcken, near Leipzig, Saxony, in the Kingdom of Prussia. He died in August 25, 1900, in Weimar, Saxony, in the Second German Reich. The outlines of Nietzsche’s life are readily available online.

Nietzsche is one of the most important philosophers of the North American New Right because of his contributions to the philosophy of history, culture, and religion.

If you are thinking of reading Nietzsche’s works, the best introductions are The Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ, preferably in the R. J. Hollingdale translations. The next volume should be Beyond Good and Evil: Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future, which Nietzsche described as the prose presentation of his entire worldview. I recommend the Judith Norman translation from Cambridge University Press.

Thus Spake Zarathustra is Nietzsche’s poetic presentation of his philosophy, but it should be saved for later. It is the worst possible introduction to Nietzsche. It has been many people’s first Nietzsche book, and for all too many it has been their last.

Such Nietzsche books as On the Genealogy of Morals, The Birth of Tragedy, Untimely Meditations, and The Gay Science are highly valuable, but should be saved till later. Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality and Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits are products of a brief flirtation with certain Enlightenment ideas and are thus quite misleading as introductions. Ecce Homo, The Case of Wagner, and Nietzsche Contra Wagner should be saved for last. As a rule, the Cambridge University Press translations of Nietzsche should be preferred.

The introductory books on Nietzsche are mostly disappointing. I do recommend H. L. Mencken’s The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. Julian Young’s Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Art and Nietzsche’s Philosophy of Religion are very clear and exciting books that examine the development of Nietzsche’s ideas throughout his career. Because of the importance of art and religion to Nietzsche, they serve as excellent overviews of his philosophy. Young has also published an important biography, Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography, which combines overviews of Nietzsche’s life and works in a single volume. Although it is a long book, it is well worth the investment of time. (I recommend it despite the fact that Young has been accused of plagiarizing another biography of Nietzsche. Young’s “crime” strikes me as simply an editorial mistake. It is certainly not plagiarism of the kind practiced by Alan Dershowitz or Martin Luther King.)

Nietzsche is probably the author most often tagged on this website.

Here are the main works we have published by and about Nietzsche:

By Nietzsche:

About Nietzsche:

 

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3 Comments

  1. Nestor
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

    My own suggested reading list would be a tad different, because I find that Nietzsche’s thought develops very chronologically. His writings are so sequential in their development that one could almost consider them a single work. Already in Daybreak he is beginning the process of revaluating values. Therefore, I would advice this sequence:

    Daybreak (aka Dawn)
    The Gay Science I-IV
    Also Sprach Zarathustra
    The Gay Science V
    Beyond Good and Evil
    The Genealogy of Morals
    Twilight of the Idols
    The Anti-Christ
    Ecce Homo

    and as a follow up, or coda, I would very much recommend The Will to Power, that collection of notes in which Nietzsche often expresses his ideas more forcefully, if less elegantly, than in his published works.

  2. Posted October 15, 2017 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

    Some years back, I visited Nietzsche’s childhood home (and his father’s adjacent church) in Röcken, which is now a rather depressed town quite close to a freeway, as well as the Nietzsche-Haus in beautiful Sils Maria, Switzerland. After visiting the latter, I was resolute in finding the small Zarathustra Stone along Lake Silvaplana in Switzerland. All three locations felt like a grand pilgrimage.

  3. DexterC
    Posted October 15, 2017 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

    I have two hours budgeted to get some kind of idea what Nietszche was talking about.

    What should I read? Or is it better to give up now?

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