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

Nietzsche, on the right, with friends Lou-Andreas Salomé & Paul Rée in 1882.

683 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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4 Comments

  1. Steve-O
    Posted October 15, 2018 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    Greg: none of the translations you recommend are by Walter Kaufman. Are his translations to be avoided?

    • Posted October 17, 2018 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Can’t speak for Greg but one would assume WK absence is deliberate … me own take is to avoid WK. I floundered about with Friedrich for a few years in the WK pb mode wondering what all the fuss was about. Sounds juvenile! Then i encountered Hollingdale (Cambridge) and Bam!

      Cambridge editions are uniformly reliable go-t0. (aside: avoid Oxford in general they got cucked about the same time as the BBC in the 80s). And if you’re on a Dover Thrift or public domain level budget i will risk a good word, though unpopular, for the jewess Helen Zimmern, at least her translation of BG&E I found far more readable than WK. I might not stand by this upon another reading.. anyway I’d trust Greg’s expertise and start with his outline, sticking with RJ

      • Steve-O
        Posted October 19, 2018 at 5:42 am | Permalink

        Cool, thanks for the feedback!

  2. Owlspotted
    Posted October 15, 2018 at 7:05 am | Permalink

    These “birthday bash” articles would be a good replacement for undergraduate degrees in the humanities; when you can make sense of x amount of the articles listed, you graduate. As such, it’s important that we discover the true birthdays of Plato and Aristotle, that they may be included in the curriculum.

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