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

717 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. Sandy
    Posted October 15, 2019 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    Having almost finished reading Michael Hoffman’s “Adolf Hitler Enemy of the German People” I can say I am quite impeded in the way that the author slotted Nietzsche into his time. Hopefully some scholar among us more familiar with the topic than I will review the book and throw some more light on an interesting character/s.

  2. Arthur Konrad
    Posted October 15, 2019 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I would recommend Lawrence Hatab’s “Nietzsche’s Life Sentence: Coming to Terms with Eternal Recurrence” for those new to Nietzsche’s thought too. It patiently dispels the notion that Nietzsche’s core ideas are just “thought experiments”, as opposed to being fundamental philosophical questions intended to make possible the distinction of rank among philosophers.

  3. Harold Annen
    Posted October 15, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

    Heed Dr. Johnson with regard to translators. Nietzsche is considered one of the two greatest prose stylists of the German language (along with Goethe). If you don’t feel something while reading Nietzsche, it’s probably a bad translation. If you’re reading the right essay, you should at least have a few chuckles.

  4. Anonymous
    Posted October 15, 2019 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    “Nietzsche may be regarded as one of our prophets…” — Aleister Crowley (Magick Without Tears)

    http://www.thelemapedia.org/index.php/Friedrich_Nietzsche

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