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Friedrich Nietzsche, born October 15, 1844

Nietzsche by Max Klinger

425 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 Twilight of the Idols and The Antichrist, preferably in the R. J. Hollingdale translations. The next volume should be Beyond Good and Evil, which Nietzsche described as the prose presentation of his entire worldview. I recommend the Judith Norman translation on 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 Joyful Wisdom are highly valuable, but should be saved till later. Daybreak and Human, All-Too-Human 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 just 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.

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:
Nietzsche on the Code of Manu
Nietzsche on Freedom
Nietzsche’s Critique of Modernity
Nietzsche on Conservatism

About Nietzsche:
Oswald Spengler, “Nietzsche and His Century
Alain de Benoist, “Jünger, Heidegger, and Nihilism
Michael O’Meara, “‘Only a God Can Save Us‘”
Kerry Bolton, “Nietzsche and Spengler

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  1. Posted October 15, 2010 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for this celebration of one of our greatest philosophers, Greg!

    I agree that Zarathustra is one of his worst books. Somehow people love to make things more complicated than they are.

    I would like to add one more introduction to his thought: the Nietzsche-chapters in W. G. Simpson’s Which Way Western Man?. I found them very rewarding, even after I was familiar with Nietzsche´s own writing.

    What is your opinion on Rüdiger Safranski´s philosophical biography of Nietzsche?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted October 15, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      I have not read Safranski’s Nietzsche biography, but I think the world of his Heidegger and Schopenhauer biographies.

  2. Kurwenal
    Posted October 25, 2010 at 3:44 am | Permalink

    An extremely interesting and synthetic text by Giorgio Locchi,, one of the spiritual godfathers of GRECE-Nouvelle Droite and mentor of G.Faye, A. de Benoist, R. Steuckers, S. Vaj or P.Krebs:
    “Political Expression and Repression of the Superhumanist Principle”, also known by its original title in Italian: “Essenza del Fascismo”:

    It is a summary of a longer book: “Wagner, Nietzsche and the Superhumanist Myth”:

    Wagner and Nietzsche have given birth with their artistic and philosophical corpus to a new historical paradigm, Superhumanism, a magnetic camp still in expansion and whose first political expression was “fascism” lato sensu.

    Here is the introduction Guillaume Faye wrote recently for it:

    Most of these texts are unfortunately only in Italian or French. A translation maybe by Michael O’Meara would be a nice addition to this wonderful site.

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