Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography

404 Pages · 2012 · 11.86 MB · English

  • Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography






    A P H I L O S O P H I C AL

    B I O G R A P HY

    R 0 D I G E R

    S A F R A N S KI

    T R A N S L A T ED B Y S H E L L EY F R I S CH Nietzsche

    A Philosophical Biography

    R ü d i g er Safranski


    Shelley Frisch

    Granta Books

    London Grauita Publications, 2/3 Hanover Yard, London NI 8BE

    First published in Great Britain by Granta Books 2002

    Originally published in Germany as Nietzsche. Biographie Seines Denkens

    by Cad Hanser Verlag Muenchen Wien, 2000

    Published in die US by WW. Norton & Company, Inc.» 2002

    Copyright Θ 2002 by Rüdiger Safranski

    English translation copyright © 2002 by Shelly Frisch

    Rüdiger Safranski has asserted his moral right under the Copyright,

    Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work.

    All rights reserved.

    No reproduction, copy or transmissions

    of this publication may be made without written permission.

    No paragraph of this publication may be reproduced, copied or

    transmitted save with wiillea permission or in accordance with die

    provisions of die Copyright Act 1956 (as amended). Any person

    who does any unauthorized act in relation to this publication

    may be liable to criminal prosecution and

    civil claims for damages.

    A CIP catalogue record for this book

    is available from die British Library.

    1 3 5 79 10 8 6 4 2

    ISBN 1 86207 506 9

    Printed and bound in Great Britain

    by Mackays of Chatham pic It is absolutely unnecessary, and not even desirable, for you

    to argue in my favor; on the contrary, a dose of curiosity, as

    if you were looking at an alien plant with ironic distance,

    would strike me as an incomparably more intelligent atti-

    tude toward me.

    —Nietzsche in a letter to Carl Fuchs, July 29,1888 Contents

    Translator's Preface 11

    Reference Key to Nietzsche's Writings 17

    Overture: The Drama of Disillusionment 19

    1. Inventing a Life 25

    2. Schopenhauer and die Will to Style 42

    3. The Birth of The Birth of Tragedy 59

    4· Redemption through Art 85

    5. Untimely Meditations 108

    6. The Panacea of Knowledge 133

    7. Human, All Too Human 155

    8. The Bicameral System of Culture 178

    9. Daybreak and Grand Inspiration 201

    10. Eternal Recurrence and The Gay Science 223 10 Contents

    11. Lou Salomé and the Quest for Intimacy 245

    12. Setting the Stage for The Will to Power 276

    13. The Finale in Turin 304

    Epilogue: Europe Discovers Nietzsche 317

    Chronicle of Nietzsche's Life 351

    Selected List of English Translations of Nietzsche's Works 373

    Bibliography 377

    Additional English Language Studies of Nietzsche 387

    Index 393 Translator's Preface

    1 HE GERMAN satirist Kurt Tucholsky once quipped: "Tell me

    what you need, and ITI supply you with the right Nietzsche quotation."1

    Nietzsche has proven fascinating to readers of all persuasions. Each of

    us can discover a different Nietzsche to admire and/or detest Beyond

    his many published works, Nietzsche left behind a voluminous literary

    estate (.Nachlass), from which we can now pick and choose "our"

    Nietzsche. Access to die full range of his writings was not always possi-

    ble in the past Over the course of decades, readers' choices were dic-

    tated by the censoring hand of Nietzsche's sister and literary executor,

    Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who suppressed and falsified his writings

    to assure her own prestige and finances and to secure Nietzsche's appeal

    among the radical right2 The twenty-volume edition of Nietzsche's

    works compiled under her supervision served as the standard edition

    into the middle of the twentieth century.

    1 Tucholsky, "Fräulein Nietzsche," in Gesammelte Werke, voL 10 (Hamburg:

    Rowohlt, 1960), p. 14.

    2 H. E Peters's Zarathustra's Sister {New York: Markus Wiener Publishers, 1985)

    provides a fascinating account of Elisabeth Forster-Nietzsche's manipulative

    will to power after Nietzsche's death. See also Walter Benjamin's scathing

    indictment of Förster-Nietzsche in his 1932 essay ''Nietzsche und das Archiv

    seiner Schwester," in Benjamin, Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Hella Tiedemann-

    Bartels, vol. 3 (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1972), pp. 323f£ 12 Translator's Preface

    In 1967, the Italian scholars Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari

    began publication of a groundbreaking complete critical edition of

    Nietzsche's published and unpublished works, followed by an eight-

    volume edition of his letters. These editions have allowed readers of

    German to examine all extant writings by Nietzsche, and have provided

    the foundation for subsequent Nietzsche scholarship in all parts of the


    Unfortunately, there is as yet no English counterpart to this critical

    edition of Nietzsche's works. Walter Kaufmann's English renderings of

    a series of individual texts and compilations and his influential schol-

    arly analyses represented a milestone in Anglo-American Nietzsche

    scholarship, but they predate the critical edition. Several additional

    translations by Kaufmann's collaborator R. J. Hollingdale appeared in

    the series Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. Among the

    more recent noteworthy translations of individual texts are those by

    Marion Faber, Carol Diethe, Douglas Smith, and Duncan Large.

    A promising new development in Nietzsche studies is a planned

    twenty-volume set of The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, which was

    launched under the editorship of Ernst Behler. Three volumes of this

    set (Unfashionable Observations, Human, All Too Human /, and Unpubäshed

    Fragments from the Period of Unfashionable Observations) have appeared in

    outstanding translations by Richard T. Gray and Gary Handwerk.

    Owing to Behler's untimely death, the project was on hiatus, but addi-

    tional volumes are now in preparation.

    When I first embarked on the translation of Nietzsche: A Philosophical

    Biographjy I planned to cite published English translations for the

    Nietzsche passages wherever these were available. As the project pro-

    gressed, this approach proved ill-advised for two reasons. First, the word-

    ing of the available translations too often clashed with the particular

    nuances of Rüdiger Safiranski's interpretations and therefore tended to

    detract from an understanding of the texts under discussion. Second,

    translations that predated the Colli/Montinari critical edition failed to 13 Translator's Preface

    include key passages because these passages had been expunged by

    Nietzsche's sister. In Ecce Homo, for example, Nietzsche aimed a series of

    barbs at his mother and sister, calling them a "consummate machine of

    hell" of "unfathomable vulgarity." He went so far as to decry his cher-

    ished theory of eternal recurrence because it might force him to reen-

    counter his family members (6,268; EH "Why I Am So Wise" § 3).

    Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche justified her excision of these scathing

    remarks by calling them the product of her brother's febrile delirium and

    deeming it imperative that they be destroyed before he recovered. She

    contended that her brother actually loved her dearly, citing as evidence his

    affectionate references to her as "llama," an animal featured in one of

    their favorite children's books. In fact, the book in question depicted the

    llama in downright repulsive terms: 'The llama, as a means of defense,

    squirts its spittle and half-digested fodder at its opponent."3

    Under the circumstances, I opted to provide new translations of all

    Nietzsche passages in Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography, with the single

    exception of a poem that opens the fourth book of The Cay Science, for

    which I have relied on Walter Kaufmann's felicitous rendering. To allow

    for ready access to all passages in both the German critical edition and

    any English editions, I have supplied bracketed references in the text

    that provide the volume and page of the German critical edition as well

    as the name and section number of each cited text.

    The unique publication history of The Will to Power merits separate

    attention. Although Nietzsche had planned to write a book called 'The

    Will to Power," he never did so. After Nietzsche's death, his sister and his

    friend Heinrich Köselitz, whom Nietzsche called Peter Gast, picked

    through and contrived their own selection from Nietzsche's many jot-

    tings, and published a book with this tide. The critical edition does not

    recognize this compilation as a work by Nietzsche, and restores the mate-

    3 Cited in Walter Kaufmann, Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist

    (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1974), p. 55. 14 Translator's Preface

    rials so assembled to their original fragmentary form.4 In those instances

    in which Nietzsche passages found their way into this fabricated work, I

    have noted the section number of The Will to Power for readers wishing to

    locate the corresponding passages in Kaufmann's translation.

    Rüdiger Safranski excels at the art of philosophical narration, as evi-

    denced in his earlier biographies of Schopenhauer, Heidegger, and Ε. T.

    A. Hoffmann, and amply confirmed in this latest offering on Nietzsche.

    Safranski's presentation is informed first and foremost by Nietzsche's

    thought as expressed in his published and unpublished writings, and only

    secondarily by the facts of his life, which are brought to bear where they

    shed light on Nietzsche's thinking. Nietzsche's many physical ailments,

    for example, which significandy shaped his philosophical attitudes, are

    described in fitting detail, whereas his final descent into madness and

    catatonia receives accordingly less attention. Readers in search of the

    sort of tell-all memoirs and scandalmongering that litter bookstore

    shelves will encounter only intermittent references to topics that anoth-

    er biographer of Nietzsche might have seized on—sexual proclivities,

    romantic entanglements, and graphic details of the final decade of mad-

    ness. They will find instead subtle, yet riveting, descriptions of the major

    junctures in Nietzsche's life that served to mark turning points in his

    philosophical orientation, most notably in Safranski's sensitive portrayal

    of Nietzsche's dashed hopes for a new musical era at the Bayreuth

    Festival, when it became painfully evident to him that Richard Wagner's

    fawning hypocrisy and showmanship had overshadowed the composer's

    once lofty visions of new mythology of art Nietzsche: A Philosophical

    Biography provides a sweeping panorama of the philosophical currents

    that converged in Nietzsche, from the pre-Socratic period to the mid-

    nineteenth century, and devotes a final chapter to the resonance of his

    philosophy throughout the century following his death.

    4 Karl Schlechta's edition of Nietzsche's writings, Werke in drei Bänden

    (Munich: Hanser, 1954—56), was the first to consign "The Will to Power" to

    the status of fragments from the 1880s.

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