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Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography

404 Pages · 2012 · 11.86 MB · English

  • Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography

    "[SAFRANSKII PROVIDES AN IDEAL COMPANION. .. .


    THE MOST USEFUL AND INFORMATIVE STUDY OF


    NIETZSCHE FOR THE GENERAL READER."


    —CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR


    N I ETZSC H E


    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


    TRANSI. ATED BY


    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


    world.


    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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