“I know my fate. One day my name will be associated with the memory of something tremendous-a crisis without equal on earth, the most profound collision of conscience, a decision that was conjured up against everything that had been believed, demanded, hallowed so far. I am no man, I am dynamite.” 1
Friedrich Nietzsche's (1844-1900) influence on the present age is all pervasive. In 1955, Martin Heidegger wrote, it is “Nietzsche, in whose light and shadow all of us today, with our ‘for him’ or ‘against him’ are thinking and writing…” 2 This is even more evident today. Stanley Rosen has called him the most influential philosopher in the western world; and for Charles Taylor, all contemporary philosophy is neo-Nietzschean.
This influence is reflected in the enormous secondary literature about Nietzsche. The International Nietzsche Bibliography, published in 1968, listed over 4,500 entries in 27 languages; since then more than 3,000 books on Nietzsche have been published. The Weimarer Nietzsche-Bibliographie, published 2000-2002, includes over 20,000 entries in 42 languages.
Initially, Nietzsche’s influence was primarily literary and artistic. Thomas Mann, Herman Hesse, André Gide, William Butler Yeats, Rainer Maria Rilke, George Bernard Shaw, Eugene O’Neill, August Strindberg, to name but a few, were all influenced by him. Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud admired him. Freud stated “that he had a more penetrating knowledge of himself than any man who ever lived or was likely to live.” 3 And Freud stopped reading him because he feared Nietzsche had anticipated many of his own ideas. Interest in Nietzsche as a philosopher, however, only became widespread after World War II. Although important works about him were published in the thirties by the German philosophers Karl Jaspers, Max Scheler, and Karl Löwith, their influence was limited by the rise of Nazism. It was Martin Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche from the 1930’s and 1940’s, but published only in 1961, that was decisive in developing interest in Nietzsche as a philosopher. Heidegger's interpretation shaped the image of Nietzsche in Europe until the 1970’s, when it was challenged in France in what has become known as “the new Nietzsche” or “the French Nietzsche.” Like Heidegger in Europe, Walter Kaufman’s interpretation of Nietzsche, in Nietzsche:Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (1950), as well as his many translations of Nietzsche, and their accompanying introductions and commentary, determined how Nietzsche was understood in North America up to the 1970’s. 4
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More than any other philosopher, Nietzsche has been read in vastly different and contradictory ways. He has been appropriated by both the right and the left; read as a fascist and a socialist, a conservative and a revolutionary, a religious thinker and an atheist. And interpretations of him continue to multiply. “Thus the contemporary world is characterized by apparently mutually incompatible claims as to whose Nietzsche is the ‘true’ Nietzsche.” 5
Ironically, one difficulty with understanding Nietzsche is that he is too easy to read. Readers are easily carried away by his brilliant style, by the way he dramatizes and personalizes ideas, and by his passionate intensity. Nietzsche cautioned, with little effect, against reading him quickly: he wrote, I am “a teacher of slow reading… Nowadays it is not only my habit, it is also to my taste…no longer to write anything which does not reduce to despair every sort of man who is ‘in a hurry.’…it is more necessary than ever today…in the midst of an age of ‘work’, that is to say of hurry…which wants to ‘get everything done’ at once…learn to read me well!” 6
The biggest obstacle, however, to understanding Nietzsche is that his ideas were never systematically developed (he distrusted all systems), but are scattered thoughout his writings and often seem to contradict each other. As Jaspers writes, “For nearly every single one of Nietzsche’s judgments, one can find an opposite. He gives the impression of having two opinions about everything. Consequently it is possible to quote Nietzsche at will in support of anything one happens to have in mind.” 7 Add to that, Nietzsche’s exaggerated rhetoric, “exaggeration or hyperbole [is the] single most pervasive feature of his writing…” 8 and the result are texts with seemingly endless possible meanings and interpretations.
Consequently, any interpretation of Nietzsche needs to confront the problem of Nietzsche’s many contradictory views. Many have tried to harmonize these contradictions by organizing Nietzsche’s work around a central idea. For Ernst Behler, whether Nietzsche’s thought can be systematized is the “central question that perhaps every interpretation of Nietzsche must raise; namely, whether the philosopher’s aphoristic and fragmentary text, which apparently rejects final principles and systematic coherence, nevertheless can be read in the style of traditional metaphysics.” 9 The attempt to systematize Nietzsche’s thought is best exemplified by Heidegger, who based his interpretation of Nietzsche on the idea of the will to power (as do Schacht and Kaufmann, although their interpretations are vastly different). Other scholars have tried to organized Nietzsche’s thought around nihilism (Danto), or eternal recurrence (Lowith, Magnus).
The French Nietzscheans, e.g., Foucault, Derrida, Kofman, Deleuze, and their followers, by contrast, tend to resist this effort to unify his thought, arguing that Nietzsche’s shifting meanings and contradictions resist systematization. “[M]uch of the French work on Nietzsche can be seen as a refutation of Heidegger’s [metaphysical] interpretation by insisting on the metaphorical character of Nietzsche’s writings, his style, his irony, and his masks.” 10 How Nietzsche writes, his use of aphorisms, metaphors, and wide range of literary styles is seen as important as what he writes about. Nietzsche’s style is not seen as obscuring or concealing his meaning, as has often been argued, but as inseparable from and expressive of it. Nietzsche’s style expresses, in an important way, his philosophy. For example, Alexander Nehamas argues that Nietzsche “depends on many styles in order to suggest that there is no single, neutral language in which his views, or any others can ever be presented.” 11
Yet, I would argue, there is a unity or a narrative to Nietzsche’s thought. Central to his thinking is the idea of the “death of God” and the impending cultural catastrophe, which he called nihilism, that is its consequence. Nietzsche devoted much of his life to thinking through the consequences of “this greatest event in history.” As Löwith argues, “Nietzsche’s actual thought is a…system, at the beginning of which stands the death of God…the ensuing nihilism, and at its end the self-surmounting of nihilism in eternal recurrence.” 12
The problem for Nietzsche, and one that exemplifies the contradictory character of his thought, is that although he argues that belief in God has devalued this world, the death of God leads to the belief that life is meaningless. As Walter Kaufmann writes, “To escape nihilism-which…involved both asserting the existence of God and thus robbing this world of ultimate significance, and also in denying God and thus robbing everything of meaning and value-that is Nietzsche’s greatest and most persistent problem.” 13
The Nietzsche Archive
The New York Public Library has facsimiles of all of Nietzsche’s papers (except the letters) held in the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar, Germany. These unpublished papers are usually referred to as Nietzsche’s Nachlass. There are 45 bound volumes. Volumes 1-5 contain the manuscripts for his published works; volumes 6-8 Nietzsche’s lecture notes; volumes 9-32 philosophical notebooks; volumes 33-42 memoranda; volumes 43-45 musical compositions. *KF 2000 (Nietzsche, F. Fotokopien aus dem Nietzsche-Archiv)
As Linda Williams describes it, the “Nachlass can be divided roughly into three different kinds of work. The first…comprises the works Nietzsche was editing right before his collapse. These works are Ecce Homo, Nietzsche Contra Wagner, and The Antichrist…The second…are Nietzsche’s early, finished pieces that were never published, the so called Schriften-primarily his lectures and writings while he was employed at Basel…The third…consists of Nietzsche’s notes. These notes vary from near essay length and form, to extremely sketchy outlines of various projects, to single sentences or sentence fragments…there are passages lined out, words jotted in the margins, and some overwriting.” 14
Although the Kritische Gesamtausgabe: Werke by Colli and Montinari contains more of Nietzsche’s Nachlass than any previous edition of Nietzsche’s works, there is still much that is not included. Bernd Magnus estimates that “there is perhaps as much as 25% more material-excluding Nietzsche’s letters, letters to him, and personal effects—than exists in even the very best edition of Nietzsche’s works, the monumental Colli-Montinari edition…The reasons for this…may include the following facts…Montinari, often did not produce the pages and the notations Nietzsche himself crossed out in his handwritten manuscripts…Montinari…excluded…matters he considered ‘personal’…and many editors have excluded all marginalia…” 15
Scholars have taken four basic positions towards the Nachlass. For Martin Heidegger, the Nachlass is where Nietzsche’s true philosophy is to be found. “What Nietzsche himself published during his creative life was always foreground…His philosophy proper was left behind as posthumous, unpublished work.” 16 On the other hand, R.J. Hollingdale argued that the notes in the Nachlass that were never incorporated into the published works, were ideas Nietzsche rejected, as should we. There are other scholars, like Karl Jaspers, Arthur Danto, and Richard Schacht, who use both the published and unpublished material without differentiating between them, not seeing a problem in giving equal weight to writings that were never published. That is not a problem for material that appeared in the published writings with only minor revision. But “writings that did not find their way into publication in any form are problematic. Are they rough drafts of some future work which Nietzsche was unable to complete due to his illness…Are they ideas that Nietzsche entertained but ultimately rejected? If so, we should not place them on par with the ideas in his published works.” 17
Lastly, there is the position of scholars like Bernd Magnus, and Linda Williams who take the “position of carefully differentiating between the two sets of writings….[and] treat the Nachlass entries as thought experiments…they do not advise ignoring the Nachlass entries altogether, but they also do not treat the entries with the same degree of confidence as the works Nietzsche authorized for publication.” 18
How much importance is given to the Nachlass has consequences on how Nietzsche is interpreted. For example, it can lead to differences “over the importance of the concept of the will to power (which is mentioned rarely in published works) and the cosmological version of the doctrine of eternal recurrence (which appears only in unpublished works).” 19
History of the Nietzsche Archive
Hoffmann, David Marc. Zur Geschichte des Nietzsche-Archivs. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1991) JFD 92-1543
Considered the best history of the Nietzsche Archive.
Bibliothek Nietzsches (S) *Z-9994
This is the microfilm of the approximately 900 books in Nietzsche’s library. About 170 of the books are annotated, many heavily, by Nietzsche. It should be noted “less than half of the books he read are…found in his library.” Thomas Brobjer, p. 680 (see below).
Bibliothek Nietzsches: Verzeichnis in systematishcher Anordnung nach Oehler. (Weimar: Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek, 1997) (S) *Z-9994+ [Index]
A one-volume index to the microfilm of Nietzsche’s library. (This index is also on microfilm.) Titles are arranged by subject, author, and by the call numbers used at the Herzogin Anna Amalia Bibliothek in Weimar.
Brobjer, Thomas H. “Nietzsche’s Reading and Private Library, 1885-1889.” Journal of the History of Ideas 58.4 (1997) 663-680 *ZAN-4694 also available on the database, Project Muse
This is a study of what Nietzsche read, his reading habits, and the books he owned. Brobjer thinks it’s important to know both what Nietzsche read and the annotations he made in his books.
Campioni, Giuliano et al. Nietzsches persönliche Bibliothek. (Berlin; New York: W. de Gruyter, 2003). (S) *Z-9994+ [Notation Guide]
This study attempts to reconstruct all the books that were in Nietzsche’s library, many of which no longer exist. Also, it lists the pages, in the books Nietzsche owned, where he underlined passages or wrote comments in the margins. (A valuable aid when using the microfilm of Nietzsche’s library.)
Collected Editions in German
Kritische Gesamtausgabe: Werke. ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari. 40 vols., (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1967- ) L -11 2506
The Colli-Montinari edition supersedes all earlier Nietzsche editions. Forty of the projected fifty volumes have been published.
It is also available electronically through Past Masters, a database available on our Selected Electronic Resources. This makes possible word and phrase searches of Nietzsche’s complete works.
Kritische Gesamtausgabe: Briefwechsel. ed. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari. 24 vols., (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1975-84) JFL 75-286 Also available, in part, electronically, through Past Masters on our Selected Electronic Resources.
This edition supersedes all earlier editions.
Der musikalische Nachlass. ed. Curt Paul Janz. (Basel: Bärenreiter, 1976). JMG 77-297
Nietzsche’s Published Works in English
The following are English translations of books that Nietzsche published or intended to publish. It does not list all the English translations of Nietzsche.
Complete Works. ed. Oscar Levy. (New York: Russell & Russell, 1964) D-1 2617
Walter Kaufmann wrote, “ These translations…are thoroughly unreliable. None of the translators were philosophers, few were scholars…” Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, p. 486.
Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche. ed. Bernd Magnus. (20 vols., (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995 onwards).
Three volumes have appeared to date in what will be the first complete, critical, and annotated English translation of all of Nietzsche’s published work and selected notebooks. This will correspond with the Kritische Studienausgabe (KSA), which is a shorten version of Kritische Gesamtausgabe: Werke.
The Antichrist (Der Antichrist, 1888). trans. Walter Kaufmann in The Portable Nietzsche (New York: Penguin, 1982). JFD 02-3631
Beyond Good and Evil (Jenseits von Gut und Böse, 1886). trans. Walter Kaufmann. (New York: Vintage, 1966). JFD 00-11292
Birth of Tragedy (Die Geburt der Tragödie, 1872). trans. Walter Kaufmann. (New York: Vintage, 1966). JFC 00-1638
The Case of Wagner (Der Fall Wagner, 1888). trans. Walter Kaufmann, with The Birth of Tragedy (New York: Vintage, 1966). JFC 00-1638
David Strauss, the Confessor and the Writer (David Strauss der Bekenner und der Schriftsteller, 1873). trans. R.J. Hollingdale in Untimely Meditations (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983). JFD 84-1883
Daybreak: Thoughts on the Prejudices of Morality (Morganröthe, 1881). trans. R.J. Hollingdale. (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1982). JFD 83-3580
Dithyrambs of Dionysus (Dionysos-Dithyramben, 1892). Bilingual ed., trans. R.J. Hollingdale. (London: Anvil Press Poetry, 1984). JFL 79-247 no. 16
Ecce Homo (Ecce Homo, completed 1888, first published 1908) with On the Genealogy of Morals. (New York: Vintage, 1967). trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale (New York: Penguin, 1979). JFD 00-19363
The Gay Science (Die fröhliche Wissenschaft, Books I-IV, 1882; second edition with preface and Book V, 1887). trans. Walter Kaufmann. (New York: Vintage, 1974). JFD 74-7467
Human, All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches, first volume, 1878; first part of second volume Assorted Opinions and Maxims, 1879; second part of second volume, The Wanderer and His Shadow, 1880). trans. R.J. Hollingdale. 2 vols. in 1, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). JFD 86-8517
Nietzsche contra Wagner (Nietzsche contra Wagner, completed 1888, first published 1895). trans. Walter Kaufmann in The Portable Nietzsche. JFD 02-3631
On the Genealogy of Morals (Zur Genealogie der Moral, 1887). trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. (New York: Vintage, 1967). JFD 00-19363
On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life (Von Nutzen und Nachteil der Historie für das Leben, 1874). trans. R.J. Hollingdale in Untimely Meditations (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983). JFD 84-1883
Richard Wagner in Bayreuth (Richard Wagner in Bayreuth, 1876). trans. R.J. Hollingdale in Untimely Meditations. JFD 84-1883
Schopenhauer as Educator (Schopenhauer als Erzeiher, 1874). trans. R.J. Hollingdale in Untimely Meditations JFD 84-1883
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Also Sprach Zarathustra, Parts I and II, 1883; Part III, 1884; Part IV, 1885). trans. Walter Kaufmann. in The Portable Nietzsche. JFD 02-3631
Twilight of the Idols (Götzen-Dämmerung, 1889). trans. Walter Kaufmann in The Portable Nietzsche. JFD 02-3631
Untimely Meditations (Unzeitgemässe Betrachtungen, 1873-76). trans. R.J. Hollingdale (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983). JFD 84-1883
Nietzsche’s Unpublished Works in English
The following are English translations of Nietzsche’s unpublished works.
“The Birth of Tragic Thought.” (Die Geburt des tragischen Gedankens). trans. Ursula Bernis, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal 9, no. 2, Fall 1983, 3-15. JFL 94-647
“The Dionysian Worldview.” (Die dionysische Weltanschauung). trans. Claudia Crawford, Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 13, 1997, 81-97. JFL 01-623
“Fate and History.” (Fatum und Geschichte). trans. George J. Stack, Philosophy Today 37, 2, 1993, 154-156. *ZAN-4425
“Freedom of the Will and Fate.” (Freiheit des Willens und Fatum). trans. George J. Stack, Philosophy Today, 37, 2, 1993, 156-158. *ZAN-4425
Friedrich Nietzsche on Rhetoric and Language. ed. and trans. Sander L. Gilman, Carole Blair, and David J. Parent. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989). JFD 00-11179
“My Life.” (Mein Leben). trans. R.J. Hollingdale, Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 3, 1992, 5-9. JFL 01-623
“On Moods.” (Über Stimmungen). trans. Graham Parkes in Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 2, 1991, 5-11. JFL 01-623
“On Music and Words.” (Über Musik und Wort). trans. Walter Kaufmann, in Carl Dahlhaus, Between Romanticism and Modernism: Four Studies in the Music of the Later 19th Century. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980) 106-19. JMD 81-43
“On Schopenhauer.” (Zu Schopenhauer). trans. Christopher Janaway in Willing and Nothingness: Schopenhauer as Nietzsche’s Educator. ed. Christopher Janaway. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) 258-265. JFE 99-2530
“On the Future of Our Educational Institutions.” (Über die Zukunft unserer Bildungsanstalten). trans. Michael W. Grenke. (South Bend, Ind: St. Augustine’s Press, 2004) JFE 04-10757
“On the Relationship of Alcibiades Speech to the Other Speeches in Plato’s Symposium.” (Über das Verhältnis der Rede des Alcibiades zu den übrigen Reden des platonischen Symposions). trans. David Scialdone, Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal, v.15. no. 2, 1991, 3-5. JFL 94-647
“On Teleology, or Teleology since Kant.” trans. Paul Swift, Nietzscheana 8, 2000, 1-20. JFF 03-87 no. 8
“On the Theory of Quantitative Rhythm.” (Zur Theorie der quantitierenden Rhythmik). trans. James Halporn, Arion, 6, 1967, 233-243. K-10 3730
"On Truth and Lie in a Nonmoral Sense." (Über Wahrheit und Lüge im aussermoralischen Sinne," 1873). trans. Walter Kaufmann in The Portable Nietzsche *R-YBX (NIETZSCHE) 02-270
Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks (Die Philosophie im tragischen Zeitalter der Griechen, 1870-73). trans. Marianne Cowan. (South Bend, IN: Gateway, 1962). JFD 01-14699
Philosophy and Truth: Selections from Nietzsche’s Notebooks of the Early 1870s. ed. and trans. Daniel Breazeale. (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1979). JFE 80-99
The Poetry of Friedrich Nietzsche. trans. with commentary by Philip Grundlehner. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986). JFE 87-2331
Prefaces to unwritten works ( Fünf Vorreden zu fünf ungeschriebenen Büchern) trans. and ed. by Michael W. Grenke. (South Bend, Ind: St. Augustine's Press, 2005) JFE 05-8009
The Pre-Platonic Philosophers. trans. Greg Whitlock. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2001) JFE 01-13267
“Time-Atom Theory.” (Nachgelassene Fragment, early 1873). trans. Carol Diethe with modifications by Keith Ansell Pearson, The Journal of Nietzsche Studies, 20, 2000, 1-4. JFL 01-623
Unpublished Writings from the Period of Unfashionable Observations, The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche. vol. 11. trans. Richard T. Gray. (Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press, 1999) JFC 02-1211
We Classicists (Wir Philologen, 1875). trans. William Arrowsmith in Unmodern Observations. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990). JFE 90-3192
The Will to Power (Der Wille zur Macht published in editions of increasing size in 1901, 1904, and 1910-11). trans. Walter Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. (New York: Vintage, 1967). *R-YBX (Nietzsche) 99-11018
Although described by Elizabeth Förster-Nietzsche, Nietzsche’s sister, as Nietzsche’s magnum opus, this is not one of Nietzsche’s books. It is a collection of notes from Nietzsche’s notebooks that was selected and arranged by Nietzsche’s sister and Peter Gast after Nietzsche’s death.
Writings from the Late Notebooks. ed. Rüdiger Bittner and trans. Kate Sturge. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003). JFE 03-12965
Selected Letters of Friedrich Nietzsche. ed. and trans. Christopher Middleton. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969). E-13 7544
Nietzsche: A Self-Portrait from His Letters. ed. and trans. Peter Fuss and Henry Shapiro. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1971). JFD 72-4854
Weimarer Nietzsche-Bibliographie. comp. Susanne Jung, et. al. (Stuttgart: Metzler, 2000-2002). JFL 00-502
This is the most comprehensive bibliography on Nietzsche including over 20,000 citations dating from 1867 to 1998. Volume 1 lists Nietzsche’s works, including translations into 42 languages, and volumes 2 through 5, the secondary literature.
International Nietzsche Bibliography. ed. Herbert W. Reichert and Karl Schlechta. (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1968). *RB-YBX (Nietzsche)'
An important guide to the secondary literature, listing more than 4,500 titles in 27 languages. An expanded edition for the period 1968-72 was published in Nietzsche-Studien, v.2, 1973: 320-39. This has been superseded by the Weimarer Nietzsche-Bibliographie.
Babich, Babette. “Nietzsche and Music: Selective Bibliography.” New Nietzsche Studies, 1:1/2, 1996, 64-78. JFK 00-74
Babich, Babette. “Nietzsche, Classic Philology and Ancient Philosophy: A Research Bibliography.” New Nietzsche Studies, 4:1/2, 2000, 171-91. JFK 00-74
Hollingdale, R.J. “‘The Birth of Tragedy’: A Checklist of Criticism, 1872-1972.” The Malahat Review, 24, 1972, 177-182. L -11 2431
Kaufmann, Walter. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, 4th ed. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980). *R-YBX (Nietzsche) (Kaufmann, W.A. Nietzsche)
Kaufmann’s book includes a useful annotated bibliography.
Kummel, Richard Frank. Nietzsche und der deutsche Geist. (Berlin; New York: de Gruyter, 1998. (Monographien und Texte zur Nietzsche-Forschung, 3, 9, 40). 3 vols. JFL 99-85
An exhaustive, annotated, three-volume bibliography which traces the influence of Nietzsche’s works on German thought from 1867 to 1945. Newspaper articles, diaries, and correspondence are included in the almost 5,700 items listed.
Löwith, Karl. “On the History of the Interpretation of Nietzsche (1894-1954).” in Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Eternal Recurrence of the Same. trans. J. Harvey Lomax. (Berkelely: University of California Press, 1997). JFE 99-9334
An annotated bibliography limited to those authors who have focused on the problem of the eternal recurrence in Nietzsche.
Schaberg, William H. The Nietzsche Canon: A Publication History and Bibliography. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995). JFE 96-2609
Schaberg gives a detailed publication history of Nietzsche’s works and his relationship with his publishers. He also provides a detailed bibliography of all the editions of Nietzsche’s works that Nietzsche had published.
Vattimo, Gianni. Nietzsche: An Introduction. (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001). JFD 02-17513
An excellent introduction to Nietzsche that includes a fine, international bibliography of works about him.
Haase, Marie-Luise & Jorg Salaquarda, “Konkordanz. Der Wille zur Macht: Nachlass in chronologischer Ordnung der Kritischen Gesamtausgabe.” Nietzsche-Studien, (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1980) 9: 446-490. JFL 73-382
The definitive concordance to Der Wille zur Macht.
Simmons, Scott. “A Concordance Indexing The Will to Power with the Critical Editions of Nietzsche’s Collected Works (KGW & KSA)” New Nietzsche Studies, 1:1/2, Fall/Winter 1996, 126-53. JFK 00-74
This index enables the scholar to move between Der Wille zur Macht and its English translation, The Will to Power.
Andreas-Salomé, Lou. Nietzsche. (Redding Ridge, CT: Black Swan Books, 1988) JFD 88-9117
Written in 1894, by this Russian-born woman of letters, to whom Nietzsche had proposed marriage through a third party. Salome ties Nietzsche’s philosophy to his illnesses and concludes that Nietzsche’s madness was the result of his philosophical views.
Binion, Rudolf. Frau Lou: Nietzsche’s Wayward Disciple. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1968). E-13 5168
A fine study of Nietzsche’s relationship with Lou Salomé.
Gilman, Sander L., ed. Conversations With Nietzsche: a Life in the Words of His Contemporaries. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1987) JFE 87-6031
Accounts of conversations, anecdotes, and recollections of Nietzsche, by people who knew him personally.
Hollingdale, R.J. Nietzsche: The Man and His Philosophy, rev. ed. (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1999). JFE 00-1342
Considered by many to be the best biography of Nietzsche in English. Hollingdale’s understanding of Nietzsche’s thought is strongly influenced by Walter Kaufmann (see below).
Hollinrake, Roger. Nietzsche, Wagner, and the Philosophy of Pessimism. (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1982). JFD 83-179
A good account of Nietzsche's involvement with Wagner's music and ideas. Concentrating on Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, Hollinrake argues that it was Nietzsche’s reply to Wagner.
Janz, C.P. Friedrich Nietzsche: Biographie, rev. ed. (Munchen: C. Hanser, 1993) 3 v. JFD 94-7021
The definitive biography in German.
Safranski, Rudiger. Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography, trans. Shelley Frisch. (New York: W.W. Norton, 2002). JFE 02-20934
In this major new biography, Safranski, who has written excellent biographies on Schopenhauer and Heidegger, traces the background and development of Nietzsche’s thought. Details of his life are provided only in so far as they illuminate his thought.
Allison, David B. Reading the New Nietzsche: The Birth of Tragedy, The Gay Science, Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and On the Genealogy of Morals. (New York: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2001). JFE 01-4401
Focusing on a few themes, Allison provides a lucid reading of these four major works of Nietzsche. He is especially good at using the events of Nietzsche’s life to illuminate his thought. Allison’s reading of Nietzsche is influenced by the French Nietzscheans, e.g., Bataille, Derrida, Deleuze and Foucault.
Conway, Daniel W., ed. Nietzsche: Critical Assessments. (London: Routledge, 1998), 4 vols. JFE 01-2807
A four-volume compilation of the best in Nietzsche scholarship.
Danto, Arthur C. Nietzsche as Philosopher. (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005). JFD 05-4460
An influential book for Nietzsche studies in America. Danto shows how Nietzsche’s ideas foreshadowed many of the problems of analytic philosophy. For Danto, the problem of nihilism is at the core of Nietzsche’s thought.
Fink, Eugen. Nietzsche’s Philosophy, trans. Goetz Richter. (London; New York: Continuum, 2003). JFE 03-13081
Fink agrees with Heidegger, his teacher, that Nietzsche’s will to power is the culmination of western metaphysics. But for Fink, it is Nietzsche’s idea of the world as a play of forces, derived from Heraclitus, that is the core of Nietzsche’s philosophy, and takes him beyond traditional philosophy.
Heidegger, Martin. Nietzsche, trans. David Krell. (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979-1987) 4 vols. *R-YBX (Nietzsche) 80-1742
This is a compilation of Heidegger’s lectures and articles on Nietzsche from the 1930s and the 1940s. For Heidegger, Nietzsche’s main idea is the will to power, although it must be thought together with the eternal return. Since the idea of the will to power is rarely mentioned in Nietzsche’s published writings, Heidegger relies heavily on Nietzsche’s unpublished writings, especially those collected under the title of The Will to Power.
_____. “Nietzsche’s Word: God is Dead,” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. trans. William Lovitt. (New York: Harper & Row, 1977), 53-114. JFD 91-11380
This essay summarizes much of what Heidegger said in his five semesters of lectures on Nietzsche (see above). For Heidegger, Nietzsche’s statement, “God is dead”, represents the death of the transcendent realm and hence of metaphysics.
Jaspers, Karl. Nietzsche: An Introduction to the Understanding of His Philosophical Activity, trans. Charles F. Wallraff and Frederick J. Schmitz. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997). *RR-YBX (Nietzsche) (Jaspers, K. Nietzsche)
An important work by a major German philosopher. Jaspers tends to discount the value of Nietzsche’s ideas, all of which he finds hopelessly contradictory. He believes that Nietzsche offers no teaching or worldview; rather, it is his philosophizing, his thinking, that questions everything, which is of most importance.
Kaufmann, Walter. Nietzsche:Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist, 4th ed. rev. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1980). *R-YBX (Nietzsche) (Kaufmann, W.A. Nietzsche)
This is probably the best introduction to Nietzsche’s philosophy. Kaufmann’s interpretation has long dominated the picture of Nietzsche in North America. For Kaufmann, “will to power”, understood as a psychological principle, and “self-overcoming” form the center of Nietzsche’s thought.
Montinari, Mazzino. Reading Nietzsche, trans. Greg Whitlock. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2003). JFE 03-5727
This collection of essays and lectures by Montinari grew out of his work as coeditor of the critical edition of Nietzsche’s collected works in German. The “essays collected here-have no other purpose than as instruction on reading Nietzsche.” p. 5. An important work.
Muller-Lauter, Wolfgang. Nietzsche: His Philosophy of Contradictions and the Contradictions of His Philosophy, trans. David J. Parent. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1999). JFE 99-6424
Muller-Lauter, writing in 1971, attempted to challenge Heidegger’s influential reading of Nietzsche, especially the idea that the will to power is a metaphysical principle. For Muller-Lauter, the contradictions in Nietzsche’s philosophy become understandable when Nietzsche’s philosophy of contradiction is understood.
Nehamas, Alexander. Nietzsche, Life as Literature. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985). JFE 85-4601
In this influential book, Nehamas argues that Nietzsche understands the world “as if it were a literary text.” For Nehamas, Nietzsche’s aestheticism and his perspectivism (that all views, including his own, are just one of many possible interpretations) are intimately related, and provide the key to resolving the contradictions and paradoxes of his thought. For “literary texts can be interpreted equally well in vastly different and deeply incompatible ways. Nietzsche…also holds that exactly the same is true of the world itself.” p. 3.
Richardson, John. Nietzsche’s System. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). JFE 96-5712
In spite of Nietzsche's rejection of all systems of philosophy, Richardson argues that Nietzsche's thought forms a system organized around the principle of the will to power. Like Heidegger, Richardson relies heavily on Nietzsche's Nachlass to support this interpretation.
Schacht, Richard. Nietzsche. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1983). *R-YBX (Nietzsche) 99-11013
Schact provides detailed and lengthy analyses of many different aspects of Nietzsche’s thought, treating him as a traditional philosopher with opinions on all the traditional philosophical questions.
Schacht, Richard. Making Sense of Nietzsche: Reflections Timely and Untimely. (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1995). JFE 95-6934
This collection of essays is divided into two parts. In the first, Schacht refutes some contemporary interpretations of Nietzsche. In the second, he offers his own views on specific texts of Nietzsche. A good guide to current Nietzsche scholarship.
Aschheim, Steven E. The Nietzsche Legacy in Germany, 1890-1990. (Berkeley: University of Californina Press, 1993). JFE 93-12857
Aschheim makes no attempt to explain what Nietzsche means, but rather restricts himself to tracing all the different ways Nietzsche has been understood. To this end, he examines the history of Nietzsche’s reception in Germany and the adoption of his ideas by every major social, political and intellectual movement.
Behler, Ernst. “Nietzsche in the twentieth century,” The Cambridge Companion to Nietzsche. ed. Bernd Magnus and Kathleen Higgins. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 281-322. *R-YBX (Nietzsche) 96-6086
A lucid history of how Nietzsche has been interpreted by philosophers in the 20th century.
Nietzsche repeatedly called into question the value of truth. Scholars have ascribed every major theory of truth to him, while others have claimed he has no epistemology nor was he interested in one.
Clark, Maudemarie. Nietzsche On Truth and Philosophy. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990). JFD 91-4468
The most comprehensive book on Nietzsche’s theory of truth. Clark is critical of scholars such as Derrida, DeMan, and Nehamas who claim that Nietzsche is a nihilist, who believes there is no truth. For Clark, the belief that there is no truth is an early position that Nietzsche gave up in his later writings.
Cox, Christoph. Nietzsche: Naturalism and Interpretation. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999).
For Cox, the “death of God” is what gives unity to Nietzsche’s seemingly fragmentary thought and is the foundation for his naturalism, i.e., his rejection of metaphysical principles to explain how we know. Clear and concise, this is a superb account of Nietzsche’s theory of truth. Also, the footnotes, often with a dozen citations, provide excellent overviews of the conflicting interpretations among Nietzsche scholars.
Nietzsche & Political Thought
Nietzsche's politics are probably the most controversial aspect of his thought. After World War II, Walter Kaufmann helped rehabilitate Nietzsche in the English-speaking world from his reputation as a Nazi, fostered by Nietzsche’s sister and the Nietzsche archive that she founded. For Kaufmann, Nietzsche was uninterested and contemptuous of politics; his concern was, rather, with “the anti-political individual who seeks self-perfection far from the modern world." 20
Walter Arnold Kaufmann (1 July1921 – 4 September1980) was an German-American philosopher, translator, and poet, most famous as a translator and scholar of the works of Friedrich Nietzsche.
- Of course, not everything old is beautiful, any more than everything black, or everything white, or everything young. But the notion that old means ugly is every bit as harmful as the prejudice that black is ugly. In one way it is even more pernicious.
The notion that only what is new and young is beautiful poisons our relationship to the past and to our own future. It keeps us from understanding our roots and the greatest works of our culture and other cultures. It also makes us dread what lies ahead of us and leads many to shirk reality.
Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist (1951)
- There is thus a certain plausibility to Nietzsche's doctrine, though it is dynamite. He maintains in effect that the gulf separating Plato from the average man is greater than the cleft between the average man and a chimpanzee.
The Faith of a Heretic (1961)
Main article: The Faith of a Heretic
- The most obvious failure of organized religions is surely that almost all of them have made a mockery of what their founders taught.
From Shakespeare to Existentialism (1959)
- I agree with Paul that love is more important than faith and hope; but so are honesty, integrity, and moral courage. The world needs less faith and more love and nobility.
- The greatartistliberates the emotions and recreates the sheer wonder of childhood without surrendering the development of the intellect.
- What makes The Present Age and The Difference Between a Genius and an Apostle important is not so much that the former essay anticipates Heidegger and the latter, Barth: it would be more accurate to say that Heidegger’s originality is widely overestimated, and that many things he says at great length in his highly obscure German were said earlier by various writers who had made the same points much more elegantly, and that some of these writers, including Kierkegaard, were known to Heidegger. Why should Kierkegaard’s significance depend on someone else’s, quite especially when many points that others copied from him may be wrong?
- Walter Kaufmann, Preface to The Present Age, by Soren Kierkegaard, Dru translation 1962 p. 15-16
Quotes about Kaufmann
- Kaufmann’s Nietzsche is important for other reasons as well. It is a book that everyone seems to be familiar with but few have actually read, as if, having succeeded in upending the traditional picture of Nietzsche, it can now be safely ignored. But reading it (or rereading it) repays the effort. Kaufmann’s own views are considerably more nuanced than I have been able to suggest, and his accounts of Nietzsche’s dependence of Goethe, of his naturalism—the view that human beings are continuous with the rest of the animal world, in the spirit of Darwin—the mechanisms of sublimation, and his affinities with American pragmatism are genuine and lasting contributions to our understanding of this still seductive and enigmatic philosopher who is now, thanks to this book, part and parcel of our intellectual heritage. Kaufmann’s Nietzsche is still very much alive, and for that reason his Nietzsche deserves to come alive once again.
- If Nietzsche’s image reached its nadir during the Second World War, when Hitler presented Mussolini with a bound edition of his works and the historian Crane Brinton wrote a book asserting he would have been “a good Nazi,” a resurrection was soon to come. The German émigré and Princeton professor Walter Kaufmann almost single-handedly revived his standing with his many translations and forceful reminder that Nietzsche hated anti-Semites and German nationalists as well as woolly-headed romantics. Kaufmann’s Nietzsche was a late flower of the Enlightenment, a tough-minded rationalist with the courage to face the Darwinian revelation that there is no purpose to nature or to our existence. The true task of the overman was to overcome himself, not others, and to do so by sculpturing his impulses and thoughts and inheritances into a willed unity that could be called “style.”