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American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas Hardcover – November 30, 2011
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(Alexander Star New York Times Book Review)
"This is a superb book, widely and imaginatively researched, boldly argued, and vigorously written. The story it tells is compelling and populated by a fascinating array of characters, including almost everyone of importance in nineteenth- and twentieth-century American intellectual history: including Emerson, William James, Santayana, Mencken, and a host of lesser folk."
(Adam Kirsch Prospect)
"American Nietzsche is an original contribution to trans-Atlantic intellectual history. Imaginatively conceived, it sheds considerable light on the still neglected influence of German thought on American thought and culture from Emerson down to the present. On top of that, Ratner-Rosenhagen deals with her surprisingly fresh topic in a lively, sharp, and often witty prose that is a pleasure to read."
(Richard King, University of Nottingham)
"A luminous and wide-ranging story of the depth and passion of American readers' attraction to Nietzsche. This is transnational intellectual history at its very best."
(Daniel T. Rodgers, Princeton University)
"Friedrich Nietzsche and America, how does this go together? At first glance not at all. . . . But America eagerly soaked up the ideas of the German demolisher, who attacked last truth with a hammer."
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Top Customer Reviews
The scholarship and learning of this book are prodigious as Ratner-Rosenhagen discusses the engagement of many important American thinkers with Nietzsche. I was pleased with her detailed discussion of the American idealist philosopher Josiah Royce and his understanding of Nietzsche's importance.Read more ›
Nietzsche was only seventeen when he began reading the writings of the great Emerson. In his library one could find annotated volumes of Emerson's essays and works, full of marginalia where one can read Nietzsche's comments of praise or agreement with Emerson.
This part of the current book opens Professor Ratner-Rosenhagen's intriguing study. But make no mistake about it: Nietzsche never repeated Emerson's ideas, although the latter's influence on the German thinker was tremendous.
The other parts of the book discuss in detail how Nietzsche was accepted or disregarded by both Protestants and Catholics. In fact, some of them considered Nietzsche as a kind of biblical prophet, an iconoclast who did not hesitate to shatter religious beliefs, Enlightenment ideas or democratic principles.
In the beginning of the twentieth century Will Durant, who fell in love with Nietzsche's writings, wrote that "there is a bit of Nietzsche in everyone of us".
Others followed Durant's steps and wrote many more interesting things about Nietzsche. Professor Rosenhagen also writes about the way the writings of Nietzsche were accepted or dismissed by various intellectuals in the USA. One major difficulty was in translating terms which seemed to be unique in the German language, among them the famous "Ubermentsch".Read more ›
Nietzsche was barely noticed during his lifetime. What also has gone unnoticed is the influence of Emerson on him. As an avid and lifelong reader of Emerson's Essays Nietzsche arrived at his concept of the "sovereign self."From Emerson Nietzsche learned to become a self-reliant, intellectual provocateur. It may have been the Emerson in Nietzsche that struck such a resonant chord in Nietzsche's American audience. Whatever the reason, Americans enthusiastically thought through Nietzsche to think about themselves as Americans in a modern America.
Many Americans remembered where they were when they first read Nietzsche, such was the effect of his words on them. For many, Nietzsche represented deliverance from the reigning--and competing--material/Christian world views. For political radicals, more in tune with European thought currents than most of their fellow citizens, Nietzsche represented a philosophical dawn that they hoped would break in America. In any case, Nietzsche represented a successful challenge to existing authority. Notwithstanding Nietzsche's diverse appeal, however, the American mainstream media either ignored him or downplayed him.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Provocative and critical view of how we come to see how little we think about what we believe we know.. A must for modern thinkers. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Philip Beasley
Rapid fire delivery with courteous note from the seller. The text is informative and well researched. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Baxter
A much better read than expected. This book will expose you to more than just Nietzsche. Emerson, Kauffman, Bloom, Cavell and the great Rorty take a bow. Read morePublished on June 28, 2013 by Ken
This book covers the various ways in which Americans responded to the phenomenon that was Nietzsche's person and his thoughts. Read morePublished on April 29, 2013 by bronx book nerd
I am relieved to have finished this book .It's moderately interesting but about half way through it occurred to me if you weren't already quite familiar with Nietzsche,you'd... Read morePublished on April 13, 2013 by JAK
When I read it I felt like Nietzsche had been reading my mind. The auther did an excellent job in explaining Ralph Waldo Emerson's writings influence on Nietzsche and how... Read morePublished on November 26, 2012 by Karl Giese
This is an excellent book. It is interesting and engaging. It fills an important gap in the history of ideas.Published on November 20, 2012 by Joanne Swartzberg
A gem that captures the influence of genius on an impressionable society. This work foments the speculation to be found in such modern works as God Bless The Dead, to its great... Read morePublished on August 5, 2012 by Evan Geller