This book is not a traditional philosopher's biography offering an even balance of life and thought, but rather a rich interpretation of Nietzsche's philosophy as it evolved during his life, with a coda tracing his influence after his death. Biographical details are sparing: neither Nietzsche's birth nor death is described, and there are few juicy bits about his passion for Lou Salomé. Most of the book is a reading of Nietzsche's developing ideas, beginning with his autobiographical sketches in high school and continuing chronologically from his early attachment to Schopenhauer through his hopes for and disappointment in Wagner's music drama, such great achievements as Daybreak and Thus Spoke Zarathustra, and his last works before his descent into madness. To close, there is a chapter on the different ways Nietzsche influenced 20th-century artists, the Nazis, Heidegger, Foucault, Rorty and others. Throughout, certain themes recur, elucidated sympathetically but with "ironic reserve," including the death of God, the divided self, the will to power, eternal recurrence, philosophy as art and truth as power play. Safranski (Heidegger: Between Good and Evil), in clear English from Rutgers University Germanist Frisch, brings out contradictions and tensions in Nietzsche's thought without dismissing him; on the contrary, Safranski sees Nietzsche as a thinker "who organized his gardens of theory in such a way that anyone on the lookout for their central arguments would almost inevitably fall flat on his face," but who leads one to return profitably to "[o]ne's own thinking." The author offers no summary conclusions, preferring to leave Nietzsche's philosophical biography open, as "a story without an end." Safranski has made a worthwhile contribution to that story, though it will be of interest mainly to those with an interest in engaging the work directly.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
With brilliant insights and impressive scholarship, Safranski, who has previously written about Heidegger and Schopenhaurer, here makes a major contribution to understanding and appreciating the lasting significance of Friedrich Nietzsche (l844-l900). From his passion for Greek antiquity to his disappointment with the Bayreuth premiere of the Ring tetralogy, Nietzsche is presented as a tragic hero who advocated overcoming cultural mediocrity and simplistic materialism while rigorously pursuing intellectual enlightenment and new values. Safranski emphasizes the philosopher's Heraclitean-Dionysian worldview of ongoing flux and pervasive change. This comprehensive study analyzes the influences of music, mythology, Schopenhauer, Wagner, and Darwin on the development of Nietzsche's iconoclastic ideas and challenging perspectives. Safranski devotes sections to a critical discussion of the future overman and the cosmic will to power. Particularly important is Chapter 10, which focuses on Nietzsche's central idea of the eternal recurrence of the same universe. Nietzsche himself incorporated his bold vision into an affirmation of life in terms of human creativity within creative nature. Safranski's outstanding, level-headed, and unique philosophical biography of Nietzsche is strongly recommended for all academic and public libraries. H. James Birx, Harvard Univ., Cambridge, MA
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. See all Editorial Reviews
I doubt the reader will benefit from the religious musings of a 14 year old Friedrich Nietzsche.
The older Nietzsche renderers Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris... Read more
This book took some time to read. The last few weeks I have been reading a lot on Nietzsche and this book took the longest to get through. Read morePublished 21 months ago by Paul J. Evans
i was at first enthusiastic about safranski's literate and flowing biography of nietzsche, but became increasingly dissatisfied with it as i went along. Read morePublished on May 23, 2013 by drollere
Safranski's treatment of Nietzsche's life is, as the subtitle indicates, predominately a philosophical biography. Read morePublished on November 8, 2010 by Greg Matejcek
How should we take Nietzsche? As a talented megalomaniac? As an exclamation point for lesser philophers? As an excuse for fascism and militarism, like Darwin? Read morePublished on January 30, 2010 by Hinkle Goldfarb
High points: he manages to discuss Max Stirner, Nietzsche's phenomenology vis-a-vis the Will to Power, the Eternal Recurrence and Great Noontide. Read morePublished on September 21, 2008 by Alaric
Safranski has made a name for himself in Germany as biographer of Schiller, Hoffmann, Schopenhauer, Heidegger, and with a recent bestseller about the German Romantic School, which... Read morePublished on May 23, 2008 by H. Schneider
The book appears to be targeted exclusively to the most serious student of Nietzsche such that subject matter is condense to the level of an essay. Read morePublished on May 19, 2008 by M. Carydis
Nietzsche unfolded an entire existential drama. The will to power is first power over oneself. Cheerfulness was achieved through ecstasy and composure. Read morePublished on April 17, 2006 by Mary E. Sibley