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The Portable Nietzsche (Portable Library) Paperback – January 27, 1977

4.4 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews

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About the Author

The philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was born in Prussia in 1844. After the death of his father, a Lutheran minister, Nietzsche was raised from the age of five by his mother in a household of women. In 1869 he was appointed Professor of Classical Philology at the University of Basel, where he taught until 1879 when poor health forced him to retire. He never recovered from a nervous breakdown in 1889 and died eleven years later. Known for saying that “god is dead,” Nietzsche propounded his metaphysical construct of the superiority of the disciplined individual (superman) living in the present over traditional values derived from Christianity and its emphasis on heavenly rewards. His ideas were appropriated by the Fascists, who turned his theories into social realities that he had never intended.

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Product Details

  • Series: Portable Library
  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; US Ed edition (January 27, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140150625
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140150629
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,366 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I once heard that the two main philosophers that are the most widely read by non-philosopher types are Nietzsche & Plato (not necessarily in that order). After reading this book and some of Plato's better dialogues, it is not difficult to understand why. Both write with a passion & provide a remarkable contrast to the incredibly dry (and many times verbose) prose of such philosophers as Aristotle, Hegel, Heidegger and Kant. If nothing else, Plato and Nietzsche are EXCITING to read. It is this which furnishes them with their popularity - even more than the fact that they are two of the greatest intellectuals who ever lived.
Like all "portable" books in the Viking series, this one contains excerpts from works. This is not all bad, but it is not all good, either. I have always felt that it is much better to read works in their entirety rather than edited snippets. With this in mind, the book's #1 virtue is the fact that it contains an excellent complete & unabridged translation of "Also Sprach Zarathustra."
In his book "Beyond Good And Evil" Nietzsche stated that "Books for all the world are always foul-smelling books: the smell of small people clings to them." (p. 43, Walter Kaufmann, translator). Well, if this be the case, then "Zarathustra" is most decidedly NOT a book for all the world. It is not written for (nor, indeed is even read by very often) individuals with small minds. It is an epic poem that was mostly written while this German fellow was stoned on opium. That fact not-withstanding, it is an astounding achievement. (It seems that Nietzsche produced some of his best art while he was influenced by opium - just like Edgar Allen Poe and Hector Berlioz).
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Format: Paperback
"The Portable Nietzsche" contains four complete works, including Nietzsche's most famous - Thus Spoke Zarathustra - along with excerpts from his other books and writings, painting a detailed portrait of the life of this intriguing genius. The translation is wonderful, as the fury and passion that makes Nietzsche's philosophy so popular bursts through in Kaufmann's words.
Obviously, this work is a challenge to understand, and even after several readings one will still be finding new insights hidden within Nietzsche's words. The works contained within this book are decidely anti-Christian, so be forewarned.
Overall, this is a great introduction to Nietzsche, contained in a compact and reasonably-priced single volume.
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Format: Paperback
This tremendous volume is what gave me confidence that philosophy was not only accessible to me, but more than just academic abstraction.
Critics who say that Nietzsche is "obvious" often miss the fact that his thinking was once considered blasphemous & unheard of. In an era that he felt was bogged down in nostalgia & blandness driven by mindless veneration, Nietzsche felt compelled to state what he thought people were denying. If you don't get this, then you won't see how he is still relevant today in a similar era of chronic rehashing of old values whose uselessness is forgotten or hidden by the varnishing given them in a post-global world. In fact, part of Nietzsche's challenge to thinking man is that the "obvious" without critical faculties hides untapped potential. It is only your attitude that is "obvious". This is the crux of his idea of the "reoccurring theme": do you use nostalgia as reflection? Restoration? Irrelevance? Do you go beyond it? Or do you sit idly fawning & worshipping it like a permanent acolyte; never going beyond the instruction manual? An early insight & major clue is given at the VERY BEGINING of this book in a "Letter To His Sister". In a reply to a comment she made about truth being "obvious", his answer condenses to a statement that NOTHING is "obvious" until someone WORKS IT OUT first in the course of human history.
Nietzsche even had the foresight to see that his concise style would be often quoted without being truly understood, and he frequently says so in many writings included here. This is why this volume is so indispensible (i.e.
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Format: Paperback
Nietzsche stands as one of my favourite philosophers, and thinkers, alongside David Hume, and others. What makes "The Portable Nietzsche" so great, is in part accredited to Kaufmann's excellent translations, especially in "Thus Spoke Zarathustra". He captures the eloquence of Nietzsche's message and creates a smooth transition from German to English. If you are at all interested in Nietzsche, or would like to become more aquainted with his works I highly recommend this book. I must also agree with other reviewers that "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" must be read several times, though I suggest the first read to be casual, and to add scrutiny and critical thinking with each successive read.
Unlike a great deal of philosophers who appear stodgy, Nietzsche infuses his work with passion and fervour. His words are thought provoking, and in my case, life altering in a positive way. I don't know what else to say, other than this;
If you have had the urge to know more about Nietzsche and his works, continue on with it. I consider The Portable Nietzsche more of a manual of life than a collection of theories. For the most part, Nietzsche is the voice of common sense, but he would rather have you decide for yourself, I believe. Nietzsche is not for the faint of heart, however, and is shrouded in controversy over various topics, including, but not limited to religion, sexism and others.
In my opinion, the open minded reap the most benefit from Nietzsche's words.
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