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The Twilight of the Idols and the Anti-Christ: or How to Philosophize with a Hammer (Penguin Classics) Paperback – February 15, 1990

4.2 out of 5 stars 40 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.
R. J. Hollingdale has translated eleven of Nietzsche’s books and published two books about him. He has also translated works by, among others, Schopenhauer, Goethe, E. T. A. Hoffmann, Lichtenberg and Theodor Fontane, many of these for the Penguin Classics. He is Honorary President of the British Nietzsche Society, and was for the Australian academic year 1991 Visiting Fellow at Trinity College, Melbourne.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reissue edition (February 15, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140445145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140445145
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #22,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Two excellent works. However, it might now be the best idea to deliver them in one package, as twilight is an awesome introduction to, and synopsis of, Nietzsche's philosophy and hence a good read for a first encounter with Nietzsche (and a parallel lecture to Zarathustra!), whereas Anthchrist is best understood with the background of Nietzsches other major works, hence more of a last or later read.

Nonetheless 5 stars for the quality of the content:

Twilight: It is extremely rare that a philosopher manages to write such a precise, witty, deep and to-the-point synopsis of his own ideas as Nietzsche did in Twilight - some of the best aphorisms and metaphors in modern philosophy!

Antichrist: Don't be fooled by the polemic style of the book: This is a brilliant psychological and historical analysis AND criticism of christianity. Under the skillful but fierce rhethoric it stays grounded in historic research and observations and substantiates its points with sound arguments. Christians who feel brave enough to think for themselves and test their faith must read this book, as it is a mindblowing exposition of the religion's underlying mechanisms and thoroughly challenges the belief with arguments that Christianity has yet to find answers to.
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By A Customer on April 11, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Twilight" is the book i always recommend to first-time readers of Nietzsche: It is the most concise statement of his most important ideas. If you read only one book by Nietzsche, make it this one. Both Hollingdale's and Kaufmann's translations are readable and try to be as faithful to the original as possible in style and substance.
If you were raised Christian or have been a Christian, "Antichrist" is quite important as an exposition of dangers in the philosophical underpinings of Christianity (or "Paulism") as world view and praxis, beyond ordinary criticisms that usually focus on the hypocrisy of the Church, etc, which are ultimately less useful. A less important read for those who have never been Christians, especially as N deals in "Twilight" with the "undercover Christianity" (Kantianism, etc.) one is likely to encounter outside the church.
By the way, a previous reviewer cautioned readers that these books were edited by Elisabeth, Nietzsche's sister-- that reviewer was mistaken. She edited only "The Will to Power," which despite her claims was not a book at all but a collection of unconnected notebook entries not intended for publication. Avoid that book until you've read all the rest. "Twilight" and "Antichrist" were written in the prolific year before N became ill and were certainly intended for publication.
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Format: Paperback
Hollingdale's translation of "Twilight of the Idols" and "The Antichrist" is a standard in the classroom. H.L. Mencken, who wrote what I believe was the first American study of Nietzsche in 1908, also translated "The Antichrist" (Mencken's title is "The Anti-Christ") in 1917. I cannot say which of the two translations is the more "accurate." But I can say that Mencken's recently re-issued translation (see Amazon.com listing) is the more interesting and compelling read of the two, and definitely deserves a look.
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Format: Paperback
"Twilight of the Idols" and "The Anti-Christ" are two of the last books, both composed in 1888, that Nietzsche wrote before his final descent into syphilis-induced madness which occurred during the first week of 1889. They continue themes he had developed in his earlier work, and "The Anti-Christ" especially approaches Christianity with a particularly ferocious and critical eye.

As anyone who has thumbed through a volume of Nietzsche can tell you, his work isn't composed of clear, well-defined propositions to be ultimately accepted or rejected; instead, his arguments have a kind of ravishing rhetorical force to them. His writing is less apothegmatic here than in other work, but is still never syllogistic or ratiocinated in such a way that we usually associate with philosophy. This isn't a mistake; he intended his work to speak as much if not more through the force of style than anything else. In his "attack" on Socrates in the first book, he calls reason itself a "tyrant," and wonders if Socrates enjoys his "own form of ferocity in the knife-thrust of the syllogism."

The greatest part of "Twilight of the Idols" is the chapter called "Morality as Anti-Nature" in which he says that all moral systems up until now, and particularly Christianity, are wrong precisely because they try to deform and reshape human nature to their own image. For Nietzsche, the moral is the natural, but Christianity - and this is really an attack on all religious systems, though some more than others - stops being moral when it tries to impose concepts that are completely foreign to human beings like the idea that "everyone is created the same" or a selfless Christian charity.
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Format: Paperback
In this powerful work of philosophy, Nietzsche ponders the value of nearly everything. In the first text Twilight of the Idols, he offers a compelling attack on the prevalent beliefs of his time, including such thinkers as Hegel and Kant, as well as Socrates, theology, morality, and all things German. In the second text, the Anti-Christ, Nietzsche brilliantly and energetically provides his counter-arguement to Christianity and the ways the institution has distorted and murdered the teachings of Christ. His writing is breathtaking and his arguments are made in brief, explosive flashes of immense genius. However, his work can be exhausting as he continues to negate all thought besides his own, and his ability to draw references can be formidable. I'm sure the latter essay will not be palatable to devout Christians but it is necessary that you read it, for it will surely shake the foundations of your belief.
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