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Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography Paperback – 1 Aug 2003

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Granta Books; Second Edition edition (1 Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1862075956
  • ISBN-13: 978-1862075955
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 672,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

‘Highly readable narrative coupled with intelligent and perceptive accounts of his subjects work’ -- The Guardian

‘If you are willing to read but one book on Nietzsche in your lifetime, then this is the one to go for’ -- The Glasgow Herald

‘Succinct and alive to Nietzsche’s style of thinking, Safranski provides a smooth, fair minded account of Nietzsche’s views and feelings’ -- Spectator --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Rudlger Safranski is one of the world's leading Nietzsche scholars. He has written two previous biographies, of Hiedegger and Schopenhauer, which both received outstanding reviews from journalists and philosophers alike.

Inside This Book

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First Sentence
THE FIRST colossal power to intrude upon the young Nietzsche was his own life. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Orsetto DiOrsetto on 10 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback
If you approach this biography for what it is (a running commentary on Nietzsche's life and work) and not for what it is not (a critical study of his philosophy or an investigation of his private life) you will find much to enjoy and recommend in Safranski's 'philosophical biography'. It is well researched and well written with a wealth of commentary from the Nietzsche's notebooks and letters to augment quotes from his published works. I particularly like the author's discussion of The Birth of Tragedy, the centrality of music in Nietzsche's life and thought, and the stress placed on the philosopher's continuing belief in music as the most important from of human communication even after his disappointment with Wagner and the birth of spectacular musical entertainment. The book is not in competition with other works and is a useful and highly readable addition to Nietzsche scholarship.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Halifax Student Account on 16 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback
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 remedial.

The younger Nietzsche isn't as interesting, so an intellectual biography, from nipper to crazy, isn't my cup of tea. I also wanted to read about the madness or even read about the issue of Nietzsche's crippling health. This book supplies none of these.

You see, Safranski is snooty about writing about Nietzsche's disability, and he claims in the introduction that this amounts to tabloid nonsense. But shouldn't a writer who writes about killing the weak be himself remarkably handsome, big chested, with tight buttocks and a firm handshake? Well no. Today, Friedrich Nietzsche would be classified as disabled. No writer will dare talk about this and I don't know why. Is this so tabloid nonsense when the prophet of perfection wasn't perfect? Nietzsche didn't only mean killing the weak minded, but the physical too.

Interestingly, Alexander Pope was also a cripple and, noticed, these two thinkers rank amongst the best writers of their respected languages. This is remarkable.

Here is another twist. Arthur Schopenhuer, the only master Friedrich Nietzsche ever had, would visit lunatic asylums and conclude that outstanding genius can lead to madness. This idea is part of Schopenhauers system. Years later, the outstanding genius Friedrich Nietzsche, who will come to despised Schopenheur's ideas, went doolally!

So overall this is a great intellectual biography, but it ignores the elephant in the room.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Rob Linwood on 21 July 2004
Format: Paperback
I had purchased this book with the hope of reading a book which presented the development of Nietzsche's thought throughout the course of his life. What I got was a book which attempts to be both a biography and a critical discourse on the man's works, but succeeds well only at the first. As a biography, the book is not bad - it admirably covers all parts of Nietzsche's life, from his boyhood to his madness and eventual death, and even includes a chapter on the reception of his philosophy in Germany after his death. As a critical work, this book does not fare well against the established works on the subject (Kaufmann, Hollingdale, etc.) One example should suffice: in Safranski's chapter on the Untimely Meditations, he writes that work was "Nietzsche's focus in his critique of David Strauss", a statement that comes directly after a paragraph on Marxism. Anyone who has actually read the first Meditation may be somewhat surprised to learn this, given that the work is a polemic against the then-current cultural situation in Germany. I suppose that by joining the paragraphs on "David Strauss, the Writer and Confessor" and Marxism, Safranski wishes to make us believe that Nietzsche had many ideas in common with Marx, which will seem absurd to readers of either.
One more critique: in her Translator's Preface, Shelley Frisch writes that "readers in search of the sort of tell-all memoirs and scandalmongering that litter bookstore shelves" should turn elsewhere. After having read this preface, I opened up to a random page, which happened to be page 246, to read allegations that the young Nietzsche had had an incestuous affair with his sister. Needless to say, I don't agree with Prof. Frisch that this book is relatively free from tabloid-type allegations.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Tmo Wilkinson on 14 July 2010
Format: Paperback
A melange of ill-digested Nietzsche and glib journalistic remarks. An example of the latter: 'In this era [that of Wagner], Descartes's maxim might well have run along the following lines: I have an impact, therefore I am.' Ugh.

Avoid this in favour of one of the biographies by an expert on the topic. Safranski is a serial biographer of philosophers, which says all you need to know about the profundity of his understanding.
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