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Nietzsche and the Vicious Circle (Athlone Contemporary European Thinkers) Paperback – 12 Jan 2000


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'The greatest book of philosophy I have ever read, on a par with Nietzsche himself.' Michel Foucault

'A profound Commentary on Nietzsche.' Gilles Deleuze

Nietzsche & the Vicious Circle examines the relation between Nietzsche's thought and life, emphasizing the centrality of the notion of the Eternal Return (of the cycles of time and history) for understanding Nietzsche's propensities for self-denial, self-refutation and self-consumption.

Klossowski argues that Nietzsche's ideas did not stem from personal pathology; rather, Nietzsche made a pathological use of his best ideas, anchoring them in his own fluctuating bodily and mental conditions. Thus, Nietzsche's belief that questions of truth and morality are at base questions of power and fitness resonates dynamically and intellectually with his alternating lucidity and delirium.

Pierre Klossowski is the author of numerous works of philosophy and several novels. He has also published many translations of German poets and philosophers, including the works of Nietzsche.

Daniel W. Smith, the translator of this volume, is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

Part of the Athlone Contemporary European Thinkers series.


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Amazon.com: 4 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
a long overdue translation 5 April 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
For a long time this was the most important book on Nietzsche in French that had NOT been transalted into English. So this transaltion is doubly welcome for its tardiness in arriving. This is not an introduction to Nietzsche that makes his thought accessible or understandable by putting Nietzsche's writings into some explanatory context of other philosophical movements . Rather, it attempts to show just how strange, unique, and disorienting Nietzsche's thought can be. Read this book and you'll appreciate the degree to which attempts to "make sense" of Nietzsche invariably tend to simplify, and thereby distort, his thought - they fail to grapple with Nietzche's virulence and indigestibility.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Absolutely Seminal 1 Sept. 2014
By D. Fineman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Klossowski began to study Nietzsche in the 30s. His work intersected with Bataille and Blanchot. Later he became a primary influence on Foucault and Deleuze, 2 figures of French theory who remain most influential. While Nietzsche is the epicenter of 20th century theory, it is not only Klossowski's ideas but also his stylistic bravery that make this book an epicenter for much of what became high theory's interpretation of Nietzsche. The text is remarkable for many reasons: the originality and power of the interpretation, the invention of vocabularies for that interpretation (e.g., simulacrum, mask, intensity, etc.) that permeate later use, the care and scholarship of K's use of sources, and the interesting manner in which K conjoins a non-reductive Freudianism to questions of Nietzsche's philosophical trajectory to the issues of language and chaos. This book is quite difficult to read as it is counter intuitive and seeks to have a high fidelity to Nietzsche's own complex and changing thought. It is worth the effort. We are all very lucky too that Dan Smith, one of the most talented of Deleuze current commentators, choose to translate this essential work.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Daring, beautiful and compassionate 7 May 2012
By Jack Wonder - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It takes an extraordinary mind, like that of Klossowski, to face the truth about Eternal Return as primarily a mad idea. It sprang from Nietzsche's lived experience in early August of 1881 and left an indelible imprint on his soul and on his entire oeuvre. One might say that for the rest of his (ostensibly) sane life he was trying to come to terms with it. At first he thought of turning it into a scientific doctrine (see chapter 5 of the book), then he poeticised into `Zarathustra'. But the Medusa of madness never lessened her petrifying hold on his soul; ultimately she prevailed.
The originality and courage of Klossowski cannot be overemphasised, and he stands almost alone. Far too many PhDs have been awarded to those who tried to sanitise Eternal Return, followed by many appointments to the chairs of philosophy. And yet, the emperor has no clothes! One can be a great, insightful genius and come up with an idea that is close to delusion. If you wish to follow this unusual, poetic and compassionate line of interpretation also read Ernst Bertram's 'Nietzsche: Attempt at a Mythology'. Be prepared to join the club of disinherited minds, though.
9 of 32 people found the following review helpful
A Truly Frightening Book 23 Mar. 2000
By Bruce P. Barten - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I picked my title for this review before I located the best reason for thinking so on page 131, which mentions the history of the link between philosophy and the politics of those who demystify "only in order to mystify better. Although this programme was initially tied to the exercise of power, it here becomes a rule of thought, a metaphysical conception . . . It is not simply a matter of destroying the notions of the true and the false; it also concerns the entrance of obscure forces on to the stage through the moral ruin of the intellect." I read this book as a way of approaching an understanding of the politics of a superpower which is dedicated to keeping its strategic thinking truly nukers, but I appreciated the book more for the frank realization of the pain involved in facing such a dismal philosophy realistically. Nietzsche admitted this most clearly in a letter which he wrote to Gast on 5 October 1879, "I have reasons for fidelity here, for 'behind thought stands the devil' of a tormenting attack of pain." (p. 18) The letters printed from pages 16 to 22 in the chapter on "The Origin of a Semiotic Impulse" are outstanding. On a lighter note, I could play games with the index, where "Jokes" would appear, but it wouldn't be nice for those involved if I pointed out that there aren't any entries between . . . (this would have been funnier if there was an entry for the Joint Chiefs of Staff). There are a lot of entries for "monstrosity," though. Using the index entry for absurdity leads to the assurance that there are some limits which really ought to be observed, because "formations of sovereignty cannot claim to exercise the absurd as violence--if they do not assign themselves a meaning--a meaning in which servitude, the subjected forces, would participate-- and this meaning can never be that of pure absurdity." (p. 119) In short, it is possible to read this book, but it is hardly likely to be edifying unless the reader is deeply vexed and willing to surrender a lot of the sense that a simple circle could pretty much sum up everything, or put things in their respective places and keep them there.
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