on 24 October 2004
Look; I know it is ridiculous to say of any book that is is the greatest every written: yet, it is true of some books that they must figure in any list of the most remarkable books in history. All Nietzsche's works are thought provoking and leave his contemporaries (then and now, for so few thinkers have still caught up with him) toiling to state anything original or incisive or useful to our present milieu.
Nietzsche, unlike many big names in philosophy, charts a future clearly - not wistfully or hopefully. This makes him, in my view, the greatest of all philosophers. In this book, he criticises with an intensity, lucidity and penetration never before seen (as far as I know - and I've had a look at nearly everyone who is supposed to come close); he creates with a voice, imagery and conviction which is, again as far as I have ever read, original, witty, moving and profound.
This is the best introduction to Nietzsche there is, because it is him at his 'whirlwind' best. Whether the reader will agree or not, you cannot help but be impressed by the passion of this work.
on 19 May 2016
So after ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ there was only one book I could go to. Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ.
Anything with Anti-Christ in the title is going to make you hesitate, suck in a deep breath and have a vision of the eternal torture of your own soul within hellfire and brimstone, just for reading it. Quotes from the book like ‘The concept of God has hitherto been the greatest objection to existence. We deny God; in denying God, we deny accountability: only by doing that do we redeem the world’ also helps to reinforce the guilt you feel from reading it. However powering through that I found this the most enjoyable of the three books of Nietzsche I have read (so far).
Getting used to the way Nietzsche writes is a lovely thing you truly start to appreciate the flow of his works. Where ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ was a hard slog, this was easy, shorter, far more direct and far more antagonistic. Even with its utter contempt for actual grammar, which isn’t too much of an issue with me - if you can say what you have to say without putting a comma in the right place or a full stop, then fair play to you- it was a great read.
To sum it up- The inebriated chap has moved from his seat in the pub (Read my review on ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ to understand what I mean here) and has moved out onto the street, right in front of those Bible people that get in the way in the High Street who find it enlightening to condemn your immortal soul for not listening to them, and is destroying them on every level of argument they have tried to attack him with.
Kant, The British, The Germans, Christians, Jews, Marx, Socialists, Plato, Buddha, the apostles and even Christ himself- all are scrutinised for their oppression of the development of man. Their denial of everything desirable to humanity and their oppressive virtue and morals are fiercely attacked in a poetic, uncompromising and merciless way but, surprisingly, quite respectful. Indeed Nietzsche, through the Archetype of Dionysus, the horned God, dare I say it, the anti-Christ criticizes everything, dancing all the time and laughing crazily as the foundations of existence start to crumble around him. In fact the feeling you get from this book is one of a last stand. The final warrior of a defeated army, facing overwhelming odds attacks everyone and everything in his vicinity, killing or wounding them all before he falls. And in a sorts, it was.
Twilight of the Idols and the Anti-Christ was originally two books, only one more book was published publicly after this before he died, something to do with Wagner who he used to be friends with (don’t hold me to that but that’s what I read) and that was privately published before Anti-Christ was publicly published. This is effectively his final work and undoubtedly you feel that this is the absolute end and he will go down in a blaze of glory.
Though his attacks are slightly less structured than 'Beyond Good and Evil' and even less coherent in some places, the passion in his words keeps you reading, me, in almost one sitting, and when it finally ends you feel exhausted, like you have been battling with him against these symbols of oppression. Though it ends almost abruptly, it is clear that he has said his piece, faced his demons (well saints I suppose- he really doesn’t like St Paul) and has brought to an end the long, frustrating journey of man’s self-limitation imposed by religious dogma. You feel he has given you the keys to the prison with his dying breaths and it is now for you to take that step and free yourself from everything holding you back.
Inspirational, enlightening and enjoyable, in a very guilty, I shouldn’t really like this but I do kind of way.
I’m quite sure that my soul will be damned for eternity for reading this….. Oh well. Five stars to you, sir.
Nothing systematic in Nietzsche; you can gaze into his abyss, view his thoughts and finally find the quotes to confirm your inner view.
He will test Christian zeal, confirm National Socialist ideology, enhance Capitalist Darwinian Free Market struggle of all against all alternatively he can provide the impetus for a left anarchist joie de vivre. Before finally plunging the head into the despair of deep wells of pessimism.
His one big fundamental problem being his failure to live out any of his philosphy. Increasingly hermetic, isolated, dependent on his sister for emotional comfort, one documented love affair with a Eurasian beauty and unrequited love with Lou Salome, he descended into needing stronger doses of sister care. Eventually committed to an asylum for unspecified reasons, looked after by Binswanger, his sister re-ordered his papers according to her national socialistic sentiments.
The man who threw a hand grenade detonating the world of contrived religion. Simply by stating it was the produce of a middle eastern mindset imported into Europe to ensnare us. Christianity appealed to the outcasts of the Roman Empire who bonded with the idea the poor will receive their salvation in the next world. It gave them the rationale to exist within the present.
Their stoic acceptance and inability to be purged finally ensnared the rich denizens of the latter stages of the Roman Empire who finally surrendered to Christian morality, the result was a hybrid of Roman Catholicism and Orthodox Christianity. An emphasis on piety and obedience, eventual chastity and the ever present belief life starts when your are dead. The rich became ensnared within morality.
Nietzsche is all for hierarchy, not the petty hierarchies of modern day capitalism, the leveling downwards of Socialism (International or National varieties) or either the resentment of bomb throwing Anarchism. Hierarchies of individuals who achieved their inner natures I presume was his ideal.
Nietzsche disliked scientific rationalism basing his stance on the Heracletian view of the emotions and senses. Science was another creed like religion devised to order the world to a composed ideology that denied the inner voice a Dionysian expression.
This oeuvre points to re-evaluating the senses, thereby defining a new vision; sensual pleasures of a Dionysian connection to an orgiastic world view piped with the notes of music. Not however complete sexual abandonment.
Meanwhile he proclaims Napoleon and Julius Caesar as models of a new uber man. Nietzsche as with all thinkers/philosophers has one foot in the past and one in the future, its just that his foot is more firmly planted than most in a perpetual whirl.
He also has ideas on the Indian caste system transplanted to Europe as a breeding for race with war as the arbiter of the new man. This is the dismantled 1945 National Social ideology rearing up in a pre-formative guise. He undermines Christianity to gaze further east for confirmation, a static nullifying model based on stifling ideologies. For all his notes of liberation and post modernism he could be the most reactionary.
This reduction back to cyphers, herds and masters is a weakness. A return to capital class with Marxist proletariat's fighting against decadent bourgeois. Alternatively the seeds of National Socialists abhorring freedom is entrapped in his prose. The need to be bound by concepts such as threat, race and honor limiting the real Dionysian expression.
Tensions within the Nietzschean writing are chasmic. His sister may have edited his writing after his death, but Nietzsche built the gun. The book is a test to the limits, a must read for everyone to answer the questions he posed. The writing is exuberant, nowhere near as monotonous as modern french post modernism. It does require some knowledge of other philosophers and religion. With Wiki now available on the internet, this is an easier task than previous. Anyone who plunges into the Nietzschean world will learn something by default.
In this book he asks the reader to trust their inner senses, derived from a necessary examination of self knowledge. Later his ideas on finding a meaning to live were taken up by Viktor Frankl and launched logotherapy with one of his first maxims. Frankl was a survivor of the death camps.
The influence the man had on the next generations was immense both good, evil and beyond.
Ultimately Nietzsche mirrors a psychological reflection. He is akin to the Lord of the Rings, the closer you get the more the inner voice, there is a call from the darkness.
Clarity emerges upon thinking and reflecting on these ideas, either they ar accepted or discarded but the process of reflection is key. Emerging from the book he will either confirm the belief in the beauty of wearing a nice black uniform or ensure you abhor the sight of any glimpse of gleaming polished metal buttons.
on 3 September 2014
The Anti-Christ is a comprehensive and devastating critique. Essential reading for atheists and sceptics. However, this version does have typos and if you want/need to refer to footnotes you would best with a print edition.
on 6 December 2008
I am no expert on Nietzsche's work; I've read about half his books in translation over the years, and he says a lot of things that I find distasteful, offensive, silly or just plain wrong.
However, I have to admit that insofar as I am able to make up my mind for myself about what I read, I learned that particular knack from reading Nietzsche. At any rate, I can remember reading this book in my late teens and having the alarming experience that the author seemed to know what I was thinking even though he had died 70 years before I was born. Nietzsche is European philosophy's most brilliant and acute commentator on the process of reading and thinking; he acquired, painfully, the ability to tell what books and what authors were useful and helpful, at least to him, and also what ones weren't.
That's why he is the philosopher that everybody should read in her or his late teens. It's not that you are supposed to agree with his opinions; it's more that he displays by example a style of thinking, a model of being a thinking person, against which (or with which, if you're that way inclined) you can define yourself. Nietzsche shows you a very strong and convincing image of what it is to be someone who is able to think - and when you are 17 or 18 and barely know what to think of yourself, that is really valuable.
It helps that Nietzsche is probably the funniest philosopher of all time. As far as wit, sarcasm and hilarious abuse are concerned his only rival is Arthur Schopenhauer, and Schopenhauer's work is mostly confined to one enormously long book. Nietzsche's is spread out among several relatively short books. His abuse of people he doesn't rate is truly exhilarating. Insofar as philosophy has ever produced a genuine punk, it was this chronically ill and ultimately insane former philologist. Funny how things work out.
A really fine translation of two very good books. "Twilight of the Idols" is a sort of sampler of Nietzsche's favourite themes; it's not his most groundbreaking book, but a perfect introduction to his work for the newbie. "The Antichrist" is his attack on Christianity - not so much on Jesus as on the movement started in his name, although Nietzsche is not the kind of guy that pretends to really respect Jesus, either.
on 15 March 2000
Forget 'The Twilight of the Idols', just head straight for 'The Anti-Christ', an incredible diatribe against western Europe's dominant cultural and religious institution. After reading this outpouring of vitriol, the reader comes to realise (after long suspecting it) that Christianity, in a specifically European context, is not the great spiritual adventure its adherents make it out to be, but is rather the imported Middle Eastern moral system which has somehow found its way to the very top of the western world's power structure. Nietzsche's idea, that Christianity is the anti-European religion of the weak, the spiteful and the jealous, is like intellectual hand grenades being thrown at the foundations of European power and culture. Nietzsche's absolutely uncompromising stance against Christianity and the eloquence and knowledge with which he argues, indeed, rams home, his point makes this monograph compelling and fascinating. Whereas previously, writers, philosophers and academics may have studied the finer theological points of Christianity without questioning its supreme role in European life, Nietzsche is outraged by the malignant influence of this stifling, foreign religion in the arts and affairs of his continent. He unashamedly wants to expose the cultural forces of the time as a weak, pathetic and sycophantic reflection of Christianity's malicious stranglehold on his continent's wild, pagan, liberated pulse. This is the work of a furious and passionate thinker, a man blinded by bitter delusions of militant grandeur. However, Nietzsche was also a man who saw through the veil of selfless humility and piousness which so often hides the sinister, self-serving wishes of the religious elite. This book is brain food, thankfully, genetically unmodified, and like Nikos Kazantzakis' 'The Last Temptation', is essential to anybody who wishes to know the squalid, mundane truth behind the sordid words and intentions which are all too often presented as divine doctrine.
on 5 January 2009
Although Thus Spoke Zarathustra usually steals the limelight, this work, taken as one volume, could well be his very best. With sharp, sparkling metaphors and the brilliant style you come to expect from Nietzsche, he takes aim at the usual list of suspects including Christians and Philosophers. Magnificent.
on 8 February 2015
My first Nietzsche book I read back in 1971. Reg Hollingdale's excellent translation. Even if you disagree with his outlook he is still worth a read. He makes you think; helps you to look at things from a different angle.
on 6 November 2010
I have been wanting to read this book for ages but just didn't get round to it. That was a big mistake.
Since buying the book I have now read it twice!!
Although the book is called Anti Christ it is not a book that worships Satan, but is an attack on the new version of christianity, Isalam and other religions that have come about preaching how good and lovley they are when in their background 100's of thousands have died in the name of God.
The book is split into sections of 1 to 2 pages each which makes for easy reading. As a pagan I would recommend this book, but if you are into Jesus you will be offended.
on 25 November 2002
This two works by one of the more influential philosophers of the end of the 19th century, must be read with a proviso. They were published posthumously by Elisabeth, his sister, in a sequence conforming to her own authoritarian views.
This said, the Antichrist is a must read for those philosophers concerned with the nihilistic (nihilismus) and transmutation of all occidental values (Umwertung aller Werte) central aspects of Nietzche's philosophy. If you read them at face value, confusion might ensue, and the intrinsical power of an effort to demonstrate the futility and perversion of certain occidental values, will be lost. Then the road opens for misrepresentations and the exploitation for propaganda and other purposes. To put things in perspective, one must not forget that "God's death", according to N. is a metaphysical event consisting in the slaughter of God by the human being, for the sake of truth and religion itself. According to the author, God's death appurtains to the essence of christianism because, by way of the interpretation of Plato's philosophy, this religion considers truth and God as exogenous or outherworld elements. As a consequence of this platonic view, the world itself and its Gods appear void of basis and truth, and therefore the nihilism of the modern man ensues. That God is dead is evident, but no man lives this event as a passage and liberation from metaphysical duality ( world and outher world), in order to reconcile with the earth and real life. So, steer clear of this book, if you are faint minded, unless you are looking for material to misuse or abuse. For the theologian and philosopher, on the other hand , this is required reading.