3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A key preamble but not the über intro I crave,
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This review is from: Nietzsche: The Key Concepts (Routledge Key Guides) (Paperback)
For the interested reader, two problems present themselves in getting to grips with Nietzsche. First, despite the deceptively direct language, Nietzsche's ideas are complex and fragmentary. This is not a criticism. Second, the level, magnitude and range of secondary sources - 'Nietzsche studies' - makes this solution worse than the problem. Where to start?
Peter Sedgwick's book is a welcome relief. Think of it as an OS map on Nietzsche's thought. As far as I can tell, all the key concepts of Nietzsche's philosophy are covered here, as well as those larger topics that glue them all together and aid comparison with other philosophers. Entries are written with clarity and sympathy, not emitting differing interpretations where necessary i.e. frequently. There are suggestions for further reading among the standard tomes e.g. Kaufmann and Hollingdale, as well as less known authors.
My only criticisms? I felt that the length of some of the entries was uneven. For instance, more space was given to the entry on 'history' than 'eternal recurrence'. More tellingly, there were several entry emissions, some of which I couldn't understand (ressentiment, Last Man, sublimation), and others that were merely disappointing (hygiene, democracy, laughter). True, some information on the former topics was included under other entries and could be discovered from the adequate index. Still.
I would also have liked entries on each of Nietzsche's main published works, as difficult as these might prove to summarise over a few pages. In addition, I would have deeply appreciated an entry on 'Nietzsche studies' to help me navigate through this labyrinthine realm of names and wills-to-power. Perhaps for this I need to read Sedgwick's Nietzsche: A Critical Reader, in which he "collects together a record of the key readings which comprise the the three principal traditions or methodologies of Nietzsche interpretation: the Anglo-American, German, and French traditions".
In short, this book will particularly serve two types of people: enthused dabblers in Nietzsche who wish to consolidate their knowledge, and those with a background in philosophy who want to specialise in Nietzsche. Since I fall into both categories, the book suited me well.
Readable, functional, fair, it wasn't the dictionary of Nietzsche I suspect I need. According to internet gossip - so it must be true - a couple of attempts in this direction are on the horizon. I await their publication with all the amoral fervour of a beast of prey.