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¤ The Sickness unto Decadence ¤
on 22 July 1999
Currently, the most popular view of the light-footed philosopher is that of a tragic figure, beseiged by health problems and misogyny. I find this sad and misguided. Mr. Yalom's book, though not without its generic merits as a novel, falls into this category. It seemed to me that the author did not have a very extensive knowledge of Nietzsche's work (and that mostly within the modern-liberal Kaufmann apologetic fountainhead), nor did he have a very good sense of the Kant-Hegel-etc German tradition whence Nietzsche came. For example, at one point in the book, Breuer claims he has "never seen" a book like Nietzsche's, divided into many little numbered sections. This stands out as a glaring error, as it is impossible to believe that Breuer is ignorant of this popular German technique, and that he has never read, for example, Hegel. These factual errors would not be important, however, if the author hadn't fallen into the All-Too-Easy trap of offering yet another "humanization" of one of the most personable and endearing philosophers in the Western cannon. What Yalom presents is a misinformed, repugnant, sick picture of two aging swimmers clutching one another as they drown.