I Am Dynamite! A Life of Nietzsche

Sue Prideaux. Crown/Duggan, $30 (480p) ISBN 978-1-5247-6082-3
This scintillating biography of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche illuminates a man struggling constantly to reshape accepted ideas about society, morality, and religion. Drawing on close readings of his writings and on archival research, Prideaux (Strindberg: A Life) traces the outline of the philosopher’s life, from his father’s death when Nietzsche was four years old and his early education at his mother’s knee, through his days at gymnasium, where he excelled in languages, to his early and pivotal friendship with Wagner, his romance with the writer Lou Salome, and his slow and lonely descent into dementia. Even as a teenager, Prideaux shows, Nietzsche was developing his knack for striking language, and by the time he met Wagner, Nietzsche had developed his own style—one centered around the struggles between reason and instinct and “between life and art.” Given that ideas from Nietzsche’s later work—the need to overcome, the will to power, and the Übermensch—were later appropriated by Nazis, Prideaux is at pains to show that his philosophy focused on the “need to overcome ourselves,” not others. Nietzsche often compared his writing to dancing, and Prideaux’s invigorating study captures the joyous and often ebullient character of this writer’s deeply influential work. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 09/24/2018
Release date: 09/11/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 464 pages - 978-1-5247-6083-0
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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