I Am Dynamite!
A groundbreaking new biography of philosophy's greatest iconoclast Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most enigmatic figures in philosophy, and his concepts--the �bermensch, the will to power, slave morality--have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the human condition. But what do most people really know of Nietzsche--beyond the mustache, the scowl, and the lingering association with nihilism and fascism? Where do we place a thinker who was equally beloved by Albert Camus, Ayn Rand, Martin Buber, and Adolf Hitler?Nietzsche wrote that all philosophy is autobiographical, and in this vividly compelling, myth-shattering biography, Sue Prideaux brings readers into the world of this brilliant, eccentric, and deeply troubled man, illuminating the events and people that shaped his life and work. From his placid, devoutly Christian upbringing--overshadowed by the mysterious death of his father--through his teaching career, lonely philosophizing on high mountains, and heart-breaking descent into madness, Prideaux documents Nietzsche's intellectual and emotional life with a novelist's insight and sensitivity.She also produces unforgettable portraits of the people who were most important to him, including Richard and Cosima Wagner, Lou Salom�, the femme fatale who broke his heart; and his sister Elizabeth, a rabid German nationalist and anti-Semite who manipulated his texts and turned the Nietzsche archive into a destination for Nazi ideologues. I Am Dynamite! is the essential biography for anyone seeking to understand history's most misunderstood philosopher.

I Am Dynamite! Details

TitleI Am Dynamite!
Author
ReleaseOct 30th, 2018
PublisherTim Duggan Books
ISBN-139781524760823
Rating
GenrePhilosophy, Biography, Nonfiction, History, Biography Memoir

I Am Dynamite! Review

  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    Sue Prideaux presents an fascinating biography on one of the most controversial philosophers of the 19th Century. Rather than focusing heavily on Nietzsche's philosophy she concentrates on his life and and friends, particularly composer Robert Wagner. She also ties Nietzsche's mental breakdown to his father's mental illness rather than syphilis. Nietzsche sister, Elizabeth, is also given an important role in the formation of his fallacious public image. It was her actions that lead to his identi Sue Prideaux presents an fascinating biography on one of the most controversial philosophers of the 19th Century. Rather than focusing heavily on Nietzsche's philosophy she concentrates on his life and and friends, particularly composer Robert Wagner. She also ties Nietzsche's mental breakdown to his father's mental illness rather than syphilis. Nietzsche sister, Elizabeth, is also given an important role in the formation of his fallacious public image. It was her actions that lead to his identity as an anti-Semite and forerunner the Nazis. She also had control of his papers and copyrights after his death.Nietzsche's philosophy, when presented, plays into his life events and creates a connection between the person and the philosophy. Thus Spoke Zarathustra was mailed to the publisher the same day that Wagner's death was reported. Nietzsche saw this as the death of his "father" and the birth of his son. His personal experience with war seems to directly contradict the public's commonly believed definition of the Übermensch. Reality contradicts the common perception of the philosopher.Prideaux shows Nietzsche as a complex man in his thoughts but in many ways very human. Although his friends tended to be rich, he lived much more simply. Prideaux writes a balanced biography of one of the most maligned and misunderstood modern philosophers and corrects some serious wrongs that have no basis in fact. A very well done and cited biography that presents a true picture of the man. 
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  • Mimi
    January 1, 1970
    My first Nietzsche encounters were anthropological rather than philosophical, observing his talismanic function among adolescents – mostly male – keen to signal an iconoclastic yet intellectual clout through an artful arrangement of mangled Penguin paperback Nietzsches, strategically positioned so the title could be glimpsed above the rim of their back pocket. A cerebral equivalent of the handkerchiefs once de rigueur in gay club culture. Like Rimbaud, Nietzsche was a little bit obscure, a littl My first Nietzsche encounters were anthropological rather than philosophical, observing his talismanic function among adolescents – mostly male – keen to signal an iconoclastic yet intellectual clout through an artful arrangement of mangled Penguin paperback Nietzsches, strategically positioned so the title could be glimpsed above the rim of their back pocket. A cerebral equivalent of the handkerchiefs once de rigueur in gay club culture. Like Rimbaud, Nietzsche was a little bit obscure, a little bit rock and roll. Now Nietzsche’s equally fashionable in certain, mainstream philosophical circles, recuperated and absolved of the taint that the association of his ideas with Nazism conferred; so fashionable there’s a veritable Nietzsche industry, with PhD theses, journal articles and undergraduate essays being churned out in relentless abundance. So, Prideaux’s biography is well-timed but her art history background means she’s more concerned with Nietzsche the man than Nietzsche the thinker, although she does attempt overviews of his major publications. I found Prideaux’s approach, despite following the conventional cradle-to-grave template, often remarkably entertaining; Nietzsche’s life is carefully documented but she foregoes the exhaustive detailing that can sink a biography. Prideaux begins with Nietzsche’s sickly but studious German childhood; his father’s early death from a mystery affliction that Nietzsche may or may not have inherited, making him the focus of his doting mother and sister; his meteoric academic rise when he’d barely completed his studies in philology; and, dominating much of the narrative, his influential ties to Wagner and his partner Cosima – which extended to running out to buy Wagner new silk underwear. Nietzsche’s romantic ménage à trois with Cosima and the older, velvet-loving Wagner afforded access to a social constellation far removed from his own austere, impoverished background, but it wasn’t an entirely one-sided relationship, Nietzsche’s academic standing lent credibility to Wagner’s more experimental musical preoccupations. But despite Nietzsche’s veneration of Wagner’s music their political perspectives slowly forced them apart, the military experiences that completely undermined Nietzsche’s health forged a European identification totally at odds with Wagner’s fervent nationalism – in particular his hatred of the Jewish and the French – which Nietzsche found increasingly repulsive. It was, Prideaux maintains, these exact same experiences that gave Nietzsche the resolve to finally shift from philology to the philosophical thought and polemical writing that would take over much of his later years. Years in which his worsening health and eyesight would make his sister Elizabeth increasingly central to his existence and whose later falsehoods and manipulation of his writings in the service of her own anti-Semitic, Nazi sympathies would come to overshadow his posthumous reputation for years to come. Even though the accounts of Wagner’s activities threatened to take over Nietzsche’s story at various stages, once his role lessened, I felt the biography became increasingly and frustratingly fragmented, the only real constants Elizabeth, Nietzsche’s worsening medical problems and growing drug dependency. I can’t deny that Prideaux does a reasonable job of communicating many of his ideas and the questions that plagued him - the role of art in culture, relations between science and religion, morality, ways of thinking and conceptualising the role of man, madness as liberator – but often in an annoyingly uncritical way, though improving in the book’s final sections. I found the shifts between the mundane physicality of the everyday and the realm of ideas disconcerting – although I enjoyed the passages featuring Lou Salome, famous for her connections to Rilke and work with Freud. Moreover, not having read Nietzsche for some time I longed for a greater, more consistent emphasis on the wider cultural and historical contexts in which his thought was embedded and against which he was actively rebelling. As an introduction to Nietzsche’s philosophy this felt too slight and sometimes too pedestrian a trawl through his greatest hits; and as a biography, though intelligent and accessible, often awkwardly split between his interior and exterior worlds. Certainly, there was nothing here that clarified why his work hasn’t just survived but grown in its cultural significance. I couldn’t help comparing this, unfavourably, to what I’ve read of Reiner Stach’s excellent Kafka biography which is meticulous in outlining and analysing Kafka’s social, cultural and historical environment and influences; and wishing the same had been done for Nietzsche.Note: There are some useful overviews of aspects of Nietzsche's ideas to be found on the Philosophy Bites Podcast index of some past episodes here:https://philosophybites.com/2017/04/4...General site here https://philosophybites.com/
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  • Erik Graff
    January 1, 1970
    When asked for recommendations by those unversed in philosophy I most commonly recommend Plato and Nietzsche. Both are enduringly popular. Both are immediately accessible. Though often misinterpreted, both also describe the antipodes of Western philosophy: the metaphysical and the anti-metaphysical, the classical religious and the modern secular ideals.As the Church has misappropriated Plato for its purposes, so much of the abuse of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) stemmed from the decades of con When asked for recommendations by those unversed in philosophy I most commonly recommend Plato and Nietzsche. Both are enduringly popular. Both are immediately accessible. Though often misinterpreted, both also describe the antipodes of Western philosophy: the metaphysical and the anti-metaphysical, the classical religious and the modern secular ideals.As the Church has misappropriated Plato for its purposes, so much of the abuse of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) stemmed from the decades of control of his estate by his racist sister Elisabeth (1846-1935) and her increasingly Nazi entourage. This has been substantially rectified for American readers by the republication of his works, unsullied by her self-serving ministrations, by such translators and biographers as W. Kaufmann and R.J. Hollingdale. Now, with S. Prideaux's current biography, such reconstructions of this man have attained a greater completeness.While Kaufmann, the one most responsible for the reintroduction of Nietzsche to the English-reading public, produced a magisterial biography of the philosopher in 1950 (rev. 1968), his emphasis was more on the evolution of Nietzsche's writing and ideas. Prideaux's particular virtue is in having provided a very readable and more fully-fleshed portrait of the man and those closest to him. She is particularly strong in providing a lucid exposition of his intellectual development in relation to his physical condition and erotic life without thereby belittling either the man or his work.Where Prideaux is weak is in placing Nietzsche within his philosophical context, neglecting, I think his dependence, via Schopenhauer and others, on Kant. But this is the objection of a philosophically-inclined reader and hers is first and foremost a biography, a very good one, which should appeal to specialists and generalists alike.
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  • Biblio Curious
    January 1, 1970
    A book like this needs to be composed like music. All the elements must be gently pulled in so the main themes can shine through. Prideaux accomplishes this with such great finesse. Essentially, this book has 3 main threads that she stays true to for the entire biography: *Chronology of Nietzsche's Life, filled with colourful details.*An Intellectual History of his Philosophical Development, flooded with bookish details.*Historical Context as it Relates to Nietzsche, with the goal of setting the A book like this needs to be composed like music. All the elements must be gently pulled in so the main themes can shine through. Prideaux accomplishes this with such great finesse. Essentially, this book has 3 main threads that she stays true to for the entire biography: *Chronology of Nietzsche's Life, filled with colourful details.*An Intellectual History of his Philosophical Development, flooded with bookish details.*Historical Context as it Relates to Nietzsche, with the goal of setting the record straight.We can see Nietzsche develop from his early 20's. True to any young man, this section of the book is the most lively and fastest to read. The early pages are packed with books he read, what he thought of them, his keen friendship with Wagner & his musical life.Next, the biography moves into his middle years, where the intellectual development slows down but his private life certainly picks up. He's essentially come into his own for what he believes in. The rest reads like a, well, not a gossipy newspaper column. He's still a great thinker, Prideaux's writing still sings, perhaps he's simply a man who fell in love? And if this biography reads as beautifully as fiction, our villain is clearly moving onto the chessboard.This final section is where I was rendered on the floor in emotional turmoil. Again, Prideaux's writing keeps the more complex periods of history clear & easy to read. Which only emphasizes the tragedy of thoughts gone wrong. These were an emotionally crippling couple of pages with exquisitely concise summaries of Nietzsche's final self published works. She includes spoilers on these few pages, if you consider lines like Descartes' "I Think Therefore, I Am" to be a spoiler.The final pages include: *Aphorisms as a great tribute. *Near year by year Chronology from 1844-1935*Endnotes citing the sources, little to no commentary*A pretty fun sounding Bibliography for book nerdsI'd recommend this to fans of Nietzsche & his naysayers most of all. She reduces him back the mere man he wanted to be, removing the legend that his sister painstakingly tried to build up. As a result, perhaps Nietzsche can finally become ... * impish smile, you have to read this book & his works to find out *My 1st Impressions Video, filmed before I read this:https://youtu.be/Qug7mp7Oq7IMy final review, it gives a very brief update to the 1st Impressions & less information than this written review:https://youtu.be/Ygb1gl3vU-o
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  • C. Quabela
    January 1, 1970
    Nietzsche was the primary philosopher who inspired me to pursue the field. Not that he offers a (coherent) belief system or ready-to-hand tools for life, but he does provide the type of critical perspective necessary to begin questioning one’s life. His thought has so much become a part of my own that whenever I revisit his works I find aphorisms that mirror my own dispositions in ways I never realized had sunk in. I feel, as do many who have been inspired by him, an emotional connection with hi Nietzsche was the primary philosopher who inspired me to pursue the field. Not that he offers a (coherent) belief system or ready-to-hand tools for life, but he does provide the type of critical perspective necessary to begin questioning one’s life. His thought has so much become a part of my own that whenever I revisit his works I find aphorisms that mirror my own dispositions in ways I never realized had sunk in. I feel, as do many who have been inspired by him, an emotional connection with his thought given which he holds a dear place for me. All that is to say that I was both anxious and apprehensive to read a biography on his person.The task of writing about the life of Nietzsche is not without its perils. With a hankering after the irrational and revelry it is just as vital to capture the setting and atmosphere within which Nietzsche’s thought developed so as to impress the mood that makes up such a part of Nietzsche’s aesthetic. Prideaux does a superb job in recreating the environment that so affected and afflicted this tormented thinker. With Nietzsche’s own penchant for colorful descriptions, Prideaux works hard to maintain a similar flourish without becoming garish. Nor can one write a biography of Nietzsche without addressing the philosophical thought that consumed him. Prideaux adroitly weaves within the story of his life not only Nietzsche’s own thought, but that of the likes of Empedocles, Kant, Schopenhauer, and more in a manner that seems natural and easy to digest. However, I question Prideaux’s choice to give synopses of Nietzsche’s books, particularly those after his Untimely Meditations. Nietzsche’s works are far too broad and nuanced to neatly sum up in a couple of pages and I fear that these sections may mislead the reader into false starts and premature conclusions about his works.What I find most commendable about this biography is that Prideaux does not mythologize unsubstantiated events in Nietzsche’s life, not even those considered pivotal, nor speculate about them other than where it is further noted by contemporaries making up the primary sources consulted. For example, the time in which it is supposed that Nietzsche may have contracted syphilis is passingly commented upon with only a slight reference to Mann’s grander allusions to it in his novel Doctor Faustus. Rather, the book is well researched and is composed with descriptive care to fill in the setting. The historical facts are treated like a pre-composed libretto needing only to be pieced together and then inlayed by the greater orchestral composition that is Prideaux’s text. I imagine that some may be critical of the divagations into other notable individual’s lives, such as Wagner and Förster, but I found these to be sparse and refreshing. Nietzsche lived during an exceptional time (the Paris Commune, the Franco-Prussian War, emergence of Symbolism, etc.) and many of the individuals, both greater and lesser known, he was personally acquainted with. As such, I take these additions to be an asset to the whole in their providing important context to Nietzsche’s acquaintance and reciprocating influence. “Incipit Tragoedia. When Zarathustra was thirty years old, he left his home and the Lake of Urmi, and went into the mountains. There he enjoyed his spirit and his solitude, and for ten years did not weary of it. But at last his heart changed,” begins aphorism 342 of The Gay Science. The same could be said of that fateful day in Turin during the winter of 1889, Incipit Tragoedia, when he finally went under and succumbed to the madness within which he would spend just over the next ten years. His final decade of life is heartbreaking to read about and Prideaux spares no punches in defending his legacy with a detailed account of the (mis)appropriations of his thought. Some may be turned off by the pointed depiction of his sister Elisabeth’s machinations, but Nietzsche’s legacy had ruthlessly been controlled by her and to dire purposes for decades after his death. Prideaux does an excellent job documenting and debunking many false impressions that have been attributed to Nietzsche over the years without, however, denying that his thought does lend itself to such interpretation and abuse. In terms of scholarship and engagement of style, Prideaux’s portrait is masterfully executed and artfully composed to the aim of defending Nietzsche’s legacy as a philosopher of ‘perhaps.’
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  • Marks54
    January 1, 1970
    I had not read a full biography of Nietzsche before. I had tried to work through some of his major works in college and knew of the odd course that his writings had taken after his death, but lack any sense of a life trajectory. That always struck me as odd for a philosopher/essayist who has proven to be so influential. Sue Prideaux has written a readable and engaging biography of Nietzsche that has helped to fill these holes for me.Having said this, I do not know that I am much clearer about ac I had not read a full biography of Nietzsche before. I had tried to work through some of his major works in college and knew of the odd course that his writings had taken after his death, but lack any sense of a life trajectory. That always struck me as odd for a philosopher/essayist who has proven to be so influential. Sue Prideaux has written a readable and engaging biography of Nietzsche that has helped to fill these holes for me.Having said this, I do not know that I am much clearer about actually “getting” Nietzsche. The book clearly communicates the role of his thought in identifying how modernism has weakened the ability of religion and philosophy to provide meaning and value for people, provided that the levelling tendencies of modern thought are followed through consistently and honestly. That was already fairly clear to me. Prideaux’s account highlights the problem that such a philosophy presents - how does one find meaning in a world with no certainty and no principles - a philosophy of “perhaps”. That this would pose tensions for individuals trying to justify a place in the world is clear and the path that Nietzsche steered through the neighborhoods of madness is not surprising. It was a basic part of his own story line.There are a few aspects to Nietzsche’s story as told here that were striking to me.First, what an odd intellectual environment he worked in! He gets a professorship in philology without completing any degree because of two influential mentors. Then he begins to move in completely different directions away from philology and towards philosophy such that students stop signing up for his courses. He then eventually leaves the university and wanders around Central Europe going to scenic areas writing books that nobody read and whose format was more understandable as driven by his health than by any content. He did not attain much success at all in his lifetime. I have trouble getting my head around just how different this intellectual world is from anything today, especially in big time philosophy.Second, you have to love family, right? How the influence of his mother and especially his sister was associated with Nietzsche’s work is hard to comprehend, especially on substantive issues that affected how his work has been viewed since his death (antisemitism). It is hard to see how his legacy could have not been confused given the particularities of his estate and its managers.Third, the limitations of 19th century medicine are striking and one wonders what was really going on, both in terms of his inherited physical disorders and the bizarre treatments he received. The link between the social/cultural and physical aspects of insanity are striking.Fourth, he received virtually no recognition during his lifetime (when he would have been sane enough to recognize it). Add to that the shift in intellectual life at the turn of the century and it seems like a bad joke on the part of the gods at Nietzsche’s expense. Throw in WW1 and the Nazis and the story only gets stranger. The strange relationship with Wagner and his mistress is part of this and a separate strange part of the cultural story.Finally, the book makes me want to tour Switzerland and northern Italy. I had actually visited Basel and Lucerne prior to reading the book and now want to go back.This was a fun book to read, even while trying to sort through Nietzsche’s aphorisms.
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  • Domhnall
    January 1, 1970
    "One might reject science as faith; one might reject religious faith itself but still retain moral values. First, man must become himself. Secondly, amor fati; he must accept what life brings, avoiding the blind alleys of self-hatred and ressentiment. Then finally man can overcome himself to find true fulfilment as the ubermensch, the man at peace with himself, finding joy in his earthly purpose, rejoicing in the sheer magnificence of existence and content with the finitude of his mortality. Tra "One might reject science as faith; one might reject religious faith itself but still retain moral values. First, man must become himself. Secondly, amor fati; he must accept what life brings, avoiding the blind alleys of self-hatred and ressentiment. Then finally man can overcome himself to find true fulfilment as the ubermensch, the man at peace with himself, finding joy in his earthly purpose, rejoicing in the sheer magnificence of existence and content with the finitude of his mortality. Tragically for Nietzsche, the need to overcome ourselves became so blatantly distorted into the need to overcome others that it has tended to overshadow his ability to ask the eternal questions in such a gloriously provocative way. Similarly, his devotion to examining every facet of the truth and never recommending an answer beyond 'perhaps...' has afforded infinite potential for interpretation. " [p376]This is a very clear and straighforward account of Nietzsche's life and writings, in chronological order. It provides reviews of his many books and key points from his developing philosophy in terms that are uncomplicated and accessible; it also emphasizes the extent to which his books incorporate biographical material and require a knowledge of the writer before the work can be understood. "When the book was finished, he found himself astonished at how autobiographical the text was. It took him by surprise to see how his own blood dripped from the pages, but he felt cetain that only he would be able to see it. In his next book he was to pursue the idea that all philosophy (not only his own) was autobiography." [p240]It gives a lengthy account of his dealings with Wagner, and explains very well the perverse impact on his reputation of his viciously anti-semitic sister and the Nazis, who controlled and misrepresented his unpublished writings for many years. This is essential as his reputation has been so sullied and his writing so misrepresented because of these associations that anyone approaching his work must first push their way through this barrier and only then hope to give the writing itself a fair hearing. I think for many people this is going to be an excellent introduction to Nietzsche and will hopefully encourage them to go further and read some of his books.
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  • Gary Beauregard Bottomley
    January 1, 1970
    I’m glad I broke my rule against biographies and read this book. I needed a context and continuity for properly understanding Nietzsche, and this biography gave it to me. I generally don’t like biographies because as Nietzsche said about thought since Socrates it’s just a collection of facts, or in my words like stamp collecting, and biographies often miss the cohesion by dwelling on the facts or describing a person’s life as if they were stamps in a collection isolated from the real world. This I’m glad I broke my rule against biographies and read this book. I needed a context and continuity for properly understanding Nietzsche, and this biography gave it to me. I generally don’t like biographies because as Nietzsche said about thought since Socrates it’s just a collection of facts, or in my words like stamp collecting, and biographies often miss the cohesion by dwelling on the facts or describing a person’s life as if they were stamps in a collection isolated from the real world. This biography provided the necessary cohesion and gives the reader enough of a taste for why Nietzsche's thoughts are relevant today.This biographer broke from a collection of facts by linking Nietzsche’s thought with his life by dissecting his writing as he was becoming through his life. Nietzsche is a poet who wrote in prose and aphorisms. Nietzsche writes his feelings with ideas such that others can open their eyes rather than remaining blind. That to me is a definition of a poet. I would even give Nietzsche the compliment of not being a philosopher, because Nietzsche can be understood and the definition of a philosopher almost certainly has ‘not being understandable by regular people’ in its definition (okay, I’m just kidding), and this biography goes a long way towards explaining what Nietzsche thought and why it’s just as important to today.Nietzsche was barely known throughout his sane period of life. Almost from the point he lost his sanity is when his fame started to blossom. Nietzsche was incredibly anti anti-Semite. The biographer gives ample evidence for that. More importantly, and this is where the biography excels, once ‘God is dead’ where do we get our meaning? Nietzsche has a project and within a series of books that sell 100 or so copies per book during his sane lifetime he resolves that question, and not to ruin it for anyone, his answer is thrown back to his readers; it is for you to find your meaning. In Nietzsche’s ‘Ecce Homo’, one of the few autobiographies worth reading, he’ll say ‘I gave them the bait, but they refused to nibble’. I would heartily recommend this book to anyone. I know I’ll continue my mission of reading more works of Nietzsche, but now I’ll understand the context and the meaning a little bit better than I would have if I had not read this biography. As Nietzsche said, ‘no one strives for happiness, except for an Englishman’; our real striving is for our meaning not the transitory feelings of happiness.
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  • Mehrsa
    January 1, 1970
    This is a really well-written and vivid memoir of Nietzsche and his legacy. He was a weird and really smart dude. The manner of his decline and death was tragic, but not as tragic as the misuse of his core ideas by the Nazis. Prideaux makes the compelling case that it was his sister that twisted his legacy and that Nietzsche himself would have been appalled
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  • carl theaker
    January 1, 1970
    Yes I too thought, oh a book about a philosopher, reading that would be like eating breakfast cereal without milk, but I still picked “I am Dynamite”, the title encouraged me, off the new book shelf at the library and thank goodness the author writes in a lively style, bringing out all the personalities of the various characters and boy, are there some.Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche were contemporaries who I hadn’t realized, were also close friends for many years, though Wagner was twice Yes I too thought, oh a book about a philosopher, reading that would be like eating breakfast cereal without milk, but I still picked “I am Dynamite”, the title encouraged me, off the new book shelf at the library and thank goodness the author writes in a lively style, bringing out all the personalities of the various characters and boy, are there some.Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche were contemporaries who I hadn’t realized, were also close friends for many years, though Wagner was twice his age. Of course, Wagner and wife Cosima are worth a few dozen books on their own, but this tale does a good job of showing their personal and artistic interactions. Throw in “Mad” King Ludwig II of Bavaria, who financed much of Wagner’s works and you have quite the cast. They both knew they were geniuses, and had no trouble reminding each other of that fact. Nietzsche had fluttering palpitations when listening to Wagner’s operas and Wagner insisted intellectuals appreciate Nietzsche’s writings. They idolized each other artistically, but things got rough at times as Wagner and wife were keenly nationalistic and anti-semitic whereas Nietzsche was the opposite. Aware of Nietzsche’s ‘bad boy of philosophers’ image, I read his major works back in my self education days and pretended like some of it soaked in, so it was somewhat a relief to see the big thinkers of his day tell him, “I like your work”, and more often - “I hate your work”, “but not sure I understand it”. So I am in good company. Nietzsche is known for his witty-sayings...aphorisms, and it was interesting to learn that was the writing style in those days, everyone tried to fill a book full of short deep, meaningful thoughts. Ironically, he published his most famous, popular and money making works just before he went totally insane, which was probably caused by the long term effects of syphilis, which 'softens the brain'. Yet another wild character of the times, his uber-nationalistic, swindling, tyrannical sister, Elizabeth, stepped in to care for him in his last 11 years while he was becoming a world famous philosopher, without realizing it. Long after Wagner and Nietzsche both had passed away, Cosima Wagner and Elisabeth both became grand-dames of sorts to the Third Reich. Wagner’s works and politics were more easily adapted to the Nazi philosophy, however Elisabeth worked hard to ensure her brother’s ideas and legacy were distorted to fit the political climate. Major kudos to author Sue Prideaux who had to understand Nietzsche, Wagner, Schopenhauer and others well enough to explain their works to me. I’m sure there are many tomes available on Nietzsche, so this tale at about 400 pages, is the perfect size to cover the subject for an enjoyable good read and to understand “I am no man, I am dynamite!”.
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  • Paul Ataua
    January 1, 1970
    A little too much life and too little thought for me, though, of course, one should expect that to be the core of a biography. The life part never seemed to get close enough to him, and the thought was just too far away. That he was taken to a brothel and played piano there, that he probably didn't have syphilis, and that Wagner wrote a letter to his doctor which seemed to have led to the breakdown in their friendship are not really tidbits. Yes, there were things of interest and in the end, it A little too much life and too little thought for me, though, of course, one should expect that to be the core of a biography. The life part never seemed to get close enough to him, and the thought was just too far away. That he was taken to a brothel and played piano there, that he probably didn't have syphilis, and that Wagner wrote a letter to his doctor which seemed to have led to the breakdown in their friendship are not really tidbits. Yes, there were things of interest and in the end, it was worth the read, but I guess I wanted more.
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  • Ashley Adams
    January 1, 1970
    The new biography on Nietzsche by Sue Prideaux is fabulously readable! Concise and entertaining.
  • David
    January 1, 1970
    Nietzsche. El filósofo destructor de valores, el incomprendido, el malinterpretado, el tergiversado, el utilizado, el odiado...hasta ahora. Porque ahora Sue Prideaux nos ha descubierto al auténtico Nietzsche, uno de los personajes más importantes del siglo XIX. Apoyada en un magnífico trabajo de documentación, la autora ha compuesto su obra de manera inversa a la que estamos acostumbrados; nos habla del hombre (no de su filosofía), basando sus afirmaciones en anotaciones del propio autor o de su Nietzsche. El filósofo destructor de valores, el incomprendido, el malinterpretado, el tergiversado, el utilizado, el odiado...hasta ahora. Porque ahora Sue Prideaux nos ha descubierto al auténtico Nietzsche, uno de los personajes más importantes del siglo XIX. Apoyada en un magnífico trabajo de documentación, la autora ha compuesto su obra de manera inversa a la que estamos acostumbrados; nos habla del hombre (no de su filosofía), basando sus afirmaciones en anotaciones del propio autor o de sus allegados. Y de ahí nos expone sus trabajos como consecuencia directa de esas vivencias, de su inteligencia asombrosa y de su marcada personalidad en conjunción con el contexto histórico y social. Escrita en un tono ameno y con pequeñas pinceladas de un humor irónico, no pasa nada por alto. Comienza descubriéndonos a un niño sensible que, con un fervor religioso innegable, pronto se planteará aquello en lo que cree y lo sustituirá por sus propias ideas. Apasionado por la música y la literatura, su vida sufre un cambio de rumbo importante a raíz de la muerte de su padre. Fallecimiento que Prideaux logra asociar con las dolencias de juventud de Nietzsche en la escuela Pforta, poniendo en duda el primero de los mitos que desmonta. El de la sífilis. Pero el interés de esta lectura no está en la polémica morbosa, ni en señalar con el dedo a su hermana Elisabeth por el flaco favor que le hizo de cara a la historia (si quieres saber más, lee el libro). Lo mejor es descubrir poco a poco, casi con tempo de novela en algunos pasajes, la manera en que llegaron y crecieron sus pasiones, como la que sintió hacia Wagner, Cosima y Schopenhauer. Poder apreciar casi en primera persona la evolución de su pensamiento, la forma en que le marcaron las decepciones que la vida le reservaba y como se fue distanciando de aquellos con los que durante un tiempo compartió rumbo, es algo que muy pocos autores han logrado y menos en apenas 400 páginas (sin contar citas, bibliografía etc). Además, colateralmente, es un excelente retrato de época, de las tensiones y conflictos europeos, y del ambiente cultural en el que vivía inmerso: siempre estaba relacionado, incluso de estudiante, con personas más importantes que él a los que atraía su estimulante inteligencia y personalidad. De hecho, según nos cuenta Prideaux, era asombrosa la facilidad con la que, tras una breve exposición de ideas de otros, profundizaba en los conceptos y llegaba a conclusiones inabordables para la mayoría. En este libro conoceremos al Nietzsche apasionado, al amante de la música y la cultura griega, al patriota, al enfermo, al desilusionado, al exaltado, al enamorado y al deprimido. Al hombre. Pero inevitablemente también le acompañaremos en los descensos a sus infiernos... Hay que tener claro que la obra que nos ocupa es una biografía, no una disección filosófica. Tal vez por eso no profundiza lo suficiente en las influencias, por ejemplo, de Schopenhahuer y Kant en su pensamiento y si da mayor importancia a sus relaciones humanas. Con toda seguridad hay obras más completas y eruditas en lo que a análisis de su filosofía se refiere, pero ninguna aborda tan en profundidad el desarrollo personal e intelectual del filólogo-filósofo. Tampoco se habían descrito antes así todos sus condicionamientos físicos y sentimentales (tratados con sumo respeto y delicadeza). Aquí se pone todo en contexto (personal e histórico) y se desmontan, por tanto, muchas de las cosas que se han dicho y aceptado como ciertas en la vida del genial personaje. Es, en conclusión, un libro recomendado para [email protected] [email protected] que se sientan atraí[email protected] por su obra, su época, o su vida. Pero, sobre todo, es un texto que deben leer sus detractores que ya no tendrán excusas para seguir viendo en él a un antisemita o un pilar del pensamiento Nazi entre otras cosas. Sue Prideaux lo pone todo en su sitio.Reseña de:elyunquedehefesto.blogspot.com/2019/0...
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  • ♥ Ibrahim ♥
    January 1, 1970
    I love getting to know Nietzsche the man of suffering, in the context of his own family, Pastor Karl and everybody who who had to deal with mental disorders in some form or another. To reduce Nietzsche to a famous quote such as God is dead is plain shallow and ignoramous because context is everything. The more I read about his life the more I feel like I am part of a German family who never chose pain in the first place, and yet we naively keep asking them, “why aren’t you smiling? Smile, becaus I love getting to know Nietzsche the man of suffering, in the context of his own family, Pastor Karl and everybody who who had to deal with mental disorders in some form or another. To reduce Nietzsche to a famous quote such as God is dead is plain shallow and ignoramous because context is everything. The more I read about his life the more I feel like I am part of a German family who never chose pain in the first place, and yet we naively keep asking them, “why aren’t you smiling? Smile, because God loves you.”
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  • Plamen Miltenoff
    January 1, 1970
    https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...Misappropriation has been rife. Richard Spencer, a leader of America’s “alt-right”, claims to have been “red-pilled by Nietzsche”, while Jordan Peterson quotes extensively from him. But let’s start with the Nazis. Growing up in Bismarck’s reich, there were three things Nietzsche hated: the big state, nationalism and antisemitism. “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, that is the end of German philosophy,” he wrote, and “I will have all antisemites shot.”Wh https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...Misappropriation has been rife. Richard Spencer, a leader of America’s “alt-right”, claims to have been “red-pilled by Nietzsche”, while Jordan Peterson quotes extensively from him. But let’s start with the Nazis. Growing up in Bismarck’s reich, there were three things Nietzsche hated: the big state, nationalism and antisemitism. “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, that is the end of German philosophy,” he wrote, and “I will have all antisemites shot.”When it came to faking news, Elisabeth was a pioneer. On her brother’s death in 1900, Elisabeth didn’t think his death mask was sufficiently impressive, so she faked a second one. She did the same to his writing, rummaging about in his literary estate, cutting and pasting at will. She published an unreliable biography of him and delayed publication of his autobiography, Ecce Homo, until she had deleted uncomplimentary references to herself The Nietzsche Archive became an institution filled with extreme rightwingers, whose aggressive nationalism chimed with her own.Among them were Oswald Spengler, and Alfred Bäumler, who oversaw book burning in Berlin and prepared Nietzsche’s texts for new editions, including another The Will to Power that again gave the impression the text had been authored by Nietzsche himself. Bäumler was joined as editor in the Nietzsche Archive by Martin Heidegger. Ernst Krieck, a prominent Nazi ideologue, sarcastically remarked that apart from the fact that Nietzsche was not a socialist, not a nationalist and opposed to racial thinking, he might have been a leading National Socialist thinker.Nietzsche also has an undeserved reputation as a misogynist. Born in 1844, he attended one of the best schools in Europe while Elisabeth was sent to Fräulein Paraski’s institution to be taught how to capture a husband, run a household and speak just sufficient French to be considered elegant but not (God forbid) learned. Yet Nietzsche treated Elisabeth as an equal. He gave her reading lists, urged her to think for herself and widen her knowledge by attending public lectures.Nietzsche and Meysenbug intended to found a school for free spirits in the caves beneath Sorrento.The free spirits were to include women and nothing would be off limits in their study of culture, philosophy, aesthetics, religious scepticism and sexual freedom. The school never materialised but his friendship with Meysenbug widened Nietzsche’s feminist circle to include Meta von Salis-Marschlins, an activist for women’s suffrage, and Resa von Schirnhofer.Nietzsche is an unusual philosopher because he doesn’t tell us what to think. There’s no such thing as Nietzsche-ism. He sums it up in one of his aphorisms: “You repay a teacher badly by becoming merely a pupil.” In other words, read me but think further.
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  • Supriyo Chaudhuri
    January 1, 1970
    A very readable biography of Nietzsche, written for lay reader but not light on philosophy. In fact, it makes the philosophy come alive in context, presenting lengthy quotes with facts and anecdotes. Nietzsche's life is indeed worth it's story, with all the ironies of being a symbol of exactly the opposite of what he wanted to stand for: His 'aristocratic radicalism' corrupted into opportunistic anti-Semitism of rabble-rousers. That is a story this book presents well.
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  • James Earle
    January 1, 1970
    Like many, I remember having a very undisciplined fascination with Nietzche during my early undergraduate years that functionally manifested itself in my picking up Thus Spake Zarathustra or Beyond Good and Evil from time to time, reading for an hour or two, and then thinking of myself as a very free thinker. It was great to read this biography and dispel all the half-truths I thought I knew about him. It was a book I didn’t know I wanted to read until I started reading it. Nietzsche's name, as Like many, I remember having a very undisciplined fascination with Nietzche during my early undergraduate years that functionally manifested itself in my picking up Thus Spake Zarathustra or Beyond Good and Evil from time to time, reading for an hour or two, and then thinking of myself as a very free thinker. It was great to read this biography and dispel all the half-truths I thought I knew about him. It was a book I didn’t know I wanted to read until I started reading it. Nietzsche's name, as he predicted, came to stand for something powerful, though perhaps uniform and monolithic in the popular imagination: the atheist/nihilist prophet. Prideaux throws his life on the page to show that Nietzsche wasn’t one thing. She shows his evolution, and she, more importantly, often lets him tell the story of his evolution through long passages from both his both public and personal writing. We learn about his relationship with Wagner, Burkhardt, his sister, Lou Salome, and others. These were relationships I knew he had but had no real understanding of their nature before reading this book. The biography describes a man who suffered from persistent physical maladies and defended the individual in a rapidly changing world approaching the turn of the century. He turned his life into a parable; left mentors behind; depended on his friends, and walked four to five hours every day. Prideaux also helped me understand his humor. I remembered Neitzche’s writing as though it were a revelation, but it also had irony, and often the message was not simply, as I used to think of it, to help you put a gun to the head of all your beliefs. He was playful and supported life-affirming activities. He didn’t just tear things down, he also built a philosophy that is purposefully open-ended, and, as Prideaux explains, often ends with an ellipse. As she put it, “And so the “higher man” or “Superman” or “free spirit” or “Ubermensch or “philosopher of the future or “philosopher of perhaps” or “Argonaut of the spirit” - call him what you will- is playful. Life is no longer a table fo laws. It is a dance to the music of “what if?”. Awareness of ourselves and awareness of the world around us both depend on the conception that we ultimately do not understand either ourselves or the world.”
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  • Joan
    January 1, 1970
    As someone who had only heard about Nietzsche this biography of him was very enlightening. Prideaux has done a good job of portraying the man and exploring his works. Her writing style makes the information on complex issues very readable.I had no idea that Nietzsche's father went mad at age 35 and that Nietzsche feared the same for himself. Nietzsche did go mad at age 44 and remained so until his death twelve years later. I was surprised by the vision he had at age twelve, making such an impres As someone who had only heard about Nietzsche this biography of him was very enlightening. Prideaux has done a good job of portraying the man and exploring his works. Her writing style makes the information on complex issues very readable.I had no idea that Nietzsche's father went mad at age 35 and that Nietzsche feared the same for himself. Nietzsche did go mad at age 44 and remained so until his death twelve years later. I was surprised by the vision he had at age twelve, making such an impression on him that he dedicated his life to God. Yet he greatly changed that view as he grew older. I had no idea about his relationship with Richard Wagner and the power music had on Nietzsche. I had no idea of his fragile health and failing eyesight, his short experience as a professor, the less than glowing reviews for his works, making references to his divinity as he slipped into madness.I recommend this well written biography to those interested in understanding more about the life and works of Nietzsche.I received a complimentary digital copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.
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  • Justin Evans
    January 1, 1970
    Horrible title, fabulous cover, very enjoyable book. Prideaux writes well, she has a great eye for the important details and for knowing what can be left out, and a flare for narrative. Her destruction of Elisabeth Nietzsche is glorious; her writing on Friedrich is obviously even-handed, since I thought this was a solid, much-needed hatchet job, but Prideaux herself seems to think she was showing the enduring appeal and importance of his ideas. The utter absurdity of much of Nietzsche's thinking Horrible title, fabulous cover, very enjoyable book. Prideaux writes well, she has a great eye for the important details and for knowing what can be left out, and a flare for narrative. Her destruction of Elisabeth Nietzsche is glorious; her writing on Friedrich is obviously even-handed, since I thought this was a solid, much-needed hatchet job, but Prideaux herself seems to think she was showing the enduring appeal and importance of his ideas. The utter absurdity of much of Nietzsche's thinking comes through clearly, as does the tremendous importance of his critical work. 'How to philosophize with a hammer'? Don't imagine that, having bludgeoned everything to bits, you can then pick up a paintbrush and create the future.
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  • Kelsey
    January 1, 1970
    I AM DYNAMITE! is an intimate look at the life and death of one of history's most well known philosophers- Friedrich Nietzsche. One of my favorite aspects of reading is the fact that I can pick up a book knowing very little about a subject and finish with a whole new perspective and wealth of information. Nietzsche was one of those figures that I knew most of the basics (i.e. "God is dead"), but not nearly enough. He was incredibly complicated and Sue Prideaux's book gave a balanced and informat I AM DYNAMITE! is an intimate look at the life and death of one of history's most well known philosophers- Friedrich Nietzsche. One of my favorite aspects of reading is the fact that I can pick up a book knowing very little about a subject and finish with a whole new perspective and wealth of information. Nietzsche was one of those figures that I knew most of the basics (i.e. "God is dead"), but not nearly enough. He was incredibly complicated and Sue Prideaux's book gave a balanced and informative account of his life and death. The book opens with Nietzsche as a young boy and the early loss of his father. Nietzsche did not have the easiest childhood and struggled to connect with his peers. It was fascinating to see Nietzsche's transition from extremely religious with plans to serve the church to begin questioning God. He also developed relationships with a wide variety of significant cultural figures from Wagner to Lou Salome. Nietzsche meets and interacts with many different people throughout his life and they all impact his journey in different ways. He also develops some casual relationships with different women but none turn into anything permanent. I wonder how his life and legacy would have been altered if he had a wife and children to protect his beliefs and writing. Nietzsche had a lot of ideas that were not widely accepted for his time and it was sad to see how he struggled to connect with people until after his decent into madness and death. The final chapters were some of the most interesting to me. They were depressing and frightening, but Prideaux does a great job of attempting to dispel the syphilis rumors. Doctors were quick to assume that was the reason for Nietzsche's madness, so additional tests were never performed. The worst person in his life was his sister. Elisabeth did not care about protecting her brother's legacy. She only cared about money and making herself famous. Elisabeth twisted her brother's words, destroyed papers, and befriended Hitler and Mussolini. The beginning took me some time to get into as there were a lot of names and places I was unfamiliar with. Quickly, though, I found myself conducting research on every name that was mentioned and learned so much about the people in Nietzsche's world. I am especially interested in learning more about Lou Salome. I AM DYNAMITE! was an interesting and well-written biography of one of history's most controversial figures. I especially liked learning about some of the aphorisms that originated with Nietzsche like "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". Nietzsche's ideas were before his time and especially controversial because of his questioning of God and the church. I related to his joy of being by himself with nature and taking time to write and read quietly. This was a fascinating man and there is so much more to him that is worth reading about, particularly if you have only read the biased accounts put out by his sister and her followers.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent biography of Nietzsche and his ideas. Also a number of entertaining anecdotes, especially involving his sister (villain #1) and Richard Wagner (villain #2) (which I won't spoil). The author makes the argument that Nietzsche's breakdown was not caused by Syphilis but by a family history of insanity. I'm not fully convinced, but it is worth a reappraisal. I listened to this on Audible and the narration was good if sometimes inconsistent in German pronunciation. I would have given this bo Excellent biography of Nietzsche and his ideas. Also a number of entertaining anecdotes, especially involving his sister (villain #1) and Richard Wagner (villain #2) (which I won't spoil). The author makes the argument that Nietzsche's breakdown was not caused by Syphilis but by a family history of insanity. I'm not fully convinced, but it is worth a reappraisal. I listened to this on Audible and the narration was good if sometimes inconsistent in German pronunciation. I would have given this book 5 stars but I felt it ended too soon (with his sister's death in the 1930's) and did not update the fortunes of Nietzsche's reputation to the present (there was a significant reappraisal started by Walter Kauffmann and others in I think the 1950s).
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  • Deb Lancaster
    January 1, 1970
    One of the best, most enjoyable, fascinating and well written books I've read in years. Firmly rescues Nietzsche from any of the the ridiculous assertions of Nazi sympathising, provides accessible synopses of his works, puts his writing into the context of his personal life and eviscerates his heinous sister. Seriously enjoyable. Also gives a brilliantly illuminating window into Wagner and his nutty world. Read this book. Everyone.
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  • Scott Erickson
    January 1, 1970
    This is a great introduction not only Nietzsche's life, but also to his thought. For me, trying to read Nietsche directly is nearly impossible. He was NOT a clear and concise writer. Why couldn't he just SAY what he meant? But this book clearly shows his intellectual journey, and I was amazed by how profound his ideas were. It also shows, unfortunately, how his ideas were twisted into nearly their opposite by the Nazi party who wanted intellectual justification for the policies of the Third Reic This is a great introduction not only Nietzsche's life, but also to his thought. For me, trying to read Nietsche directly is nearly impossible. He was NOT a clear and concise writer. Why couldn't he just SAY what he meant? But this book clearly shows his intellectual journey, and I was amazed by how profound his ideas were. It also shows, unfortunately, how his ideas were twisted into nearly their opposite by the Nazi party who wanted intellectual justification for the policies of the Third Reich. Highly recommended for anyone who is interested in going beyond the myths to discover the truth about a very misunderstood person.
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  • Don
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book somewhat frustrating, as I'd been hoping for a deeper penetration of the philosopher's psyche. I don't know to what extent that this is even possible, but given Nietzsche's own very personal and emotional writings, I have a feeling Prideaux could gone deeper.
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  • Dec Lloyd
    January 1, 1970
    Such a great break away from all of the other heaps and heaps of presumptuous overly academic biographies out there that assume to know everything about Nietzsche and every aspect of his philosopy. This is a reverent, gripping, rollicking bio, written beautifully, and I learned so many new things ... Please please please Sue can you write biographies for many more great philosophers?!?
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  • Keith
    January 1, 1970
    This a deeply fascinating, well researched and written, biography of Friedrich Nietzsche. It is especially praiseworthy for its accessibility. It seems a deep challenge for a biographer to write the life of a philosopher but Sue Prideaux has succeeded wth a volume that tells the story of a life while also offering the reader insights into the writings. My own university encounter with Nietzsche was surely typical. A number of texts in translation were required reading, some lengthy like Beyond G This a deeply fascinating, well researched and written, biography of Friedrich Nietzsche. It is especially praiseworthy for its accessibility. It seems a deep challenge for a biographer to write the life of a philosopher but Sue Prideaux has succeeded wth a volume that tells the story of a life while also offering the reader insights into the writings. My own university encounter with Nietzsche was surely typical. A number of texts in translation were required reading, some lengthy like Beyond Good and Evil, some brief as with Thus Spoke Zarathustra and The Anti-Christ. The goal there was to read the texts as quickly as possible, in competition with other texts in other classes, in order to discuss in class. I remember skimming the introduction to one of the Nietzsche texts and absorbing some brief facts about his life. I think if I had read a biography as good as this one I would have had a more balanced and deeper understanding of the development of his thought. I say this knowing that it is possible to lazily let biography define interpretation but a biography such as this seems the idea companion in an exploration of Nietzche's life and thought.One thing I learned beyond the details of his life was that Nietsche's sister Elisabeth was one of the vilest creatures to walk around. Nietzche's end was so sad but I'm surprised his exploitative sister didn't have him stuffed and mounted in the Weimar Nietzsche Archiv.
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  • Janine Brouillette
    January 1, 1970
    This was a very interesting biography on a man who I had heard of, but did not know that much about. The writer describes Nietzsche’s early upbringing, the death of his father with “softening of the brain”, his complex relationship with his mother and sister, Elizabeth, which carried on until his final breakdown, stroke, and death. His sister, who had strong Nazi beliefs, and who was a friend of Hitler’s was the curator and editor of the library of his work after his death which made it take an This was a very interesting biography on a man who I had heard of, but did not know that much about. The writer describes Nietzsche’s early upbringing, the death of his father with “softening of the brain”, his complex relationship with his mother and sister, Elizabeth, which carried on until his final breakdown, stroke, and death. His sister, who had strong Nazi beliefs, and who was a friend of Hitler’s was the curator and editor of the library of his work after his death which made it take an unintended slant immediately after his death but has since been corrected. Nietzche took inspiration from people such as Plato, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Richard Wagner. Prideaux wrote in great detail about Nietzsche almost obsession with Wagner, his music, and even his wife, Cosima. He spent much of his time with them at their villa Tribschen and was even there for the birth of their first child. He would send them his writings for review and would even compose music for them, although that was never well received. Prideaux does a good job of weaving his personal life, his philosophical thoughts, and even his periods of tormented mind. Another relationship that is featured in his life is that with Lou Salomé and Paul Ree.....and their time spent as the “unholy trinity”.....until they broke his heart. Sue Prideaux did a great job of researching and was very knowledgeable of his life, work, relationships, and philosophy, but being somewhat of a novice it seemed a little wordy and complicated in some parts.
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  • Zack
    January 1, 1970
    There is a lot of good to be found in this book, primarily the emphasis on Nietzsche's movements and prominent figures in his life. Don't take this to be a comprehensive introduction to his thinking, however. Prideaux seems more concerned with telling us what Nietzsche was doing than what he was thinking, or how those thoughts turned him into one of the greatest philosophers of our time. The book seems primarily concerned with the data of its subject rather than his character, though there are f There is a lot of good to be found in this book, primarily the emphasis on Nietzsche's movements and prominent figures in his life. Don't take this to be a comprehensive introduction to his thinking, however. Prideaux seems more concerned with telling us what Nietzsche was doing than what he was thinking, or how those thoughts turned him into one of the greatest philosophers of our time. The book seems primarily concerned with the data of its subject rather than his character, though there are flashes where the person of Nietzsche shines through. This is not a bad book by any means, but neither is it a great one. It has a stupendously engaging title, and a few chapters throughout that manage to live up to the expectation it sets. The rest, much as it pains me to say, are rather uninteresting.
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  • Steven Peck
    January 1, 1970
    One of my favorite books this year.
  • Jackson James Wood
    January 1, 1970
    I went into this book not knowing much about Nietzsche. I had tried to read Thus Spoke Zarathustra during high school, had associated his philosophy with Nazism, and picked up some of his aphorisms here and there. So I was expecting the biography to enrage me and fill out some of that blank space behind the cultural side to Germanic/European thinking in that historical dead space of the very end of the 19th century until before WWI. Boy, was I wrong about the middle one.This book is one of those I went into this book not knowing much about Nietzsche. I had tried to read Thus Spoke Zarathustra during high school, had associated his philosophy with Nazism, and picked up some of his aphorisms here and there. So I was expecting the biography to enrage me and fill out some of that blank space behind the cultural side to Germanic/European thinking in that historical dead space of the very end of the 19th century until before WWI. Boy, was I wrong about the middle one.This book is one of those few biographies that maintain a compelling and interesting narrative of their subject's life. Obviously very well researched by Prideaux due to the copious archive of letters, journals, notes, drafts, and other ephemera this biography paints a very rich picture of a poorly man, constrained by his ill-health, his over-sized imagination, and circumstance.There is so much detail here about Nietzsche, not only what he did but what he thought (or at least what he told other people he thought). That detail is complimented by deep dives into the lives of the people that influenced him, primarily Wagner (the composer) and his sister Elisabeth. There are times when you feel like you're in the room with them in the middle of of their dionysian-inspired chat sessions.So it has (almost) completely changed my opinion of Nietzsche (I still think TSZ is boring AF). Things this book taught me: - FN was a very sick man. His health was terrible even before he went insane (which probably wasn't syphilis).- FN's sister was an ardent anti-Semite and was responsible for FN's inclusion in the Nazi canon. FN detested anti-Semites and most likely would have been appalled at how his work was perverted.- He had a falling out with Wagner because Wagner wrote to FN's doctor saying that FN's ill health was due to chronic masturbation.It's a long read, but I think it is worth it if you're interested in philosophy, history, or just want to hear a well-researched story.
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