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Thread: I want to start reading Nietzsche. Where should I start?

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    I want to start reading Nietzsche. Where should I start?

    I've heard so much about how controversial he was that I've decided I'd like to find out first hand why. I want to start with something that's accessible and won't go entirely over my head lol.

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    Registered User Desolation's Avatar
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    I would get Penguin's anthology The Portable Nietzsche, and Modern Library's The Basic Writings of Nietzsche, between the two you'll have all of Nietzsche's best works in their best translations.

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    Registered User hellsapoppin's Avatar
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    Nietzsche is heavy stuff. Best to start with quotes:

    http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/au...nietzsche.html


    I thought his book The Gay Science may be one of his easier works. Try this:

    http://www.drury.edu/ess/postmodernism/GayScience2.html
    “... by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord ... I am now, as before, a Catholic and will always remain so.”

    --- Adolf Hitler

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    Registered User wokeem's Avatar
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    I thoroughly enjoyed On The Genealogy of Morality

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    Thus Spoke Zarathustra was my introduction to Nietzsche, so I'd recommend that. Desolation's recommendation is a very good one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Desolation View Post
    I would get Penguin's anthology The Portable Nietzsche, and Modern Library's The Basic Writings of Nietzsche, between the two you'll have all of Nietzsche's best works in their best translations.
    The modern library hardback is a nicely produced book. It's worth shelling out a few dollars more over the price of the paperback. I certainly found it readable, but I don't think you can say these are the best translations, full stop. Hollingdale and Kaufmann both have similar reputations. I've read some Hollingdale (in Penguin) and found them of a similar quality to Kaufmann.

    There are significant differences, besides the obvious one of Brit. v. US. For instance, Kaufmann likes biblical phrases "Zarathustra beheld the people...", while Hollingdale is more straightforward "Zarathustra looked at the people...", I don't mind either way, your preference may differ. Many other good publishers have produced more recent translations - Wordsworth, Oxford,... It might be worth spending some time browsing to see which translation suits you best.

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    Registered User Sebas. Melmoth's Avatar
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    With Nietzsche, you could start with his first book, The Birth of Tragedy. This is both informative and readable (and short), and gives an insight into his entire project.

    Then you could cut to his late little books Ecce Homo and The Antichrist.

    (Collections of aphorisms [such has the posthumous Will to Power] are of a different essence than the arguments of unified books.)

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    Love of Controversy rabid reader's Avatar
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    Start with his like the Genealogy of Morals, and then work into Thus Spake Zarathustra, and then his later work, my personal favourite being Twilight of the Idols.

    If I can echo the recommendation of the Portable Nietzsche, you can find it in almost every book store. If you want more of the complete versions try to find the ones translated by Walter Kaufmman.
    A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.
    - Orwell

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    First I would recommand reading a little bit of secondary literature, because in my opinion Nietzsche is one of the philosophers who are extremely easy to get misinterpreted.

    Maybe Thus Spoke Zarathustra would be a good start then, but I think instead of starting with the "right" book it is more important to read editions with good notes.

    Best regards

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    Quote Originally Posted by loe View Post
    First I would recommand reading a little bit of secondary literature...
    Good point. But what? I recently read:

    Nietzsche: A Very Short Introduction by Michael Tanner

    I thought this was a very good book. It tied together a lot of my reading of Nietzsche. I wish I had read it before reading Nietzsche's works. It is quite critical of Kaufmann. Tanner's position is, roughly, that Kaufmann's translations are excellent, but his interpretations are lacking.

    As you will probably be encountering Kaufmann, it's a good idea to read something critical of his interpretations "up front".

    More importantly, Tanner provides a great introduction to Nietzsche's works and how they "hang together". It has a good 'further reading' section and good advice on translations.

    Tanner on TSZ:

    "For a long time Nietzsche's most famous book was Thus Spoke Zarathustra. It is not, I think, any longer, and on the whole that is a development I applaud"

    He then goes on to point out the problems with this book, and compares it to his other works. All very useful. I found TSZ almost unreadable. I would never recommend it as the first book to read.

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    Love of Controversy rabid reader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mal4mac View Post
    He then goes on to point out the problems with this book, and compares it to his other works. All very useful. I found TSZ almost unreadable. I would never recommend it as the first book to read.

    TSZ is very very interpretive, if one does not have a high reading comprehension they should never even both attempting it. But if you can sift through the prose and the riddles, the book can be life altering.
    A tragic situation exists precisely when virtue does not triumph but when it is still felt that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.
    - Orwell

    Read of my Shepherd

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    Tanner sounds interesting.
    I am afraid I can't recommend any concrete editions or books, because I read everything of and about Nietzsche in German.
    (for German readers I can recommend the KSA-edition (Kritische Studienausgabe) - it's a very critical edition of Nietzsche's works and not expensive).

    Before getting deeper into Nietzsche I read a small book about philosophy of the 19th century. Of course, that book was too short to give an extensive explanation and interpretation of each philosopher but I think, it's also very useful for the understanding to know something about the "surroundings" (e.g. Schopenhauer who was very important for Nietzsche).

    Best regards

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    It is very difficult to know where to start with Nietzsche. There is no one book of his that presents the main ideas of his philosophy, like, say, Kant's first critique, or Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation. He doesn't produce books "by topic". So you can't, as with Aristotle, turn to his works on ethics if you are interested in ethics. So maybe it's just best to read him from the beginning, after reading a short book of general orientation (e.g. Tanner.)

    One big advantage of Nietzsche is that he writes very well. I find him a joy to read. Kant, Schopenhauer, and most other philosophers are a real struggle. With many philosophers I want to know what their key work is because I can't stand the thought of having to read all their works. Nietzsche is not of that ilk, everything is worth reading from the beginning, and reading him is not too hard (apart from TSZ - but even that can be got through after you have built up some appreciation of him from his earlier works.)

    Also, Nietzsche comes at the end of the long line of great philosophers, so if you know nothing about philosophy from Plato to Kant/Schopenhauer then you will find him difficult. So do you read all the great philosophers? Maybe eventually. But if you are motivated to read Nietzsche *now* then shortcuts can be taken. The main thing is to get "some idea" of the ideas of the main philosophers, so when Nietzsche just drop them into his diatribes you know (roughly) what he's talking about. Bryan Magee's "Confessions of a Philosopher" is a very good overview of Western philosophy. He's a recognized expert on Schopenhauer, an avid popularizer, and writes like a dream (unusual for philosophers!). "Confessions" also has a lot (mostly positive!) to say about Nietzsche.

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    Philologist Nietzsche's Avatar
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    I'd start with a book ABOUT Nietzsche, he's deep stuff to get into without some intro.

    http://www.amazon.com/Nietzsche-Very...5528378&sr=8-1

    This is a good book

    and this is also an excellent resource
    http://dailynietzsche.blogspot.com/
    "I teach you the Übermensch. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? … What is ape to man? A laughing stock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be that to the Übermensch" -- from Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Nietzsche

    “Let the future tell the truth, and evaluate each one according to his work and accomplishments. The present is theirs; the future, for which I have really worked, is mine.” - Nikola Tesla

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    Nice to see that Nietzsche agrees with me

    Before I read any more Nietzsche I'll be re-reading Tanner.

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