Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography

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Overview

In this beautifully written account, Julian Young provides the most comprehensive biography available today of the life and philosophy of the nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Young deals with the many puzzles created by the conjunction of Nietzsche’s personal history and his work: why the son of a Lutheran pastor developed into the self-styled “Antichrist”; why this archetypical Prussian came to loathe Bismarck’s Prussia; and why this enemy of feminism preferred the company of feminist women. Setting Nietzsche’s thought in the context of his times – the rise of Prussian militarism, anti-Semitism, Darwinian science, the “Youth” and emancipationist movements, as well as the “death of God” – Young emphasizes the decisive influence of Plato and of Richard Wagner on Nietzsche’s attempt to reform Western culture. He also describes the devastating effect on Nietzsche’s personality of his unhappy love for Lou Salomé and attempts to understand why, at the age of forty-four, he went mad. This book includes a selection of more than thirty photographs of Nietzsche, his friends and his work sites. Seventeen of the philosopher’s musical compositions, which are key to a deeper understanding of his intellectual project are available online.

To listen to Nietzsche's compositions, visit: http://www.cambridge.org/us/nietzschemusic

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
". . . serious and readable . . .”
—Francis Fukuyama, The New York Times Book Review

"Sets the German philosopher's thought in the context of Prussian militarism, anti-Semitism, Darwinian science, and other phenomena of his era..."
—The Chronicle of Higher Education

“Julian Young brings together his fine scholarly skills, his delightful writing style, and a solid grasp of Nietzsche’s thought to produce a philosophical biography that will be unparalleled for years to come. Especially valuable is Young’s way of showing how events in Nietzsche’s life hooked up with intellectual developments in this multi-faceted philosopher. A pleasure to read and a valuable source of information.”
—Charles Guignon, University of South Florida

"A first in the history of Nietzsche studies: a richly detailed biography written by a leading scholar of Nietzsche's philosophy. The volume nicely mixes the intriguing particulars of Nietzsche's life with intelligent analyses of his philosophical work that are well-informed, always clear, sometimes controversial, but consistently interesting. It will now be the starting place for the philosophically-minded reader of Nietzsche seeking a comprehensive treatment of the life and the work."
—Brian Leiter, University of Chicago

"Simply put, this is an excellent biography of Nietzsche, and a model of what a philosophical biography should be. Young offers a smooth integration of biographical detail and philosophical analysis so that one can readily see how Nietzsche's life and thought informed one another. He stakes out some controversial interpretive claims, but even setting these aside, Young has produced a study that must be read by every Nietzsche scholar and by anyone interested more generally in the shaping of the modern philosophical landscape..."
—Charlie Huenemann, Utah State University, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"...masterly biography of Nietzsche... "
—Joachim Krueger, Brown University, Psychology Today

"A biography as profound and disturbing as its subject." -
—Christensen, Bryce, American Library Association's Booklist Magazine

"...Julian Young's Friedrich Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography is marvelous, meticulously researched, artfully written, and genuinely insightful. Young has managed to produce a work of the highest caliber on the slippery terrain of Nietzsche's thought. He offers a total vision of Nietzsche's intellectual development that is at times critical, as well as giving clear accounting for the many implicit arguments found in Nietzsche's work... The volume's style is artful, far exceeding the norms of philosophical treatises... Young's book is remarkable, and easily recommended. One will find value in it as an overview to or introduction to Nietzsche's thought. While invaluable as a work for those interested in Nietzsche, it is perhaps even more important for philosophers, given how regularly Nietzsche is misunderstood or misinterpreted. On the whole, Young's book is outstanding... In sum, not only has Young produced a masterful study of Nietzsche, fit for slow reading (296), but a work that opens avenues for further inquiry. The superlative quality of the whole towers well over what blemishes it has. Young's philosophical biography of Nietzsche is certainly essential for any serious study of Nietzsche henceforth."
—Eric Chelstrom, Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Grand Valley State University, Metapsychology

"...In this massive work, Young (Univ. of Auckland, NZ; Wake Forest) presents the most comprehensive biography of Nietzsche available in English... Young offers interpretations of all of Nietzsche's works, often tying these interpretations to interesting details about Nietzsche's locale, his health, and events in his life... This volume is indispensable for anyone interested in Nietzsche's life and thought... Essential..."
A. D. Schrift, Grinnell College, CHOICE

"...This strenuously researched biography serves well to give one a clear understanding of Nietzsche's radical philosophy.... delightful and richly detailed biography of Nietzsche. It provides new readings and perspectives on Nietzsche's life and work, questioning the conventional interpretation of his “nihilistic” underpinnings. It brings out the huge impact of Nietzsche on 20th-century philosophy and literature and its well-grounded notions of beliefs and values, casting a “long shadow” on the complex cultural and philosophical central themes of postmodernist thinking...."
SHELLEY WALIA, FRONTLINE

"This is the longest and most thorough account of Nietzsche’s life available in English. It might also be the best. It uses Nietzsche’s letters to good effect along with generous helpings of the existing correspondence from his acquaintances. The pace is crisp and the writing is situated in the present day, often drawing parallels with contemporary events, objects and characters. There are 32 black and white photos, 28 chapters, a Chronology, Notes, a Bibliography and an Index. Young discusses several musical compositions by Nietzsche, recordings of which can be listened to free of charge at the Cambridge University Press Web Site, where further commentary can be found as well."
Bryan Finken, University of Colorado at Denver, Philosophy in Review

"Presenting such a unified account is particularly impressive given that Young does not appear to deprive us of any of the details of Nietzsche’s life. We get definitive treatments of his childhood, the Pforta years, his turbulent relationships, and his heartbreaking demise. From the biographical perspective, Young pulls all of this together through some adept storytelling: he uses flashbacks, flashforwards, overlapping events relayed successively, and a host of other devices to tell a coherent and fascinating tale. This book is a must read for those interested in Nietzsche, as well as for students of the intellectual history of late nineteenth-century Europe, and for anyone looking for ideas on how to craft a unified philosophical biography."
—Iain Morrisson, The Honors College, University of Houston, Journal of the History of Philosophy

"....incisive, provocative and elegant writing.... a highly worthwhile read.... Young's arguments are persuasive, yet leave enough space for the reader to form his/her own interpretation. This is a welcome improvement on Hollingdale's version from 1965, full of orthodox certainties.... An important asset of Young's Philosophical biography is that it portrays both Nietzsche the philosopher and Nietzsche the man amidst the backdrop of historical, political and cultural events, including the Franco-Prussian war, Bismarck's rise to power, the ascent of the sciences, and the growing fame of his friend Richard Wagner...."
—Dr. Eva Cybulska, Independent Scholar, Philosophy Now

"....Julian Young’s biography, Nietzsche: A Philosophical Biography, is unusual, given the author’s academic repute as a Nietzsche scholar. Young acutely surveys Nietzsche’s life, while offering erudite accounts of his philosophy.... In terms of its content, this book makes several important contributions to Nietzschean scholarship.... Young’s book compellingly shows that, as a cultural critic, Nietzsche is as relevant as ever."
—Jack Reynolds, La Trobe University, Australian Book Review

"Those of us interested in the mercurial and ever-mysterious Nietzsche are indebted to Julian Young for the production of this extremely fine biography.... connoisseurs of the details of Nietzsche’s life will discover intriguing new information.... It also provides overviews of the intellectual work he was undertaking at each stage of his life.... clear, well organized, and intelligent...."
—Ruth Abbey, University of Notre Dame, Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy P

Francis Fukuyama
One of the pitfalls of writing a biography of a great philosopher is the temptation to reduce important ideas to mere psychology, an outgrowth of some fluke in the philosopher's personal development. Julian Young…has for the most part avoided this trap by writing a "philosophical" biography of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) in which the life story provides context but ultimately not explanation for the ideas. In so doing he has provided a serious and readable, if not exactly ground-breaking, introduction to Nietzsche's "philosophy with a hammer."
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521871174
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/8/2010
  • Pages: 676
  • Sales rank: 793,546
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Educated at Cambridge University and the University of Pittsburgh, Julian Young is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Auckland and Honorary Research Professor at the University of Tasmania. A scholar of nineteenth- and twentieth-century German philosophy, he is the author of nine books, most recently Nietzsche's Philosophy of Religion, and has been invited to speak at universities and conferences throughout the world.

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Table of Contents

Part I. Youth: 1. Da campo; 2. Pforta; 3. Bonn; 4. Leipzig; 5. Schopenhauer; Part II. The Reluctant Professor: 6. Basel; 7. Richard Wagner and the birth of The Birth of Tragedy; 8. War and aftermath; 9. Anal philology; 10. Untimely Meditations; 11. Aimez vous Brahms?; 12. Aufwiedersehen Bayreuth; 13. Sorrento; 14. Human, All-Too-Human; Part III. The Nomad: 15. The wanderer and his shadow; 16. Dawn; 17. The Gay Science; 18. The Salomé affair; 19. Zarathustra; 20. Nietzsche's circle of women; 21. Beyond Good and Evil; 22. Clearing the decks; 23. The Genealogy of Morals; 24. 1888; 25. Catastrophe; 26. The rise and fall of The Will to Power; 27. The end; Postscript: Nietzsche's madness.

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