Resentment and the "Feminine" in Nietzche's Politico-Aesthetics

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Nietzsche's remarks about women and femininity have generated a great deal of debate among philosophers, some seeing them as ineradicably misogynist, others interpreting them more favorably as ironic and potentially useful for modern feminism. In this study, Kay Picart uses a genealogical approach to track the way Nietzsche's initial use of "feminine" mythological figures as symbols for modernity's regenerative powers gradually gives way to an increasingly misogynistic politics, resulting in the silencing and emasculation of his earlier configurations of the "feminine."

While other scholars have focused on classifying the degree of offensiveness of Nietzsche's ambivalent and developing misogyny, Picart examines what this misogyny means for his political philosophy as a whole. Picart successfully shows how Nietzsche's increasingly derogatory treatment of the "feminine" in his post-Zarathustran works is closely tied to his growing resentment over his inability to revive a decadent modernity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“A significant contribution to both Nietzsche scholarship and feminist theory, Picart’s well-written book insightfully shows how Nietzsche’s myths of femininity are central to his political philosophy. Her treatment of the evolution of Nietzsche’s ideas is especially impressive.”
—Kelly Oliver, SUNY, Stony Brook

“Picart’s book is a sustained and consistent treatment of resentment targeted at Nietzsche himself, using his own genealogical method. Well informed by feminist theory and recent scholarship in political philosophy, while at the same time appropriately attentive to the artistic dimensions of Nietzsche’s thought and arguably all thought as it purports to deal with the question of the feminine, it is one of the most scathing critiques of Nietzsche to emerge in the decade of the 1990s, and all the more scathing insofar as it reveals a genuine knack for turning the thoughts of the master over and against him. I expect that readers of Nietzsche will find much to admire and to question in this bold book, and it is not otherwise with Nietzsche’s writings themselves.”
—Andrian Del Caro, Journal of Nietzsche Studies

Resentment and the “Feminine” in Nietzsche’s Politico-Aesthetics is stimulating, challenging, and an immense joy to read.”
—Paul Kingsburgy, Feminism and Philosophy

Resentment and the “Feminine” in Nietzsche’s Politico-Aesthetics is stimulating, challenging, and an immense joy to read.”

—Paul Kingsburgy, Feminism and Philosophy

Rather than close readings of one or two texts, as most feminist accounts of Nietzsche have done, Picart takes a more genealogical or developmental approach, employing a horizontal analysis across texts and vertical analysis within texts. She accepts earlier findings of a type of misogyny in his work, and interprets the peculiar type through criteria that he himself establishes, and explores what it means for his political philosophy as a whole. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271018898
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.66 (d)

Meet the Author

Caroline (Kay) Picart is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire. She is the author of Eroticism, Death, Music, and Laughter in Mann and Nietzsche (forthcoming) and The Rebirths of Frankenstein (forthcoming).

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Problem of the "Feminine" in Nietzsche 1
1 Genealogies of the "Feminine" and "Woman" 15
2 The Pre-Zarathustran Phase: Exca/Elevating the Mother 39
3 The Zarathustran Phase: The Phallic Mother 81
4 The Post-Zarathustran Phase: Emasculate Conception 111
5 Looking Back, Looking Forward 147
Bibliography 181
Index 187
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