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silverfly's avatar

Any advice before I read Friedrich Nietzsche?

Asked by silverfly (4045points) June 28th, 2010

I bought The Will to Power yesterday and I’d like to get some feedback from those who have ever read Nietzsche or have any thoughts on him and his work. How difficult is it to read his books? What should I know before reading his work? Do you recommend doing anything before I read it? The Will to Power seems like a pretty negative book. Is it? Are all of his books full of criticism?

And just a side note: I’m reading this for myself, not for school.

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9 Answers

jfos's avatar

I wouldn’t say that his writing is difficult to read, but you might want to take it slowly, to make sure you understand everything you are reading. I find his writing-style to be very cumulative, so if you don’t grasp the foundation of his argument, it will be harder to grab the concepts he builds.

silverfly's avatar

@jfos Good advice. I’ll be sure to take notes and go slow. Is he a very negative person in general?

jfos's avatar

In my opinion, he’s very critical. But as for “negative,” I guess that depends on whose side you’re on.

wildpotato's avatar

You should know a bit about Nietzsche’s personal history, and particularly that of The Will to Power. Some scholars discount it as a true reflection of Nietzsche’s thought because his crazy Nazi sister got into the manuscript after he died of syphilis. She chopped it up and also inserted her own stuff. See here.

silverfly's avatar

@wildpotato Wow, that is really unfortunate. I’ll certainly keep that in mind while I read it. Thanks for the tip!

filmfann's avatar

I read Nietzsche years ago, and my take was that he said very negative things using very happy and upbeat words. I can’t give you examples at the moment, but that’s how I remember feeling about it.

Jeruba's avatar

1. Nietzsche isn’t easy, but you can get it. Some of his work goes down more easily than others.

2. It’s no sin to read commentary on his writings and summaries of his major themes to help guide your understanding as you read. But—

3. Try to pay attention to what he actually says and not to the ways that others misused his work after the fact. (See @wildpotato‘s point.) Nietzsche isn’t responsible for others’ self-serving interpretations.

And finally,

4. Pay no attention to his notion of “eternal recurrence,” which never actually made any sense in the first place.

mattbrowne's avatar

Expect something very dark.

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