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How did Nietzsche the philosopher come into being? The Nietzsche known today did not develop 'naturally', through the gradual maturation of some inborn character. Instead, from an early age he engaged in a self-conscious campaign to follow his own guidance, thereby cultivating the critical capacities and personal vision which figure in his books. As a result, his published works are steeped in values that he discovered long before he mobilised their results. Indeed, one could argue that the first work which he authored was not a book at all, but his own persona. Based on scholarship previously available only in German, this book examines Nietzsche's unstable childhood, his determination to advance through self-formation, and the ways in which his environment, notably the Prussian education system, alternately influenced and impeded his efforts to find his own way. It will be essential reading for all who are interested in Nietzsche.Read more
- The first English-language biography of Nietzsche to make use of German-language scholarship
- Radically reconceives Nietzsche's youth, recontextualising his early essays
- Investigates the importance of autobiography in Nietzsche's youth
- Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title
Reviews & endorsements
"It would be difficult to imagine a better account of Nietzsche's early life. Blue's research - exemplary in scope and meticulous in rigor - is matched only by the fluidity of his prose. This will quickly become a standard resource for Nietzsche scholars."
Anthony K. Jensen, Providence CollegeSee more reviews
"Daniel Blue's excellent new biography treats the formative years in the life of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Throughout this period, the author maintains, Nietzsche ‘became what he was' by writing and revising the story of his life, hoping thereby to gain some measure of control over the course of his future developments. Were we to appreciate the role of autobiography in Nietzsche's own process of self-formation, the author persuasively suggests, we would be likely to arrive at a much clearer, and more comprehensive, sense of the ideas and writings he produced. Scrupulously researched, thoughtfully crafted, clearly written, and eminently readable, this new book will appeal not only to scholars and students of German philosophy, but also to lovers of biography more generally. Blue's book makes an outstanding contribution to the secondary literature devoted to Nietzsche."
Daniel Conway, Texas A & M University
'Blue’s writing is immensely readable and animates even the driest moments of the young man’s life. He’s careful to account for the human inclination to rewrite history and uses each of the successive autobiographies Nietzsche wrote (along with his letters) to show a man organically coming to terms both with his own spiritual and intellectual evolution and the climate of the mid-19th century German states.' Matthew Snider, PopMatters
'A good deal of Blue’s focus lies in providing an accurate English-language account of the facts of Nietzsche’s early life, building on and correcting previous versions. Here, his success is unquestionable. … Blue is a sensitive, careful and reliable narrator. He is also frank.' Tom Stern, Literary Review
'… this is the most comprehensive and critical account of Nietzsche’s early years.' Philosophischer Literaturanzeiger
'Blue's book is meticulously researched and carefully footnoted, but also engaging and readable.' Andrew Huddleston, The Times Literary Supplement
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- Date Published: July 2016
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107134867
- length: 351 pages
- dimensions: 239 x 155 x 24 mm
- weight: 0.64kg
- availability: Available
Table of Contents
Texts and citations
1. The legacy
2. Half an orphan
3. The discovery of writing
4. The discovery of self
5. Soul-building: the theory
6. The turn to naturalism
7. The underworld of Pforta
8. The lottery
9. Soul-building: the practice
10. The fourth cycle
11. 'The end of the first act'
12. An education in mistrust
13. 'Become what you are'
14. The gift horse
Afterword: the autobiographer
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