09 May 2016

New Nietzsche Bio

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NietzschewithSword

Christopher Bray calls Daniel Blue’s forthcoming (in June) biography of the young philosopher The Making of Friedrich Nietzsche: The Quest for Identity, 1844-1869 “lacklustre,” but since he’s wrong about the survival of the photo of military Fred with sword, who knows what else he’s wrong about?

(The current price quoted by Amazon is awfully steep. Let’s hope that a better deal becomes available when the book is actually released.)

Had you been down at Naumburg barracks early in March 1867, you might have seen a figure take a running jump at a horse and thud down front first on the pommel with a yelp. This was Friedrich Nietzsche, midway through his 22nd year and, thanks to a sickly childhood, no stranger to hospitals. The doctors were obliged to operate, and Nietzsche lost several ribs and part of his sternum, leaving him not so much pigeon-chested as angle-grinded. Once recovered, he celebrated by having his picture taken in full uniform, sabre at the ready, glaring at the ‘miserable photographer’ like a warrior set for battle. Alas for comedy, this portrait is lost to history.

Daniel Blue has no such regrets. He is convinced the photo would have been ‘unflattering’ — though nowhere near as unflattering as the picture Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche painted of her brother after his death in 1900. …

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