Older books about Nietzsche

At this page you will find some introductions to Nietzsche from different books about Nietzsche and his work. Sometimes people ask me what to read first from Nietzsche, or any other philosopher, and I always tell them to start with a book about Nietzsche. Starting with a book from Nietzsche himself is like putting someone into a forest where he sees a few trees, and ask him to describe the whole forest. Reading Nietzsche is hard enough, if you read some opinions from other professionals you will get a bird’s eye view of his work. If you than start reading his own work, it is easier to put it in its proper context. I myself like reading books about Nietzsche from different periods of time, you will find different looks at him and they are sprinkled with thoughts and ideas of the time they are written. Reading these old books give me also the feeling that I’m not the only one reading his work, some of the books I show here were written by other Nietzsche enthusiasts when there were hardly any cars around, America was at war with Spain and Nietzsche himself just died. So, for anybody that wants to learn Nietzsche’s work, study books about Nietzsche himself and his work and then start with his own work…in proper order…and a spoiler: Nietzsche himself is also more interested in the person behind the philosophy, where you’re from, your character and upbringing, it will tell you more about the meaning of his or her philosophy.

Die philosophie Friedrich Nietzsche – Alfred Werner – 1920


When I think back at the time of my high school days, I see an astonished 12th grader, who felt at home in the world of books as in everyday reality, the vast image of a man that similar to a sphinx, was asking questions, whose answers would give Happiness or misfortune. Something new, of a different kind, was claimed by these Titans, looking at our lives, its needs and rules, its hopes and fears, its goals and purposes under other conditions, subject to other points of view.

The acknowledged authorities we desert were perhaps wrong? Did they gave wrong answers, or can there be more than one answer for one question?

As students, we continue our discussions at the universities. But even here the problem Friedrich Nietzsche was not solved. While the professors in Munich admitted that Nietzsche had strong philosophical effects, a Greifswald (university) authority declared that what the man had written was “vain poetry.”

The years of study were followed by the time of my own work, independent reflection, a struggle with the hard reality. It turned out that our existence is much more complicated, that the learned theories are not enough to let you gudge and make an opinion. Perhaps Nietzsche’s colorful wealth of thought reflects life better than the constructed systems of abstract, unreal thinkers?

Then came the World War (1) with its tremendous changes in all areas. The old standards have become unusable. Where is there for the philosopher a halt, a rest, a security? Everything is fluid movement.

We return as a questioner to Nietzsche, to the thinkers of the thousands and thousands of ways, to the prophet of doom of the old culture, the creator of new, shining ideals!

Translated by Christiaan van Gaal from German, see picture for original.

Nietzsche – M.A.Mugge – 1900

Read this book on archive.org here or download it here: nietzsche MA Mugge 1912

Dostojewski en Nietzsche – Walter Schubart –

Dostojewski, the Christian poet and Nietzsche, de philosopher of the Antichrist, seem to have no similarities. They give the impression to be unreconcilable with each other, crown witnesses of two worlds that exclude each other. Don’t they propose two opposite possibilities where the human race has to choose from, the way of the earth or the heavens? It looks like it, but it is a delusion. They are not the dramatic opponents they are thought to be. They both went the same direction, but they didn’t went as far, and what seemed an unbridgeable contrast, is merely the difference between there distance on the same road. They both suffer under the same questions, looking for answers, but they are different…

Translated by Christiaan van Gaal from Dutch, see picture for original.

Friedich Nietzsche, een levensbeeld – A. Duverger – 1913

In response to some books and pamphlets that were published the last few years, I would like to paint a picture of a man, who’s ideas (even they, who think differently about his antichristian views, have to admit) the world of thought has influenced more than anyone else.

Nietzsche made such an impact in our mental lives, for some he demolished the holiest with heavy blows, for us, free spirits, he builds up, that his name in the near future will be the standard were the fighters against religion will gather around…or as a red cloth that will attract the cows of religiosity.

First, in a faraway future, will the writer of the “Antichrist” be judged, as everything has to be, not as a semi god or Übermensch, nor as an iconoclast, who uses profane language to remove old ideals. But for now, when we stand in the middle of the battle, is this objectivity not possible…

Translated by Christiaan van Gaal from Dutch, see picture for original.

Nietzsche – Crane Brinton – 1940

Read the book here

Nietzsche – J.M.Kennedy – 1914

Read the book here

Nietzsche – P.E.More – 1912

Read the book here

Nietzsche in seinen briefen – 1932

In the end, this all belongs to a generation that we both probably will not live to see: the same one in which the great problems I suffer from, as surely as I still live through them and for their sake, must become physical and go over in action and will.

Nietzsche to Overbeck 1887

In the middle of the ever richer, and more content Germany of the pre-war epoch, the mysterious trace of the man who writes in 1885: “There is now nobody in Germany who knows what I want or that I want something …” and Two years later, after the feeling of deep loneliness inside him has increased tenfold again, he writes to a Basel professor named Overbeck, but in truth to himself saying: “This winter I have looked around profusely in European literature …” The present Europe has no idea, what terrible decisions my whole being is turning around, and to which problems I am bound to – and with me prepares a catastrophe, whose name I know, but will not pronounce. “To himself: for there were no ears to hear this. It was unlikely that he spoke a great but lost talent. And they all belonged to this probability: Overbeck and Rohde too, whose correspondence on “Beyond Good and Bose” is one of the most shocking documents of the 19th century …

Translated by Christiaan van Gaal from German, see picture for original.

Nietzsche – T.Lessing – 1925

Read the book here

Nietzsche – W.Kaufmann – 1956

Nietzsche, Ruckblick auf eine Philosophie – O.Flake –

The new Nietzsche – D.B.Allison – 1977

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