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Nietzsche: A Novel by David Farrell Krell
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There's a blurb on the back of this book that says "A radical philosopher deserves a radical biography," and, if that's the case, Nietzsche gets what he deserves in this book.

Krell presents novelized flashes of Nietzsche's life interspersed with excerpts from his actual letters and a few other contemporary documents. It almost reads as if Dos Passos circa The USA Trilogy wrote it, but in an evern more "writerly" style.

That's because although the story is told in roughly chronological order, the letters are not presented that way ... a letter from 1880 might be used to illustrate/support/connect Krell's perception of what might have happened in 1890, for example.

Take a peek at this passage: Here, Nietzsche's dead father (more on this later) is speaking to N's dead brother and says "And do not blaspheme, Joseph, it's extremely bad taste."

Immediately following is an excerpt from a letter of 1882, reading in part "Indeed, to put it somewhat blasphemously, I shall believe in my life only after my death."

It's a style that worked very well, and I was often quite impressed with the connections Krell made/found.

I was less impressed with the "voice" of Nietzsche after he had gone insane. It's as if all of a sudden he's channeling James Joyce ... and this really struck me as un-authentic. There's a lot of playing with the English language that seems like it would only work in English, and that didn't work as the voice of the German-speaking Nietzsche.

Also, at the end, Krell starts getting all postmodern/magically real, with dead people conversing in the grave and a bizarrely imagined tribunal presided over by a squirrel king.

I can't recommend this as any kind of straight biography, but open-minded Nietzscheans and those who enjoy highly stylized novels would probably enjoy this.

Disclaimer: Although I've read a lot of philosophy in the past years, I've never read anything by Nietzsche. I'm not sure why. Would someone who has read him get more out of this novel? Probably, but I don't think a background in his philosophy is necessary to like the book. ( )
1 vote KromesTomes | Jul 31, 2007 |
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