Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2012 TBR Challenge: Friedrich Nietzsche

A lot of book-bloggers are making resolutions for Literary 2012—books they plan to read next year—and the lists I have read so far are impressive...and intimidating. They include titles I have never heard of. Ignorance is not always bliss. Some of these books I have added to my own tentative list which, as it stands, is nothing to write to the book club about. But there is one book that I intend to read: The Philosophy of Nietzsche. 

Big name, big book. The literary equivalent of heavy metal, you might say.

I have never read Nietzsche before, not in the way Nietzsche should be read. But I am familiar with all his books and from time to time I have read his assorted quotations and pondered over their deeper meaning.

My hardbound copy of The Philosophy of Nietzsche [The Modern Library, 1954] is a 1,120-page volume which contains the complete and unabridged texts of Nietzsche's five most famous works: Thus Spake Zarathustra, Beyond Good and Evil, Genealogy of Morals, Ecce Homo and The Birth of Tragedy.

The German philosopher, who was plagued by ill-health through most of his adult life, was one of 19th century’s most radical and brilliant thinkers. As Willard Huntington Wright, a US art critic and author, says in his introduction to the volume, “He was constantly ill and for the most part alone, and this perturbed and restless period of his life resolved itself into a continuous struggle against melancholy and physical suffering.” It was during these difficult years that Nietzsche wrote all of the above works and more as well as “an enormous number of notes which were to constitute his final and culminating work, The Will to Power.”

Friedrich Nietzsche will live up to my expectations. The question is will I live up to his? Time to find out.

Meanwhile, here are a few random books with curious titles I found on The Modern Library website. Some are popular among readers.

We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live by Joan Didion

When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner

Classics to Read Aloud to Your Children by William F. Russell

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain

A Garden of Earthly Delights by Joyce Carol Oates

The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane

Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

The Key & Diary of a Mad Old Man by Junichiro Tanizaki (Translated by Howard Hibbett)

The Vintage Book of Classic Crime edited by Michael Dibdin

Photos: Scans of front and back covers of my copy of the book.


  1. I've read a few of these on your list. Verne, Crane.

    I haven't really made any reading projections for myself yet.

  2. Charles, I've read Verne, Twain and Crane too but not the rest, which are not exactly on my list. The titles were interesting, though.

  3. I went through a "Nietzsche" period long ago-the essential of his work are in Thus Spoke Zarathrustra which is also the most literary of the works-good luck with this project and I will be very interested to read your thoughts on his ideas.

  4. Mel, thanks, I look forward to reading Nietzsche in 2012.

  5. I made it halfway through Thus Spake Zarathustra but I found I couldn't stomach his philosophy. That was years ago though. I'll be interested to know what you make of him.

  6. Che, I had a similar experience with ZEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MAINTENANCE which I read in college. I hope to read it again. Hopefully, THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA will be easier on my stomach.