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American Nietzsche A History of an Icon and His Ideas by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen
  

American Nietzsche A History of an Icon and His Ideas

Synopsis

American Nietzsche A History of an Icon and His Ideas by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen

If you were looking for a philosopher likely to appeal to Americans, Friedrich Nietzsche would be far from your first choice. After all, in his blazing career, Nietzsche took aim at nearly all the foundations of modern American life: Christian morality, the Enlightenment faith in reason, and the idea of human equality. Despite that, for more than a century Nietzsche has been a hugely popular - and influential - figure in American thought and culture. In American Nietzsche , Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen delves deeply into Nietzsche's philosophy, and America's reception of it, to tell the story of his curious appeal. Beginning her account with Ralph Waldo Emerson, whom the seventeen-year-old Nietzsche read fervently, she shows how Nietzsche's ideas first burst on American shores at the turn of the twentieth century, and how they continued alternately to invigorate and to shock Americans for the century to come. She also delineates the broader intellectual and cultural contexts within which a wide array of commentators - academic and armchair philosophers, theologians and atheists, romantic poets and hard-nosed empiricists, and political ideologues and apostates from the Left and the Right - drew insight and inspiration from Nietzsche's claims for the death of God, his challenge to universal truth, and his insistence on the interpretive nature of all human thought and beliefs. At the same time, she explores how his image as an iconoclastic immoralist was put to work in American popular culture, making Nietzsche an unlikely posthumous celebrity capable of inspiring teenagers and scholars alike. A penetrating examination of a powerful but little-explored undercurrent of twentieth-century American thought and culture, American Nietzsche dramatically recasts our understanding of American intellectual life - and puts Nietzsche squarely at its heart.

Reviews

Today's inescapable and perplexing Nietzsche is not necessarily the same Nietzsche who inspired readers in the past; and it's the achievement of American Nietzsche to show how that is the case. (Alexander Star, New York Times Book Review) A lively history.... With vigor and intelligence, American Nietzsche covers a great deal of ground.... Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is a superb listener. (Nation)


About the Author

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is the Merle Curti Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

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Book Info

Publication date

15th October 2012

Author

Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen

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Publisher

University of Chicago Press an imprint of The University of Chicago Press

Format

Paperback
464 pages

Categories

Social & cultural history
History of the Americas
20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000

ISBN

9780226006765

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