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American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 surprisingly influential—figure in American thought and culture.

In American Nietzsche, Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen delves deeply into Nietzsche's philosophy, and Americas 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 Nietzsches 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 Nietzsches 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 both 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.

About the Author

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

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

PROLOGUE

Transatlantic Crossings: The Aboriginal Intellect Abroad

INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER ONE

The Making of the American Nietzsche

Nietzsche and the European Axis of American Cosmopolitanism

The Nietzsche Vogue

The Persona of Nietzsche

Launching “Nietzschean” and “Nietzscheism” into American English

CHAPTER TWO

The Soul of Man under Modernity

Nietzsche and the Problems of Modern Thought

Unapologetic Catholic Apologetics

The Social Gospel and the Practicability of Christianity

Nietzsches Service to Christianity

Jesus of Nazareth, Nietzsche of Naumburg

CHAPTER THREE

The American Naturalization of the Übermensch

The Übermensch in the Popular Imagination

Self-Overcoming and Social Uplift

Modern Whirl and Romantic Self-Abandonment

The Übermensch and the German National Mind

The Übermensch at War and the “Made in Germany” Generation

To Each His Own Übermensch

CHAPTER FOUR

Nietzsche as Educator

Experiencing Intellect; or, World-Making Words

Imitatio Nietzsche

The “Gay Science” of Cultural Criticism

The Modern Intellect and Prophetic Longing

INTERLUDE

Devotions: The Letters

Nietzsche Possession, Possessing Nietzsche

Nietzschean Self-Fashioning

Nietzsche Pilgrimage

Pathos of Distance from Democratic Culture

CHAPTER FIVE

Dionysian Enlightenment

Walter Kaufmann, German Émigrés, and Nietzsche as Hitlers Exile

Nietzsche as Problem Thinker

Nietzsche and the Nazis

Nietzschean Experimentalism and Jamesian Pragmatism

Kaufmanns Nietzsche for All and None

CHAPTER SIX

Antifoundationalism on Native Grounds

Harold Bloom and the Quest for Emersonian Priority

Richard Rorty: Fusing the Horizons between Nietzsche and the Pragmatists

Stanley Cavell: Nietzsche, Emerson, and American Philosophy Finding Its Way Home

Thinking about American Thinking

EPILOGUE

Nietzsche Is Us

Acknowledgments

Notes

Selected Bibliography

Index

Product Details

ISBN:
9780226006765
Author:
Ratner-rosenhagen, Jennifer
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Author:
Ratner-Rosenhagen, Jennifer
Subject:
United States - 20th Century
Subject:
Philosophy : General
Subject:
Philosophy-Surveys
Edition Description:
Paperback
Publication Date:
20121131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
21 halftones
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 1.4 in

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