Zarathustra in Paris
The Nietzsche Vogue in France, 1891–1918
Christopher E. Forth
"An indispensable contribution to European intellectual history."—Jacques Le Rider, Ecole pratique des Hautes Etudes
This finely argued history reveals Friedrich Nietzsche's impact upon French intellectual life, including the disruption of European thought that presaged and helped precipitate the First World War. Nietzsche's descent into madness prevented him from achieving his dream of seeing Paris, but his philosophical alter ego Zarathustra took the City of Light by storm, raising sharp debates among the political and cultural avant-garde about the very foundations of modern philosophy, social thought, and political life.
Examining the social and intellectual background of the artists, politicians, intellectuals, and journalists who wrote about Nietzsche, Forth demonstrates that the reception accorded the famous madman's writings closely corresponded to their social and academic positions. This discovery allows Forth to broaden his inquiry into a more general sociology of knowledge, exploring the several ways a thinker becomes recognized as important by cultural and political leaders.
Forth also demonstrates the subtle linkages between the reception of Nietzsche and the shifting currents of social and political developments. In 1900, for example, many represented Nietzsche as a "good European" who transcended national divisions, but by 1914 nationalist fervor provided Nietzsche's French critics with ever more powerful means of attacking his disciples. During the Great War many French intellectuals attacked Nietzsche's influence, with Leon Daudet blaming him for German barbarities.
Zarathustra in Paris opens new avenues for understanding French and European intellectual life in the era before the Great War and will be of interest to historians, political scientists, philosophers, sociologists, and anyone interested in the cultural politics and literary and political avant-garde of the early twentieth century.
(2001) 247 pp.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Nietzsche and Cultural Reception
1 The Avant-Garde Nietzsche Project: Symbolic Profits and Literary Strategies
2 Good Europeans and Professors of Energy: Constructing a "French" Nietzsche
3 On the Prejudices of Philosophers: French Philosophical Discourse on Nietzsche
4 Literary and Political Avant-Gardes, Nietzsche: Anarchism, and Socialism
5 On the Flies of the Marketplace: The Embourgeoisement of Nietzsche
6 Twilight of an Idol: The Decline of the Nietzsche Vogue
Conclusion: Nietzsche and the Great War
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