Cutting a Nietzsche

“Nietzsche’s great champion on this continent was H.L. Mencken, who at the age of 27 wrote the first book on Nietzsche in English. He loved the way his hero “hurled his javelin” at the authority of God and that he “broke from the crowd” of thinkers. After becoming the most famous American intellectual of the 1920s, Mencken admitted that his ideas were based on Nietzsche. “Without him, I’d never have come to them.”

“In 1889, when Friedrich Nietzsche suffered the mental collapse that ended his career, he was virtually unknown. Yet by the time of his death in 1900 at the age of 55, he had become the philosophical celebrity of his age. From Russia to America, admirers echoed his estimation of himself as a titanic figure who could alter the course of history: “I am by far the most terrible human being that has existed so far; this does not preclude the possibility that I shall be the most beneficial.”  —

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