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I Am Dynamite!: A Life of Nietzsche

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  368 ratings  ·  66 reviews
A groundbreaking new biography of philosophy's greatest iconoclast

Friedrich Nietzsche is one of the most enigmatic figures in philosophy, and his concepts--the �bermensch, the will to power, slave morality--have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the human condition. But what do most people really know of Nietzsche--beyond the mustache, the scowl, and the lingeri
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Hardcover, 464 pages
Published October 30th 2018 by Tim Duggan Books (first published October 4th 2018)
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4.30  · 
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 ·  368 ratings  ·  66 reviews


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Joseph
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Sue Prideaux presents an fascinating biography on one of the most controversial philosophers of the 19th Century. Rather than focusing heavily on Nietzsche's philosophy she concentrates on his life and and friends, particularly composer Robert Wagner. She also ties Nietzsche's mental breakdown to his father's mental illness rather than syphilis. Nietzsche sister, Elizabeth, is also given an important role in the formation of his fallacious public image. It was her actions that lead to his identi ...more
Mimi
My first Nietzsche encounters were anthropological rather than philosophical, observing his talismanic function among adolescents – mostly male – keen to signal an iconoclastic yet intellectual clout through an artful arrangement of mangled Penguin paperback Nietzsches, strategically positioned so the title could be glimpsed above the rim of their back pocket. A cerebral equivalent of the handkerchiefs once de rigueur in gay club culture. Like Rimbaud, Nietzsche was a little bit obscure, a littl ...more
Erik Graff
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Nietzsche fans
Recommended to Erik by: the publisher
Shelves: biography
When asked for recommendations by those unversed in philosophy I most commonly recommend Plato and Nietzsche. Both are enduringly popular. Both are immediately accessible. Though often misinterpreted, both also describe the antipodes of Western philosophy: the metaphysical and the anti-metaphysical, the classical religious and the modern secular ideals.

As the Church has misappropriated Plato for its purposes, so much of the abuse of Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) stemmed from the decades of con
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Biblio Curious
A book like this needs to be composed like music. All the elements must be gently pulled in so the main themes can shine through. Prideaux accomplishes this with such great finesse.

Essentially, this book has 3 main threads that she stays true to for the entire biography:
*Chronology of Nietzsche's Life, filled with colourful details.
*An Intellectual History of his Philosophical Development, flooded with bookish details.
*Historical Context as it Relates to Nietzsche, with the goal of setting the
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C. Quabela
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Nietzsche was the primary philosopher who inspired me to pursue the field. Not that he offers a (coherent) belief system or ready-to-hand tools for life, but he does provide the type of critical perspective necessary to begin questioning one’s life. His thought has so much become a part of my own that whenever I revisit his works I find aphorisms that mirror my own dispositions in ways I never realized had sunk in. I feel, as do many who have been inspired by him, an emotional connection with hi ...more
Marks54
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had not read a full biography of Nietzsche before. I had tried to work through some of his major works in college and knew of the odd course that his writings had taken after his death, but lack any sense of a life trajectory. That always struck me as odd for a philosopher/essayist who has proven to be so influential. Sue Prideaux has written a readable and engaging biography of Nietzsche that has helped to fill these holes for me.

Having said this, I do not know that I am much clearer about ac
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Domhnall
Dec 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
"One might reject science as faith; one might reject religious faith itself but still retain moral values. First, man must become himself. Secondly, amor fati; he must accept what life brings, avoiding the blind alleys of self-hatred and ressentiment. Then finally man can overcome himself to find true fulfilment as the ubermensch, the man at peace with himself, finding joy in his earthly purpose, rejoicing in the sheer magnificence of existence and content with the finitude of his mortality.
Tra
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Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
I’m glad I broke my rule against biographies and read this book. I needed a context and continuity for properly understanding Nietzsche, and this biography gave it to me. I generally don’t like biographies because as Nietzsche said about thought since Socrates it’s just a collection of facts, or in my words like stamp collecting, and biographies often miss the cohesion by dwelling on the facts or describing a person’s life as if they were stamps in a collection isolated from the real world. This ...more
Mehrsa
Apr 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a really well-written and vivid memoir of Nietzsche and his legacy. He was a weird and really smart dude. The manner of his decline and death was tragic, but not as tragic as the misuse of his core ideas by the Nazis. Prideaux makes the compelling case that it was his sister that twisted his legacy and that Nietzsche himself would have been appalled
carl  theaker
Feb 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: artsy, history, ww2
Yes I too thought, oh a book about a philosopher, reading that would be like eating breakfast cereal without milk, but I still picked “I am Dynamite”, the title encouraged me, off the new book shelf at the library and thank goodness the author writes in a lively style, bringing out all the personalities of the various characters and boy, are there some.

Richard Wagner and Friedrich Nietzsche were contemporaries who I hadn’t realized, were also close friends for many years, though Wagner was twice
...more
Paul Ataua
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it
A little too much life and too little thought for me, though, of course, one should expect that to be the core of a biography. The life part never seemed to get close enough to him, and the thought was just too far away. That he was taken to a brothel and played piano there, that he probably didn't have syphilis, and that Wagner wrote a letter to his doctor which seemed to have led to the breakdown in their friendship are not really tidbits. Yes, there were things of interest and in the end, it ...more
Ashley Adams
The new biography on Nietzsche by Sue Prideaux is fabulously readable! Concise and entertaining.
David
Apr 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: no-ficción
Nietzsche. El filósofo destructor de valores, el incomprendido, el malinterpretado, el tergiversado, el utilizado, el odiado...hasta ahora.

Porque ahora Sue Prideaux nos ha descubierto al auténtico Nietzsche, uno de los personajes más importantes del siglo XIX. Apoyada en un magnífico trabajo de documentación, la autora ha compuesto su obra de manera inversa a la que estamos acostumbrados; nos habla del hombre (no de su filosofía), basando sus afirmaciones en anotaciones del propio autor o de su
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♥ Ibrahim ♥
Jan 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: thinkers-i-adore
I love getting to know Nietzsche the man of suffering, in the context of his own family, Pastor Karl and everybody who who had to deal with mental disorders in some form or another. To reduce Nietzsche to a famous quote such as God is dead is plain shallow and ignoramous because context is everything. The more I read about his life the more I feel like I am part of a German family who never chose pain in the first place, and yet we naively keep asking them, “why aren’t you smiling? Smile, becaus ...more
Plamen Miltenoff
Oct 07, 2018 marked it as to-read
https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...

Misappropriation has been rife. Richard Spencer, a leader of America’s “alt-right”, claims to have been “red-pilled by Nietzsche”, while Jordan Peterson quotes extensively from him. But let’s start with the Nazis. Growing up in Bismarck’s reich, there were three things Nietzsche hated: the big state, nationalism and antisemitism. “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles, that is the end of German philosophy,” he wrote, and “I will have all antisemites shot.”

Wh
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Supriyo Chaudhuri
A very readable biography of Nietzsche, written for lay reader but not light on philosophy. In fact, it makes the philosophy come alive in context, presenting lengthy quotes with facts and anecdotes. Nietzsche's life is indeed worth it's story, with all the ironies of being a symbol of exactly the opposite of what he wanted to stand for: His 'aristocratic radicalism' corrupted into opportunistic anti-Semitism of rabble-rousers. That is a story this book presents well.
James Earle
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Like many, I remember having a very undisciplined fascination with Nietzche during my early undergraduate years that functionally manifested itself in my picking up Thus Spake Zarathustra or Beyond Good and Evil from time to time, reading for an hour or two, and then thinking of myself as a very free thinker.

It was great to read this biography and dispel all the half-truths I thought I knew about him. It was a book I didn’t know I wanted to read until I started reading it. Nietzsche's name, as
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Joan
Sep 27, 2018 rated it liked it
As someone who had only heard about Nietzsche this biography of him was very enlightening. Prideaux has done a good job of portraying the man and exploring his works. Her writing style makes the information on complex issues very readable.

I had no idea that Nietzsche's father went mad at age 35 and that Nietzsche feared the same for himself. Nietzsche did go mad at age 44 and remained so until his death twelve years later. I was surprised by the vision he had at age twelve, making such an impres
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Justin Evans
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Horrible title, fabulous cover, very enjoyable book. Prideaux writes well, she has a great eye for the important details and for knowing what can be left out, and a flare for narrative. Her destruction of Elisabeth Nietzsche is glorious; her writing on Friedrich is obviously even-handed, since I thought this was a solid, much-needed hatchet job, but Prideaux herself seems to think she was showing the enduring appeal and importance of his ideas. The utter absurdity of much of Nietzsche's thinking ...more
Kelsey
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I AM DYNAMITE! is an intimate look at the life and death of one of history's most well known philosophers- Friedrich Nietzsche. One of my favorite aspects of reading is the fact that I can pick up a book knowing very little about a subject and finish with a whole new perspective and wealth of information. Nietzsche was one of those figures that I knew most of the basics (i.e. "God is dead"), but not nearly enough. He was incredibly complicated and Sue Prideaux's book gave a balanced and informat ...more
John
Mar 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent biography of Nietzsche and his ideas. Also a number of entertaining anecdotes, especially involving his sister (villain #1) and Richard Wagner (villain #2) (which I won't spoil). The author makes the argument that Nietzsche's breakdown was not caused by Syphilis but by a family history of insanity. I'm not fully convinced, but it is worth a reappraisal. I listened to this on Audible and the narration was good if sometimes inconsistent in German pronunciation. I would have given this bo ...more
Deb Lancaster
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
One of the best, most enjoyable, fascinating and well written books I've read in years. Firmly rescues Nietzsche from any of the the ridiculous assertions of Nazi sympathising, provides accessible synopses of his works, puts his writing into the context of his personal life and eviscerates his heinous sister. Seriously enjoyable. Also gives a brilliantly illuminating window into Wagner and his nutty world. Read this book. Everyone.
Scott Erickson
Feb 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a great introduction not only Nietzsche's life, but also to his thought. For me, trying to read Nietsche directly is nearly impossible. He was NOT a clear and concise writer. Why couldn't he just SAY what he meant? But this book clearly shows his intellectual journey, and I was amazed by how profound his ideas were. It also shows, unfortunately, how his ideas were twisted into nearly their opposite by the Nazi party who wanted intellectual justification for the policies of the Third Reic ...more
Don
Mar 28, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, philosophy
I found this book somewhat frustrating, as I'd been hoping for a deeper penetration of the philosopher's psyche. I don't know to what extent that this is even possible, but given Nietzsche's own very personal and emotional writings, I have a feeling Prideaux could gone deeper.
Tadas Talaikis
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Wow, don't remember anything from one book of Nietzsche I have read long ago ("Thus spoke Zaratustra"), before internet and this book helped to realize how much Nietzsche did actually influenced my life.
Dec Lloyd
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Such a great break away from all of the other heaps and heaps of presumptuous overly academic biographies out there that assume to know everything about Nietzsche and every aspect of his philosopy. This is a reverent, gripping, rollicking bio, written beautifully, and I learned so many new things ... Please please please Sue can you write biographies for many more great philosophers?!?
Keith
This a deeply fascinating, well researched and written, biography of Friedrich Nietzsche. It is especially praiseworthy for its accessibility. It seems a deep challenge for a biographer to write the life of a philosopher but Sue Prideaux has succeeded wth a volume that tells the story of a life while also offering the reader insights into the writings. My own university encounter with Nietzsche was surely typical. A number of texts in translation were required reading, some lengthy like Beyond G ...more
Janine Brouillette
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-to-read
This was a very interesting biography on a man who I had heard of, but did not know that much about. The writer describes Nietzsche’s early upbringing, the death of his father with “softening of the brain”, his complex relationship with his mother and sister, Elizabeth, which carried on until his final breakdown, stroke, and death. His sister, who had strong Nazi beliefs, and who was a friend of Hitler’s was the curator and editor of the library of his work after his death which made it take an ...more
Zack
Dec 17, 2018 rated it liked it
There is a lot of good to be found in this book, primarily the emphasis on Nietzsche's movements and prominent figures in his life. Don't take this to be a comprehensive introduction to his thinking, however. Prideaux seems more concerned with telling us what Nietzsche was doing than what he was thinking, or how those thoughts turned him into one of the greatest philosophers of our time. The book seems primarily concerned with the data of its subject rather than his character, though there are f ...more
Steven Peck
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorite books this year.
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Sue Prideaux is an English novelist and biographer. She has strong links to Norway and her godmother was painted by Edvard Munch, whose biography she later wrote under the title Edvard Munch: Behind the Scream. Prior to taking up writing she trained as an art historian in Florence, Paris, and London.

(from Wikipedia)
“He is important for being the first writer to name the four elements:” 1 likes
“musical dissonance must be the most effective artistic means of representing the pain of individual existence.” 1 likes
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