Vanja Antonijevic's Reviews > Basic Writings of Nietzsche

Basic Writings of Nietzsche by Friedrich Nietzsche
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's review
Dec 23, 2007

it was amazing
Recommended for: philosophically inclined and open-minded
Read in December, 2006

First, a note about the collection itself. It includes Nietzsche’s: “The Birth of Tragedy”, “Beyond Good and Evil”, “On the Genealogy of Morals”, “Case of Wagner”, and “Ecce Homo”. These are all excellent books, and the first three may serve as excellent introductions and general surveys of Nietzsche, especially the second and third in the list.

Also, there is a miscellaneous collection of sections from other books, notes, and letters.

For those that want to read more Nietzsche, the perfect complement is the “Portable Nietzsche”. It is by the same excellent translator, and is purposely made to complement the “Basic Writings of Nietzsche”. Between those two books you will find almost all of Nietzsche’s best major works, and various representative collections from other works, letters, and notes. The “Portable Nietzsche” includes a complete version of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, “Twilight of the Idols”, “The Antichrist”, and “Nietzsche Contra Wagner”.

Now, here comes my general statement: Nietzsche is my favorite philosopher so far.


1. Among the great philosophers, Nietzsche is an unsurpassed writer, and is regarded as one of the best German prose writers of all time.

Only one great philosopher truly matches him in style and readability- Plato.

2. Great critic.

Nietzsche may not have much in the form of systematic philosophy, but he is great at eloquently and profoundly challenging past “wisdom”. His favorite targets, of course, are previous philosophers (every one of them) and Christianity.

3. Great titles.

Just to name a few of his titles: “Beyond Good and Evil”, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, “the Antichrist”, “Twilight of the Idols”, “the Dawn”, and the post-humorous title based on a phrase Nietzsche also coined- “The Will to Power”. I invite you to contrast these with Kant’s memorable titles such as “Groundwork on the Metaphysics of Morals”, “Metaphysical Foundation of the Sciences”, “Critique of Judgment”, or the ever popular, “The Only Possible Argument in Support of the Existence of God”.

Nietzsche’s titles draw you to read them, and once you do, you realize that his actual writing is just as creative and memorable, and of course, very profound.

4. Very modest

Actually this remark is sarcastic. Nietzsche does not hide his very high opinion of himself and his writing.

For example, his chapters of his autobiography, “Ecce Homo”, include: “Why I am So Wise”, “Why I am So Clever”, “Why I Write Such Good Books”, and “Why I am a Destiny”.

He had the highest esteem for “Thus Spoke Zarathustra”, as he wrote in the “Genealogy of Morals”:

“Regarding my Zarathustra, for example, I do not allow that anyone knows that book who has not at some time been profoundly wounded and at some time profoundly delighted by every word in it; for only then may he enjoy the privilege of reverentially sharing in the halcyon element out of which that book was born and in its sunlight, clarity, remoteness, breadth, and certainty.”

5. Shock value.

Nietzsche purposely, enthusiastically, directly, and eloquently attacks all religion (especially Christianity), and past moral philosophy which are foundation stones for most people’s moral outlooks. Consequently, he is bound to say something which will shock or infuriate you- or at the very least challenge you and force you to rethink.

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message 1: by Ted (new)

Ted Fantastic review, Vanja. I have read much of the Portable Nietzsche, and some of his other works. Great observation you make of how this book complements Portable.

The five reasons you give for his being your favorite philosopher are wonderful. Very insightful.

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