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The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche  By  cover art

The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

By: Henry Louis Mencken
Narrated by: Charlton Griffin
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Publisher's Summary

Mention the name of Friedrich Nietzsche almost anywhere and you are apt to receive a strong emotional response, either negatively or positively. Few persons will say they have no opinion. And for good reason. Employing some of the most withering attacks and scathing criticism conceivable against, among other things, Christianity, education, government, Wagner, and the judicial systems of his day, Nietzsche was a one-man wrecking ball of European society in the latter half of the 19th century.

In this fine and clearly written combination of biography and analysis, famed Baltimore writer H. L. Mencken manages to distill the life and philosophy of Nietzsche so that any layman can become acquainted with this odd German philosopher. And odd he most certainly was. Born into a family of Polish extraction, Nietzsche was never completely comfortable in the smug, religiously conservative bourgeoise German society he grew up in. Rebellion quickly followed manhood. Brilliant from the outset, Nietzsche soon made his mark with "Human, all too Human". He never looked back. First published in 1908, Mencken's critical work has been a valuable reference to the life and work of Nietzsche ever since. Many persons will find the demeaning references to women and minorities reprehensible, as they are. But it is important to keep in mind that Mencken's attitudes were typical for most Americans of his day. But the patient listener will, in the end, be rewarded by a much fuller and more rounded understanding of a philosopher some still consider to have been insane.

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What listeners say about The Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

strenuous

Charlton Griffin's narration is an over-the-top, guttural manly man's interpretation of both Mencken's crass plain dealing and Nietzsche's booming iconoclasm. The voice seems suitable for cowboy poetry, or History Channel nostalgia. For a book of philosophy, the effect accentuates the cheap melodrama in both the author and the philosopher, like a Wagnerian opera performed by a high school marching band. I can live with it, but it's a little silly.

As for the content: Mencken does not offer a nuanced reading of Nietzsche's ideas... maybe he's right, but he does have a remarkable ability of sucking the fun out of this philosopher. This book, Dionysus and philosophy by way of Baltimore, is of value to either Mencken or Nietzsche scholarship. It is not a fruitful introduction for the curious to either thinker.

24 people found this helpful

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Interesting introduction to Mencken

Mencken deserves credit for having written a book on Nietzsche at a time (1908) when almost nothing was available to English readers in translation. As an introduction to Nietzsche, however, this book is not very credible; it relies heavily on the distortions perpetuated by his sister, and does not really get into the works that more recent readers of Nietzsche treasure (The Genealogy of Morals, "The Uses and Abuses of History"). The person who's never read Mencken before (like me) will find the book valuable as a reflection of post-Victorian America, where Social Darwinism and outright racism abounded, both of which are to be found in Mencken's account. Charlton Griffin channels Mencken pretty well, embellishing the prose with oratorical and sarcastic flourishes that will definitely annoy some listeners and please others. All in all, there's not much Nietzsche to be found here, so I guess you have to take what you can get.

9 people found this helpful

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Extremely interesting narration on Nietzsche

It is tragically unfortunate that Charlton Griffin cannot narrate more books!! Though he has a prodigious output with scores of books, there just isn't enough of him to go around. Hopefully he can continue to narrate far into the future. As for Mencken, he's got an impeccable style of writing. He's kind to Nietzsche, but this is no hagiography. People today don't appreciate how far and how deep the Nietzschean influence on our culture flows. Granted, he's second to Marx, but second to few others in the world of cultural ideas. I really appreciate that Mr. Griffin chose to narrate this particular book. I'll listen to it more than a few times, like I do most of his narrations.

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This Guy’s life is not worth reading about

I got (pushed myself)halfway through this book and realized I’m wasting my time learning about this guy. There’s nothing positive here, find someone else to read about and learn something from. I didn’t have a problem with the book, it’s the subject that’s lacking.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic book@

H. L. Mencken has succinctly summed up the philosophy of one of the greatest thinkers of this world.

1 person found this helpful

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A concise synopsis of Nietzsche

This is book portrays Nietzsche in a reasonable light and I don’t even think anyone fully understood him.
This is a must read for anyone who want to understand the varied understanding of the philosophers work.

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Great writing

Very interesting person and perspective. I enjoyed leaning from a different perspective on an old topic.

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This is Nietzsche!

This is a perfect start for a study of Nietzsche. I wish to learn what I can from true Nietzsche scholars before reading Nietzsche myself.

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Fraser
  • 08-05-09

Totally missed the point

Awful. He doesn't understand Nietzsche's philosophy at all. I gave it 2 stars because it contains some interesting stuff about Nietzsche's life, but beyond that is totally flawed.

Most grotesque is his failure to grasp what Nietzsche meant when he said "God is dead." Munchkin (as I think of him) seems to think Nietzsche advocated the search for absolute truth. He fails to grasp that to Nietzsche, God is the belief in one Truth.

When Nietzsche says, "The people haven't heard the news. That God is dead," he means that atheists are still believing in God without realising. They are worshipping Truth as an abstract concept.

Save your money and listen to the lectures of Hubert Dreyfus on Existentialism (for free) from iTunes university.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. Campbell
  • 09-19-16

Intolerable narration.

An outrageous and over the top Rich Uncle Pennybags narration renders Mencken's introduction to Nietzsche unlistenable.

2 people found this helpful