The Times Biography of the Year
Winner of the Hawthornden Prize 2019
Shortlisted for the HWA Non-Fiction Prize 2019
Longlisted for the Rathbones Folio Prize 2019
Longlisted for the Cundhill History Prize 2019
Friedrich Nietzsche's work blasted the foundation of western thinking. The death of God, the Übermensch, and the slave morality permeate our culture, high and low, and yet he is one of history's most misunderstood philosophers.
Nietzsche himself thought that all philosophy was autobiographical and in this myth-shattering book, Sue Prideaux brings readers into the world of a brilliant, eccentric and deeply troubled man, illuminating the events and people that shaped his life and work. From his placid, devoutly Christian upbringing, overshadowed by the mysterious death of his father, through his lonely philosophising on high mountains, to the horror and pathos of his final descent into madness, Prideaux explores Nietzsche's intellectual, emotional and spiritual life with insight and sensitivity.
The book is studded with unforgettable portraits of the people who were most important to him, including Richard and Cosima Wagner, Lou Salomé - the femme fatale who broke his heart - and his rabidly nationalist and anti-Semitic sister Elizabeth, who betrayed him by manipulating his texts and putting them to infinite misuse at the hands of the Nazis. Today, Nietzsche's ideas continue to be adopted by both the left and the right. I Am Dynamite! is the essential biography for anyone seeking to understand the philosopher who foresaw - and sought solutions to - our own troubled times.
This scintillating biography of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche illuminates a man struggling constantly to reshape accepted ideas about society, morality, and religion. Drawing on close readings of his writings and on archival research, Prideaux (Strindberg: A Life) traces the outline of the philosopher's life, from his father's death when Nietzsche was four years old and his early education at his mother's knee, through his days at gymnasium, where he excelled in languages, to his early and pivotal friendship with Wagner, his romance with the writer Lou Salome, and his slow and lonely descent into dementia. Even as a teenager, Prideaux shows, Nietzsche was developing his knack for striking language, and by the time he met Wagner, Nietzsche had developed his own style one centered around the struggles between reason and instinct and "between life and art." Given that ideas from Nietzsche's later work the need to overcome, the will to power, and the bermensch were later appropriated by Nazis, Prideaux is at pains to show that his philosophy focused on the "need to overcome ourselves," not others. Nietzsche often compared his writing to dancing, and Prideaux's invigorating study captures the joyous and often ebullient character of this writer's deeply influential work.