|Dover Childrens Books|
the guardian Sat 08 November 2008
And if you're wondering where Nietzsche fits into my self-improvement theme, look no further than the introduction to this dauntingly complex philosophical polemic, which advises that "it is almost impossible to participate in modern intellectual discussion without some familiarity with his writing". It was published in 1886, three years before insanity set in (he died in 1900). Although Nietzsche's literary style was always restless, flamboyant, aphoristic, enigmatic, scathing, cryptic, obscure, full of sweeping assertions and poetic imagery, there is a distinct suggestion of green ink and small spidery handwriting slanting across the page about this frenzied attack on conventional morality. Why should we assume that truth and falsity are opposites or that deception isn't, in fact, more valuable in human life than whatever it is we call truth, he argues. Suppose truth is a woman, what then?" Warning: an inquiring mind and a loving heart are definitely not all you need to get Nietzsche. Personally, I'd have been up an axiom without an ergo but for Ian Johnston's explanatory prefaces to every chapter and, most of all, Alex Jennings's extraordinary genius-teetering-on-madness reading. So that's what a beautiful mind sounds like.