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The invigorating strangeness of Friedrich Nietzsche

A new biography reveals Nietzsche to be a perfect gentleman—shy, attentive, and a little whimsical

By Jonathan Rée   March 2019

The philosopher and his shadow: A convalescent Nietzsche painted in 1894 by Curt Stoeving; right, his sister Elisabeth, who forever linked his name with the Nazis. Photo: Getty

“I am not a man, I am dynamite!” Friedrich Nietzsche is famous for this kind of bombast, but most of his works are unassuming in tone, and his sentences are always plain, direct and clear as a bell. Take for instance the celebrated assault on “theorists” in his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, published in 1872. Theorists, Nietzsche says, know…

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