Review of Metaphysics 55 (3):615-617 (2002)

Alan Schrift
Grinnell College
As its title indicates, Allison’s text offers readings of four of Nietzsche’s most important books. The title also hearkens back to Allison’s groundbreaking 1977 anthology, The New Nietzsche, which for many served as their first introduction to the new styles of interpreting Nietzsche’s texts that were taking place in France and would become associated with the work of Derrida, Deleuze, Kofman, Blanchot, Klossowski, and others. Less obvious, but no less important to Allison’s interpretation, is his familiarity with Nietzsche’s biography; in fact, one of the primary features distinguishing this book from most other recent works on Nietzsche is the way Allison brings events in Nietzsche’s life to bear on the philosophical views he puts forward in his works. The other welcome feature of this volume is that Allison refrains from expounding in general on the basic themes in Nietzsche’s philosophy, choosing instead to explore specific themes as they are expressed in the particular books he examines. Such an approach stands in refreshing contrast to what has been the norm in Nietzsche studies until quite recently, where Nietzsche’s philosophy is explicated by drawing passages rather randomly from the corpus as a whole in order to articulate the metaphysical, epistemological, or ethical themes that “Nietzsche’s philosophy” supposedly expressed. By choosing to read Nietzsche’s books as books in terms of situating the formulation of various themes within the context of a carefully constructed work, what results is less a wide-ranging interpretation of Nietzsche’s philosophy than a careful explication of these four books that is informed by Nietzsche’s biography, the historical and personal context in which these books were written, and the work of French and German philosophers who were influenced by Nietzsche and have reflected that interest back on Nietzsche’s own philosophical views.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph20025536
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