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the Complete Review
the complete review - biography / cultural history / philosophy

How Nietzsche
Came in From the Cold

Philipp Felsch

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To purchase How Nietzsche Came in From the Cold

Title: How Nietzsche Came in From the Cold
Author: Philipp Felsch
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 2022 (Eng. 2024)
Length: 176 pages
Original in: German
Availability: How Nietzsche Came in From the Cold - US
How Nietzsche Came in From the Cold - UK
How Nietzsche Came in From the Cold - Canada
Wie Nietzsche aus der Kälte kam - Deutschland
from: Bookshop.org (US)
  • Tale of a Redemption
  • German title: Wie Nietzsche aus der Kälte kam
  • Translated by Daniel Bowles
  • With fourteen illustrations

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Our Assessment:

B : interesting cultural-historical account

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FASz . 18/3/2022 Cord Riechelmann
Frankfurter Rundschau . 25/10/2022 Wilhelm v. Sternburg
TLS . 27/1/2023 Ben Hutchinson

  From the Reviews:
  • "Felschs Qualität besteht darin, genau diese Fremdheit anschaulich zu machen. (...) Wie es dazu kommen konnte inmitten der kulturellen und politischen Beschleunigung der Sechzigerjahre, davon erzählt Philipp Felsch auf eine Weise, die diese Form der Philologie eben nicht als weltflüchtigen Eskapismus erscheinen lässt, sondern als einen jener Antriebe zur Veränderung die, wie Nietzsche mit Paulus wusste, auf Taubenfüßen daherkommen und nicht mit großem Kanonenknall." - Cord Riechelmann, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

  • "Der Berliner Kulturhistoriker und Hochschullehrer Philipp Felsch hat in einem spannend und informativ geschriebenen Buch von dem Weg berichtet, der zur „Rehabilitierung“ des Denkers Friedrich Nietzsche geführt hat." - Wilhelm von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau

  • "Philipp Felsch has produced an enjoyable peek behind the scenes of one of the most important philological projects of the postwar era. As much a cultural history of the twentieth-century intelligentsia as a reception history of nineteenth-century Nietzsche, the narrative arguably takes too long to get going, with almost half of the book dedicated to Colli and Montinari's early years. Overall, though, he offers a stimulating and valuable case study of what Montinari called "the demon of philology"." - Ben Hutchinson, Times Literary Supplement

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Philipp Felsch's 'Tale of a Redemption' basically follows the lives and work of Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari in editing the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, leading to the Kritische Gesamtausgabe (De Gruyter, and being published in English by Stanford University Press) as well as foreign collected works editions -- a massive philological undertaking of the work of an author about which Felsch notes:

It would be difficult to find another body of work in the history of European thought that proved so adaptable to all imaginable interpretations: right-wingers and leftists, enthusiasts and skeptics, dictators and democrats have all invoked Nietzsche, and none of them had trouble producing the textual passages appropriate to his reading.
       (Early on, Felsch reminds readers that Hitler's gift to Mussolini on his sixtieth birthday was: "a complete edition of Nietzsche, bound in blue pigskin", though, rather comically, delivering it proved somewhat difficult.)
       Aside from the need to undo some of what Nietzsche's sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, had made of her brother's writings, there was also a great deal of material that had not been published or even properly sifted through by the time of the Seecond World War. Nietzsche's handwriting was among the challenges any editor faced -- and, after the war, there was also the problem of the location of his archive: the Nietzsche Archive is in Weimar, in what became the German Democratic Republic. Somewhat surprisingly, Montinari was allowed to work there -- and would do so for many years, even marrying an East German -- and this despite the fact that: "for citizens of the GDR, the dangerous trove of writings at the Goethe and Schiller Archive were indeed inaccessible", as: "there was no place for Nietzsche within the public sphere in the GDR until the 1980s".
       For both Colli and Montinari preparing Nietzsche's work for publication was, above all, a philological exercise, even as seemingly everyone wanted to read something into Nietzsche, using the writing in support of their ideas -- most notably then the French in the 1960s ("The Nietzscheanism of the second half of the century originated in France in the 1960s", Felsch notes). (The first volume of the French Nietzsche edition, published in 1967, was translated by Pierre Klossowski (yes, Balthus' brother), and co-edited by Gilles Deleuze and Michel Foucault, with Felsch noting about Foucault that he: "called for wild exegesis. If indeed no authoritative foundation in the form of an Urtext existed, then there was no alternative but to indulge in ever more novel readings".)
       As Felsch describes it:
Whoever opens one of the volumes of commentary from the Kritische Gesamtausgabe enters a desert of philological exactitude in which variants and preliminary stages are listed, citations and sources are identified, and punctilious descriptions of Nietzsche's manuscripts are given.
       Nietzsche had, of course, begun as a professor of philology but, as Felsch notes, did not think much of the discipline. Colli and his disciple Montinari, however, were dedicated to the craft, and Felsch traces their interesting backgrounds and careers -- with Montinari also becoming a Communist, as the political environment in post-war Italy is also of significance here. (The Italian Communist Party was a significant one for decades after World War II, consistently garnering twenty to more than thirty per cent of the national vote.)
       Felsch's chapters focus on specific times and events -- there are six sections, dated 1943-4, 1948, 1958, 1961, 1972, and 1985 --, following the evolution of the Nietzsche revival. They also offer interesting glimpses of the political, cultural, and intellectual conditions in these various times -- not least of the GDR, including the comic railing of Wolfgang Harich against the philosopher in 1985. The significance of how Nietzsche's writing were adopted by the French in the 1960s is also well explained.
       It makes for an interesting if somewhat scattered volume of intellectual history, quite well if somewhat loosely structured around the two Italian scholars. It also offers an interesting account of publishing history -- including the titbit that Suhrkamp publisher Siegfried Unseld expressed interest in bringing out the collected edition, but "did not expect big sales opportunities" and that his offer, of DM 150,000, "had not been enough for Colli". There's also Luciano Foà, who left Italian publisher Einaudi in 1962, "taking with him as seed capital the rights to an Italian Nietzsche edition the Turinese publisher had spurned" and co-founding Adelphi Edizioni with that as the foundational project.
       There's much here one would want to know more about, but even as is How Nietzsche Came in From the Cold is an accessible and interesting overview and survey of the 'redemption' of Nietzsche and his thought in the second half of the twentieth century.

- M.A.Orthofer, 24 April 2024

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How Nietzsche Came in From the Cold: Reviews: Philipp Felsch: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       Philipp Felsch was born in 1972. He teaches at Humboldt University.

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© 2024 the complete review

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