In the winter of 1875, Karl Marx finally submitted his proofs for the updated and translated version of Capital, Volume I, which he had been working on for more than eight years, to his publisher in France. The revised edition’s 10,000 copies sold quickly, but in March an article was printed in London’s Fortnightly Review which critiqued Capital not so much for its content but rather for its vernacular. Perhaps throwing ridicule at its obscurity, or else offering Marx a shred of consolation, the review noted (prophetically, in hindsight): “People may do him the honor of abusing him; read him they do not.”
The same could be said of my favorite philosopher, the one and only Friedrich Nietzsche (which is either saying a lot or saying nothing at all, since I only like about three philosophers—Camus being the other one besides Marx).
So on what better occasion than the anniversary of the Peasants’ Revolt, then, to launch a new series I’m calling Reading Nietzsche, in which I’ll write about the text—what he wrote, imagine that—and what it means in this “thrashing endgame of civilization,” as Derrick Jensen so eloquently and succinctly put it.
I’ll end this introduction of sorts with a conclusion by Walter Kaufman, editor and translator of the the Viking Portable Nietzsche:
In sum: Nietzsche’s challenge is twofold. He might conceivably come into his own by re-establishing some bond between what are now two completely divergent branches of modern thought, thus benefiting both. Meanwhile it is the individual reader whom he addresses. And he does not want to be read as an arsenal of arguments for or against something, nor even for a point of view. He challenges the reader not so much to agree or disagree as to grow.