Friedrich Nietzsche and the Literature of the 19th Century (Panel)


Comparative Literature / Interdisciplinary Humanities

Jin Chang (Reed College)

In his lifetime, Nietzsche referred to over 150 nineteenth-century writers in both his published writings and Nachlaß. Nietzsche’s use of nineteenth-century fiction and poetry ranges from somewhat nonchalant to extremely systematic. Indeed, the cornerstone of his “Advent of European Nihilism” in the late 1880s is the decline or decadence of literature during Nietzsche’s lifetime.

The panel attempts to focus on passages, individual novels or poems, and complete bodies of work in order to assess Nietzsche’s use of these texts in his philosophical project.

Of especial interest in this panel will be the relationship between Nietzsche’s use of 19th century literature and current scholarship on the authors he considers. Given the state of current inquiry, what the strengths of Nietzsche’s use of specific nineteenth-century authors? Weaknesses?

Presenters are free to focus on the literary works themselves, their place in Nietzsche’s philosophy, or the general cultural context uniting Nietzsche’s use of writers as diverse as Flaubert, Hugo, George Eliot, Heine, Zola, Stendhal, Dostoevsky, Chateaubriand, Balzac and many others.

One should feel free to work in references and analyses to painters and musicians as well.

In his lifetime, Nietzsche referred to over 150 nineteenth-century writers in both his published writings and Nachlaß. Nietzsche’s use of nineteenth-century fiction and poetry ranges from somewhat nonchalant to extremely systematic. This panel investigates the importance of Nietzsche to our understanding of nineteenth-century authors and the relationship of these authors to Nietzsche's thought.