Nietzsche: A Biographical Introduction by Janko Lavrin
Hardcover in dust jacket.
Book in good condition. Dust jacket fair condition.
About (as shared by a reviewer)
The author of this book, Janko Lavrin, was a distinguished literary scholar who once taught at University College in Nottingham England. He is best known for his books on Russian writers, but also published three short studies of Nietzsche, one in 1922, another in 1948, and this one in the early 1970's. Some portions of the 1922 book, "Nietzsche and Modern Consciousness," and the 1948 book, "Nietzsche: An Approach" reappear, with slight modifications, in this book.
The British philosopher Michael Oakeshott wrote a very favorable review of "Nietzsche: An Approach" when it was published, describing it as the best study of Nietzsche that had then been written. I think "Nietzsche: A Biographical Introduction" is even better than the earlier book. Written in a very lucid and graceful prose style, the book elucidates the most important themes of Nietzsche's work, and relates these to his physical infirmities, which worsened as he grew older, and to the psychological compensations he made for his illnesses. In addition, Lavrin shows how Nietzsche's intellectual and emotional crisis was emblematic of the profound crisis European civilization was confronted with in the late nineteenth century.
The portrait of Nietzsche that emerges from Lavrin's book is that of a tormented genius who was absolutely committed to finding meaning in a godless universe, but who would never settle for the comforting illusions invented by the "herd" to provide that meaning. While Lavrin concludes that some of Nietzsche's solutions were ultimately lacking, he provides a moving account of the stupendous effort Nietzsche made -- and the personal and psychological burdens he endured -- in order to grapple honestly with questions that we are still struggling to answer today. If you have an interest in understanding Nietzsche as a man, and not just as a purveyor of provocative ideas, I urge you to read this superb book.