We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
Nietzschean Narratives (review)

From: Philosophy and Literature
Volume 15, Number 1, April 1991
pp. 164-165 | 10.1353/phl.1991.0072

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

164Philosophy and Literature The authors also seek to demonstrate that "various German philosophers were the chief prosecutors who drew up the case against the subject brought by the '68 philosophers" and that "contemporary French philosophy has basically been not so much an original and creative moment in intellectual history as simply a secondary growth" (p. 25). They therefore treat Foucault, Derrida, Bourdieu, and Lacan as little more than hyperbolic repeaters of Nietzsche, Marx, and Freud. The influence of the Germans on the French will come as no news, and this is a particularly reductive analysis of it: "If, according to the formula we have explained, Foucault = Heidegger + Nietzsche, and if, as we will show later, we can say that Lacan = Heidegger + Freud, French Heideggerianism can be defined by the formula Derrida = Heidegger + Derrida's style" (p. 123). The best chapter in the book is on "Interpretations of May 1968." Here the authors provide a useful categorization and critique of accounts written from participants' Marxist and Heideggerian points of view, and argue for an "interpretive pluralism" (p. 59) which they have also learned from Aron. Unfortunately , they fail even to understand that words like "subjectivity" or "individual " can have many meanings, and they themselves relate sixties' thinking to 1968 only by virtue of the dates of its earliest works. Although invariably awkward and sometimes obscure, Mary Schnackenberg Cattani's translation is timely. It appears as we too begin to turn away from sixties' thinking in search of a new philosophy of man, at a moment when Marx-bashing and deconstruction-bashing are becoming the order of the day. Ferry and Renaut's book may provide some with ammunition. It would better serve as a partial sourcebook for other, more successful, French critiques of La Pensée '68. University of South CarolinaEve Tavor Bannet Nietzschean Narratives, by Gary Shapiro; xii & 179 pp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989, $37.50 cloth, $14.95 paper. As Shapiro reminds the reader, Nietzsche's often aphoristic style calls into question this book's narrative approach. Difficult to apply to works such as Human, All Too Human, Daybreak, and The Gay Science, such an approach does prove illuminating when applied to a text like Zarathustra, which presupposes, even as it playfully subverts, a quite familiar narrative framework to which Shapiro devotes the major part of his study. His approach also clarifies The Antichrist, which we are invited to read as an "exploration of the narrative Reviews165 function in die constitution of value and truth" (p. 4), and Ecce Homo, which is said to exhibit "the ways in which telling the story of one's own life requires a motivated interplay of knowledge and ignorance of oneself" (p. 4). Shapiro himself insists that his approach cannot claim to be definitive; the point of these readings of Nietzsche is not "to solve the hermeneutic mystery of who the 'true' Mr. Nietzsche is or even what his texts are finally saying," but rather "to articulate one production of the text machine that converges with our apparendy inevitable interest in hearing and telling stories" (p. 21). In the same diffident vein, Shapiro concludes his reading of Ecce Homo as a mythic narrative with this comment: "Clearly it is only one strand that might be read in Nietzsche's last texts. Perhaps I invented it, succumbing to the seductive temptation always hoveringaround Nietzsche's writings to believe one has found a clue to the structure of the labyrinth" (p. 166). This comment could be extended to apply to the entire book, where the seductiveness of Nietzsche's texts is compounded by the seductiveness ofthe postmodern rhetoric ofDerrida with its suspicion of logocentrism and truth claims, of closure and definitive narratives. The title invites comparison with Alexander Nehamas's Nietzsche: Life as Literature . Shapiro does indeed use Nehamas as a foil. But ifaccording to Nehamas, Nietzsche takes for his model "the unified literary work as it might be construed by Aristotle, or Hegel, or an American New Critic" (p. 24), Shapiro insists that while Nietzsche's many styles include variations of narrative, they are governed by a suspicion ofjust that kind of unity that traditionally has been demanded of the work of art. It...