- Nietzsche als Dichter. Lyrik – Poetologie – Rezeption ed. by Katharina Grätz and Sebastian Kaufmann
Berlin: De Gruyter, 2017. 488 pp. isbn: 978-3-11-051888-7. Cloth, 129.95€.
It is no secret that, for Nietzsche, philosophy and poetry are closely related. Some of his most important works contain poems, or even present themselves as poetry (as in the case of Z). Yet, in their efforts to make Nietzsche a respectable philosopher (especially in the English-speaking world), scholars have turned their attention away from this poetic dimension and have privileged instead the philosophical dimension of his work. The title of the [End Page 290] present volume, Nietzsche als Dichter, echoes Arthur Danto’s influential Nietzsche as Philosopher, and therefore aims to reinstate the part previously left aside. In order to do so, the articles in the volume focus on specific poems or poetic aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophical works and, as the editors suggest in their introduction, aim at bringing attention to Nietzsche’s lyrical production, which has been overshadowed by Z and the Dionysian Dithyrambs (DD).
The volume is a collection of papers presented at the second Forums Junger Nietzscheforschung in 2015 and contains nineteen articles plus an introduction. One of the best aspects of this volume is that every article has an abstract in English, which gives even the non-German reader an idea of what each article contains. For this reason, I will not summarize the aims and scope of each article, but offer instead an overview of the collection by bringing them into dialogue in order to reveal, if possible, an underlying structure. Although the subtitle seems to suggest a tripartite categorization in lyricism, poetology, and reception, there is no such explicit subdivision within the volume. These three aspects represent rather, as the editors note in the introduction, three intertwined perspectives on Nietzsche as poet: “Particular attention is first directed to Nietzsche’s lyrical production, which is revealed and presented exemplarily in close readings of poems. A second focus is set on language theory, aesthetic, and poetological reflections, which are examined especially in their statements about the capacity of poetry for knowledge and truth. Thirdly, and finally, Nietzsche’s contemporary reception as poet comes to the fore” (5, my translations throughout). These perspectives therefore show three main directions the articles take: a focus on lyricism explores Nietzsche’s poetry and its impact on his philosophy, one on poetology aims at elaborating a Nietzschean philosophy of poetry, and one on reception studies the influence of Nietzsche’s poetry. All of the articles either take a general scope on Nietzsche’s poetry and the relation to his philosophy or focus on one specific poem or aphorism.
The editors suggest in the introduction that the lyrical dimension of Nietzsche’s works has often been overlooked for two reasons: first, most research and reception of Nietzsche’s poetic works has been focused on Z and DD; and, second, most of his lyrical production remained unpublished and is hidden in the posthumous fragments. The opening articles in the volume set the focus precisely on this notion of lyricism and attempt to fill this gap in Nietzsche scholarship. [End Page 291]
The first paper, by Sebastian Kaufman, gives “a general overview of Nietzsche’s lyrical work and his reflections on lyric theory” (7). While discussing Nietzsche’s lyricism, Kaufman also relates this lyrical dimension to the philosophical aspects of Nietzsche’s works: “In interpreting Nietzsche’s lyrical works, one should always consider the thematic correspondences between his poems and his philosophy” (23). This relation shows that focusing on Nietzsche’s poetic works is never a matter of poetic theory or history only, but also offers a new perspective from which to approach Nietzsche’s works in general—a perspective that might open new avenues of interpretation. This dialogue between philosophy and poetry is a dominant feature of most of the articles, and a characteristic of this volume lies in the fact that the dialogue often begins with poetry rather than philosophy.
Except for Kaufman’s contribution, the articles primarily concerned with lyricism all offer...