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I Am Dynamite!

A Life of Nietzsche

By Sue Prideaux
18-minute read
Audio available
I Am Dynamite! by Sue Prideaux

I Am Dynamite! (2018) is the explosive story of the life of Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher who revolutionized western thought. Despite his bold and visionary writing, Nietzsche lived a troubled life and received little renown before descending into madness.

  • Philosophy enthusiasts
  • Biography fans interested in European history
  • Anyone looking to learn about Nietzsche and his work

In addition to I Am Dynamite!, Sue Prideaux has written biographies of the painter Edvard Munch and the playwright August Strindberg. All three of her books have won awards.

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I Am Dynamite!

A Life of Nietzsche

By Sue Prideaux
  • Read in 18 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 11 key ideas
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I Am Dynamite! by Sue Prideaux
Synopsis

I Am Dynamite! (2018) is the explosive story of the life of Friedrich Nietzsche, the philosopher who revolutionized western thought. Despite his bold and visionary writing, Nietzsche lived a troubled life and received little renown before descending into madness.

Key idea 1 of 11

Friedrich Nietzsche’s early years set him on a great intellectual path.

One day in November 1868, a sickly but brilliant student at Leipzig University – Friedrich Nietzsche – received a life-changing invitation. But he almost didn’t make it; a last-minute disagreement with his tailor’s assistant left him without formal evening wear.

Running late, Nietzsche had to dash through the pouring rain without a dinner jacket to meet the man who would become his mentor and friend: the great composer and polemicist Richard Wagner.

The two bonded over Wagner’s music and their mutual appreciation for the work of the then obscure philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer. Nietzsche left with a cherished invitation to visit Wagner at home.

It was a dream come true for young Nietzsche, whose intense intellect and passion for music were evident from early childhood.

The key message here is: Friedrich Nietzsche’s early years set him on a great intellectual path.

Nietzsche was born in the Saxon town of Röcken in 1844 to his mother, Franziska, and Lutheran minister father, Karl Ludwig. His sister Elisabeth was born two years later; Friedrich affectionately called her “Llama.”

Tragedy struck the family in 1849, when Karl Ludwig died after months of horrible illness and near-blindness, at just 35. His doctors ascribed cause of death to a brain condition. Young Friedrich was also prone to severe headaches and eye pain, which sometimes left him bedridden for up to a week.

The family then moved to the larger city of Naumburg, but from the age of 14 Friedrich boarded at the Schulpforta – the local elite school. Despite his delicate health Nietzsche excelled, showing a particular aptitude for philology, the study of ancient languages and texts.

He initially continued his studies at the theological faculty in Bonn to fulfill his mother’s wish that he enter the clergy. But his intellect was drawn to philology, and he soon left Bonn to study it in Leipzig with professor Albrecht Ritschl. Shortly after his meeting with Wagner the precocious student was offered the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel in Switzerland. At just 24, he was the youngest person ever to be appointed to this post.

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