Friedrich Nietzsche, “the insane German philosopher” immediately instilled feelings of fury and passion into Americans when his writings began getting translated to English in 1896. Originally dismissed as crazy, Nietzsche’s declaration that “God is dead” and his allegiance to irrational joy has been misunderstood by the general public since its conception. After scorning Nietzsche as an “idol to the foolish,” U.S. newspapers claimed Nietzsche’s “dangerous” ideas were responsible for global catastrophes like WWI. Despite such infamy, Nietzsche’s ideas later became praised by intellectuals in the very periodicals which originally condemned his work. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|July 19, 1896||The Macmillan publishing company announces they will be translating all of Nietzsche’s works into English.|
|1899||Nietzsche writes his most famous philosophical novel, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.”|
|August 25, 1900||Friedrich Nietzsche dies in a state of mental deterioration.|
|1900-1918||Post-mortem, Nietzsche’s work piques interest and controversy from a vast amount of American newspapers. His philosophy is blamed for the first World War.|
|1920s||Nietzsche is embraced as a keystone philosopher. Several newspaper articles acknowledge he has been grossly misunderstood.|