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Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem:
Between Anti-Semitism and Anti-Judaism
Robert C. Holub

Hardcover | 2015 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691167558
296 pp. | 6 x 9
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A Q&A with Robert C. Holub

For more than a century, Nietzsche's views about Jews and Judaism have been subject to countless polemics. The Nazis infamously fashioned the philosopher as their anti-Semitic precursor, while in the past thirty years the pendulum has swung in the opposite direction. The increasingly popular view today is that Nietzsche was not only completely free of racist tendencies but also was a principled adversary of anti-Jewish thought. Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem offers a definitive reappraisal of the controversy, taking the full historical, intellectual, and biographical context into account. As Robert Holub shows, a careful consideration of all the evidence from Nietzsche’s published and unpublished writings and letters reveals that he harbored anti-Jewish prejudices throughout his life.

Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem demonstrates how this is so despite the apparent paradox of the philosopher’s well-documented opposition to the crude political anti-Semitism of the Germany of his day. As Holub explains, Nietzsche’s "anti-anti-Semitism" was motivated more by distaste for vulgar nationalism than by any objection to anti-Jewish prejudice.

A richly detailed account of a controversy that goes to the heart of Nietzsche’s reputation and reception, Nietzsche’s Jewish Problem will fascinate anyone interested in philosophy, intellectual history, or the history of anti-Semitism.

Robert C. Holub is Ohio Eminent Scholar and Professor of German at Ohio State University and former chancellor of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. The author of several books on nineteenth- and twentieth-century German literary, cultural, and intellectual history, he is also the editor of editions of Nietzsche's On the Genealogy of Morals and Beyond Good and Evil.


"[A] deft, cogent presentation."--Choice

"The sober investigation of unpublished documents, an endeavor Holub conducts with enthusiasm, is surely a great service to the historical literature, and Nietzsche's Jewish Problem will likely become the definitive work on its subject."--Jewish Review of Books


"When the theme of Nietzsche's anti-Semitism arises, moderation and sobriety fall by the wayside, and irrational exuberance, ‘for' or ‘against,' wins out--a situation that helps to explain why most attempts to assess this highly controversial aspect of Nietzsche's legacy have been so sterile and superficial. In Nietzsche's Jewish Problem, the esteemed Germanist Robert Holub breaks free of this vicious circle. He provides a refreshingly fair-minded, meticulous, and judicious reconstruction of Nietzsche's confrontation with the so-called Jewish Question. Holub's book will likely become the standard work on the fraught question of Nietzsche's attitudes toward Jews and Judaism for years to come."--Richard Wolin, author of Heidegger's Children

"Judiciously avoiding the extremes of relentless prosecution or wholesale exoneration, Robert Holub draws on a wealth of unexplored sources to revisit the vexed question of Nietzsche's attitude toward the Jews. Acknowledging the philosopher's outspoken hostility to the anti-Semitism of his day, he demonstrates nonetheless that Nietzsche shared many of its characteristic prejudices, and added a few new ones of his own. Among the surprising results of Holub's scrupulous research is a more nuanced picture of Nietzsche's sister's alleged responsibility for the distortion of his ideas."--Martin Jay, University of California, Berkeley

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Table of Contents:

A Note on Citations ix
Preface xi
Chapter One The Rise and Fall of Nietzschean Anti-Semitism 1
Chapter Two Youthful Remarks and Encounters 31
Chapter Three The Wagnerian Vanguard 49
Chapter Four An Ambivalent Course 89
Chapter Five Anti-Semitic Confrontations 125
Chapter Six Priests, Israelites, Chandalas 166
Conclusion 204
Notes 215
Bibliography 249
Index 259

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