Beyond Good and Evil Readalong


Well, not so much a readalong, because I seriously doubt I can get a single person to read it with me, but an announcement of a public read. I am going to re-read Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil (1886), staring next week, and post on it. I’m hoping to post on Fridays, with one section a week, for nine weeks. It’s about 30 pages a week.

Why am I doing this? Well, I teach an ethics and fiction course every fall. I usually teach Birth of Tragedy (1872), and I have never been happy with how it works in the course, although students seem to like it well enough. I teach Genealogy of Morality (1887) in the spring in an ethical theory course, and many students take both courses. I think the BGE/GoM combo would work well for those students, and I’ve never liked BoT because it’s not really representative of mature Nietzsche’s theory, and for a few other reasons. I haven’t read BGE in its entirely in a really long time, maybe fifteen years, so it’s time I had another look and if I end up using it, I’ll be ahead of the game on teaching it.

I’m using the Kaufmann paperback version, pictured above, which is the one I would assign. A 99 cent Kindle version and the Gutenberg versions seem to be translated by Helen Zimmern, which is not preferred by most Nietzsche scholars. There is also a Cambridge translation (Judith Norman) which seems to get a pass.

I’ll be sure to make references to fiction each week, preferably something from the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy.

See you June 8!


14 responses

  1. Beyond Good and Evil would be a really good title for an erotic novel. I look forward to reading your posts, and the book too.


  2. Found my copy (well, technically it appears to date to husband’s undergraduate career), will try to be in for this. Unless you’re serious about your very last line, in which case … I can’t take any more! 😉


  3. I’ve never read Nietzsche. It sounds interesting. But this kindle version’s coming up as “not available” on Amz.:(


  4. Hi,

    I’ve been reading your blog for months. I’m interested in reading BGE. How do you coordinate the reading? Over a period of time? Also, I’m not a Philosophy student.


  5. @Des Livres: It would. I hope you write it!

    @Pam Regis: Thanks!

    @Liz Mc2: I wasn’t serious. But I do hope to make some literary connections, since that’s the point of (possibly) teaching it in the fall.

    @Mara: @Mara: Hm. Here is the link I have for Kindle:

    And here is the link for Gutenberg:

    and here is one for reading online from a site called Authorama:

    I hope one of those works.

    @Nicci: BGE is divided into nine sections. I thought I would write a blog post each Friday, one section at a time, beginning June 8. You can either respond to the blog post, or write your own blog post (or post at Goodreads or Tumbl or whatever you use) and I will link to you in my blog post.

    The reason I love BGE is that it is an excellent introduction for students who have no had philosophy. The vast majority of this blog’s readers have no background in philosophy so whenever I write about philosophy here, I do it in a way that an average intelligent person can follow. If I’m not clear, you can always ask me to clarify.


  6. Just curious about why the two female translators get a pass and the male translator gets a go. Is there a significant enough difference that if I tried to read along with the gutenberg edition that it would be problematic?


  7. @AQ: It’s nothing to do with gender. Helen Zimmern was not a philosopher, so while she knew the language, she didn’t have as good of a grasp of the philosophical tradition with which Nietzsche was engaging. I did recommend the 2002 Cambridge translation by Judith Norman, who is a woman.

    But no, I don’t think the translation will make a big difference if you just want to get a sense of things, and it might be interesting to contrast them. Hope you join me (us?)!


  8. @Jessica:

    Life has been kind of crazy for the last few months so I’ve been reading along with your posts, just haven’t had the time to comment. I’m going to try to schedule a block of time for this. I’ll even try to get multiple translations of the text to make comparisons.

    Will you be doing a more in-depth post to help frame the book journey we’re about to take with you beyond this one? Maybe give us concepts to consider. I haven’t read the trilogy, is this the only text you’ll be sampling for references?

    Is the first post on this book scheduled for Friday, June 8th?


  9. I got Jenseits Gut und Bose off Gutenberg, with a nice Kindle version, and ordered the Walter Kaufmann edition. I am looking forward to this.


  10. @AQ: I’m not sure if I’ll have time to do a post before June 8, but in some ways, I think it’s good to just encounter a text, especially Nietzsche. He feels unusual to everyone, even his contemporaries. He just had a very unique way of doing philosophy, so I think it is not bad to encounter him in all his strangeness.

    @Des Livres: I don’t know German at all so you’ll have to let us know how you feel about translations if you notice anything.

    @Mara: Excellent.


  11. @Jessica: I’m really looking forward to this. One of my interests is language and the study of meaning/semantics/discourse, so it will be fascinating to engage with language/ideas at this level. I’m looking forward to seeing how both languages are used to engage with what I think of as traditional philosophy. (a label I’ve appended to a bunch of material which I’ve never read or studied). I’m also looking forward to reading what Nietsche actually gave us. – aside from some brilliant book titles. Twilight of the Idles is my favourite – title that is – no clue what the book’s about.



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