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Moraitis, G. (1996). Young Nietzsche: Becoming A Genuis. By Carl Pletsch. New York: Free Press, 1991, 261 pp., $22.95 (hardcover), $12.95 (paperback).. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44:616-619.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44:616-619

Young Nietzsche: Becoming A Genuis. By Carl Pletsch. New York: Free Press, 1991, 261 pp., $22.95 (hardcover), $12.95 (paperback).

Review by:
George Moraitis, M.D.

The frequent application of the biographical approach to intellectual history reflects the contemporary scholar's increasing awareness that the evolution of ideas can best be studied in conjunction with the lives of the thinkers who created them. It was actually Nietzsche himself who originated this trend, both conceptually and by the autobiographical nature of his iconoclastic philosophical system. In doing so, he challenged his readers to extend their inquiry beyond the philosophical abstractions presented to them and into the humanity of the philosopher who introduced them. Nietzsche considered such inquiry to be the essence of any philosophical system.

In his book Young Nietzsche: Becoming a Genius, Carl Pletsch describes Nietzsche as an “autobiographical” thinker who practiced introspection beginning early in life and who wrote an autobiography at the age of fourteen, not for the purpose of explaining his life to others, but for learning from it himself. Nietzsche used to reflect “upon his own experiences in order to understand the world and philosophize by introspection” (p. 157).

Pletsch explores Nietzsche's introspective journey with tact, sensitivity, and sophistication, through the application of a psychoanalytically informed approach, without discussing issues of psychopathology, despite inferences of such issues that are obvious to the psychoanalytic reader. The primary focus of this biography pertains to the concept of the genius, the demystification of which, according to the author, began with Nietzsche's autobiographical writings.

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