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    Christopher E. Forth, Nietzsche, Decadence, and Regeneration in France, 1891-95 + Becoming a Destiny: The Nietzsche Vogue in French intellectual Life, 1891-1918

    Johnathan R. Razorback
    Johnathan R. Razorback

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    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
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    Christopher E. Forth, Nietzsche, Decadence, and Regeneration in France, 1891-95 + Becoming a Destiny: The Nietzsche Vogue in French intellectual Life, 1891-1918 Empty Christopher E. Forth, Nietzsche, Decadence, and Regeneration in France, 1891-95 + Becoming a Destiny: The Nietzsche Vogue in French intellectual Life, 1891-1918

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback le Jeu 26 Avr - 15:38


    "The philosophy of Nietzsche inspired and legitimated a vitalistic desire for a radical change in the status quo, a program which would be appropriated by  extremist groups on the left and the right." (p.98)

    "The role of Nietzsche in French letters increased dramatically after 1900." (p.99)

    "An attitude of systematic detachment manifested itself most visibly in the literacy school of Symbolism, which flourished during the 1880s and counted as its most illustrious practitioners Stéphane Mallarmé, Paul Verlaine, Gustave Kahn, Paul Bourget, Joris-Karl Huysmans, and Philippe Villiers de l'Isle-Adam. As a response to the Naturalism of Emile Zola and Guy de Maupassant, Symbolism offered its adherents a conception of the world and a state of mind which would pervade much of French literacy life. Positing the absurdity of political action and the inevitable suffering of human existence, the Symbolists rejected external reality in favor of a new kind of idealism, which in its variety of forms included solipsism, occultism, mysticism, and a fascination with the morbid. Paramount to this movement was the artists' resolve to flee reality through a variety of means, such as hallucinatory drugs, dreams, or other altered states of mind. Finally, the decadent Symbolists refused to participate in political and social life, arguing instead for the detached position of "l'art pour l'art"." (p.99)

    "Le Banquet was formed in 1892 by several graduates of the Lycée Condorcet, the most prestigious of the right-bank schools. The leader of this literacy coterie was Daniel Halévy, and grouped around him were Fernand Gregh, Robert Dreyfus, and Marcel Proust. In addition to this circle from Condorcet were several from the Lycée Henri IV, most notably Léon Blum. While the journal was dedicated to their teacher and discussion leader, Mallarmé, the direction that the magazine chose seemed ad odds with the Symbolist program ; in fact Mallarmé and his fellow Symbolist Paul Verlaine had inspired the young littérateurs to set out on their own rebellious directions. Robert Dreyfus recalled that Le Banquet, despite the dedication to Mallarmé, had been "founded in reaction against symbolism" and that one of its chief aims was to "renew the pure and rich French tradition by an intelligent fusion of classicism and romanticism". "Enough of Shakespeare", Dreyfus declared in an early article for Le Banquet, "enough of Ibsen, enough of Tolstoy, enough of [Maurice] Maeterlinck. Let us return to France, the devil !". Presumably impressed by Nietzsche's effusive praise of French culture, Dreyfus suggested the writings of the German thinker for his "return to France". In the eyes of the Symbolists, Fernand Gregh remembered, "we seemed a bit like heretics. The literacy public had gone to the great [Symbolist] church of the Mercure de France and neglected our little chapel". Hence, an attack on the Symbolist establishment was one of the primary aims of these writers, an end for which they effectively used the ideas of Nietzsche.
    In the April 1892 issue of
    Le Banquet, Halévy and Gregh presented an article entitled "Frédéric Nietzsche", a ringing defense of the philosopher against the first French commentators whom they believed had grossly misrepresented and distorted his ideas. The article with which the young men were most angry was "Frédéric Nietzsche, le dernier métaphysicien", written by the well-known literacy critic and German specialist, Téodor de Wyzewa." (p.103)

    "Léon Daudet, a later spokesman for the Action française, called Le Cas Wagner a masterpiece [Souvenirs, 1920]."

    "In 1893 Jean Thorel noted that Nietzsche was, along with Bakunin and Stirner, one of the "fathers of anarchism", an intellectual progenitor of the "explosions, searches, arrests, trials, [and] condemnations" of 1892 [Jean Thorel, "Les Pères de l'anarchisme: Bakounine, Stirner, Nietzsche", La Revue bleue [conservatrice], 21 (15 april 1893), 449]. Reflecting upon the anarchist period of the early 1890s another writer predicted that "history will later say that at the moment when the books of Friedrich Nietzsche were distributed, an entire generation of fanatics took revenge on social inequalities through crime and murder attempts [les attentats] by dynamite" [H. Fierens-Geveart, La Tristesse contemporaine, Paris, 1899, pp.178-79]." (p.13)

    "Mazel, the journal's editor, noted the decadence of French society and the cure which he believed Nietzsche could provide: "f philosophical as well as organic products contain an active principle, the Nietzschean sort could be one of the most powerful agents of social therapy, at once terrible and beneficial. Our time needs it, and in energetic doses". [Henri Hazel, "Nietzsche et le présent", L'Ermitage, 6 (feb. 1893), 81]"

    "Like many writers of his generation, Rebell became caught up in the wave of nationalism after 1900, which only strenghtened his resolve for the regeneration of France through means of constraint. In addition, while Rebell had been clearly enamored with Nietzsche during the 1890s, by 1905 he renounced his youthful enthusiasm as he moved closer to the monarchism of Charles Maurras." (p.113)

    "[Henri] Albert conceived [...] Nietzsche as a socialist whose ideas would liberate the proletariat from its chains." (p.115)
    -Christopher E. Forth, Nietzsche, Decadence, and Regeneration in France, 1891-95, Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 54, No. 1 (Jan., 1993), pp. 97-117.


    « La racine de toute doctrine erronée se trouve dans une erreur philosophique. [...] Le rôle des penseurs vrais, mais aussi une tâche de tout homme libre, est de comprendre les possibles conséquences de chaque principe ou idée, de chaque décision avant qu'elle se change en action, afin d'exclure aussi bien ses conséquences nuisibles que la possibilité de tromperie. » -Jacob Sher, Avertissement contre le socialisme, Introduction à « Tableaux de l'avenir social-démocrate » d'Eugen Richter, avril 1998.

    "La vraie volupté est remportée comme une victoire sur la tristesse [...] Il n’y a pas de grands voluptueux sans une certaine mélancolie, pas de mélancoliques qui ne soient des voluptueux trahis." -Albert Thibaudet, La vie de Maurice Barrès, in Trente ans de vie française, volume 2, Éditions de la Nouvelle Revue Française, 1919, 312 pages, p.40.

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