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The Antichrist - (FREE Audiobook Included!)

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The Wagner diatribe and “The Twilight of the Idols” were published immediately, but “The Antichrist” did not get into type until 1895. I suspect that the delay was due to the influence of the philosopher’s sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, an intelligent and ardent but by no means uniformly judicious propagandist of his ideas. During his dark days of neglect and misunderstanding, when even family and friends kept aloof, Frau Förster-Nietzsche went with him farther than any other, but there were bounds beyond which she, also, hesitated to go, and those bounds were marked by crosses. One notes, in her biography of him—a useful but not always accurate work—an evident desire to purge him of the accusation of mocking at sacred things. He had, she says, great admiration for “the elevating effect of Christianity ... upon the weak and ailing,” and “a real liking for sincere, pious Christians,” and “a tender love for the Founder of Christianity.” All his wrath, she continues, was reserved for “St. Paul and his like,” who  perverted the Beatitudes, which Christ intended for the lowly only, into a universal religion which made war upon aristocratic values. Here, obviously, one is addressed by an interpreter who cannot forget that she is the daughter of a Lutheran pastor and the grand-daughter of two others; a touch of conscience gets into her reading of “The Antichrist.” She even hints that the text may have been garbled, after the author’s collapse, by some more sinister heretic. There is not the slightest reason to believe that any such garbling ever took place, nor is there any evidence that their common heritage of piety rested upon the brother as heavily as it rested upon the sister. On the contrary, it must be manifest that Nietzsche, in this book, intended to attack Christianity headlong and with all arms, that for all his rapid writing he put the utmost care into it, and that he wanted it to be printed exactly as it stands. The ideas in it were anything but new to him when he set them down. He had been developing them since the days of his beginning. You will find some of them, clearly recognizable, in the first book he ever wrote, “The Birth of Tragedy.” You will find the most important of all of them—the conception of Christianity as  ressentiment—set forth at length in the first part of “The Genealogy of Morals,” published under his own supervision in 1887. And the rest are scattered through the whole vast mass of his notes, sometimes as mere questionings but often worked out very carefully. Moreover, let it not be forgotten that it was Wagner’s yielding to Christian sentimentality in “Parsifal” that transformed Nietzsche from the first among his literary advocates into the most bitter of his opponents. He could forgive every other sort of mountebankery, but not that. “In me,” he once said, “the Christianity of my forbears reaches its logical conclusion. In me the stern intellectual conscience that Christianity fosters and makes paramount turns against Christianity. In me Christianity ... devours itself.”

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