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For Immediate Release

Contact: Stephen Ferguson, Rare Books and Special Collections
Princeton University Library, 609/258-3165

Princeton University Library Acquires Rare Friedrich Nietzsche Collection

Princeton NJ -- Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is widely regarded as one of the most revolutionary philosophical thinkers. The Princeton University Library recently acquired one of the finest collections of Nietzsche’s works available in the world today, including first editions of all his books. This valuable addition is made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The funds are a portion of the Distinguished Achievement in the Humanities Award given in 2001 to Professor Alexander Nehamas, the Edmund Carpenter II Class of 1943 Professor in the Humanities and professor of philosophy and comparative literature.

Nietzsche was a precocious genius who started composing music in his teens and had an intense and problematic relationship personally and ideologically with the German composer Richard Wagner. He also started teaching at the University of Basel at the astoundingly early age of 24. His ideas and methods molded modernist thinking about religion, morality, and reason itself. Not appreciated during his lifetime, Nietzsche gradually became one of the most influential thinkers of the twentieth century and his significance continues unabated.

Professor Nehamas is enthusiastic about this acquisition. “This remarkable collection is the most complete set of first editions of Nietzsche’s works outside the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar,” he said. “Copies of many of these books are very rare because, since Nietzsche’s reputation was not established until after his death, they were published in very small numbers and remained unsold and uncollected. Their text often differs from the reconstructed text of the standard edition scholars and philosophers are now using; these differences will be of great importance to historians of German letters and German philosophy, and the collection, especially if we eventually complete it, will draw them to Princeton. I am grateful to the Library, to the University and, most of all, to the Mellon Foundation for making it possible to keep these marvelous books together and preserve them for the future.”

Professor Stanley Corngold of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures adds these remarks: “This incomparable collection will contribute enormously to a more nuanced, more apt apprehension of the author and his work, and of the bond between the author and his work, for these are the books of himself that Nietzsche could have held in his own hands.”

The books are currently being cataloged and should be available for scholarly use early in the new year. For more information please contact Stephen Ferguson, Curator of Rare Books at (609) 258-3165.