For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

On Nietzsche

by Bataille, Georges (1992)


A poetic, philosophical, and political account of Nietzsche’s importance to Bataille, and of Bataille’s experience in Nazi-occupied France.Georges Bataille wrote On Nietzsche in the final months of the Nazi occupation of France in order to cleanse the German philosopher of the “stain of Nazism.” More than merely a treatise on Nietzsche, the book is as much a work of ethics in which thought is put to the test of experience and experience pushed to its limits. At once personal and political, it was written as an act of war, its publication contingent upon the German retreat. The result is a poetic and philosophical—and occasionally harrowing—record of life during wartime.Following Inner Experience and Guilty, On Nietzsche is the third volume of Bataille’s Summa Atheologica. Haunted by the recognition that “existence cannot be at once autonomous and viable,” herein the author yearns for community from the depths of personal isolation and transforms Nietzsche’s will to power into his own will to chance.This new translation includes Memorandum, a selection of 280 passages from Nietzsche’s works edited and introduced by Bataille. Originally published separately, Bataille planned to include the text in future editions of On Nietzsche. This edition also features the full notes and annotations from the French edition of Bataille’s Oeuvres Complètes, as well as an incisive introductory essay by Stuart Kendall that situates the work historically, biographically, and philosophically.

Key Passage

Between the ideas of Fascist reactionaries and Nietzsche's notions there is more than simple difference-there's radical incompatibility. While declining to  limit the future, which  has  all rights according to  him, Nietzsche all  the same suggested  it  through vague and contradictory suggestions. Which led to  confusions and misunderstandings. It's wrongheaded to attribute definite intentions to him regarding electoral politics,  arguing that he  talked of  "masters of  the world." What he intended was a  risked evocation of  possibility. As for  the  sovereign humanity whose brilliance he  wanted to  shine forth: in  contradictory ways he  saw the new humankind sometimes as  wealthy, sometimes  as poorer than the workers.  sometimes as  powerful sometimes as  tracked down by  enemies. He  required of the new humankind that it  possess a capacity to  withstand adversity-while recognizing its right to  trample on norms . Still he  distinguished this humanity on  principle from  men  in possession of  power. He recognized no  limits, and confined himself to describing as  freely as  he  could  the field of a possible. (p.162)


Nietzsche, Bataille, German, Political Theory, War, Nazism, National Socialism, Wartime


On Nietzsche, Bataille Citations

Links to Reference



How to contribute.