Promenade à travers la littérature nietzschéenne française avant 1914 

(Laure Verbaere)

Que représente Nietzsche? (1869-1914)

For us, as for a certain number of men of our generation, the nietzscheism was less one revelation that an additive. The audacity and the eloquence of Nietzsche, settings to the service of the conclusions which went imposing to us more and more the experiment of the modern ideas and their fruits, especially activated and emboldened our intellectual release.

Pierre Lasserre, La morale de Nietzsche, Paris, Société du Mercure de France, 1902, p. 21.



Even dangerous, if one wants, the ideas of Nietzsche are liberators. Its logic is a lightening for the spirits; it gives to the brain a new facility to think and understand; it is, in the series of intellectual foods, a respiratory food. Not undoubtedly for worn or desiccated lungs. One does not advise philosophy nietzschéenne with people of nervous disposition and who need comforting beliefs. It is offered to the forts and not to the weaken, with those which do not need to live sweet milk of the hope.

Henri Albert, « La mort de Nietzsche », in Mercure de France, octobre 1900, p. 167.



This philosophy, I repeat it, offers itself as an amalgam, a grouping and sometimes a collusion of theories and doctrines criticists, positivist and evolutionary.

Eugène de Roberty, Frédéric Nietzsche. Contribution à l’histoire des idées philosophiques et sociales à la fin du XIXe siècle, Paris, Alcan, 1902, p. 70.



I remember the joy that I tested some ten years ago by opening my first book of Nietzsche. How one was far with him, of small timidities of thought, the miserable spirit of modern constraint! Was it immediately for me a friend, - a Master? not because Nietzsche has Masters who it is easy to know and whom one can prefer to him.
() I like it for all that there is in its work of encouragement to living, I like it for his great canticle with nature, although it is the canticle of a Protestant, I like it because it does not have anything the modern superstitions and that he is of a perfect irreverence, as owe the being all the free spirits, with the new gods of the democracy, his alleged great men and his gods and goddesses: Holy Morals, Holy Science, Holy Hygiene, Holy Dignity, Holy Progress, Holy Socialism, etc.

Hugues Rebell, « Histoire de l’esprit français » in La Plume, 1902, p. 916.



Taken with small amounts, certain poisons can become salutary. The philosophy of Nietzsche is offered like antidote to the disease of the century, discouraged pessimism, the ivory tower, the contempt, the dislike of living.

Jean Bourdeau, « La philosophie de Nietzsche », in Annales politiques et littéraires, 9 septembre 1900, p. 163.



In our times of democracy and egalitarianism Nietzsche is the large apostle of the “Superman”, the champion of aristocratic individualities which must dominate and order.

Anonyme, « La philosophie de Nietzsche, par Henri Lichtenberger », in Cosmopolis, t.9 n°27, mars 1898, p. 804.




(…) its abrupt reputation, its fast popularity delighted me the heart. I had wanted them purer still and more perfect. I see in him the public Purifier, the diligent Grave-digger who digs – not counting the blows of spade – the tomb where will bury the mortal remainss of a world entered in anguish.

Eugène de Roberty, Frédéric Nietzsche. Contribution à l’histoire des idées philosophiques et sociales à la fin du XIXe siècle, Paris, Alcan, 1902, p. 61.



Nietzsche was only for me an auxiliary of circumstance and in the fragments which I translated, I tried to conceive in French of the germano-Slavic designs, but I never took him for Master; I would have preferred to them his. What there is the fertile one in its books finds at our wise: Montaigne, a Voltaire, Renan; and they are surer guides.

Hugues Rebell in Georges Le Cardonnel et Charles Vellay, La littérature contemporaine, Paris, Société du Mercure de France, 1905, p. 109.



I would readily compare it with the one of these erratic, foreign blocks with the ground where they come to be failed, but which one finally could establish the source. The first geologists who meet it apply to study it; they subject it to their processes of analysis, describe its nature, mark its road and its place of origin. Once however that the rock was determined exactly, best is perhaps to classify it with its row in some natural history museum, under an explanatory label, and to let it there sleep.

Lucien Arréat, « G. Zoccoli. Frederico Nietzsche », in Revue philosophique de la France et de l’étranger, août 1899, p. 224.



Curious thing, the system crumbled, but the superb attitude of its inventor makes that one always believes in it.

Edouard Schuré, « Nietzsche en France et la psychologie de l’athée », in Revue bleue, 8 septembre 1900, p. 290.



When in less than twenty years a philosophy was in the same way spread in the world which it is not any more country where it did not find contradictors, interpreters, disciples of a more or less strict observance, it should well be recognized that it is not contemptible and that it would be impertinent about of not to speak seriously like serious thing. But it was too easy to cover gibes the Superman so that Nietzsche could escape wild liveliness from modern Tabarins.

Jean Florence, « Zarathoustra parmi les nations », in La Phalange, décembre 1906, p. 522.


Socially, i.e. for crowd, Nietzsche can appear dangereous because of his doctrines of the release of the instincts, which could be used to prove that Magi and Rosicrucian brotherhood were right to withdraw their secrecies from vulgar being unaware of doctrines. But Nietzsche is very individual, and does not speak about discipline out of the individual. Perhaps it was conspicuous; but it was not a leader.

Philéas Lebesgue, « Hellénisme et nietzschéisme », in Anthologie-Revue, novembre 1903, p. 64-65.



If something can attenuate our aversion with regard to a man who can make and did so much difficulty already, it is contrast between his writings and his life. This valetudinary exclusive admiror of the beauty and the force physics could not be held itself for a level of the species towards super-humanity. He was well rather of this waste of which he recommended pitiless elimination.

Anonyme, « Mort de Nietzsche », in Bulletin Universelle et Revue Suisse, 1900, p. 180.



Nietzsche is a demigod for youth, and Tolstoï, a god - what is a little contradictory.

Pierre Mille, « M. Björnstjerne Björnson et la France », {Opinions et paradoxes}, in Revue bleue, tome 15, n˚24, 15 juin 1901, p. 757.



One said this philosophy which she preached the revolt and anarchy, one compared it with literary dynamite, with an arsenal of intellectual bombs. Its disciples would tend to form like an Army of the Return salute, a League of perdition.

Jean Bourdeau, « La philosophie de Nietzsche », in Annales politiques et littéraires, 9 septembre 1900, p. 163.



Nietzsche is a great mind; unfortunately, it is a false spirit, which did not prevent it from saying a bunch of truths or of half-truths.

Alfred Fouillée, Nietzsche et l’immoralisme, Paris, Alcan, 1902, p. 254.



The “case” Nietzsche is and will remain a European event like the case Wagner, and that even after it ceases being with the mode, even if individualism continues to be driven back by socialism.

Henri Lichtenberger, « Th. Ziegler. Friedrich Nietzsche », {Littérature allemande}, in Revue universitaire, tome II, n˚9, 15 novembre 1899, p. 375.



The philosophy of Nietzsche carries in it a torch of discord which will never die out.

Louis Weber, {Philosophie}, in Mercure de France, avril 1901, p. 202.



We do not intend to make here a complete study of Nietzsche. This last, moreover, humorist and essay writer of first order, touches with all, speaks about all, pronounces on all, sometimes white, sometimes black, hiding under its airs of skepticism the more outraged dogmatisms.

Alfred Fouillée, Nietzsche et l’immoralisme, Paris, Alcan, 1902, p. IV.



We cannot do without idols which represent an ideal, a manner of interpreting life. Nietzsche is today one of these exotic idols, all the more venerated that he's himself a breaker of idols, philosophizing with blows of hammer, rejecting into the twilight the former gods, which is the best way of being made crown god in his turn…

Jean Bourdeau, « Le néo-cynisme aristocratique. –Frédéric Nietzsche », in Journal des Débats, 20 avril 1893.




The thought of Nietzsche is () the most fatal weapon which was never sharpened against the metaphysical moralism of Kant.

Jules de Gaultier, « Nietzsche et la pensée française », in Mercure de France, août 1904, p. 579.


I owe to Nietzsche my liberation. At the time we waded in the democratic and humane marsh, where had plunged us our good Masters of the small science (...), at that time we received from Nietzsche a whiplash which brought back for us to consider with sincerity true realities. Nietzsche, with a certain brutality, stopped our bleats, our poor wretch stripped us defrocks humane, and forced us to look at ourselves without pity.

Georges Valois, L'homme qui vient. Philosophie de l'Autorité, Paris, Nouvelle Librairie nationale, 1906, p. 33.



Nietzsche is at the same time himself and what we say of him.

André Gide, « Lettre à Angèle », in L’Ermitage, janvier 1899, p. 55-66.