Basic Writings of Nietzsche book cover


Basic Writings of Nietzsche: Must-Read Philosophy?

Feeling philosophical or simply looking to dive into some classical literature? You’re likely on the hunt for a book that’s not just thought-provoking but also a tangible bridge to some of history’s most influential ideas. We recently got our hands on “Basic Writings of Nietzsche” from the Modern Library Classics, and it’s been a riveting journey through the mind of Friedrich Nietzsche.

The compelling nature of Nietzsche’s text is preserved in this edition, which spans across 896 pages of his most crucial works. For those starting on Nietzsche, beginning with “Genealogy of Morals” followed by “Beyond Good and Evil” provides a solid foundation. These texts reflect Nietzsche’s sharp intellect and his attempt to redefine the moral landscape of his time.

We appreciate the translation by Kaufmann; it’s clear and accessible. Furthermore, the inclusion of essays such as ‘The Birth of Tragedy‘ and ‘The Wagner Case,’ among others, make it a comprehensive collection. However, some readers noted the exclusion of “Thus Spake Zarathustra” and expressed a desire for better paper quality, which might be something to consider if you’re looking for a keepsake.

Bottom Line

For those wanting to explore Nietzsche’s seminal works, this collection is a valuable resource that won’t disappoint.

It offers a nuanced look into his philosophy, coupled with translations that make his challenging prose more approachable. Dive into Nietzsche’s world; start your reading here.

Basic Writings of Nietzsche Overview

Diving into the philosophical depths with this Modern Library Classics edition, we found the collection to be an essential compilation. Our recent read-through reminded us why Nietzsche is a foundational figure in modern thought. The book’s strength lies in its diversity of content, providing us a comprehensive look at Nietzsche’s most profound ideas without overwhelming complexity. It’s an invitation to his groundbreaking concepts such as the “Übermensch” and the “eternal recurrence.”

While we appreciated the book’s engaging translations, we noted that newcomers to Nietzsche may initially struggle with the depth of the subject matter. Despite this, the included work “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” was, as always, an exhilarating ride through existential thought. For those of us seeking to grasp Nietzsche’s impact on philosophy, this collection strikes a balance, offering both accessibility and authenticity. However, for someone looking for an introductory text, the intensity of Nietzsche’s writing might pose a challenge. But for us, the rich content was worth the effort, providing a clear pathway through the landscape of his ideas.

Philosophical Insights

Exploring the depths of Nietzsche’s thought through “Basic Writings of Nietzsche” has been a thought-provoking journey. Our experience with this collection has been insightful, uncovering the rich tapestry of his philosophy, from “The Birth of Tragedy” to “Ecce Homo”. Distilling Nietzsche’s groundbreaking ideas, we grapple with concepts that challenge the status quo, urging us to confront our own perspectives on morality and existence.

While the translation and compilation by Kaufmann are commendable, providing us with an accessible entry-point to Nietzsche’s complex ideas, the absence of personal commentary may leave some readers seeking more context. Furthermore, the omission of “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is noticeable; a text some of us find crucial in understanding Nietzsche’s overall philosophical narrative.

On the physical aspect, the quality of the paper has drawn our critique, especially when comparing to other books within the series, which may be a concern for those of us who cherish the tactile experience of reading.

In essence, this collection invites us to reflect on Nietzsche’s intellectual battles and philosophical reevaluations, sparking an inner dialogue about the foundations of our cultural and moral frameworks. It’s a journey well worth taking for those of us keen on delving into philosophical literature.

Accessibility and Translation

In our hands-on experience with “Basic Writings of Nietzsche,” we found the book’s physical design quite user-friendly. It’s a manageable size, making for a comfortable reading experience whether you’re at home or on the go. The text is printed in clear, readable font, which is a boon for readers who may struggle with smaller print sizes.

However, one aspect where the book may present limitations is in language accessibility. As the title indicates, the book is available in English, which suggests there could be a barrier for non-English speakers interested in Nietzsche’s philosophies. While we appreciated the nuanced flow of the translation that captures Nietzsche’s original sentiments, those requiring translations into other languages might need to seek alternative editions or use additional translation resources to fully access the content.

For those with visual impairments or who prefer listening to reading, as of our last use, there’s no official audiobook version provided by the publisher. Readers might need to explore third-party audiobook services or digital text-to-speech options to enjoy Nietzsche’s works in an audio format.

Physical Quality and Design

When we had the chance to handle “Basic Writings of Nietzsche,” the physical quality really stood out to us. The paperback’s dimensions offer a comfortable hold and the book feels substantial without being overly weighty at 1.1 pounds—which is quite manageable for its 896-page length.

Our experience showed that the book is crafted for durability, with a sturdy cover that resists easy bending or damage. The print quality is clear, making for an accessible reading experience without straining the eyes. While the book’s spine is robust, after extended use, there’s minimal creasing, ensuring the book remains presentable on a shelf.

The design fits the ‘Modern Library Classics’ series with a simple and elegant look that’s focused on readability and classic appeal. This isn’t a book that tries to catch the eye with flashy graphics or embellishments, but rather a book that’s meant to be read and appreciated for the content it holds within. Some may find the design too basic, but we appreciate its no-frills approach that puts Nietzsche’s writings at the forefront.

Pros and Cons

When our team dove into “Basic Writings of Nietzsche,” it quickly became clear that this collection stands out for several reasons. We’ve summarized our findings to help you weigh the positive and negative aspects of investing in this book.


  • Comprehensive Selection: The book includes some of Nietzsche’s most significant works, such as ‘The Birth of Tragedy’ and ‘Beyond Good and Evil. We found it to be an excellent introduction to his philosophy, especially for newcomers.
  • Translation Quality: The quality of translation by Kaufmann is highly regarded. As we poured over the pages, his rendition read smoothly, preserving the rigorous nature of Nietzsche’s original text.
  • Affordability: Considering the content volume, the book provides great value for money, making Nietzsche’s complex thoughts accessible without a hefty price tag.
  • Rating and Reception: With a 4.7-star rating from 691 ratings, our confidence in recommending this collection is high. Many readers echo our sentiment that it serves as a pivotal scholarly resource.


  • Paper Quality: One aspect that fell short is the paper quality, which we noticed doesn’t measure up to similar publications, like ‘Basic Writings of Kant’. It’s a slight disappointment for those of us who appreciate a more durable and tactile reading experience.
  • Missing Works: Although the collection is extensive, it notably omits ‘Thus Spake Zarathustra’, one of Nietzsche’s quintessential pieces. Those of us seeking a truly exhaustive compendium might find this lacking.
  • Not for Everyone: We must admit, grappling with Nietzsche’s philosophies demands time and intellectual engagement. For some, this could be a daunting endeavor. It’s not a light read for casual browsing.

Our time with “Basic Writings of Nietzsche” has been enlightening, and we hope our pros and cons assist in making an informed decision that aligns with what you seek in a philosophical anthology.

Customer Reviews

Having spent considerable time leafing through the pages of this compilation, we feel confident talking about the reactions it has garnered. Most readers hold “Basic Writings of Nietzsche” in high regard, finding it an excellent gateway into the philosopher’s complex theories. In particular, the sequence of starting with “Genealogy of Morals” and then proceeding to “Beyond Good and Evil” is often praised for establishing a solid understanding.

However, it can’t be ignored that some readers express the need for patience and persistence to truly grasp Nietzsche’s profound insights, suggesting his work might attract those with a penchant for intellectual challenges. The thought-provoking nature of his polemics, which target established moral frameworks, definitely strikes a chord with those seeking a deep philosophical engagement.

Many also commend the translation quality, highlighting its readability and asserting that it faithfully conveys Nietzsche’s rhetorical flair. Although there is a mention of another translation by Hollingdale as worthy competition, Kaufmann’s renditions seem to resonate well for their accessibility and precision.

Yet, we can’t gloss over some concerns about the physical aspects of the book. One point of contention for readers is the exclusion of “Thus Spake Zarathustra” from the collection, alongside remarks about the subpar paper quality when compared to similar compilations.

In sum, the overall sentiment is positive, with the book receiving much appreciation for its comprehensive coverage and value. It’s seen as a prudent investment for those keen on delving into Nietzsche’s legacy without the need to acquire his works separately.


After spending time with Nietzsche’s classic works as compiled in this edition, we’ve been impressed by the quality of the translation and the selection of texts. Kaufmann’s renditions bring a fresh breath to Nietzsche’s profound philosophies, presenting them in a contemporary and accessible format. The inclusion of distinct pieces like “The Birth of Tragedy” and “The Genealogy of Morals” provides a comprehensive view of Nietzsche’s thought.

We also note the affordability of this collection. Purchasing these writings individually would be considerably more expensive, making this compilation a cost-effective choice for anyone delving into philosophical literature. While the paper quality may not match that of other editions, this doesn’t detract significantly from the reading experience.

However, the absence of “Thus Spake Zarathustra” is noticeable, and enthusiasts may miss this pivotal work. Additionally, some of us were hoping for more commentary from Kaufmann, to deepen our understanding of Nietzsche’s ideas.

Overall, for those embarking on a journey through Nietzsche’s philosophy, this compilation stands out as a solid starting point, notwithstanding minor shortcomings.