Human, All Too Human
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Human, All Too Human (Menschliches, Allzumenschliches), subtitled A Book for Free Spirits (Ein Buch für freie Geister), is a book by 19th century philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, originally published in 1878. A second part, Assorted Opinions and Maxims (Vermischte Meinungen und Sprüche), was published in 1879, and a third part, The Wanderer and his Shadow (Der Wanderer und sein Schatten), followed in 1880. Reflecting an admiration of Voltaire as a free spirit, but also a break in his friendship with composer Richard Wagner two years earlier, Nietzsche dedicated the original 1878 edition “to the memory of Voltaire on the celebration of the anniversary of his death, May 30, 1778.” Instead of a preface, the first part originally included a quotation from Descartes’ Discourse on the Method. Nietzsche later republished all three parts as a two-volume edition in 1886, adding a preface to each volume, and removing the Descartes quote as well as the dedication to Voltaire.
Style and structure
Unlike his first book, The Birth of Tragedy, which was written in essay style, Human, All Too Human is a collection of aphorisms, a style which he would use in many of his subsequent works. The aphoristic style was suited to many of the ideas and thoughts in the book, which are as short as a sentence, to as long as a few pages. It was also likely due to Nietzsche’s decline in health at the time, when he was already frequently suffering from vision problems as well as painful migraine headaches that would have made reading and writing very difficult. In 1879, a year after publishing the first installment, he was forced to leave his professorship at Basel University because of his deteriorating health. The first installment’s 638 aphorisms are divided into nine sections by subject, and a short poem as an epilogue. The second and third installments are an additional 408 and 350 aphorisms respectively.