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Lateness and Modern European Literature$
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Ben Hutchinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198767695

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198767695.001.0001

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Friedrich Nietzsche and the ‘Latecomers’ of Modernity

Friedrich Nietzsche and the ‘Latecomers’ of Modernity

(p.198) 10 Friedrich Nietzsche and the ‘Latecomers’ of Modernity
Lateness and Modern European Literature

Ben Hutchinson

Oxford University Press

In the narrative of modern European literature, Friedrich Nietzsche plays a pivotal role in the development of a discourse of lateness. Nietzsche relates all three terms—the modern, the European, and the literary—to the ‘late stage’ of modernity; he functions as a mediator between French and German culture, between the critique of Epigonentumand the critique of decadence, and between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This chapter analyses in close detail the development of Nietzsche’s thought, triangulating his conception of ‘lateness’ between his critiques of Epigonentumand ‘decadence’: in his early work of the 1870s, he condemns modernity as epigonal; in the late work of 1888, he condemns it as decadent. That his interest in forms of lateness is in fact considerably subtler than such an expository model can convey suggests the importance of careful analysis of his thought as it develops—the task undertaken by this chapter.

Keywords:   Friedrich Nietzsche, lateness, decadence, epigone, Spätling, aesthetics

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