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Originally Taught: Unknown

In Also sprach Zarathustra (1883-1892) Nietzsche wrote about the children he sought to inspire:  

…and driven I am — out of fatherlands and motherlands. So now I love my Kinderland alone, undiscovered in furthest seas: I hoist my sail in search thereof. To my children will I atone for being my father's child: and to all the future — for this present.

In the following course we propose to outline a family tree which traces Nietzsche’s influence on the modernist literary avant-garde of the first half of the 20th century. This genealogy will be informed by Pierre Hadot’s notion of philosophy as a way of life, interpreting the creative practice of the authors under review as a form of spiritual-philosophical activity. In doing so we seek to understand these poets as aesthetic adventurers, who, through their poetic practice, translated the Nietzschean impulse into the creative act.

The course will bring together a close-reading of Nietzsche’s key writings on art and creativity with an analysis of the poetry of key modernist figures, all of whom can be understood as descendants of the Nietzschean line. In doing so we seek to overcome the narrow understanding of literature as entirely separate from philosophical activity.  

This course will not be an exercise in the exegesis of the work of these poets or a form of art criticism. It is the explication of the capacity for philosophy to inspire and sustain a practising writerly life. The course will focus on the poetry of D.H. Lawrence; Mina Loy; T.S. Eliot; Ezra Pound; and HD (Hilda Doolittle).

The course will develop through a close-reading of key poems by these magnificent writers alongside a reading of theoretical texts which they composed. Such a practice of close-reading will be carried over to Nietzsche’s own writings on art and modernity.

We seek to re-ignite Nietzschean philosophy through the work of his unruly children. This course will develop a number of Nietzschean concerns which include; the agon between the Dionysian and the Apollonian; the magical origin of poetry; the will to symbolise; the eternal return of the mythopoetic power of the ancient world; and art as the overcoming of modern nihilism.

We will engage in a close-reading of the poetic works as a group. In this way no prior knowledge of these poets is required. What will be necessary is an open mind and a willingness to be transfigured by their eternally enlivening poetic projects.

Week 1: Our New Nature: D.H. Lawrence  

  • Selections from The Collected Poems of D.H. Lawrence, “Poetry of the Present” and “The Great God Pan”.

Week 2: Machine Age Amor Fati: Mina Loy

  • Selections from The Lost Lunar Baedeker, “Aphorism on Futurism”, “Feminist Manifesto” and “Modern Poetry.

Week 3: Ancestry and Eternity: T.S. Eliot

  • Selections from Collected Poems 1909-1962, “Tradition and the Individual Talent” and

Week 4: Poetry as Prophesy: HD

  • Selections from Selected Poems and “The Cinema and the Classics – I) Beauty II) Restraint III) The Mask and the Movietone.”

Week 5: The Life-Work: Ezra Pound

  • Pound - Selections from The Cantos, “A Retrospect” and “How to Read”.