Review of Michael Tanner, Nietzsche: A Very Short Introduction. In The Great Ideas Today, 454-58. Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 1997. Reprinted in The Archaeology of the Soul, 2012.
His very short study of Nietzsche is very long on the opinions of the author without conveying much of the thought of Nietzsche himself. Michael tanner, who teachers philosophy at Cambridge and writes on opera, speaks of Nietzsche once as a philosopher, but then only in inverted commas. For him, Nietzsche is primarily a cultural critic, who diagnosed some of the ailments of the west but suggested no cure that Tanner would swallow. He apparently wants Nietzsche to be edifying and thus seems to classify himself, with some self-satisfaction, with Nietzsche’s last man, and thereby confirm Nietzsche’s characterization of this phenomenon. Perhaps the clearest sign of the confusion in Tanner’s negligent approach to Nietzsche is this. In speaking of Nietzsche’s advocacy of “life,” he puts Nietzsche in the company of “Christ, Blake, Schweitzer, D.H. Lawrence,” as if Nietzsche would not have been appalled by the association and dismissed with equal contempt Lawrence and Schweitzer.