It is in the winter of 1886–1887, in a Nice bookshop, that Friedrich Nietzsche discovered the first French edition of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, translated as L’esprit souterrain by Ilia Halpérine-Kaminsky and the French poet Charles Morice. It was through this hazardous encounter that Nietzsche first came under the spell of Dostoevsky, “the only psychologist,” he writes, “from which I had anything to learn”. This insistence on the psychological insights of the Russian writer is indeed a fundamental element of Nietzsche’s reading of Dostoevsky, which is very much fixated on the Dostoevskian figure of the “underground man”, but also on the nihilistic figures encountered in The Demons and on the rough Siberian convicts living in the House of the Dead. Nietzsche’s “psychology of the underground”, and his reflections on the nature of European nihilism, could thus have been influenced, during the last two years of his conscious life, by his reading of Dostoevsky. While doing justice to this influence, we will however try to highlight the deep differences which lead these two acute observers of contemporary nihilism to defend, in response to the malaise of the underground man, fundamentally different attitudes: “Dionysos against the Crucified…”.
Information about the author:
Pieter De Corte, Research Fellow at the Fund for Scientific Research (F.R.S.-FNRS). University of Louvain Belgium ISP, Place Cardinal Mercier 14/L3.06.011348 Louvain-la-Neuve.