Nietzsche in Bohemia

Ivan Dubský

Searching for lands „consanguinely favourable“, the most suitable for overcoming the sufferings caused by his illness, for shadowy forest paths to note down his thoughts, Friedrich Nietzsche found his way to Mariensbad in the Bohemia. Here he settled in the summer months of 1880. But it is only in the 1890’s, that his work reaches Bohemia, by which time his mental illness had fully broken out. It is these beginnings of the reception of Nietzsche in Bohemia that are examined by the German Slavistic scholar and philosopher, Urs Heftrich in his book Nietzsche in Bohemia. The earliest references to Nietzsche are marked by national prejudice and misunderstanding; later his works begin to be read and traslanted. Heftrich pays attention to three Czechs influenced by Nietzsche: the great poet Otakar Březina, the critic F. X. Šalda and the idiosyncratic thinker Ladislav Klíma. Despite his failure to consider the contemporary academic analyses and the first Nietzsche translations by Otakar Fischer, Heftrich’s work is a significant contribution to the historiography of Czech philosophy. The German scholar has reseached an area so far not analysed in detail by Czech authors.