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The influence of French writers of aphorism on Nietzsche is present explicitly and implicitly in his works, especially starting with Human, All Too Human. It was during his university years in the mid to late 1860s when Nietzsche started reading the French aphorists including LaRouchefoucauld, La Bruyere, Vauvenargues, and Chamfort; according to Donnellan he discovered them when he was reading Schopenhauer. A few years later Nietzsche, his friend Paul Ree, and others immersed themselves in reading aphorisms at Meysenbug’s house in Sorrento during Nietzsche’s stay there from October 1876 to May 1877 (confirm dates). In this short paper, I will explore specifically LaRochefoucauld and his influence on Nietzsche’s writing in the following areas: the nature of aphoristic genre, poetic techniques such as pun, polemics, and sarcasm, and insightfulness or psychological observation, to use Nietzsche’s phrase. From Human, All Too Human (1877) until Twilight of Idols (1888) Nietzsche wrote and published more than 2000 aphorisms, as he perfected the art of pithy expression, many of which are full of insights and deserve special attention and careful exegesis. This paper will present ideas on reading these aphorisms, as informed by La Rochefoucauld’s techniques and literary style.
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