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Against Nihilism: Nietzsche Meets Dostoevsky by Maïa Stepenberg


Nietzsche and Dostoevsky, two giants of nineteenth-century literature and philosophy, argue about God and man, morality and immorality, and the drama of faith versus doubt. Their great dialogue—and their great quarrel—twists and turns in Maia Stepenberg’s new study. Nietzsche’s madman in the marketplace declared “God is dead … and we have killed him,” while Dostoevsky posited “If God is dead, then everything is permitted.” The entire modern world, dominated and defined by crisis and uncertainty, might be said to have come into being with that twin set of announcements.

Against Nihilism considers Nietzsche and Dostoevsky in the light of six different themes as they unfold in each man’s writings consistently and independently of one another. Questions of criminality, Christianity, and the crisis of collapsing values all point to the same looming danger of nihilism that both men identified with shared urgency, but for ultimately different purposes.

Inspired by and written for students, tested in the classroom, and aimed at a general audience, this book is unique in providing a new and nuanced look at Nietzsche and Dostoevsky for the twenty-first century.

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Black Rose Books