Book Review: Monika M. Langer – Nietzsche’s Gay Science
For many years, Nietzsche studies in the English-speaking world were populated by comprehensive interpretations that focused on concepts, such as the will to power, the overman, and the eternal return, that were thought to be central to Nietzsche’s philosophical project. More recently, however, a handful of scholars have turned away from this thematic approach to Nietzsche’s thought by focusing their scholarly efforts on the careful analysis of individual texts. The most notable example of this trend has been the recent explosion of work on Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morals by prominent scholars such as Daniel Conway, Lawrence Hatab, Christopher Janaway, Brian Leiter, and David Owen. In line with this movement, Monika Langer now offers a commentary on another of Nietzsche’s more popular texts, The Gay Science (GS). Although Langer’s work is a welcome addition to the secondary literature for its comprehensive, section-by-section approach to GS, her overly narrow focus on the contents of the individual aphorisms to the exclusion of broader reflections on the complex genesis of the text, the role the text plays in Nietzsche’s free-spirit project, and the potential relationship of the text to his larger oeuvre compromises the depth and quality of her commentary.