Übermenschen and Untermenschen: Global Nietzsche and Postcolonial Fiction

Noys, B. (2018) Übermenschen and Untermenschen: Global Nietzsche and Postcolonial Fiction. In: History, Imperialism, Critique: New Essays in World Literature. Routledge, London, pp. 205-220. ISBN 9781138217508

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Nietzsche is a polarizing figure in contemporary postcolonial studies. In his recent work Borrowed Light (2014) Timothy Brennan has insisted that we read Nietzsche as a figure imbricated in the colonial project, while in the field of decolonial thought we find a new stress on Nietzsche’s ‘Orientalist’ thinking as a radical displacement and destruction of Western thought. The polarization between the ‘colonial Nietzsche’ and the ‘decolonial Nietzsche’ fissures the field and creates what appears to be an unbridgeable differend in postcolonial studies. To displace this problem I want to consider the problem of Nietzsche in relation to the appearance of his thought in postcolonial fiction. Brennan has noted that Nietzschean thinking ‘labors under the impersonation of the novel’ (2014: 218), therefore the actual novel might come into view as a site in which to probe the claimed mobility and evasiveness of Nietzsche’s thinking. To take the measure of this ‘global Nietzsche’, considering the worldwide influence of his thought, I select a number of initial works ranging across the ‘postcolonial’: Roberto Arlt’s novel Seven Madmen (1929), with its Nietzschean ‘madmen’ plotting revolution; Waguih Ghali’s Beer in the Snooker Club (1964), with its dissolute protagonists torn between Nasser’s ‘revolution’ and Anglophilia; and Sam Selvon’s Moses Ascending (1975), with its bitter reflections on ‘Black Power’. What these works explore is the tension between individual self-determination, in a Nietzschean style, in the contexts of projected or actual projects of collective self-determination. This displacement of Nietzsche suggests the necessary tension Nietzscheanism extracts for its own dependent relation on collective social movements and how Nietzsche might be ‘mobilized’ in a critical fashion.

Publication Type: Book Sections
Additional Information: Chapter 11
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Benjamin Noys
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2020 12:22
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2020 12:22
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/5253

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