Absence of God: case studies on the use and value of Nietzsche in avant-gardist thought 1905-1945
This thesis considers how Nietzsche was interpreted and misinterpreted by a range of artists and writers who were prominent in avant-garde circles in the first half of the twentieth century. Through a series of case studies, I address Nietzsche’s reception among a variety of avant-gardists, and the effect of his thought on their overall milieux and personal projects. I ask what were the conditions that made his philosophy so appealing and useful for these figures—even in cases of misuse/misinterpretation. With the prominence of fascism growing in Western Europe in these years, a further complication of cultural political context affected his reception and interpretation due to the appropriation of his philosophy by fascist thinkers, and I therefore also ask how this altered his use among avant-gardists of varying political affections. The principal avantgardists studied are, in sequence, Wassily Kandinsky, Hugo Ball, Richard Huelsenbeck, F.T Marinetti, Wyndham Lewis, Georges Bataille, and André Masson.