Twilight of the Idols


Friedrich Nietzsche

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Twilight of the Idols Characters

Friedrich Nietzsche

Friedrich Nietzsche wrote Twilight of the Idols in 1888 in response to his growing popularity across Europe. The book serves as an introduction to his work. In particular, Twilight of the Idols focuses on Nietzsche’s… read analysis of Friedrich Nietzsche


(470–399 B.C.E.) Socrates was an ancient Greek philosopher. One of Nietzsche’s central purposes in Twilight of the Idols is to challenge and discredit the philosophers, moralists, and ideals that history has placed on a… read analysis of Socrates


(428–347 B.C.E.) Plato was an ancient Greek philosopher. One of Nietzsche’s central goals in Twilight of the Idols is to challenge and dismantle the philosophers, moralists, and ideals that history has placed on a… read analysis of Plato

Napoleon Bonaparte

(1769–1821) Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader. As a general, he led successful military campaigns during the French Revolution and would go on to rule the French Empire from 1804 to 1814… read analysis of Napoleon Bonaparte

Thomas Carlyle

(1795–1881) Thomas Carlyle was a Scottish essayist, historian, and philosopher. He’s mostly known for his letters, histories, and critical essays. In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche calls the Life of Thomas Carlyle an “involuntary… read analysis of Thomas Carlyle
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Luigi Cornaro

(1467–1566) Luigi Cornaro was an Italian nobleman and writer who, after surviving a near-fatal illness, wrote a book called Discorsi sulla vita sobria, or “Discourses On the Temperate Life” (1588). In the book, Cornaro argues… read analysis of Luigi Cornaro


(1809–1882) Charles Darwin was an English naturalist and biologist best known for his work in evolutionary biology, as put forth in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. Darwin’s theory of natural selection… read analysis of Darwin

Fyodor Dostoevsky

(1821–1881) Fyodor Dostoevsky was a Russian novelist lauded for his psychological insight. Nietzsche examines Dostoevsky in his discussion of criminals, praising Dostoevsky’s surprisingly positive experiences living amongst criminals in Siberia, where Dostoevsky spent four years… read analysis of Fyodor Dostoevsky

George Eliot

(1819–1880) George Eliot was the pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans, a British novelist, poet, journalist, and translator. In the section titled “Expeditions of an Untimely Man,” Nietzsche claims that Eliot’s works illustrate the English tendency… read analysis of George Eliot

Ralph Waldo Emerson

(1803–1882) Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American transcendentalist philosopher. Nietzsche greatly admired Emerson’s work, and in The Gay Science he calls him one of the 19th century’s four “masters of prose,” (the other three “masters”… read analysis of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Immanuel Kant

(1724–1804) Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher. He’s a major figure in modern philosophy—his synthesis of rationalism and empiricism influenced the course of western philosophical thought throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and his work… read analysis of Immanuel Kant


(1788–1860) Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher best known for his 1818 work The World as Will and Representation, which draws from Kantian philosophy to argue that the world that humans experience exists onlyread analysis of Schopenhauer
Minor Characters
(1749–1832) Johann Wolfgang Goethe was a prolific German writer. Nietzsche admired Goethe—he considers Goethe a “Dionysian man” and praises him for his “anti-historical” and “idealistic” instincts.
(c. 500 B.C.E.) Heraclitus was an ancient Greek philosopher. Nietzsche admires Heraclitus for his positive view of nature and physical reality, which contrasted the general views of his contemporaries.
Ernest Renan
(1823–1892) Ernest Renan was a French rationalist writer who published important works on early Christianity. Nietzsche attacks Renan’s inability to leave religion out of his work.
(1804–1869) Charles-Augustin Sainte-Beauve was an important literary critic and historian. In Twilight of the Idols, Nietzsche suggests that Saint-Beauve is spineless and self-deprecating.
George Sand
(1804–1876) George Sand was the pen name of Aurore Dupin, Baroness Dudevant. She was a French novelist and writer. Nietzsche attacks Sand for “coquetting with male mannerisms.” This is just one instance in Twilight of the Idols in which he speaks poorly of women.
David Strauss
(1808­–1874) David Strauss was a German Protestant theologian and writer. He wrote Life of Jesus and The Old Face, important and popular works that presented a historical, rational approach to religion. Nietzsche attacks Strauss’s work in Twilight of the Idols.