Nietzsche wrote in Ecce Homo (1888), "That a psychologist without equal speaks from my writings—this is perhaps the first insight gained by a good reader. . . . Who among the philosophers before me was in any way a psychologist? Before me there simply was no psychology."
Composing the Soul is the first study to pay sustained attention to this pronouncement and to examine the contours of Nietzsche's psychology in the context of his life and psychological makeup. Beginning with essays from Nietzsche's youth, Graham Parkes shows the influence of such figures as Goethe, Byron, and Emerson on Nietzsche's formidable and multiple talents. Parkes goes on to chart the development of Nietzsche's psychological ideas in terms of the imagery, drawn from the dialogues of Plato as well as from Nietzsche's own quasi-mystical experiences of nature, in which he spoke of the soul. Finally, Parkes analyzes Nietzsche's most revolutionary idea—that the soul is composed of multiple "drives," or "persons," within the psyche. The task for Nietzsche's psychology, then, was to identify and order these multiple persons within the individual—to compose the soul.
Featuring all new translations of quotations from Nietzsche's writings, Composing the Soul reveals the profundity of Nietzsche's lifelong personal and intellectual struggles to come to grips with the soul. Extremely well-written, this landmark work makes Nietzsche's life and ideas accessible to any reader interested in this much misunderstood thinker.