Tag Archives: Brian Leiter

Brian Leiter on Nietzsche and Ressentiment

30 Nov

In his excellent book Nietzsche on Morality, which I highly recommend to everyone, Brian Leiter has one of those lovely little footnotes, which you so rarely find in academic scholarship, that clears up a confusion I’ve long had in my head.

Bittner (1994: 128) points out that, “The German word [ressentiment]…needs to be distinguished from the French word spelled and pronounced alike, which is also its source. The words need to be distinguished because they differ in sense…[B]oth ‘to resent’ in English and ‘ressentir‘ in French suggest a more straightforward annoyance, less of a grudge than the German word does.” Bittner’s point is confirmed by the fact that in the German, Nietzsche does not italicize “ressentiment” except for occasional emphasis: Nietzsche treats the word like any other German word. This, of course, is lost in the English, where most translators continue to use Nietzsche’s German word, thus italicizing it.

That’s all.

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