Université de Strasbourg

One of our fellows in the spotlight – Anne Merker

10 December 2019

Cahier P-II-9a, in F. Nietzsche, Digitale Faksimile-Gesamtausgabe, under the supervision of P. D’Iorio, Paris, Nietzche Source, 2009 sq., www.nietzschesource.org/DFGA/P-II-9a,d2et1

Anne Merker, 2014 USIAS Fellow, was interviewed for the University of Strasbourg’s L’actualité de la recherche (Research news) about her project on the philosopher Nietzsche. The aim of her USIAS project was to set up a collective venture to valorise Nietzsche’s works in French, through their translation, presentation and scientific annotation. Of the twelve volumes planned in the series Nietzsche : Écrits philologiques, volume VIII on Plato is the first, and was published by Les Belles Lettres in autumn 2019.


Nietzsche works translated into French for the first time

For a month now, Anne Merker has not looked up from her computer. It’s the final stretch for the new Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy who is in the throes of publishing the first two volumes of commented translations of the philological writings of Nietzsche. This edition will mark the end of the first stage of a research project that began in 2014 thanks to funding from the Institute for Advanced Study of the University of Strasbourg (USIAS).

Anne Merker’s venture into the philological works of Nietzsche began in the office of Caroline Noirot, Director of Les Belles Lettres publishers. “She was interested in texts linked to Nietzsche that were ostracised or little known”, says the researcher whose study area leans more towards ancient philosophy. “The fact of being in Strasbourg has influenced the orientation of my research. Nietzsche was a great connoisseur of the Antiquity. He was a specialist in the classics, which matches my own interests”, says Anne Merker, smiling.

Nietzsche’s original manuscripts

In 2014, she obtained a two-year USIAS fellowship which allowed her to build up a team that she led with Paolo d’Iorio, a researcher from Paris, to carry out the translation and commentaries of texts by Nietzsche – texts that have never been translated in their entirety into French. The 10-strong team will work on the publication of 12 volumes in total. The first relates to Nietzsche’s courses on Plato and the introduction to Plato’s “Apology”. The second focuses on his courses on antique rhetoric and the history of eloquence.

The first difficulty was to decipher the philosopher’s writing. “One of the characteristics of our work is that we carry out our translations from Nietzsche’s original manuscripts which have been digitalised by Paolo d’Iorio on www.nietzschesource.org. Our paper edition is thus linked to the process of putting the texts online”, says the researcher, pointing out that volume 2 has made her life quite difficult. “One has to master the relevant fields, without forgetting to juggle between four languages – Greek, Latin, German and French.”

An informed public

Each volume will contain a preface as well as a presentation of the texts as they were before being translated. “We take stock of the manuscripts available and specify, wherever possible, if the courses were held or not. All of this is done in the context of raising interest in these texts that form part of Nietzsche’s philosophical thinking.”

The first two volumes will be published in October / November and are intended to reach an informed audience. “This is a research publication. The idea is to lead readers of philosophy into the technicalities of Nietzsche’s courses and to consider his works from a new perspective.” The sequel should follow in November 2020, with different volumes on his courses on the history of Greek literature, the encyclopaedia of classical philology, without forgetting the divine worship of the Greeks.

Anne Merker became Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy on 1st July 2019, which was a position she had already occupied from 2006 to 2011. “It was at the time of the merger, when the UFR (Unité de formation et de recherche) training and research unit for Philosophy, Linguistics and Educational Science (PLISE) of the University of Strasbourg grouped together several disciplines, before becoming the Faculty of Philosophy during my term of office”, recalls the researcher. Since 2018, Anne Merker has also been Head of the Research Centre on Contemporary German Philosophy (CREPHAC).

Marion Riegert


The interview in French can be found here

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