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Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) was a German philosopher and poet. Nietzsche is consistently one of the most widely-read philosophers, even among laymen; yet his work is often elliptical, even cryptic, and demands an unusual discipline with respect to reading and thinking. This contradiction may give some sense of the complexity and profundity of Nietzsche's powerful writing and explosive style. Much of his work can be understood as critique of nihilism.