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Nietzsche spent ten years as an advanced student of classical philology and was a prodigious success; he spent the next ten years as a professor of classical philology and was a prodigious failure. Even casual readers of Nietzsche know the story of his meteoric early career in the dramatic terms in which it is usually told: how Nietzsche was called to the Uni- versity of Basel in 1869, at the sensationally young age of twenty-four, and how he scandalized his colleagues in the discipline within three years by publishing the wild and unscholarly Birth of Tragedy, soon thereafter to abandon classical philology altogether and to be cast into disgrace, continuing to hold his professorship in name only.

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