From Friedrich Nietzsche’s (1844-1900) Twilight of the Idols or How to Philosophize with a Hammer (originally titled A Psychologist’s Idleness) published in 1889. The initial title of the book, which served as an introduction to his philosophical work, is a pun on the title of Richard Wagner’s famous opera, “Twilight of the Gods.” About half the time, the line is quoted in its original form with the exclusion of the first five words. Other times, the line is quoted in a variant form: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” That paraphrased version was written by and popularized by G. (George) Gordon Liddy (born 1930) in his candid autobiography, Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy, published in 1980. Liddy was former assistant to President Richard Nixon, both of whom were ensnared in the web of the Watergate scandal, beginning in 1972. Liddy was convicted of burglary, conspiracy, and illegal wiretapping; consequently, he was fined and sentenced to a 20-year prison term (he only served four and a half years). Nixon resigned from the presidency on August 9, 1974, facing impeachment for obstruction of justice (trying to coverup Watergate). Nixon died of a severe stroke in 1994, at the age of 81. Certainly, Nietzsche’s aphorism applied to Liddy and Nixon — two men who were undeniably strong in will and temperament.
What Does Not Kill Me Makes Me Stronger