It's gotten to be Nietzsche time for my introduction to philosophy students, so I have been engaged in one of my new procrastination strategies of reading endless material tangentially related to what I'm going to be teaching in the near future. I was interested to note that the theory that Nietzsche died from syphilis, which I'd always repeated as fairly well established fact, is now pretty much regarded as refuted. Apparently some of his specific symptoms don't really fit, nor does the fact that the time between his mental collapse and his death was just over ten years (advanced syphilis does not kill quickly, but it is considerably quicker than that).
Instead, the dominant modern theory is some sort of slow-growing brain tumor. Mostly this is argued on the basis of the symptoms, as well as the fact that the diagnosis at the time was fairly uncertain; obviously at the time they couldn't give him an MRI, so this theory explains well why his doctors at the time weren't quite sure what the problem was. It may have a further advantage which I'm surprised nobody seems to have discussed. A disposition to such tumors may be hereditary, and Nietzsche's father died from hydrocephalus, which can sometimes be caused by such tumors.
I've also been reading about the Nietzsche/Salome/Ree situation. I've now finally read Binion's account of the matter, in Frau Lou, and I've now also read Salome's book on Nietzsche. Binion argues that Salome's account of the events of her relationship with Nietzsche is not to be trusted, and that somewhat surprisingly Nietzsche's sister Elizabeth gives a somewhat more accurate account than Salome. I think he makes a good case that Salome can't be trusted, but there are points of detail where I can't agree with him.
Binion utterly disbelieves Salome's claim that her interest in Nietzsche was purely intellectual. Just from having read Salome's physical description of Nietzsche in her book about him, I have to agree with him that there had to be some physical attraction there. But while Binion is, I think, right to attribute mixed feelings to Salome, he mostly seems to think Nietzsche's interest in Salome was intellectual. He's not entirely consistent on that point, admittedly, but it seems to me much more plausible to think Nietzsche also had mixed feelings throughout. Thus, to take one of the most contentious points, while Binion thinks Salome just made up the marriage proposal story, I remain quite uncertain about the matter.
I suppose this is mostly gossip, though. On matters of actual philosophy, the most interesting thing I've read in this flurry of procrastination via Nietzsche study is a translation of two of Paul Ree's books. It now seems to me that some of Nietzsche's seemingly less insightful criticisms of English philosophy make much more sense if they are read instead as criticisms of Ree, who was a huge anglophile. Thus, for example, in On the Genealogy of Morality (first essay, section 2) Nietzsche criticizes the English psychologists for the theory that the usefulness of punishment has been forgotten. A reader familiar with the English tradition may wonder when any of them said that; none of those in the dominant utilitarian tradition ever made much of a big deal of people's ability to forget usefulness, not even Hume. But it turns out that Ree advanced precisely this theory. Ree is, of course, mentioned in the preface to the Genealogy, and there he is also closely connected to Darwin; Nietzsche's usually questionable criticisms of Darwin are perhaps also cases where he's really going after Ree and not being clear enough about his target.