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Main page » Fiction literature » Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Feedbooks Edition by Friedrich Nietzsche

Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Feedbooks Edition by Friedrich Nietzsche


Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None (German: Also sprach Zarathustra: Ein Buch fuer Alle und Keinen) is a philosophical novel by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885. Much of the work deals with ideas such as the "eternal recurrence of the same", the parable on the "death of God", and the "prophecy" of the Overman, which were first introduced in The Gay Science.
Described by Nietzsche himself as "the deepest ever written," the book is a dense and esoteric treatise on philosophy and morality, featuring as protagonist a fictionalized Zarathustra. A central irony of the text is that Nietzsche mimics the style of the Bible in order to present ideas which fundamentally oppose Christian and Jewish morality and tradition.
The book chronicles the fictitious travels and pedagogy of Zarathustra, usually known in English as Zoroaster, the Persian prophet and founder of Zoroastrianism. Nietzsche is clearly portraying a "new" or "different" Zarathustra, one who turns traditional morality on its head. He goes on to characterize "what the name of Zarathustra means in my mouth, the mouth of the first immoralist:"
Zarathustra has a simple characterisation and plot, narrated sporadically throughout the textIt possesses a unique experimental style, one that is, for instance, evident in newly invented "dithyrambs" narrated or sung by Zarathustra. Likewise, the separate Dithyrambs of Dionysus was written in autumn 1888, and printed with the full volume in 1892, as the corollaries of Zarathustra's "abundance".
Some speculate that Nietzsche intended to write about final acts of creation and destruction brought about by Zarathustra. However, the book lacks a finale to match that description; its actual ending focuses more on Zarathustra recognizing his legacy is beginning to perpetuate, and consequently choosing to leave the higher men to their own devices in carrying his legacy forth.
Zarathustra also contains the famous dictum "God is dead", which had appeared earlier in The Gay Science. In his autobiographical work Ecce Homo, Nietzsche states that the book's underlying concept is discussed within "the penultimate section of the fourth book" of The Gay Science (Ecce Homo, Kaufmann). It is the Eternal recurrence of the same events.
This concept first occurred to Nietzsche while he was walking in Switzerland through the woods along the lake of Silvaplana (close to Surlei); he was inspired by the sight of a gigantic, towering, pyramidal rock. Before Zarathustra, Nietzsche had mentioned the concept in the fourth book of The Gay Science (e.g., sect. 341); this was the first public proclamation of the notion by him. Apart from its salient presence in Zarathustra, it is also echoed throughout Nietzsche's work. At any rate, it is by Zarathustra's transfiguration that he embraces eternity, that he at last ascertains "the supreme will to power". This inspiration finds its expression with Zarathustra's Roundelay, featured twice in the book, once near the story's close:
Another singular feature of Zarathustra, first presented in the prologue, is the designation of human beings as a transition between apes and the "Uebermensch" (in English, either the "overman" or "superman"; or, superhuman or overhuman. English translators Thomas Common and R. J. Hollingdale use superman, while Kaufmann uses overman, and Parkes uses overhuman). The Uebermensch is one of the many interconnecting, interdependent themes of the story, and is represented through several different metaphors. Examples include: the lightning that is portended by the silence and raindrops of a travelling storm cloud; or the sun's rise and culmination at its midday zenith; or a man traversing a rope stationed above an abyss, moving away from his uncultivated animality and towards the Übermensch.
The symbol of the Übermensch also alludes to Nietzsche's notions of "self-mastery", "self-cultivation", "self-direction", and "self-overcoming".

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Tags: Zarathustra, Nietzsche, Spoke, mouth, German, Friedrich, Edition