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Thus Spake Zarathustra: A Book for All and None Hardcover – 10 Apr 2008
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The most famous Nietzsche book which formed part of his 'campaign against morality' […] the German philosopher explores the ethical consequences of the 'death of God'. Some say the book was a catalyst in Hitler's thinking and the rise of the far-right, others that Zarathustra was the most important text on human potential ever written. Hear it for yourself. The Naxos audiobook also includes helpful introductions to every chapter. --Bukowski on Bukowski zine --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
About the Author
Nietzsche has been proclaimed the seminal figure of modern philosophy as well as one of the most creative and critically influential geniuses in the history of secular thought.
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As you can see I use quotation marks here, this was not one of the easier reads I have had of late. Its ‘narrative’ is not one within the literal sense but more of a shifting of a state of mind as the story progresses, which was most likely Nietzsche’s intentions. The imagery he concocted within it though, left an impression as did many of the characters (The Ugliest Man, the leech, the sorcerer etc.) which were quite enjoyable/disturbing visions to have in my head and as it was a philosophy book, to mark it down on its ‘narrative’ seems slightly unfair.
You read these sort of books to try to expand your mental or spiritual horizons so the question is, did it expand my horizons, even if it was a tough read? The answer is yes, but indirectly. Nietzsche’s philosophy is that the ‘Ubermensch’ (Superman) is the next step up of evolution from man and the only way we can achieve this is by releasing ourselves of shame and pity, embracing envy- to help progress ourselves further, and that religion, mostly Christianity and Judaism, virtues and morals have held back man from his true nature, his ideal state- that of the ‘Superman’. He is not a religious person’s best friend to put it lightly- but this is concept is explained further in the books ‘Beyond Good and Evil’ and ‘Twilight of the Idols and the Anti-Christ’.
The character, Zarathustra plays the role of the prophet who is trying to lead humankind to build the bridge to allow the next generation to gain its enlightened state of existence, though they believe they are destined to be the first ‘Supermen’ Zarathustra explains that they cannot be, but can only become the bridge to lead others towards their goal. They don’t like it but Zarathustra doesn’t care. He just likes to dance and question everything- such is his way.
Now to conclude, ‘Thus Spoke Zarathustra’ is a unique piece that I think people will certainly struggle to grasp hold of if they lack patience or demand a literate masterpiece. It is longer than necessary in my opinion. That being said, the ideas were indeed revolutionary and the book is a good lead in to the more Factual/Intellectual (and slightly shorter) books of his, already mentioned above, and his entire way of thinking.
Zarathustra was an eye opening read and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a book that makes you think hard about existence and allows you to question the right way of living, yet a masterpiece, unfortunately not. Three and a half stars.
Many key concepts in 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra' are marred by inexplicable translation errors.
For example Nietzsche's concept of the 'ubermensch' and the 'letze mensch' are rendered as "the superman" and "the ultimate man", whereas a more accurate translation is "the overman" and "the last man".
The last man and the overman represent polar opposite concepts in Nietzsche's view. The overman represents humanities highest potential, the meaning of the earth. an uncertain future that is to be achieved by an unerring commitment to transformation both personal and societal. By contrast the last man represents modern man in its most complacent and static form. A man of neither highs nor lows. A man of comfort, not chaos, a man who can no longer 'give birth to a dancing star'.
In the original text the intended difference between the last man and the overman is clear. "Ultimate man" confers a sense of "greatest" that is completely contrary to Nietzsche's original intention and makes the passages seem confused and ill defined.
While the genius of Nietzsche's work still shines through for the most part, one wonders how well R.J Hollingdale understood Nietzsche or German in some of the many inaccurate translations in this book.
I highly recommend this book to any lovers of philsophy and the human condition. However the Walter Kaufman translation is far superior. it avoids muddying Nietzsche original intent. It's unafraid to use direct translations of german words even if they sound less poetic, and as such retains the clarity of Nietzsche original sentiment