on 11 March 2011
This is a much preferable translation of this great work and having read some passages of the German, somehow feels closer to it in its light-footed, pithy and indeed harrowing brilliance - the work of an intellectually isolated man who was thoroughly at odds with the modern world back in the late 1800s and while the Western world's religion at the time was that of "progress", had this to say instead: "The wasteland is growing."
In my perception, Nietzsche successfully unravels in devastating fashion the Judeo-Christian tradition which he saw as having only managed to tame man and insure the preeminence of mediocrity, petty mindedness, and the power of knaves and fools in their various public disguises. Our whole current technological paradigm is still permeated through and through with the said tradition and Zarathustra's call for creators to stay true to the earth has never been more evocative than today, where the planetary technological power paradigm has become total and any thought of future human freedom seems remote, provided that the human itself does not become trans-human as the agenda of the cyber-elites would have it.
This book is "for everyone and no one" in so far as it is open for everyone to read it but for no one in his or her current state of being who remains in that state, since the book urges for nothing less than an advancement of the type "man" towards what the translator calls "the overhuman". In particular, Zarathustra hopes that man frees himself from the spirit of revenge, which he later defines as the will's revulsion against time and its "it was". [This book paved the way for Martin Heidegger's grappling with the Western tradition and the onset of a new Western beginning, the Western metaphysical tradition for Heidegger having ended with Nietzsche.]
On a personal level this book has in many ways determined the course of my life so far and, despite myself, I keep coming back to it and each time I do I make note of a new thought-provoking passage or insight which corresponds with my own experience and attempts at thoughtfulness. That said the book is not a comfortable read, but philosophy being love of wisdom, and wisdom being often born of suffering, this book must rate as a very wise work indeed, especially considering the bloodletting it represented for its author, who said as much in a letter to a friend. It is in effect a new Bible addressed to an audience very different from that of the Holy Bible.
On this edition: as I said, brilliant translation, better than Hollingdale's or Kaufmann's any day. Moreover there is an extremely useful critical apparatus which contains plenty of notes of the references Nietzsche makes in his philosophical novel to the Western tradition: the Bible, New and Old Testament, Luther, Aristotle, Plato, Hegel and so forth... The introduction is also a good read. I do wish there was a more elegant hardcover edition of this work available instead of a cheap paperback, an edition more fitting of its biblical nature, but some day maybe.
In conclusion: this is not entertainment, and I do not say that disparagingly as I too do like to read for entertainment, but a book for those who wish to transcend and overcome themselves spiritually, intellectually and in relation to the world that surrounds them. It is a book for the few.