#15 Thus Spoke Zarathustra – Friedrich Nietzsche

Title

Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Author

Friedrich Nietzsche

Genre

Philosophical Novel

Readability

Complex. Very, very complex. Lots of wordplay, philosophy and abstract thinking makes you think about the meaning of almost every sentence.

Engagement

Medium. The powerful oratory and strong words gives the book a thundering start. It goes from breaking stone to polishing diamonds. It is more engaging in the first half since in the second half it becomes more philosophical and abstract. A little bit delusional also. Still great though!

Score

score-5

It is an amazing harsh book.

Title (Original)

Also Sprach Zarathustra

Year of Publication

1883

Cover

Thus Spoke Zarathustra - Friedrich Nietzsche

Short Description & Notes

Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a powerful book about Man and Nietzsche’s vision of a man beyond Man: the Overman or Superman. It is a book to make you think – for yourself. It isn’t a book for the soft hearted. It is a book that touches the wounds of Man and wants you to think about them. The writing it’s ironic and a bit dark. Zarathustra cracks open everything.

“A unique combination of biblical oratory and playfulness, Thus Spoke Zarathustra chronicles the wanderings and teachings of the prophet Zarathustra, who descends from his mountain retreat to awaken the world to its new salvation. Do not accept, he counsels, what almost two thousand years of history have taught you to call evil. The Greeks knew better: Goodness for them was nobility, pride, and victory, not the Christian virtues of humility, meekness, poverty, and altruism. The existence of the human race is justified only by the exceptional among us—the “superman,” whose self-mastery and strong “will to power” frees him from the common prejudices and assumptions of the day.

These and other concepts in Zarathustra were later perverted by Nazi propagandists, but Nietzsche, a despiser of mass movements both political and religious, did not ask his readers for faith and obedience, but rather for critical reflection, courage, and independence.” – Goodreads: Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Remarkable Quotes

“Man is something that shall be overcome”

“I teach you the overman. Man is something that shall be overcome. What have you done to overcome him? All beings so far have created something beyond themselves; and do you want to be the ebb of this great flood and even go back to the beasts rather than overcome man? What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment…”

“Man is a rope, tied between beast and overman–a rope over an abyss…
What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end: what can be loved in man is that he is an overture and a going under…”

“Behold, I teach you the overman. The overman is the meaning of the earth.Let your will say: the overman shall be the meaning of the earth! I beseech you, my brothers, remain faithful to the earth, and do not believe those who speak to you of otherworldly hopes! Poison-mixers are they, whether they know it or not. Despisers of life are they, decaying and poisoned themselves, of whom the earth is weary: so let them go.”

“Once the sin against God was the greatest sin; but God died, and these sinners died with him. To sin against the earth is now the most dreadful thing, and to esteem the entrails of the unknowable higher than the meaning of the earth…”

“There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.”

“The higher we soar the smaller we appear to those who cannot fly.”

Fun Facts

The book inspired Richard Strauss to compose the tone poem “Also sprach Zarathustra” which became particularly well known to the general public due to its use in Stanley Kubrick’s 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey. This tone poem was the theme music of the Apollo program.

My edition of the book has an amazing cover with Caspar David Friedrich’s painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog. Although there are other great covers for this book (as the one above), in my opinion this is the perfect cover image for this book. You can really imagine it is Zarathustra in the mountains and it also has a cane and it looks a dark wanderer.

It is one of my favorite books.

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