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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Naxos Audio Books; Abridged edition edition (June 1 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9626343257
  • ISBN-13: 978-9626343258
  • Product Dimensions: 14.2 x 2.4 x 11.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 222 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,115,317 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) was a German philosopher whose best-known works include Beyond Good and Evil and Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

British narrator John Lee has read audiobooks in almost every conceivable genre, from Charles Dickens to Patrick O'Brian. He has won numerous Audie Awards and AudioFile Earphones Awards, and he was named a Golden Voice by AudioFile in 2009. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

From Kathleen M. Higgins and Robert C. Solomon’s Introduction to Thus Spoke Zarathustra

            Friedrich Nietzsche published the first part of his Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) in 1883, and it became his best-known book. He considered it his most important work, and toward the end of his life he immodestly described it in Ecce Homo (1908) as “the greatest present” that had been made to humanity so far. In the same book, he no less outrageously proclaims that it is “not only the highest book there is . . . but it is also the deepest, born out of the innermost wealth of truth.” So we should not be surprised to find that Zarathustra is an extremely enigmatic and often pretentious work and by no means easy to understand or to classify. It is not clearly philosophy, or poetry, or prophecy, or satire. Sometimes it seems to be all of the above. It is also difficult because it is filled with learned allegories and allusions—to the Bible, Plato, Shakespeare, Goethe’s Faust, Ludwig Feuerbach, Arthur Schopenhauer, Nietzsche’s former friend Richard Wagner, and others—references that might not be readily recognizable by most contemporary readers. Zarathustra’s subtitle, “A Book for All and None,” also sounds like a challenge, if not a direct affront, suggesting that while anyone might pick it up and read it, no one can really understand it. In the then anxious world of modern Europe, already preparing for the calamities and traumas of the twentieth century, Zarathustra would find itself curiously at home.

The basic format of Zarathustra is familiar. It tells a story in biblical style. Zarathustra is an epic that resembles no other book so much as the New Testament, a work that Nietzsche, who had originally intended to enter the ministry (and whose father and grandfathers had all been ministers), knew very well. Like Jesus in the New Testament, the titular character of Nietzsche’s book goes into solitude at the age of thirty and returns to humanity with a mission—to share his wisdom with others, to challenge them to reform their lives. But like Jesus, Zarathustra is seriously misunderstood. The book thus chronicles the protagonist’s efforts and wanderings, his coming to understand who he is and what he stands for, by way of his interactions with the various and often odd characters he meets along the way.

Nevertheless, there are obvious and dramatic differences between Zarathustra and the Gospels. To begin with, unlike Jesus, who returns from solitude after forty days, Zarathustra enjoys solitude for ten years before beginning his mission. And while the story of Jesus is completed with his death and resurrection, Zarathustra’s story is never finished. Indeed, the book starts exactly as it begins, with Zarathustra’s leaving his mountain cave and descending once again to humanity. While Jesus is presented as enlightened throughout his teaching mission, Zarathustra matures only gradually. His whole story can be understood as an instance of the popular German genre of Bildungsroman—that is, a novel chronicling the education of its protagonist. Most important, the “gospel” that Zarathustra brings contrasts sharply with the teachings of Jesus. In Nietzsche’s version, Zarathustra utterly rejects the distinction between good and evil, and with it the basic premise of Judeo-Christian morality. He also denounces the “otherworldly” outlook of Christianity, its emphasis on a “better” life beyond this one. Zarathustra’s philosophy, summarized in a single phrase, is a celebration of what is “this-worldly.” It is a “yes-saying” to life, this life; for Zarathustra (like Nietzsche) thinks that there is no other. The combined allusions to and discrepancies from the New Testament in Zarathustra make it appropriate to think of it as a parody, although it should not be thought of just as satire, which ridicules its target. On the blasphemous side, however, Zarathustra is treated as a figure whose seriousness and importance are comparable to those of Jesus.

Many readers may not know that Nietzsche’s titular character is a very important historical religious figure. Zarathustra, also known as Zoroaster, probably lived in the seventh century b.c.e. (possibly from 628 to 551). He was a Persian who founded his own religion. Zoroastrianism, in turn, had a profound influence on both Judaism and Christianity. Zarathustra remained a fantasy figure in the West for many centuries, long before his writings were translated in the eighteenth century. Central to the teachings of the historical Zarathustra was the idea that the world is a stage on which cosmic moral forces, the power of good and the powers of evil, fight it out for dominance over humanity. This conflict between good and evil is central to both Judaism and Christianity, and given Nietzsche’s rejection of this dichotomy, it is highly significant as well as ironic that Nietzsche chose the supposed originator of that distinction as his central character and ostensibly as his spokesman. Nietzsche tells us in Ecce Homo that as the first to invent the opposition of good and evil, Zarathustra should be the first to recognize that it is a “calamitous error,” for he has more experience and is more truthful than any other thinker. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra is the historical religious leader updated, offering insight into the modern world, as the original Zarathustra addressed the circumstances of his era.

One could argue that Nietzsche used his fictional Zarathustra much as Plato used his teacher, Socrates (who never wrote down his teachings), to express his own views. And given that Nietzsche had a doctorate in classical philology and taught the classics for many years, we should not be surprised to find that Nietzsche’s book makes extensive references to Plato’s dialogues and their hero. Socrates, along with Jesus, remained one of the focal points of Nietzsche’s philosophy from his first book to his last. Socrates is a figure of profound importance to the Western tradition. In Nietzsche’s first book, Die Geburt der Tragödie (1872; The Birth of Tragedy), he called Socrates “the one vortex and turning-point” of Western culture. In one of his last books, Die Götzen-Dämmerung (1889; Twilight of the Idols), he devotes an entire chapter to “The Problem of Socrates,” which is nothing less than the problem of Western civilization as such. In his life, Socrates was a self-styled gadfly to his contemporaries, provoking them to question their basic beliefs, which for the most part they held just because others held them too. His unrelenting challenge to common morals and public authority ultimately led to his being convicted on trumped-up charges and executed. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra is similarly devoted to challenging both “common sense” and the authority of tradition, and he similarly arouses hatred in those committed to them.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By eric garrett on March 21 2002
Format: Paperback
I would like to advise new readers of Nietzsche to not read Zaruthustra until you have read a number of his other works. The book is cryptic, metaphoric, and employs heavy symbolism that will be easily misinterpreted by those who have not invested in Nietzsche's thinking.
Better to begin with Genealogy of Morals, or even Beyond Good and Evil (which recounts Zarathustra, but is more accessible), or Kaufmann's "Philosopher, Psychologist, Anti-Christ," or begin from the beginning with Birth of Tragedy and follow the chronology of his writings. A quick introduction to the style and nature of Nietzsche can be had through his Untimely Meditations, or the Gay Science.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By ryan ferrera on June 29 2002
Format: Paperback
Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra is Nietzsche's only fictional piece to ever have been created. With prose that speaks more eloquently than the "word of God" does through his followers, Nietzsche reveals his philosophy (or rather masks it partially) through the story of Zarathustra. TSZ reads more like an epic than a modern novel and thereby, I would maintain, raises it far above the fiction pieces by Ayn Rand (whose heroes seem to lack a personality with any sort of complexity) and perhaps, not as far above, some works of Dostoevsky and Sartre. I too, would recommend at least reading Beyond Good and Evil before taking up TSZ, for Nietzsche, as I alluded to above, was one for masks and encryption in his philosophizing. However there shall be no worries in taking that extra step in understanding Nietzsche, as his non-fiction books are written with the same fiery passion and eloquence that pervades TSZ to the very end.
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Hi there!

Despite being pretty hard to understand to newcomers, this is my favorite Nietzshe book so far. Unlike Beyond good and evil, which is extremely difficult stuff unless you are already familiar with Shopenhauer, Kant, Plato and various others philosophers, Zarathustra can be easily understood if you are familiar with Nietzshe's main ideas. The notes included at the end help understands the most obscure parts. Most of the book is written as a satire of the bible, meaning you will follow the adventures of Zarathustra as he encounters various persons, and Nietzshe's ideas are represented by those interactions. You will discover concepts of the will to power, the overman (or superman), the worth of solitude, transcendance, opinions on other system such as christianity or socialism, and a lot of other interesting stuff. Althought I disagree with Nietzshe's vision of women (of course) and his portrayal of pity and charity, I still like to discover the thoughts of great thinkers like him, not to mention that his ideas of transcendence and self growth are pretty neat.

definitely recommended, along with The antichrist and twilight of the idols.
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Format: Paperback
Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" is often referred to as one of the most influential works of our century, which he wrote in the latter part of the nineteenth century. I've read numerous critiques, analysis, and interpretations from scholars on "Thus Spoke..." Understanding Friedrich, his life, and his constant pains, give some insight into what may have underlined his beliefs. I think to best understand "Thus Spoke..." a person should read it at least twice. I believe a reader can take many of the themes and metaphors and apply them to his or her belief system, or personal philosophy. We all perceive things in different ways, and we can take what we want out of this work. Individuality, and the constant question and resistance to organized institutions is what I like to take from "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" as Zarathustra walks along the mountains, trails, hills, and towns, in his quest to think for himself and tell others of his thoughts. The style is direct and the many exclamation points give Nietzsche's points a "shout!" Nietzsche notes the importance of individuality and the dangers of becoming one of the lemming-like sheep that follow the herd, whether it be nationalism, religious zealotry, or the unquestioning acceptance of basic societal norms. Nietzsche rakes Christianity and organized religion over the coals, with knockout punch after knockout punch. Another theme I take from "Thus Spoke..." is that one person's vice is another's virtue, and we should focus on ourselves and what we believe in, and not spend time attempting to have others accept our ways, and certainly now want them to accept us. We should simply do our "own-thing.Read more ›
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By A Customer on Sept. 30 2000
Format: Paperback
Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra is probably his most famous work as well as being the work least popular among readers. This is probably partially because it is written in fictional form. Zarathustra is well designed to frustrate twentieth century philosophy of the analytic tradition, which seeks conceptual clarity at the expense of rhetorical form, indeed often insisting on the separation between a concept and the vehicle of its expression. Moreover, the utilization of the work by the Nazi war effort did little to improve the books reception in the Anglo-American world.
The book is philosophically interesting, in part because it does employ literary tropes and genres to philosophical effect. Zarathustra makes frequent use of parody, particularly of the Platonic dialogues and the New Testament. This strategy immediately places Zarathustra on a par with Socrates and Christ--and as a clear alternative to them. The erudite allusions to works spanning the Western philosophical and literary traditions also play a philosophical role, for they both reveal Nietzsche's construct of the tradition he inherited and flag points at which he views it as problematic.
Much of the book consists of Zarathustra's speeches on philosophical themes. These often obscure the plotline of the book. The book does involve a plot, however, which includes sections in which Zarathustra is "off-stage," in private reflection, and some in which he seems extremely distressed about the way his teaching and his life are going. Zarathustra attempts to instruct the crowds and the occasional higher man that he encounters in the book; but his most important teaching is his education of the reader, accomplished through demonstrative means. Zarathustra teaches by showing.
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