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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommending not to begin with Zarathustra
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...
Published on March 21 2002 by eric garrett

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3.0 out of 5 stars Nietzsche went way overboard with this one...
As usual, Nietzsche tries to "bend trees" with his self-will run riot. This is a classic however in the Nietzcheian sense, in that the reader must be careful not to fall into the common "thought-traps" and be lulled into thinking that one knows everything that the writings try to whisper into ones ears. God is not necessarily dead, but if we are to...
Published on July 23 1998 by Mitchell Flintlock


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommending not to begin with Zarathustra, March 21 2002
By 
eric garrett (Evansville, Indiana) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thus Spake Zarathustra (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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding, Sept. 1 2003
By A Customer
Quality and clarity have always been the hallmarks of the Penguin series, and they extend to this one also. Unlike the other translations, dense with tedious bombast and medieval suffixes, the Hollingdale translation is focused and one couldnt ask for a more keen choice of words. With this superb translation I could at least concentrate on the philosophy, rather than trying to decipher the difficult language. While reading this, the words danced rather than gravitated, making reading this book all the more enjoyable.
As for the content and Nietszche's philosophy, it was intelligent and convincing. However one mustn't take this book literally. The transformation to Ubermensch is figuratively speaking, so is "dancing" and "laughter". In the context of this book one might interpret them as symbols of liberation and ascention. To best explain this one might take a scientist as an example. At first, the scientist burdens himself with study of the discoveries of his predecessors, in which he resembles a camel (1st transformation). After his vigorous study he must assert himself and his independence from others, in which he resembles a lion (2nd transformation). And thirdly, he must develop a distnctive personal style which will distinguish him from the others, in which he becomes like a child (3d transformation). In the 3d and final stage he is liberated from any signs of struggle, giving freedom to his spirit.
However engaging Nietzsche's philosophy is, it is at times vague and sadly laconic, e.g. his account on the battle of the virtues was not expanded enough and didn't explain what one might do when those battled for supremacy. Also, some might find his philosophy callous and ruthless, as it persuades leaving the helpless behind for the sake of the ascention of few. Ruthless it may be, but accurate and very relevant. In addition, some might find it especially offensive and absurd as it sorns mercy and pity. Regardless of this aspect of it, I would say this book is permeated with the influence of Enlightenment: striving to improvement and liberation. It is slightly atheistic which will deter fervent believers in god, but the atheistic thread is so subtle it would idiotic to sacrifice Nietzsche's philosphy for religious principles. Overall, an outstandingly written book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk about translations!, May 8 2003
By A Customer
I only want to say one thing here, and I say it primarily because I already love this work. This is the translation to buy. Everyone seems to adore Kaufmann, but the truth is he's much more obtuse and difficult to read (and I don't believe it's necessary, as some may say). Hollingdale gets it right. I'll defend myself with one example from a class I took, where Kaufmann's translation was the required text. I had read both translations (cover-to-cover), and sold my copy of Kaufmann's translation, keeping only my Hollingdale. So, needless to say, I wasn't about to buy Kaufmann again, and went to class with Hollingdale. Slowly, but surely, as the other students read bits of the translation I had, or heard when I spoke pieces aloud, they overwhelmingly agreed with me: Hollingdale is simply more clear, more beautiful, more powerful (less academic, shall we say, which is pure Nietzsche). Ok, over and out, enjoy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, June 29 2002
This review is from: Thus Spoke Zarathustra (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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5.0 out of 5 stars Free your mind, April 17 2002
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This review is from: Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Paperback)
Nietzsche's great gift to mankind is also his greatest joke and his greatest trap. The idea's in it are facinating and complex and invite endless re-reading. That endless re-reading it both the joke and the trap. The joke is on you if you re-read to learn more about Nietzsche. You should only be reading to learn more about yourself. Remember that N looked for those who would "follow him becuase they wished to follow themselves," he would teach them to follow themselves, but then, they must go away, wrestle with him, and reject him. After that rejection, he would return with love. Until that rejection, they were still followers, maybe they would come to belive him again, as levels of understanding increased, ('my today refutes my yesterday') but now he would be a guide and not a leader. I suppose one could even re-embrace chistianity but as an awakened one and not as a slave. Remember that N is not telling you what to think, he is telling you that YOU must think and why he thinks like he does. So read him and reject him ( reject him becuase you think, not becuase you are christian) then read him again. Let him become your best enemy and love him not for what he says but for what he makes you become. But then again, don't just take my word for it.
as a note on the translation, Kuafmann is probably the best out there. Don't waste your time with Common if you are a cusual reader ( of course if you can read german don't waste your time with either.) However, if you are really hardcore and can't read german than reading more than one translation may give insights as different things may be translated better in one than the other. For example in the prolog Kaufmanns use of the american term "tight rope walker" does not lend the same beuty and clarity to the metaphor as Commons more literal tranlation of "rope dancer" think about it when you re-read the prolog.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Review for the non-philosopher, Nov. 4 2000
By 
Andy Gill (Dorset, England) - See all my reviews
There seem to be plenty of reviews debating the philosophical principles of Nietszche and the statements he makes, so, for the non-philosophy students present (i.e. ME) I'll rate it for the layman.
'TSZ' is very longwinded, and as the introduction states, filled with 'excess', but that does not make it a bad book. Every sentence is imbued with its own iconic poetry, and, philosophy aside, the metaphors and similes alone make this book worth reading. It is clear that Nietszche, or perhaps his translator, had a mind better suited to creative expression than most philosophers, or indeed today's authors, and it is in this that lies the book's real strength. Through its use of imagery it not only makes an interesting, inspirational, conjectural read (apart from a few really boring parts that seemed written only to slow down the pace), it makes its message easy to understand and backs it up with surrealistic examples. Whereas sometimes in philosophy, the use of allegory can confuse the issue (More's 'Utopia' - mockery of idealism, framework for perfect society, or rambling tale?), in 'Zarathustra' the reader, no matter whether they are new to the field or not, cannot fail to discern the message that Man is not a goal but a bridge, a rope over an abyss. As philosophy, and as literature, it succeeds in conveying its point, setting up a platform for discussion or merely to digest individually. Admittedly, some refuse to read Nietszche because of his view of women ('shallow waters'), and because of how his ideas for the Superman allegedly inspired Hitler's Aryan vision for the world, but such people deprive themselves of an interesting viewpoint that defines the meaning of life in human rather than spiritual terms.
One potential problem for the newcomer to philosophy is the storyline. For a man remembered for the statement 'God is dead', Nietszche obviously drew inspiration from the Bible, for Zarathustra is strongly reminiscent of Jesus, recruiting disciples and disappearing into the wilderness with a frequency that Bigfoot would be proud of. The problem with an allegorical tale is the reader's propensity for bringing western narrative expectations to it - 'Zarathustra' is a text-book, not a story, but sometimes you do find yourself waiting for the climax, the big show-down, the cinematic denouement. So long as you remember that it is philosophy, not a novel, and so long as you appreciate each segment as an expressive point and not part of a conventional plot, there should be no troubles. I'll leave you with a sample of Nietzsche's verbal wizardry:
'It is the stillest words which bring the storm. Thoughts that come on doves' feet guide the world.'
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5.0 out of 5 stars Apply It To Your Life, Oct. 2 2000
By 
K. Johnson (US/Asia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Thus Spoke Zarathustra (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." One person's goals and values can be, and often are, abhorrent to another person.
There is certainly much more to his works, and any person can go deeper than myself, because I read non-fiction primarily. If a person reads this when they are in their late teens or early twenties, perhaps it can help them reinforce who they are. Anyone can benefit from "Thus Spoke Zarathustra" if they allow themselves the opportunity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Tale of an Ubermensch, Sept. 30 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Thus Spake Zarathustra (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.
Zarathustra stands in he tradition of the German Bildungsroman, in which a character's development toward spiritual maturity is chronicled. Zarathustra can be seen as a paradigm for the modern, spiritually sensitive individual, one who grapples with nihilism, the contemporary crisis in values in the wake of the collapse of the Christian worldview that assigned humanity a clear place in the world.
In the popular imagination, Nietzsche's idea of the Ubermensch is one of his most memorable and significant ideals. However, the concept of the Ubermensch is actually discussed little in the book. The topic is the theme of the first speech in "Zarathustra's Prologue," which he presents to a crowd gathered for a circus. The audience interprets Zarathustra as a circus barker and the speech as an introduction to a performance by a tightrope walker. The concept is mentioned recurrently in Part I as something of a refrain to Zarathustra's speeches. But the word Ubermensch rarely occurs after that.
Additionally, the notion of the Ubermensch is presented in more imagistic than explanatory terms. The Ubermensch, according to Zarathustra, is continually experimental, willing to risk all for the enhancement of humanity. The Ubermensch aspires to greatness, but Zarathustra does not formulate any more specific characterization of what constitutes the enhancement of humanity or greatness. He does, however, contrast the Ubermensch to the last man, the human type whose sole desire is personal comfort and happiness. Such a person is the "last man" quite literally, incapable of the desire that is required to create beyond oneself in any form, including that of having children.
Zarathustra's opening speech, besides proposing the Ubermensch as the ideal for humanity also places emphasis on this world as opposed to any future world. In particular, Zarathustra urges that human beings reassess the value of their own bodies, indeed their embodiment. For too long, dreaming of the afterlife, Western humanity has treated the body as a source of sin and error. Zarathustra, in contrast, insists that the body is the ground of all meaning and knowledge, and that health and strength should be recognized and sought as virtues.
Another prominent theme in Zarathustra is its emphasis on the relative importance of will. In part, this emphasis follows Schopenhauer in claiming that will is more fundamental to human beings than knowledge. However, Nietzsche stresses the will's attempt to enhance its power, whereas he views Schopenhauer as placing greater stress on the will's efforts at self preservation. Nietzsche's famous conception of will to power makes one of its few published appearances in Zarathustra.
Much of the plot of Zarathustra concerns his efforts to formulate his idea of eternal recurrence. At times, the idea possesses him in the form of visions and dreams. At others, he seems reluctant to state it categorically or to accept its implications. During a particularly despairing moment, he shudders at the implication of his doctrine that "the rabble," the petty people who comprise most of the human race, will also recur. The fact that Zarathustra objects to the recurrence of the rabble is indicative of Nietzsche's elitism. Consistently, Nietzsche and Zarathustra contend that human beings are not equal. Nietzsche objects to the democratic movements of his era in favor of more aristocratic forms of social organization that would place control in the hands of the talented, of necessity, not the majority.
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2.0 out of 5 stars influential, but not, in my opinion, a 'great philosopher', April 25 2000
This review is from: Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Paperback)
I find Nietzsche's character extremely intersting and admit that his influence on philosophers and culture of this century is hardly negligible. However, I find his works, particularly Zarathustra, lacking in 'philosophy' and more as evidence of a man who led a very sad life.
There are certainly elements from the work deserving to be preserved, if not simply for their historical significance. Among other things, the almost Kantian criticism of belief in the supernatural in Part One still bears relevence.
A chief complaint, however, is that the exact character of the Superman is vaguely defined. He is a man who must assign his own meaning to life and define his whole existence by his own 'virtue', and thus grow beyond good and evil. However, how is one to choose his own virtue, and what is to happen when virtues conflict? Zarathustra speaks of going to war for one's virtue, but what exactly are we to interpret from this?
More than anything, though, I find this book lacking in style. It is very hard to comprehend because of the tedious metaphors, allegories and symbolisms. Every point is also expounded in excess. Once I finally dragged myself through this text, though, I found myself disappointed at what was to be found in the writings of this 'great philosopher'.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How This Book Is Relevant Today., April 1 2000
By 
Gift Card "mimereader" (California USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Paperback)
Late one night after I had read the last page of Nietzsche's Zarathustra, and before rereading the first page, I fell asleep and dreamt a dream of all that logically went between: When Zarathustra was over one hundred and ten years old, and it was the appropriate time, he died in an out of the way place called Bethsaida (The New Testament place where Jesus' preaching was ignored).The sun did not rise and the rooster did not crow, prompting his frightened neighbors to summon a doctor and an exorcist - this being customary in such circumstances.Although an examination revealed some peculiar marks visible on Zarathustra's head, neck, chest, and ankles, these were dismissed as some type of permanent political stigmata; thus the death certificate was signed.Word of strange events then spread quickly throughout the town, and to soothe the worry of more naive minds the ecclesiastical authorities decided to place Zarathustra in mock trial. Propped up in a chair and held fast by ropes, the old man offered no resistance to the arrangement. A Catholic volunteered as prosecutor, a Protestant as judge, townspeople of varying descriptions acted as jury, and a popular baker represented the accused. "Here is the demon who even now manages to provoke our anguish with his legacy of atheistic malevolence. Let him be found guilty, then forgotten forever in the unhallowed ground" railed the prosecutor. As for the baker, being a simple man outside the established ways of theological and legal argument, his only recourse was to draw upon his own experience while speaking for the accused: "It may be a difficult leap to make, fellow citizens, but even here is the image of one deserving your love. Zarathustra's intention was not to destroy you or even to take anything away from you - it was to make you stronger! It is better to liken even his most merciless prods to the yeast which causes bread to rise to its full height.""That's quite irreverent, though it may be material," countered the prosecutor; "for in my church, before the sacrament of Eucharist is distributed, we draw on stocks of unleavened bread." Certainly, this was a promising point, but as it was now long past the time desirable for everyone's noontide meal, and the baker had the means to relieve their greatest emptiness, he decided to provide a tasty riposte: "In all appreciation of that exception, as it is I who provides all the bread in this district - including what the churches distribute to the poor - it should be pointed out that the supply of flour available for my helpers to gather has been diminishing, and only the prudent use of yeast can insure enough to feed everyone" Needless to say, the verdict eventually came in that everyone involved was ravenously hungry, which did much to expedite a decision on Zarathustra: And that is how he came to be buried, in sort of a compromise, beneath an unhallowed path immediately outside the narrow gate of the cemetery. Yet, not long after, three scruffy looking grave-robbers arrived to fetch him from where he was content to lay; a Marxist, an anarchist, and a gaunt faced national socialist. And while these three engaged in an acrimonious debate about who was Zarathustra's nearest relative, they dug up his material body and carried it away. Yes, stiffened arms jutting over supporting shoulders, and ramrod legs held in trembling hands, they stumbled away like drunken sailors returning to the safety of some familiar ship.What little reason remained soon gave way to emotions, as the three were so overwhelmed by their old master's predicament that they were incapable of recognizing his true condition. "Zarathustra wants to come with me" blubbered the Marxist. "His persistent posture indicates he is only battered and still unbowed." To this the gaunt faced national socialist replied, while bearing the burden on the other side, "Your brain is out of dialectical order, halt-foot! The fox feigns his injury, and your only reward will be a bite of my old values." Then holding up the feet and walking backwards, the anarchist insisted - as usual- in getting in the last word: "Far from having any immediate ambitions, it's obvious my uncooperative brother is determined to impede you."Soon, all that was left at the open grave was a discarded shovel, the only lantern the three had brought to know the way, and the odd flickering shadow of Zarathustra's spirit. This ghost sat on a big stone nearby, closer than any of them had dared to hope, and it waited until the declamation of the last follower died out in the wintery night air: "O restless dark day! You herald the approach of a new dawn!" Said Zarathustra's spirit. Then finding a more definitive aphorism rising in his throat, he summoned his animals to draw near; for wise enough to keep a respectable distance from the fray, they had only waited to hear. And although at first they didn't recognize Zarathustra's now child like countenance - which usually moved much slower, the bad poetry reassured them: "Lost and marooned are they who nourish themselves solely on what cannot be properly digested." Then speaking of higher men: "But truly blessed is the special one who miraculously increases what the helpers gather to give." Thus it was spoken, as in a dream.
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