I’ve finished reading Thus Spake Zarathustra - A Book for All and None
by Friedrich W. Nietzsche.
Although I have a “Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy” version of this book, I had never finished, I chose to begin reading this work again with a downloaded version from www.gutenberg.org
. Fortunately, the gutenberg.org version has a lengthy appendix, written by a contemporary of Nietzsche, that is lacking from my printed version. And, without that lengthy appendix, I would have had no idea WHO Nietzsche was often writing about, as he used pseudonyms, metaphors, parables, and pseudonyms and metaphors within parables throughout this work.
In the Introduction of the gutenberg.org version, Nietzsche’s sister wrote, “Even the reception which the first part met with at the hands of friends and acquaintances was extremely disheartening: for almost all those to whom he presented copies of the work misunderstood it. ‘I found no one ripe for many of my thoughts; the case of “Zarathustra” proves that one can speak with the utmost clearness, and yet not be heard by any one.’”
Unfortunately, in my humble opinion, the first part of this four part book is the easiest to understand. Again, if not for the appendix provided in the gutenberg.org version, I would have had no idea ‘The Magician’ was Nietzsche’s pseudonym for Richard Wagner, or that ‘The Soothsayer’ was his pseudonym for Arthur Schopenhauer.
Nevertheless, there are many passages where Nietzsche’s did make his thoughts perfectly clear, such as the following:
‘When Zarathustra was alone, however, he said to his heart: “Could it be possible! This old saint in the forest hath not yet heard of it, that GOD IS DEAD!”’
Or, when Nietzsche wrote:
”Everything in woman is a riddle, and everything in woman hath one solution--it is called pregnancy.
“Man is for woman a means: the purpose is always the child. But what is woman for man?
Two different things wanteth the true man: danger and diversion. Therefore wanteth he woman, as the most dangerous plaything.
Man shall be trained for war, and woman for the recreation of the warrior: all else is folly.”
I often found, however, that when Nietzsche did undertake the effort to make a particular idea understandable, he then proceeded to beat the idea to death in subsequent chapters.
While struggling through the third part of this book, it occurred to me that a better title for this work might have been Thus Spake Zarathustra - A Book for All Who Have Already Read Everything Else I Have Ever Written and None
. In my humble opinion, this is not the book to begin one’s reading/studying of Nietzsche, if one is not already familiar with his life, times, and philosophy.
Now, as I’m currently feeding a philosophy habit, I’m going on to read Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences
, by René Descartes.