Introduction by Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche. Translated by Thomas Common. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s most famous book, written between 1883 and 1885.
Set as a narrative of the travels and speeches of Zarathustra—a name Nietzsche derived from the Indo-Aryan founder of the Zoroastrian religion—this book was described by its author as his most personal work which summed up all his essential ideas.
Thus Spoke Zarathustra outlines, sometimes in poetic format, Nietzsche’s central philosophical themes, which included:
– The Superman: The ultimate state of being in which man can achieve total self-mastery. For Zarathustra, the Superman is the spiritual evolution towards which he journeys to get away from false superstitions and deceptive notions of morality and justice.
-The Eternal Recurrence: the notion that time is eternal and that all things that have happened will happen again. This, for Nietzsche, is true eternal life, and leads on to Zarathustra rejecting all other interpretations of immortality or eternity.
– The Will to Power: The psychological state at which the Superman must arrive if he is to accept the eternal recurrence. This Will to Power provides the mainspring for the Superman to overcome all other obstacles: social, moral, and philosophical. It is the ability to transcend the nature of society, not to dominate it.
“Zarathustra was the first to see in the struggle between good and evil the essential wheel in the working of things. In his teaching alone do we meet with truthfulness upheld as the highest virtue—i.e.: the reverse of the cowardice of the ‘idealist’ who flees from reality. To tell the truth and to aim straight: that is the first Persian virtue. Am I understood?… The overcoming of morality through itself—through truthfulness, the overcoming of the moralist through his opposite—through me—: that is what the name Zarathustra means in my mouth.”—from the Introduction.
This edition contains an introduction written by the author’s sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, and was translated by Thomas Common.
About the author: Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844–1900) is possibly one of the most famous—and often misquoted—philosophers of the nineteenth century. He began his career as a classical philologist before turning to philosophy, where his success was so marked that in 1869—at the age of only twenty-four—he was appointed to the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel. Suffering from poor health his entire life, he eventually died of symptoms now known to be linked to brain cancer, while under the care of his sister Elisabeth.
Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche (1846–1935) is famous not only for being Friedrich’s closest family member, but also creator of the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar, and for her own strongly-held political views, which included membership of the Nazi party—an association which has incorrectly led many to associate her brother with that movement.
Thomas Common (1850–1919) was an Edinburgh-based British translator and critic, most famous for his Nietzsche translations.