Composed in four parts between 1883 and 1885, Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the most famous and influential work of German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. The work is a philosophical novel in which the character of Zarathustra, a religious prophet-like figure, delivers a series of lessons and sermons in a Biblical style that articulate the central ideas of Nietzsche's mature thought. Key to the philosophy of Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a rejection of traditional systems of religious morality, the idea of the will to power, and a vision of a new, higher mode of being, the ubermensch" or "Superman," one of Nietzsche's most famous and controversial figures. As innovative stylistically as it is philosophically, Thus Spoke Zarathustra is both a literary masterpiece and an enduring classic of moral thought. This version of Thus Spoke Zarathustra is the translation by Thomas Common.
Public Domain (P)2011 Tantor
l'enfer c'est les autres
Not a fiction book, but not quite a philosophy book in as much it doesn't give a foundation as such, but if anything takes away any structure to the world and challenges everything the listener thought he might have thought he knew as certainty.
The prophet, Zarathustra, loosely follows the gospel. He knows that God is dead not that there is no God but that Man (and Woman) no longer have need of him. What does it mean for us when there is no longer external truth? He'll even make a statement to the effect that the one who rode the donkey would have reached the same conclusions if he had only had the chance to live longer. "Man does not live by bread alone, but also by lamb". Zarathustra will challenge everything you think you might know and never lets up on his challenges, "What the populace once learned to believe without reasons, who could— refute it to them by means of reasons?".
"All poets are liars" but our reality and the lies we believe in give us our values which we must determine by ourselves with no help from any book or prophet nor even from Zarathustra. There's no doubt that Zarathustra is speaking what Nietzsche believes. The pre-Socratic philosophers with their belief that "man is the measure of all things", all that we know is never universal, necessary and certain. Knowledge is always imperfect. The closest we ever come is through the lies we use to create our world. Our perspectives will always skew the world. There is no one correct truth only perspectives.
I was surprised how much Heidegger in his "Being and Time" borrowed from Part One of this book. We're thrown in to the world, our care gives us our presence-at-hand, and we cope for our worldliness (purpose in life). Zarathustra uses different language but says the same things. Our authentic selves get overtaken by the marketplace where our idle chatter, curiosity and ambiguity makes us "talk to everyone therefore talking to now one" and ending up separating ourselves from who we are and how we should get beyond "good and evil" because "there ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue just people doing things" (yes, that quote is from "Grapes of Wrath", but I suspect Zarathustra would agree with it).
John Lee, the narrator, narrates this book perfectly. I would have gotten almost nothing out of this book by reading it, but the narrator knows how to give the author's contempt, disgust, and a whole hosts of other appropriate emotional states while reading the book. I know the narrator understood the book completely and knew how to convey that while narrating.
The book is not perfect. Zarathustra has a problem with women, marriage, love and modernity and lacks the true understanding of science of which he doesn't seem to appreciate. But, overall there are too many great takeaways within this book and this book should be listened to by everyone. Freud said he had to stop reading Nietzsche because he didn't want to be accused of stealing from him. Freud thinks there are great truths but we deny them. Marx thinks that our big truths are our social classes. Zarathustra knows there are no truths and we must learn to accept that, and would want no one to accept that except on their own and most certainly not because of Zarathustra.
John Lee has a very rich, mellifluous voice, but the reading he delivers here is unengaged and extremely sloppy. One gets the distinct impression that he has no familiarity with the material at all, and has not made any attempt to prepare himself. For example, he does nothing to register the voices of different characters, and repeatedly reads questions as though they were regular sentences (almost as though he didn't notice the question mark until it was too late). Instead of a nuanced, attentive performance, we get an extremely monotonous reading that never varies from a crisp, polished 'high style'--doing absolutely nothing to capture the exuberant energy and variety of Nietzche's prose. In short, it sounds very much like an automated 'robo-reader' with an Oxford accent.
The book itself, on the other hand, is lots of fun and a must-read for anyone interested in Nietzche's philosophy.
A lot of excellent ideas but a struggle to finish. Seems like a lot of fluff in there but perhaps I'm not intellectually fit enough to fully appreciate the book.
It's a classic. I let the words roll over me. I couldn't concentrate on it and drive safely at the same time. He has a low opinion of women, I noticed. Glad I finished it.
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