Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by Friedrich Nietzsche; trans., introduction, & notes R J Hollingdale.

Nietzsche Hollingdale Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a Bible for the godless, a treasure-trove for reluctant but inevitable onolaters. Although it often seems to offer its message in the simplest and most straightforward terms, it also admits plainly to a crypticism and esoteric character that exceeds the one indicated in Mark 4:11-12. The sage Zarathustra is not merely a cipher for Nietzsche himself, he is putatively the inventor of the notion of good and evil lying at the root of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and thus his creative power both subsumes and stands outside of it.

Many other books could be and have been written in an attempt to comprehend and elucidate this one. Many other writers have tried to assert their own superiority with facile dismissals of the challenges Nietzsche raises here. 

Coming on the heels of several other English translations of Zarathustra, Del Caro’s is a conservative, readable text with minimal commentary and explication. The few explanatory footnotes seem mostly intent on exonerating Nietzsche from charges of misogyny, although some address translation issues. In particular Del Caro tries to justify the existence of his translation over and against that of Walter Kaufmann, whose errors he specifically calls out. 

The long note on page 199 attempts to dispel what Del Caro calls the “myth” of Nietzsche’s inspired authorship of the book. But it is more worthwhile to ask what is being signified by the allegedly rapid writing of Zarathustra, and why, than to merely cast doubt on whether it was “really” written thus. There are also a surprising number of typos in this edition.