Read The Portable Nietzsche by Friedrich Nietzsche Walter Kaufmann Online


The works of Friedrich Nietzsche have fascinated readers around the world ever since the publication of his first book more than a hundred years ago. As Walter Kaufmann, one of the world's leading authorities on Nietzsche, notes in his introduction, "Few writers in any age were so full of ideas," and few writers have been so consistently misinterpreted. The Portable NietzsThe works of Friedrich Nietzsche have fascinated readers around the world ever since the publication of his first book more than a hundred years ago. As Walter Kaufmann, one of the world's leading authorities on Nietzsche, notes in his introduction, "Few writers in any age were so full of ideas," and few writers have been so consistently misinterpreted. The Portable Nietzsche includes Kaufmann's definitive translations of the complete and unabridged texts of Nietzsche's four major works: Twilight of the Idols, The Antichrist, Nietzsche Contra Wagner and Thus Spoke Zarathustra. In addition, Kaufmann brings together selections from his other books, notes, and letters, to give a full picture of Nietzsche's development, versatility, and inexhaustibility. "In this volume, one may very conveniently have a rich review of one of the most sensitive, passionate, and misunderstood writers in Western, or any, literature." --Newsweek...

Title : The Portable Nietzsche
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ISBN : 9780140150629
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Number of Pages : 692 Pages
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The Portable Nietzsche Reviews

  • Erik Graff
    2019-01-01 19:05

    My first two years at Grinnell College were conflicted. I was genuinely interested in study, but felt morally compelled to devote considerable time to political work and to the study of such subjects as history and political science which contributed to doing it intelligently. Then, having been at loggerheads with the DesPlaines draft board for some time for resistance, I was notified that proceedings against me were soon to begin.Paying my own way through school, the prospect of being pulled from school in the middle of a term was too much to risk. I finished the sophomore year and took a job as an orderly at a convalescent and nursing home, the kind of job that might look good to the board.The future was uncertain. I was back amongst old friends and there were a lot of them thanks to the sixties having created a suburban counterculture. Socially, I was much happier than I had been in college where I had felt myself the only virgin on campus and where I was insecure about my size, my age and my slow rate of physical maturation. Here there were younger people. But there were also more girls who I knew well enough to talk to, girls towards many of whom I felt strong ambivalence owing to being at once attracted to them and repulsed by my own lasciviousness. Here, also, there wasn't the constant need to study every day, to perform assignment after assignment with nary a day to read what I felt like reading.With the the civil rights struggle in a militant phase, the war still going on, a possible prison sentence hanging over my head and a sexual neurosis which led me to consciously avoid looking at attractive females, I was a pretty serious little guy. Although I spent a lot of time ostensibly in the company of friends, a good deal of that time was occupied by reading owing to my aforementioned neurosis inhibiting my social behavior.Being free to read what I liked, I began to delve into areas like philosophy and psychology in addition to my usual socially responsible readings. Nietzsche was the first philosopher per se who really captured my attention, both for his radical ideas (many of which I felt to be simply truths not often spoken) and for his lively writing style. Furthermore, he, like myself, was, according to Kaufmann's remarks, a social misfit and idealist.Oh, although it has nothing to do with philosophy except that it may have scotched my chance to become a precocious one, the DesPlaines draft board was twice torched that summer. Some person or persons had poured soap flakes and kerosene through the ventilators on the single-storey structure's roof, napalming the place. I never heard from them again and was able to return to school in the fall.

  • Jee Koh
    2019-01-06 19:21

    Just finished reading "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," this weird hybrid of philosophy, biography, myth and poetry. The cross-breeding (or -bleeding) of genres makes the book sound like a monstrous plant from a hothouse or an alchemical tome from a monastery. It is not. It is a book conceived while striding over mountains. It is best read in the open air, as I did, much of it, in Central Park, American elms arching above the Literary Walk to form the vaulted ceiling of a cathedral. From one perspective (and Nietzsche is very much--essentially?--about perspectives), the book can be seen as a parody--a competitor--of the gospels. So Part 1 begins with Zarathustra "going under" from the mountain to the marketplace to preach to the people. Much of the book is made up of these "sermons," often in the form of parables. (Part 4 is different in being a continuous narrative.) And like Jesus, Zarathustra gathers round him disciples, is tested by various trials, provides a last supper, and receives a final revelation. The radical difference in Z's gospel is that God is dead, and man must find his ultimate value in himself, in overcoming himself, or, in Nietzschean terms, in becoming an overman. Z. is a prophet of the overman, and in his noblest moments is also a type of the overman. Although so much of the book is noble and inspiring, parts of it are marred by a limited view of women. The book is the work of a very lonely man, whose hasty marriage proposals were all turned down. It is also the work of a man who suffered from bad health--bad headaches, bad eyes, sleeplessness--and so spoke of suffering with an obsessive vehemence. The miracle is the high praise the book accords to the body and to laughter. The book is thus a triumph of Nietzsche's will to power, the will to overcome oneself. Joy, not anguish, longs for eternity. The ultimate sign of acceptance and overcoming is a desire for eternal recurrence, not just of bliss, but also of agony. It is a book that demands to be read over and over again.

  • Matt
    2018-12-29 17:25

    What does not destroy me, makes me stronger. Also, God is dead. The Portable Nietzsche is a collection of Friedrich Nietzsche's books. I was familiar with Nietzsche's blasphemous assertion before picking up the book. I was not aware of the fact that, according to Nietzsche, we killed God. He died of his pity for us. Nietzsche explains that christianity's emphasis on suffering, sin, and afterlife put it in opposition to life itself. Der Ubermann (The Overman) is Nietzsche's ideal, a final post-theology stage of evolution for humans. I am not certain that Nietzsche believed that The Overman is attainable. Overall, this book was excellent. It was full of compelling arguments covering many aspects of the human condition. The most interesting book was The Antichrist, even though it is said that the book was written while Nietzsche was in the depths of dementia.

  • Denis
    2019-01-16 14:00

    I didn't finish it. Life is too short. His mother should have made him go play outside.Last night I couldn't sleep. I went to the porch and had a smoke. A hare came zipping across my driveway and around the corner of the house. My cat spotted it, jumped off the window sill and rushed to the storm door where he bumped his head against the still closed window. Had Nietzsche been there he would have laughed, too, I just know it.

  • James
    2019-01-07 14:11

    For the most part, Nietzsche is not at all the philosopher that people think he is. He was the first relativist and "the last metaphysician" according to Heidegger. In many ways, Nietzsche finally said what was always implicit in Western philosophy - that truth and knowledge were simply a matter of concensus and control, and that freedom was the privelege of the rare few who could descend from the heights of man's "truth" and create their own values. His philosophy was not the sinister precursor to the Nazi totalitarian state, but a benediction to the willful few to create new life-affirming morals and values to replace the religious values that he accused of being obsessed with judgment and revenge.Much of his early writings were aphorisms, which were short polemic statements of a few sentences or maybe a page that make for very interesting bedside and bathroom reading. His longer works, Thus Spake Zarathustra and Twilight of the Idols, require more dedicated reading.

  • Bradley
    2019-01-21 15:57

    Definitely one of the greatest philosophers in the Western Tradition. Set the stage for just about every political, or philosophical trend in the 20th century. From his misinterpretation by the Nazi's (he was not an anti-semite) to his inspiration of deconstruction, post-modern thought, and just about every subsequent thought in the continental tradition besides Marxism, this book is a must for anyone who wants to begin to understand how to live life. Probably the greatest psychologist that has ever lived.

  • Vanja Antonijevic
    2019-01-16 18:57

    This book is a great complement to "Basic Writings of Nietzche". The other book should be read first, however. Please refer to my other review on Nietzche (as I do not have enough room to copy it) for a more complete analysis. There were some additional points I wish to cover:1. Nietzsche is very difficult to understand, and has hence been the most misinterpreted philosopher of all time.The belief that he was a Nazi, that he is an anti-semite, and misinterpretations and misuse of his overman/superman theory are just some of the most common misunderstandings. 2. Do not read “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” first. My recommendation as introductory books would instead be “Beyond Good and Evil”, followed by “A Genealogy of Morals”. Only then may you tackle the poetic language with the underlying deeper philosophy of Zarathustra. 3. Nietzsche is very harsh on Christianity.“God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him”This may insult some, as Nietzsche has no respect for Christianity (although he has some positive feelings regarding the first testament). It may appear that his whole philosophy at times is an attack of Christianity (“the Antichrist”?), but this is going too far. Instead, Christianity is the system which Nietzsche attacks the most because it is the most powerful and direct contradiction to his philosophy on life. This is Nietzsche with his most even-mannered analysis of Christianity- From “Birth of Tragedy”:“I never failed to sense a hostility to life- a furious, vengeful antipathy to life itself: for all of life is based on semblance, art, deception, point of view, and the necessity of perspectives and error. Christianity was from the beginning, essentially and fundamentally, life’s nausea and disgust with life, merely concealed behind, masked by, dressed up as, faith in 'another' or 'better' life.”...“For confronted with morality, life must continually and inevitably be wrong, because life is something essentially amoral.”From “the Antichrist”: “What is good? Everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself.What is bad? Everything that is born of weakness.What is more harmful than vice? Active pity for all the failures and all the weak: Christianity.”Nietzsche at his more usual and controversial form- From “Twilight of the Idols”:“And there he lay, sick, miserable, malevolent against himself: full of hatred against the springs of life, full of suspicion against all that was strong and happy. In short, a ‘Christian’”.“This the Church understood: it ruined man, it weakened him- but it claimed to have ‘improved’ him.”

  • Spoust1
    2019-01-16 12:22

    Walter Kaufmann is the man responsible for Nietzsche studies in the English speaking world, and the collection he edited of Nietzsche's writings is outstanding. The book has several complete works: "Thus Spoke Zarathustra," Nietzsche's opus about the philosopher-king character Zarathustra; "Antichrist" and "Twilight of the Idols," both shorter, more mature works; "Ecce Homo," Nietzsche's exceedingly narcissistic study on himself; and "Nietzsche Contra Wagner," which is self-explanatory. The book also has selections from almost all of Nietzsche's other works, as well as selections from his notebooks and letters. So the book is not without "The Madman" passage from "The Gay Science," nor is it without the essay "Truth and Lies in an Extra-moral Sense," which, if read closely, contains the whole of Foucault's corpus. Kaufmann has provided extensive footnotes that allow one to keep up with Nietzsche's often subtle references as well as the nuances that do not translate from German to English.

  • Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
    2019-01-08 11:05

    I found his philosophy really fascinating. He garnered a lot of controversy especially with the concept of the Übermensch. Which talks, from my understanding, about the superiority of the human race in the future. Some people and movements source this with the justification of eugenics, but I'm not too clear on Nietzsche views on eugenics.In the Übermensch philosophy there is the often quoted and mostly misunderstood "God is dead." which pissed off a lot of Christians.So Nietzsche was and is a very controversial figure in philosophy, especially in our time.I enjoyed this read, and will read this again.I'm not sure if I follow his philosophy exactly, but he does know how to write.“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster... for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.” Will always be one of my favorite philosophy quote.His philosophy is featured in so much pop culture stuff, and I'm going to keep an eye out to see which pop culture works either supports or rebels against his philosophies.

  • Vanessa
    2018-12-24 19:14

    It's like reading the ramblings of a mental patient

  • Danny
    2018-12-25 16:20

    I picked this book up years ago in a secondhand bookstore because it had the full text of Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Little did I know I'd just bought the best introduction to Nietzsche that I've come across to date. This contains excerpts and several full texts which span Nietzsche's entire writing career, which gives the person reading him for the first time a vastly more comprehensive feel for his philosophy than can be had from some other Nietzsche collections which are mostly a hodge-podge of quotes stripped out of their context. I think this volume deserves a place on the bookshelf of any budding Nietzsche scholar.

  • Christian
    2018-12-31 18:23

    Nietzsche is brilliant but not a fun or easy read. He, like many philosophers wrote essays on topics and not stories. I will argue that Zarathrustra while containing some interesting thoughts was a boring read. I am very interested by the man and his philosophical views but despise the style of essay that he wrote in.

  • Mirek Kukla
    2019-01-21 13:27

    Review“The Portable Nietzsche” is a hefty collection of Nietzsche’s writings, with a bit of commentary on the translator’s part. This compilation contains three entire works: “Twilight of the Idols,” “The Antichrist,” and “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” as well as a number of selections from his other works. The range here is certainly quite comprehensive, and gives you a good idea of what Nietzsche’s all about.Well, what is Nietzsche all about? Sometimes, it’s hard to say. While I think I left with a fair understanding of his overall philosophy, before I go on, let me be clear: Nietzsche is not a philosopher. Sure, he’s got his opinions, many of which are fascinating, and we can brand these “his philosophy.” Nonetheless, Nietzsche fails to be a philosopher, as such, simply because he doesn’t offer any arguments. He simply makes assertions. Nietzsche doesn’t try to convince: he just says. And that’s being generous: it might be most accurate to say that Nietzsche rants - loudly, angrily - and entertainingly, to be sure. But in essence, what we have here is no more than an assortment of half-crazed, half-brilliant shrieks.That said, I’m glad I worked my way through this collection. It took me quite a while: I found it hard to pay attention for more than two dozen pages in a given sitting. Nietzsche requires focus: not because his arguments are complex – again, he has none – but because if you don’t pay attention, you won’t locate the rhyme and reason behind the lunacy. Don’t get me wrong: Nietzsche is a fantastic, mesmerizing writer. His colorful, forceful prose is refreshing. But he’s a bit all over the place, and if you don’t concentrate, you'll hear nothing but pretty noise.Nietzsche has some interesting and unorthodox ideas, though he’s rather inconsistent. For instance, I thought the first 30 or 40 pages of “Twilight of the Idols” were brilliant: Nietzsche takes on Socrates, exposes the assumptions of science, and debunks false causality. On the other hand, most of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” just about put me to sleep. Get to the point, Nietzsche: there’s some serious rambling to be had here.To conclude: it would have been nice to have a condensed version of this complication. The best 100 pages are fascinating; the rest is hit and miss. All in all, I’m glad I read this, mostly because I want to have had read Nietzsche. Now that I’ve done my dues, I doubt I’ll be coming back.SummaryThough Nietzsche is all over the place, there are some common themes:   1) We must strive to overcome ourselves and become ‘overmen’.   2) There is no free will. We live an ‘eternal recurrence.’   3) There is no morality.   4) We are not all equal. Greater men should rule the lesser men.   5) Christianity sucks.I’ll give a quick overview of each and provide some relevant and interesting quotes.The OvermanThis is probably the idea I struggled most to get a grip on. As best I understand it, the overman is one who has overcome his nature. He realizes there is no such thing as good and evil, but rather that power is good, and weakness is bad. The overman is the embodiment of power. Apparently, our world is not quite ready for the overman: Nietzsche, using Zarathustra as his mouthpiece, is merely preparing us for his arrival.“What is good? Everything that heightens the feeling of power in man, the will to power, power itself. What is bad? Everything that is born of weakness.”“And he whom you cannot teach to fly, teach to fall faster.”Free Will and the Eternal RecurrenceFree will is an illusion, according to Nietzsche: ‘agency’ is simply a feeling that accompanies the inevitable. There is no such thing as causality. In fact, Nietzsche believes in ‘eternal recurrence’: idea that everything that’s happening right now has happened before, and infinite number of times, and we will forever recur. We’re never quite told why, but at this point, this should come as no surprise.“The doctrine of the will has been invented essentially for the purpose of punishment, that is, because on wanted to impute guilt.”“How, if some day or night a demon were to sneak after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you, ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sigh and everything immeasurably small or great in your life must return to you--all in the same succession and sequence--even this spider and this moonlight between the trees, and even this moment and I myself. The eternal hourglass of existence is turned over and over, and you with it, a dust grain of dust.’ Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or did you once experience a tremendous moment when you would have answered him, ‘You are a god, and never have I heard anything more godly.’”MoralityThe overman sees beyond good and evil: morality, in Nietzsche’s estimation, is an illusion. Evil can be good, or at least necessary as a means to greatness. Both good and evil are part of what we are. It’s mediocrity and lukewarmness that are to be shunned.“My demands upon the philosopher is known, that he take his stand beyond good and evil, and leave the illusion of moral judgment beneath himself.”“Man needs what is most evil in him for what is best in him.”EqualityNietzsche hates the masses. In general, he seems to think people are weak and, more or less, suck. There are greater men and lesser men, Nietzsche claims, and it is the duty of the greater man to rule over his lesser counterpart. I suppose we’re left to infer that Nietzsche himself falls in the former camp.“The doctrine of equality! There is no more poisonous poison anywhere… Never make equal what is unequal.”“For me, justice speaks thus: men are not equal. Not shall they become equal!”ChristianityNietzsche is probably best known for declaring “God is dead.” What is less known, I think, is the extent to which he dislikes Christianity. He views it as a religion of weakness. Interestingly enough, Nietzsche loves the Old Testament, and seems to be a fan of the vengeful Yahweh. The New Testament gets no such love. “Whither is God!” he cried. “I shall tell you. We have killed him- you and I.”“God is dead; he died of his pity for man.”“Is man merely a mistake of God’s? Or God merely a mistake of man?”“What is more harmful that any vice? Active pity for all the failures and all the weak: Christianity.”“’Judge not’, they say, but they consign to hell everything that stands in their way. By letting God judge, they themselves judge; by glorifying God, they glorify themselves.”“It is false to the point of nonsense to find the mark of the Christian in a “faith”, for instance, in the faith in redemption through Christ: only Christian practice a life such as the lived who dies on the cross, is Christian.” (I actually really like this quote)Other QuotesOn poets: “they all muddy their waters to make them appear deep.”“What must first be proved is worth little… once chooses dialectic only when one has no other means.”“What are the three best cursed things in the world? … sex, the lust to rule, and selfishness.”“It is clear that science too rests on faith… whence might science then take its unconditional faith, its conviction, on which its rests, that truth is more important than anything else, even than any other conviction?”“Senses… they do not lie at all. What we make of their testimony, that alone introduces lies.”“Men of conviction are not worthy of the least consideration in fundamental questions of value and disvalue. Convictions are prisons.”“The sure way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”

  • Josh Anderson
    2019-01-15 11:19

    A poor title for such an organized work of importance of Nietzsche scholar, Walter Kaufman.

  • Michael
    2019-01-12 12:23

    "Toward a psychology of the artist. If there is to be art, if there is to be any aesthetic doing and seeing, one physiological condition is indispensable: frenzy. Frenzy must first have enhanced the excitability of the whole machine; else there is no art. All kinds of frenzy, however diversely conditioned, have the strength to accomplish this: above all, the frenzy of sexual excitement, this most ancient and original form of frenzy. Also the frenzy that follows all great cravings, all strong affects; the frenzy of feasts, contests, feats of daring, victory, all extreme movement; the frenzy of cruelty; the frenzy in destruction; the frenzy under certain meteorological influences, as for example the frenzy of spring; or under the influence of narcotics; and finally the frenzy of will, the frenzy of an overcharged and swollen will. What is essential in such frenzy is the feeling of increased strength and fullness. Out of this feeling one lends to things, one forcesthem to accept from us, one violates them -- this process is called idealizing. Let us get rid of a prejudice here: idealizing does not consist, as is commonly held, in subtracting or discounting the petty and inconsequential. What is decisive is rather a tremendous drive to bring out the main features so that the others disappear in the process." -- "Twilight of the Idols," "Skirmishes of an Untimely Man," 8

  • Dylan
    2018-12-31 18:09

    my main observation: Nietzsche's philosophy is extremely difficult to encapsulate. i definitely know what people mean now when they say he has no system, although i saw ever-so-many teasing hints at one! other thoughts: *eternal recurrence?! what's up with that?*my reservations about his antipathy toward "equality" and his embrace of hierarchy were never completely resolved, but, based on Zarathustra, i'm relatively sure that they are primarily intended as motivational devices with benevolent intent. i have an especially hard time sympathizing with his fawning admiration of the ancient Greeks, which is at odds with his equally strong dislike of "convictions". this utopian anti-egalitarian current rubs me the wrong way but doesn't completely turn me off. i'll reserve judgment for the moment.*i found the Antichrist to be a relatively accessible critique of Christianity that is far more interesting than Dawkinsian (apologies) arguments. culture is just more interesting than science.

  • Chris
    2018-12-26 15:04

    Whoa. Slave mentality. Survival of the fittest. God is dead. Hitler was inspired by his views, but Nietzsche does push you to think critically of your own beliefs and why people believe the things they do. The book is pretty dry though, so take these quotes of all you need to know of Nietzsche. Here are some of my favorite Nietzsche quotes:1) "What does not kill me makes me stronger."2) "The vanity of others runs counter to our taste only when it runs counter to our vanity."3) "There are no facts, only interpretations." 4) "Not that you lied to me but that I no longer believe you - that is what has distressed me."

  • John Morgan
    2019-01-09 19:04

    This still remains the best one-volume introduction to Nietzsche that has been produced in English to date. Although Walter Kaufmann's scholarship and Nietzsche translations have long since been superseded by better versions (the recent Cambridge and Stanford editions prominent among them), they remain eminently readable, and the range of Nietzsche's work that is covered here, from his early to his late work (and you get the complete texts of "Zarathustra," "The Antichrist," "Twilight of the Idols," and "Nietzsche contra Wagner"), offers a perfect overview for the newcomer.

  • Guy M
    2019-01-07 13:15

    Considering the fact that Kaufmann is an exemplary Nietzsche scholar, the commentary here is sorely disappointing; though I suppose this can be attributed to the nature of the compilation itself. Otherwise, this is a great place to go for most of Nietzsche's thought wrapped into one volume. The inclusion of his magnificently insightful notebooks and lesser known, albeit incredibly significant pieces ("Truth and Lie in an Extramoral Sense", etc) make this worthy as well.

  • Brent McCulley
    2019-01-20 14:19

    I have previously read, and also own, all of the complete Nietzsche texts included in this companion, but the notes and letters included in "The Portable Nietzsche" are a great way to really peak into the mind of the great existentialist of the 19th century. Also, the main reason I purchased this is simply because the Kauffman translations are invaluable.

  • Matt
    2019-01-18 17:21

    A good, concise introduction to Nietzsche and his philosophy, from a commentator who actually understands his frequently misinterpreted writings. It's not hard to see why he has had such an influence on modern and post-modern philosophy. Essential reading for anybody with philosophical aptitude.

  • Matthew
    2019-01-09 19:24

    Wow this guy is twisted, but has a lot of good perspectives. He's a kind of high colonic for certain superstitions and emotional constipation. Maybe an over-correction but sometimes thats what a species needs.

  • Edacheeky (Eda D)
    2018-12-30 17:12

    A lot of things Nietzsche mentions are true and enlightening. This is another book that I've flipped through as it (I think) a collection of all of Nietzsche's books. I plan on sitting down and reading the book properly in the future. Definitely a great read.

  • Theron
    2019-01-21 16:22

    -So far I've just read "The Anti-Christ" from this anthology.-Just finished the essay "Truth and Lie in an Extra Moral Sense"

  • * * * Chata loves Eddie Veder * * *
    2019-01-01 13:16

    I love this book

  • Nick Scandy
    2018-12-29 12:19

    In a sentence: He's significantly more positive than I had initially thought.(But still kinda grumpy.)

  • Bill FromPA
    2019-01-18 16:15

    Thus Spoke Zarathustra seems on the surface a work of Orientalism: the protagonist is a Persian prophet, the setting desert, mountains, oases, and marketplaces, the supporting players include a soothsayer, dancing girls, and camels, figs and lamb are eaten.Why this fancy dress? In his previous books Nietzsche was content to speak in the voice of a thoroughly modern 19th century scholar and thinker. Are these robes and this antique-inflected speech meant to impress us with the wisdom and power of the speaker, like the elaborate outfits of a pope or tsar? No one would heed the words of a man who appeared attired in full papal regalia if he was encountered on the subway – for such apparel to be accorded honor it needs the proper setting, a St. Peter’s, a cathedral, a shrine. Such a setting is provided for Zarathustra – the book is usually published as part of a publisher’s ‘classics’ line and is to be found in the Philosophy section of bookstores and libraries. Or is that this is all meant to be self-evident playacting, the oriental paraphernalia is meant to evoke not the actual East but the theatrical world of the painted backdrop and the trunk of mildewed stage properties and moth-eaten costumes? Certainly Nietzsche has Zarathustra play the buffoon at times, and his inclination is sometimes, particularly in Part Four, not only to laugh at himself but to provide the opportunity for mirth by making himself laughable. Translator Walter Kaufmann’s introduction, quoting Stefan Zweig at length on Nietzsche, emphasizes the loneliness and illness suffered by the author during the writing of the book. Perhaps, like Zarathustra’s disciples, his companion animals, and his physical endurance, the exoticism provides fictional compensation for what the author lacked in his daily life. Another possibility, indicated by some notes that Kaufmann quote in The Portable Nietzsche immediately after Zarathustra, is that Nietzsche wanted to get away from an atmosphere of “Germanness” and so set his book in a land distant from the homeland for which he came to feel such antipathy.* There are two dangers for readers of this book, one for younger readers and one for older. For younger readers the danger lays in this book’s status as a classic of philosophy and the temptation that presents them to try to take what it contains as a template for life and opinion. But, as prescription, the work is self-contradictory and attempting to piece together from it an approach to life could easily lead to terrible outcomes. A budding objectivist can take its praise of selfishness and scorn for pity as Ayn Rand ab ovo. Heeding the call to move “beyond good and evil” can justify a range of nightmarish excesses; anyone who claims the Nazis were totally unjustified in claiming Nietzsche as a prophet are ignoring aspects of his thought that fit into their worldview with little need for mis-reading (not about anti-Semitism or racial superiority, but about the prerogatives of power and the idea that “it is the good war which justifies every cause “). And woe to the youth who finds the book’s style worthy of emulation! He has probably brought his writing career to a premature end with that decision.The danger for older readers is that the book’s tone, the “adolescent” emotions that Kaufmann speaks of in his introduction, will overwhelm its message, that the emotional immaturity of the work will lead them to reject or ignore its intellectual and artistic accomplishments. * The most famous line in this book has to be the statement, “God is dead”. If the reader is an atheist, the book may strengthen his unbelief, but it does not present a cogently reasoned argument for becoming an atheist. Like Yossarian, Nietzsche has a precise idea of the characteristics of the god he does not believe in, and it is the Christian god. Arguments against Christianity, its practices, and texts abound, but adherents to other religious traditions may well find their doctrines unscathed by the scorn Zarathustra heaps on believers.* This is one of those books, and I suspect that there may be a number of such filed under “Philosophy”, that, at any point during the reading of it, most readers will find easy to put down and never pick up again. The book proceeds from section to section, each with a brief descriptive title, each containing some ideas, or some description of Zarathustra’s wanderings and encounters, or occasionally a poem in prose or verse. Ideas and situations are sometimes repeated, but the whole thing seems to be leading nowhere, or, in a meandering fashion, to the same place over and over (talk about the Eternal Recurrence!). But the book does come together, in a fashion, at the end; I found myself closing it on the last page with much more satisfaction and sense of its worth than at any point I had closed it, partially read, over the last two weeks. At the end, one way of conceiving the entire book is as a lengthy commentary on a short poem first presented in Part Three and repeated near the end of Part Four, the last section of the book; it is the poem Mahler set as the fourth movement of his Third Symphony. Since one way of reading this poem is as a commentary on and reply to Faust’s apostrophe to the moment, “Stay, thou art so fair”, in Faust Part 2, and since the closing lines of that work are alluded to and critiqued several times in the course of the book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra might also be considered as Nietzsche’s Faust, Part 3.Kaufmann claims that Part Four was originally intended as an “intermezzo” and not the conclusion of the book. Having finished the book, I find that claim hard to believe. If Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a fragment, it is one that makes a particularly satisfying whole. What gesture would be made by the arms of the Venus de Milo? * What about the Übermensch? Anybody who knows a little bit about Nietzsche’s philosophy knows that it is concerned with the creation of the “overman” (or the “superman”, before that term became exclusively attached to Clark Kent’s alter ego). Well, the overman is mentioned a lot in Zarathustra (“man is a rope, tied between the beast and overman – a rope over an abyss”), but I am no closer to being able to define what Nietzsche meant by the term than I was before reading the book. Is it the next evolutionary step? Even though that idea fits certain statements, like that just quoted, it’s hard for me to believe that Nietzsche meant the term in that way: he offers nothing like a program of eugenics or makes anything like biological predictions. Is it a new stage of the organization of society? Nietzsche does offer some individual behavioral guidelines, but nothing like Plato’s Republic or More’s Utopia which would lay out a blueprint for the society that would produce or nurture the overman. Is it a change to be brought about in individual humans? If so, Zarathustra would seem to be the embodiment of Nietzsche’s prescriptions for human behavior, and he specifically claims to herald the overman, not to be the overman. (One is reminded of Nietzsche’s remark in The Gay Science that Socrates chose to be known as a lover of wisdom (philosopher) rather than calling himself a wise man.)And what does the overman have to do with the Eternal Recurrence? The overman is an event of the future, but the doctrine of Eternal Recurrence would claim that he has already arrived infinite times in the past, as he will again infinite times in the future.In the end, the “overman” seems to be a terminology in search of a concept. If, subsequently, the Nazis or Leopold and Loeb thought themselves qualified to provide that concept, I am not sure that Nietzsche can be considered entirely blameless.

  • Dustin Pickering
    2019-01-02 13:14

    I especially loved "Twilight of the Idols" and "The Anti-Christ". This book stayed in my backpack at school for two years as I picked it apart. I finally committed to reading it from start to finish. The most illuminating sections are at the beginning. "Truth and Lie in an Extra Moral Sense" and "Homer's Contest" reveal just how serious Nietzsche's thinking gets. In few words, he manages to express a thing we all fear. Nietzsche has been called a nihilist, although such a word has no set definition. When Nietzsche's hammer rises, he is seeking to reconstitute your conception of something, not eradicate your faith in it. He believed in stirring your mind from its assumptions and has written, "I attack to strengthen." NO, Nietzsche is not out to terrorize you from your faith. He wants you to reflect deeper on your values. Everyone needs a challenge to maintain a healthy ecosystem of thought.

  • Tam Sothonprapakonn
    2019-01-22 14:11

    Perfect introduction to the absolute mad man. Kaufmann provides insightful commentary and prepares you before each reading with the necessary frameworks and biographical backgrounds.Presents four works in full:Thus Spoke ZarathustraTwilight of the IdolsThe Anti-ChristNietzsche Contra WagnerSome letters, notes, and selections here and there from other works.Perfect deal, almost a steal, considering the price.

  • John
    2019-01-04 14:11

    Nietzsche goes to that place where I avoid going in regard to myself. It's quite uncomfortable at times, but somehow "necessary." Shall I resort to the cliché? What doesn't kill you.... You know the rest.