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137 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk about translations!
I only want to say one thing here, and I say it primarily because I already love this work. This is the translation to buy. Everyone seems to adore Kaufmann, but the truth is he's much more obtuse and difficult to read (and I don't believe it's necessary, as some may say). Hollingdale gets it right. I'll defend myself with one example from a class I took, where...
Published on May 8, 2003

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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars outdated translation
This translation is quite old (now public domain) and riddled with substantial errors. Have a look at the Kaufmann translation instead and spend a few extra bucks -- the book will make far more sense if you do! More enjoyable, too...
Published on January 27, 2003 by Eric Crawford


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137 of 143 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk about translations!, May 8, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
I only want to say one thing here, and I say it primarily because I already love this work. This is the translation to buy. Everyone seems to adore Kaufmann, but the truth is he's much more obtuse and difficult to read (and I don't believe it's necessary, as some may say). Hollingdale gets it right. I'll defend myself with one example from a class I took, where Kaufmann's translation was the required text. I had read both translations (cover-to-cover), and sold my copy of Kaufmann's translation, keeping only my Hollingdale. So, needless to say, I wasn't about to buy Kaufmann again, and went to class with Hollingdale. Slowly, but surely, as the other students read bits of the translation I had, or heard when I spoke pieces aloud, they overwhelmingly agreed with me: Hollingdale is simply more clear, more beautiful, more powerful (less academic, shall we say, which is pure Nietzsche). Ok, over and out, enjoy.
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71 of 73 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Also Sprach Zarathustra - Difficult but Worth the Effort, February 8, 2007
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To start off with, the Walter Kaufmann translation is by now well known to be probably the authoritative edition of Zarathustra (although the excerpts I've read from the Del Caro Cambridge Texts edition seems to be perhaps a more beautiful style). One of the reasons I originally picked up this edition was because the only translations available over the web were the droning and pedantic Thomas Common versions which are not only dull but muddled. Walter Kaufmann's translation gives a degree of clarity that far surpasses the Common translation, cannot speak to all the differences (however large or small) between it and the Del Caro version.

The book isn't particularly long, but Nietzsche fills it with metaphors and parables in addition to simple narrative and merriment. This is one of the challenges of the book: you're forced to figure out what is meaningful from what isn't and on top of that what each metaphor means. Nietzsche has never been in the habit of going into intricate detail or clarifying what he's saying to the same degree as some other thinkers, and although the book is a stylistic masterpiece (with narrative deliberately done in a biblical style and herein lies one of the advantages over the Common translation, namely that Common translated everything to mimic the King James version with an overabundance of "thees" "thous" and "ests") the philosophy is at times difficult to comprehend. Again, it's not difficult in the sense that the Critique of Pure Reason is difficult, or at least not nearly to the same degree, it is difficult because it is at times cryptic.

Additionally, I've seen a lot of reviews suggesting reading Nietzsche just for the pithy phrases or the beauty of the work. And while the work is indeed a very beautiful piece in places and is often quotable (and even considering Nietzsche was very big into each individual making his own meaning, creating his own path or values), I'd caution you against that approach. Although the book has a strong "make your own way" line of thought, that doesn't preclude understanding the ways of others.

I will admit that this is a contender for one of the more difficult books I've ever read (up there with Kant, though Nietzsche's previous and subsequent books are by far easier to understand). I've noticed that numerous readers recommend reading the book a second time. I'd say that might be useful, but it would take someone with either a lot of free time on their hands or someone with a very great degree of insight to grasp the meaning of each part of this work. What I found useful was having read other works by Nietzsche first. Before reading Zarathustra (which I read for the first time when I was 15 at the urging of a friend who was taking political science and philosophy in college) I had already read On the Genealogy of Morality and Human, All Too Human. My recommendation is to read at least one of Nietzsche's other books, preferably a couple. I'd suggest making Beyond Good and Evil one of your choices. By doing this, you will have already been introduced to Nietzschean philosophy and will be able to more readily grasp the symbolism used.

Even if you don't choose that approach, you should get the main lines of thought, specifically the eternal recurrence of the same, the overman, and the glorification of struggle, in the work. Either way, this book is a landmark work in the history of philosophy and deserves to be read.
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183 of 199 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Review for the non-philosopher, November 4, 2000
By 
Andy Gill (Dorset, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One (Penguin Classics) (Paperback)
There seem to be plenty of reviews debating the philosophical principles of Nietszche and the statements he makes, so, for the non-philosophy students present (i.e. ME) I'll rate it for the layman.
`TSZ' is very longwinded, and as the introduction states, filled with `excess', but that does not make it a bad book. Every sentence is imbued with its own iconic poetry, and, philosophy aside, the metaphors and similes alone make this book worth reading. It is clear that Nietszche, or perhaps his translator, had a mind better suited to creative expression than most philosophers, or indeed today's authors, and it is in this that lies the book's real strength. Through its use of imagery it not only makes an interesting, inspirational, conjectural read (apart from a few really boring parts that seemed written only to slow down the pace), it makes its message easy to understand and backs it up with surrealistic examples. Whereas sometimes in philosophy, the use of allegory can confuse the issue (More's `Utopia' - mockery of idealism, framework for perfect society, or rambling tale?), in `Zarathustra' the reader, no matter whether they are new to the field or not, cannot fail to discern the message that Man is not a goal but a bridge, a rope over an abyss. As philosophy, and as literature, it succeeds in conveying its point, setting up a platform for discussion or merely to digest individually. Admittedly, some refuse to read Nietszche because of his view of women (`shallow waters'), and because of how his ideas for the Superman allegedly inspired Hitler's Aryan vision for the world, but such people deprive themselves of an interesting viewpoint that defines the meaning of life in human rather than spiritual terms.
One potential problem for the newcomer to philosophy is the storyline. For a man remembered for the statement `God is dead', Nietszche obviously drew inspiration from the Bible, for Zarathustra is strongly reminiscent of Jesus, recruiting disciples and disappearing into the wilderness with a frequency that Bigfoot would be proud of. The problem with an allegorical tale is the reader's propensity for bringing western narrative expectations to it - `Zarathustra' is a text-book, not a story, but sometimes you do find yourself waiting for the climax, the big show-down, the cinematic denouement. So long as you remember that it is philosophy, not a novel, and so long as you appreciate each segment as an expressive point and not part of a conventional plot, there should be no troubles. I'll leave you with a sample of Nietzsche's verbal wizardry:
`It is the stillest words which bring the storm. Thoughts that come on doves' feet guide the world.'
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120 of 141 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most important books of the last century, October 26, 1999
By A Customer
Friedrich Nietzsche was a "failure" in his time. He was branded a nihilist and heretic and his works dismissed as the ramblings of a mad man. After the Great War many philosophers such as Heidegger resurected the works of Nietzsche and Kierkegaard (to name a few) and studied them with greater admiration. We should be thankful that the works of such an imaginative genius such as Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was called into the spotlight. Nietzsche constructed one of the most original and radical philosophies in all its history, as challenging to everyday life as Karl Marx. His ideas still send shockwaves through the Christian community because so much of what he says is blatantly obvious and true. Most people dismiss Nietzsche's slogan that "God is dead", but in this work Nietzsche truly refines this statement and incorporates brilliant ideas about living for the Earth, striving to become Der Ubermensch and the path to release from Christianities chains. The main theme of this book is that which Nietzshce will probably be best remembered for, but for all the wrong reasons. Nietzsche's vision of the "Superman" (der Ubermensch) was an idea that his sister, in co-operation with Hitler, twisted to begin the Nazi experiments for the Superrace. The Superman is at the centre of this book and Nietzsche gives a perfect description of his vision and furthermore what it will incorporate and help to abolish. It soon becomes clear that Nietzsche's Superman is far different from Hitler's, furthermore because it is not as brutal and inhumane and lastly because it centres around completely different principals: HItler wanted a physical Superman, but Nietzsche's Superman would be MENTALLY strong rather than purely physically. THe language in this book is amazing. Whether Walter Kauffman's translation has buttered it up or not is beyond my capacity to comment on, but the poetry (not prose) that Nietzsche uses is comparible to the likes of Shakespeare. The ammount of metaphors that Nietzsche draws is immense, and he beautifully illustrates all his main points without a single drawing. This is a brilliant masterpiece, whether you agree with every point that Nietzsche makes (and few do) you will still be able to appreciate the beautiful poetry. And still, how ever much you may disagree, this book is thought provoking and seems to shake your entire world upside down. It is far more preferal to Anton Scanzor LaVey "interpretation" of the Nietzschean philosophy in "the Satanic Bible" and is a must-read!
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40 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Tale of an Ubermensch, September 30, 2000
By A Customer
Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra is probably his most famous work as well as being the work least popular among readers. This is probably partially because it is written in fictional form. Zarathustra is well designed to frustrate twentieth century philosophy of the analytic tradition, which seeks conceptual clarity at the expense of rhetorical form, indeed often insisting on the separation between a concept and the vehicle of its expression. Moreover, the utilization of the work by the Nazi war effort did little to improve the books reception in the Anglo-American world.
The book is philosophically interesting, in part because it does employ literary tropes and genres to philosophical effect. Zarathustra makes frequent use of parody, particularly of the Platonic dialogues and the New Testament. This strategy immediately places Zarathustra on a par with Socrates and Christ--and as a clear alternative to them. The erudite allusions to works spanning the Western philosophical and literary traditions also play a philosophical role, for they both reveal Nietzsche's construct of the tradition he inherited and flag points at which he views it as problematic.
Much of the book consists of Zarathustra's speeches on philosophical themes. These often obscure the plotline of the book. The book does involve a plot, however, which includes sections in which Zarathustra is "off-stage," in private reflection, and some in which he seems extremely distressed about the way his teaching and his life are going. Zarathustra attempts to instruct the crowds and the occasional higher man that he encounters in the book; but his most important teaching is his education of the reader, accomplished through demonstrative means. Zarathustra teaches by showing.
Zarathustra stands in he tradition of the German Bildungsroman, in which a character's development toward spiritual maturity is chronicled. Zarathustra can be seen as a paradigm for the modern, spiritually sensitive individual, one who grapples with nihilism, the contemporary crisis in values in the wake of the collapse of the Christian worldview that assigned humanity a clear place in the world.
In the popular imagination, Nietzsche's idea of the Ubermensch is one of his most memorable and significant ideals. However, the concept of the Ubermensch is actually discussed little in the book. The topic is the theme of the first speech in "Zarathustra's Prologue," which he presents to a crowd gathered for a circus. The audience interprets Zarathustra as a circus barker and the speech as an introduction to a performance by a tightrope walker. The concept is mentioned recurrently in Part I as something of a refrain to Zarathustra's speeches. But the word Ubermensch rarely occurs after that.
Additionally, the notion of the Ubermensch is presented in more imagistic than explanatory terms. The Ubermensch, according to Zarathustra, is continually experimental, willing to risk all for the enhancement of humanity. The Ubermensch aspires to greatness, but Zarathustra does not formulate any more specific characterization of what constitutes the enhancement of humanity or greatness. He does, however, contrast the Ubermensch to the last man, the human type whose sole desire is personal comfort and happiness. Such a person is the "last man" quite literally, incapable of the desire that is required to create beyond oneself in any form, including that of having children.
Zarathustra's opening speech, besides proposing the Ubermensch as the ideal for humanity also places emphasis on this world as opposed to any future world. In particular, Zarathustra urges that human beings reassess the value of their own bodies, indeed their embodiment. For too long, dreaming of the afterlife, Western humanity has treated the body as a source of sin and error. Zarathustra, in contrast, insists that the body is the ground of all meaning and knowledge, and that health and strength should be recognized and sought as virtues.
Another prominent theme in Zarathustra is its emphasis on the relative importance of will. In part, this emphasis follows Schopenhauer in claiming that will is more fundamental to human beings than knowledge. However, Nietzsche stresses the will's attempt to enhance its power, whereas he views Schopenhauer as placing greater stress on the will's efforts at self preservation. Nietzsche's famous conception of will to power makes one of its few published appearances in Zarathustra.
Much of the plot of Zarathustra concerns his efforts to formulate his idea of eternal recurrence. At times, the idea possesses him in the form of visions and dreams. At others, he seems reluctant to state it categorically or to accept its implications. During a particularly despairing moment, he shudders at the implication of his doctrine that "the rabble," the petty people who comprise most of the human race, will also recur. The fact that Zarathustra objects to the recurrence of the rabble is indicative of Nietzsche's elitism. Consistently, Nietzsche and Zarathustra contend that human beings are not equal. Nietzsche objects to the democratic movements of his era in favor of more aristocratic forms of social organization that would place control in the hands of the talented, of necessity, not the majority.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling forecast of what we have become!, January 25, 2005
By 
Steven Phillips (Ada, OK United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Nietzsche advocates social change in order for humankind to rise above its present deplorable condition. He says that God is dead and is no longer a model for moral leadership. He counsels us that redirecting our focus from the unknowable to the knowable will guide us towards the journey to humankind's next incarnation - the Superman. In order to begin this evolutionary journey we will first have to experience a great revulsion at the current human condition. In this "hour of great contempt" we will deny all of our previous, favorable conceptions concerning happiness, reason, virtue, justice, sympathy, and sin. Instead, we will embrace over-going, down-going, despisers, earth-worshipers, seekers of practical knowledge, workers, inventors, true virtue, altruists, achievers, and free spirits.

Nietzsche believes that all of the present, negative social trends will culminate in the most contemptible of all beings - the last man - who is no longer capable of despising himself. This last man will live in a condition which he has helped create of fear, false happiness, pleasure-seeking, working as a pastime, over-concern for the feelings of others, egalitarianism, and cleverness without wisdom. Further, once the last man evolves, the social environment that has created him (and he has also, reflexively, created this environment) will be somewhat permanent because it will tend to absorb all differences of opinion, merge them into a consensus, and reflect them back into society through an opinion-shaping filter of egalitarianism voiced in politically correct terms. In a moment of irony, the crowd called-out to the sage, Zarathustra, to "make us into these last men."

It is arguable that the last man is alive and well in contemporary society, and that the intellectual, social, and regional diversities which once generated the rich and vibrant hues of the American canvas are being replaced with a drab, homogeniety of sterile sameness. Nietzsche feels that the ultimate, inevitable revulsion against and overthrow of the kingdom of the last man will give rise to its polar opposite - the spiritually elevating, authentic world of the Superman.

The author has an almost compelling thesis, however, his bipolar construct ranging from the last man to the Superman seems to minimize the fact that objective reality represents only a small group of choices from an infinite pool of alternatives. The world will not long march to the tune of a single drummer, be he the last man or Superman, because of how unchanging human nature is constituted. A first constant of human nature seems to be that we are well aware of our own situation, but only remotely aware of others' concerns. A second constant seems to be that we will, on the average, tend to maximize our chances for immediate personal benefit over chances for potentially greater long-term gain. Therefore, we will, on balance, tend to act in ways which maximize our own short-term self-interest. We probably always have and likely always will. If history is any guide to the future, attempts to reshape the world modelled after the vision of a Superman (or even the last man) will be morphed to unrecognizable dimensions by the unfolding, collective self-interest of individuals in the day-to-day process of following their own, personal stars.

Although I feel that Nietzsche's prescribed alternatives are distortions of reality through oversimplification, misdirection, and projection to a whole from a subset, his work is a highly-influential, excellent read.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Classic....., October 10, 2005
By 
This is one of those books filled with those ideas that you've thought all your life but few have the courage to admit, even to themselves.

Nietzsche takes a brutally honest look at human nature including the uglier things. He rightly shows no mercy towards clergy and the morality of self negation and pity. All is done in a beautiful, poetic style.

The moral of the story is to be above the masses, to go above your limits and to enjoy yourself while doing it. Its a positive philosophy that if implemented can make someone that rare person who rises above the herd and makes their short time on this earth worth it.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars outdated translation, January 27, 2003
By 
Eric Crawford (California, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This translation is quite old (now public domain) and riddled with substantial errors. Have a look at the Kaufmann translation instead and spend a few extra bucks -- the book will make far more sense if you do! More enjoyable, too...
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bargain Basement Quality, December 23, 2008
This review is from: Thus Spake Zarathustra (Hardcover)
This book is a cheap knock-off of a classic text. No translator. No editor. No indication that the book is an authoritative resource for serious readers of Nietzsche. Don't be fooled by the price, because you really get what you pay for in this case: a very poor quality book.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The "New" Repulic., October 18, 2003
The only other western philosophical text as importnat as this book is Plato's "Republic." We have once again arrived at the cross-roads of Heraclitus v/s Paramendides. I wouldn't recommended jumping into it without a good knowledge of the Western philosophical traditon and religious traditions. (Zarathutra himself calls learning ALL this backround information "the spirit of the camel" or first taking on the burden of knowledge before going about anything else. To not take on this "burden of knowledge" is the main flaw of most Nietzsche critics and mis-understanders.) Also, Nietzsche was an anti-systemic philosopher so it demands to be viewed/critiqued in a different way than traditional philosophy. To begin to grasp Nietzsche's "Zarathustra" I would to recommend first reading his earlier works starting with a couple of short essays. The first one is "Truth and Lie in a Non-Moral Sense" which is about human language, logic and the all-too-human need for these "lies." The other essay is "Homer's Contest" which reveals his legacy as starting from the early Greek tradition.
Some important things to know about this book to avoid the common misinterpretation that Nietzsche is just a Atheist/Nihilist with a superiority complex:
-pay very close attention to his critque of mind/body dualsism and what he proposes otherwise.
-The "Overman" is a conception that only looks toward the future. Later in the book Zarathustra supercedes the "Overman" idea with the cyclical concept of "Eternal Recourence." Even Zarathustra himself has a hard time confronting this view of life and existence. Also, don't make the mistake that eternal reccourence is just a "telos," it is not. Zarathutra speaks in parables not absolutes.
-One of Nietzsche's most favorite authors was Emerson (who also used the name "Zarathutra" in his some of his writings) and their ideas/project have mainy similarities.
-The idea of the world/life not being worthy without a metaphysical world behind it is exactaly what Nietzsche was aimed at overcoming.
-Don't over-simplify will-to-Power as will-to-Overpower.
-Think hard about this being a "book for all and none," think very hard.
-Plato's "Sun" is replaced with "sun" of the Self. This "sun" is the "dancing star." For some odd reason, I see few people mention the signifcance of Self-love in "Zarathustra." This is KEY in understanding where Nietzsche is going/taking us.
-Nietzsche isn't worldly political like the Republic, instead he symbolically speaks of the battle of modern human soul in political terms.
As far as translations go, I prefer Kaufmann over Holingdale because he pays more attetntion to the nuances of Nitezsche's word play. But I would recommend reading more than one translation and getting the best out of all of them.
I also would recommend getting some familiarity with the symbols of alchemy and other mystery traditions. Just as Nietzsche turns Plato's "Theory of the Line" and "Allegory of the Cave" upside-down, he also turns these "mystery" symbols inside-out. No longer is it a connection with anything "beyond" the world that makes it valuable. Instead,It becomes conections with body and the world. "The mind is a herald of the body." For example, consider the "ouroboros" as a symbol of "Eternal Recurrence." In some sense, Zarathutra was very much a prophet of holism as opposed to strict dualism. Carl Jung's 1,500+ page incomplete study of "Zarathura" is a testement to the richness of Zarathustra's symbolism.

If you can catch a deep enough glance, this book will change your life. And if you keep re-reading it, it will keep on changing your life.
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Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One (Penguin Classics)
Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for Everyone and No One (Penguin Classics) by Friedrich Nietzsche (Paperback - November 30, 1961)
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