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Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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by Friedrich Nietzsche

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Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Friedrich Nietzsche, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes


Thus Spoke Zarathustra, by Friedrich Nietzsche, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

Considered by many to be the most important philosopher of modern times, Friedrich Nietzsche influenced twentieth-century ideas and culture more than almost any other thinker. His best-known book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra—published in four parts in the last two decades of the nineteenth century—is also his masterpiece, and represents the fullest expression of his ideas up to that time.

A unique combination of biblical oratory and playfulness, Thus Spoke Zarathustra chronicles the wanderings and teachings of the prophet Zarathustra, who descends from his mountain retreat to awaken the world to its new salvation. Do not accept, he counsels, what almost two thousand years of history have taught you to call evil. The Greeks knew better: Goodness for them was nobility, pride, and victory, not the Christian virtues of humility, meekness, poverty, and altruism. The existence of the human race is justified only by the exceptional among us—the “superman,” whose self-mastery and strong “will to power” frees him from the common prejudices and assumptions of the day.

These and other concepts in Zarathustra were later perverted by Nazi propagandists, but Nietzsche, a despiser of mass movements both political and religious, did not ask his readers for faith and obedience, but rather for critical reflection, courage, and independence.

Kathleen M. Higgins and Robert C. Solomon are both professors of philosophy at the University Texas at Austin. Together, they have written What Nietzsche Really Said and A Short History of Philosophy and co-edited Reading Nietzsche.

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From Kathleen M. Higgins and Robert C. Solomon’s Introduction to Thus Spoke Zarathustra

            Friedrich Nietzsche published the first part of his Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra) in 1883, and it became his best-known book. He considered it his most important work, and toward the end of his life he immodestly described it in Ecce Homo (1908) as “the greatest present” that had been made to humanity so far. In the same book, he no less outrageously proclaims that it is “not only the highest book there is . . . but it is also the deepest, born out of the innermost wealth of truth.” So we should not be surprised to find that Zarathustra is an extremely enigmatic and often pretentious work and by no means easy to understand or to classify. It is not clearly philosophy, or poetry, or prophecy, or satire. Sometimes it seems to be all of the above. It is also difficult because it is filled with learned allegories and allusions—to the Bible, Plato, Shakespeare, Goethe’s Faust, Ludwig Feuerbach, Arthur Schopenhauer, Nietzsche’s former friend Richard Wagner, and others—references that might not be readily recognizable by most contemporary readers. Zarathustra’s subtitle, “A Book for All and None,” also sounds like a challenge, if not a direct affront, suggesting that while anyone might pick it up and read it, no one can really understand it. In the then anxious world of modern Europe, already preparing for the calamities and traumas of the twentieth century, Zarathustra would find itself curiously at home.

The basic format of Zarathustra is familiar. It tells a story in biblical style. Zarathustra is an epic that resembles no other book so much as the New Testament, a work that Nietzsche, who had originally intended to enter the ministry (and whose father and grandfathers had all been ministers), knew very well. Like Jesus in the New Testament, the titular character of Nietzsche’s book goes into solitude at the age of thirty and returns to humanity with a mission—to share his wisdom with others, to challenge them to reform their lives. But like Jesus, Zarathustra is seriously misunderstood. The book thus chronicles the protagonist’s efforts and wanderings, his coming to understand who he is and what he stands for, by way of his interactions with the various and often odd characters he meets along the way.

Nevertheless, there are obvious and dramatic differences between Zarathustra and the Gospels. To begin with, unlike Jesus, who returns from solitude after forty days, Zarathustra enjoys solitude for ten years before beginning his mission. And while the story of Jesus is completed with his death and resurrection, Zarathustra’s story is never finished. Indeed, the book starts exactly as it begins, with Zarathustra’s leaving his mountain cave and descending once again to humanity. While Jesus is presented as enlightened throughout his teaching mission, Zarathustra matures only gradually. His whole story can be understood as an instance of the popular German genre of Bildungsroman—that is, a novel chronicling the education of its protagonist. Most important, the “gospel” that Zarathustra brings contrasts sharply with the teachings of Jesus. In Nietzsche’s version, Zarathustra utterly rejects the distinction between good and evil, and with it the basic premise of Judeo-Christian morality. He also denounces the “otherworldly” outlook of Christianity, its emphasis on a “better” life beyond this one. Zarathustra’s philosophy, summarized in a single phrase, is a celebration of what is “this-worldly.” It is a “yes-saying” to life, this life; for Zarathustra (like Nietzsche) thinks that there is no other. The combined allusions to and discrepancies from the New Testament in Zarathustra make it appropriate to think of it as a parody, although it should not be thought of just as satire, which ridicules its target. On the blasphemous side, however, Zarathustra is treated as a figure whose seriousness and importance are comparable to those of Jesus.

Many readers may not know that Nietzsche’s titular character is a very important historical religious figure. Zarathustra, also known as Zoroaster, probably lived in the seventh century b.c.e. (possibly from 628 to 551). He was a Persian who founded his own religion. Zoroastrianism, in turn, had a profound influence on both Judaism and Christianity. Zarathustra remained a fantasy figure in the West for many centuries, long before his writings were translated in the eighteenth century. Central to the teachings of the historical Zarathustra was the idea that the world is a stage on which cosmic moral forces, the power of good and the powers of evil, fight it out for dominance over humanity. This conflict between good and evil is central to both Judaism and Christianity, and given Nietzsche’s rejection of this dichotomy, it is highly significant as well as ironic that Nietzsche chose the supposed originator of that distinction as his central character and ostensibly as his spokesman. Nietzsche tells us in Ecce Homo that as the first to invent the opposition of good and evil, Zarathustra should be the first to recognize that it is a “calamitous error,” for he has more experience and is more truthful than any other thinker. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra is the historical religious leader updated, offering insight into the modern world, as the original Zarathustra addressed the circumstances of his era.

One could argue that Nietzsche used his fictional Zarathustra much as Plato used his teacher, Socrates (who never wrote down his teachings), to express his own views. And given that Nietzsche had a doctorate in classical philology and taught the classics for many years, we should not be surprised to find that Nietzsche’s book makes extensive references to Plato’s dialogues and their hero. Socrates, along with Jesus, remained one of the focal points of Nietzsche’s philosophy from his first book to his last. Socrates is a figure of profound importance to the Western tradition. In Nietzsche’s first book, Die Geburt der Tragödie (1872; The Birth of Tragedy), he called Socrates “the one vortex and turning-point” of Western culture. In one of his last books, Die Götzen-Dämmerung (1889; Twilight of the Idols), he devotes an entire chapter to “The Problem of Socrates,” which is nothing less than the problem of Western civilization as such. In his life, Socrates was a self-styled gadfly to his contemporaries, provoking them to question their basic beliefs, which for the most part they held just because others held them too. His unrelenting challenge to common morals and public authority ultimately led to his being convicted on trumped-up charges and executed. Nietzsche’s Zarathustra is similarly devoted to challenging both “common sense” and the authority of tradition, and he similarly arouses hatred in those committed to them.

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Thus Spoke Zarathustra 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 58 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The most important aspect of this book is to keep an open mind. Nietzsche is presenting the reader with the character of Zarathustra, yet we must keep in mind that the book is Zarathustra's journey as well as our own. At the point of Zarathustra's maturation the reader will have completed the journey as well. An excellent read, this book is filled with metaphors and aphorisms that may take a second read to fully comprehend. However, I highly recommend this book to any one who even comes to this page. This is the culmination of Nietzsche's work as he himself said.
unheimlich27 More than 1 year ago
Clancy Martin (the 'translator') pretends that this is an original 'from scratch' translation: it is not. For the most part it is not much more than a very light revision of the Thomas Common translation (e.g removing archaic verb-endings and pronouns), occasionally enriched with renderings lifted straight from either Hollingdale or Kaufmann (e.g. 'lie around lurking and spy and smirking' - is Kaufmann's work). Plagiarism aside, however, or perhaps precisely because of it, it is perhaps the best available translation of Zarathustra, - even if in one or two places it is let down by some rather silly renderings (though at least they are Clancy's own work).
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book educates us on the reality of 'eternal recurrence' and how Nietzsche would hope that someone would one day rise and personify themselves to be (or live) like his Zarathustra but to follow on their own path to reach this goal. The other lesson learned here is that solitude for each individual in this world wouldn't be a such bad idea from time to time. In fact, that may be the divine secret on how to reach a certain goal expressed in this book. Ubermensch
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
nietzsche literally changed my entire life, and i'm still only in high school. since first reading beyond good and evil and now just finishing thus spoke zarathustra, the entire foundation of the way i perceive, process, and formulate thoughts and ideas has changed in a way that i can only describe as beautiful. "amor fati" is and probably forever shall be my life slogan (along with "so it goes" from vonnegut, of course). this post will probably get a bunch of hate from people who claim to know everything about nietzsche saying "'amor fati'?!?!?! but nietzsche's point wasn't for you to accept his ideas, but to create your own!" whatever. i like it. seriously, this and all of his other books, well worth the read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fabulous new translation. Great introduction by famous Nietzsche scholars. A must-read if you are interested in philosophy.
skuggantroll More than 1 year ago
is there anyone else out there that imagined zarathustra looking like jim morrison?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is great. Nietzsche's use of metaphor and irony is very hard to understand but nonetheless very poetic. If you finish this book i recommend his next work "Beyond good and evil". This book consists of Nietzsche's philosophy on the ubermensch, eternal recurrence and i believe master-slave morality.
Eric_Chapman More than 1 year ago
This work powerfully embodies Nietzsche's athiestic existentialism. Through parable, he reaches back into our past for symbols that hit home for each of us, consciously or not. You can sense Nietzsche's internal struggle to reconcile disgust with the modern man and the faith of belief in mans' future greatness. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is an incredible novel, not just for the content, but also because it reveals Nietzsche's internal struggle that created his external character.
VladimirMG More than 1 year ago
Best writing I have ever seen. Great man! When you read this be in awe because people should really love life. Even some of my own philosophy is in it. Respect this book and get ready to be inspired!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nietzsche¿s finest work, a mid-point between his break with Schopenhauer and his break with sanity. The book relates the adventures of Zarathustra, who descends from his lonely mountain wilderness in search of the ¿higher man¿. The result in a tour de force philosophical blitzkrieg on all philosophical sentiments. This book will make you question, will make you think, will inspire you, but above all, it is a book that, when finished, will make you say, ¿I do not believe in Nietzsche¿ as you begin to think for yourself. Exactly what Nietzsche intended. ¿And to ask this once more- today, is greatness possible?¿ -Nietzsche
Guest More than 1 year ago
Human, all-to-human, we are, but we can become nothing more as ourselves. Attempts can be made but they will all fail, for our preconceptions will not so readily change. I believe that I live by my own will, that I have abandoned that which roots down this decadence, this life of man, but I am a fool and a hipocrate. My mindset is such, but the fleeting thoughts of inheritance cloud that which to me is clear. I am everyone and no one, yet both at the same time. Yes, I wish to transcend beyond the transcendent, but the fact that I still label him as such permits me from doing so. I cannot live as a camel, bearing such insipid thoughts, but nor can I destroy them as the lion for I lack the the furiosity. I am a fool, perhaps a higher man, damned by the dragon, be he God or donkey, and lost in this path, this continuation of the same; so, let the festival repeat.---My thoughts after reading Thus Spoke Zarathustra---.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I find that 'Thus spoke Zarathustra' was one of the most captavating and eyeopening books of our time .True he was quite overzealoused about the topics of God and the Christian church,but if it were not for him...we would not have the same apporach to religion as we do today!So I say, 'Thank you' to the man who defined a century!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
&pi &pi &pi &pi &pi &pi &pi &pi :3
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