Thus Spoke Zarathustra, a classic work written to surprise us, is a difficult text that requires utmost care. As the book is divided into four segments (w/ a prologue), I’ll split my review into sections in order to address each part from top to bottom.
It opens with Zarathustra, and serves to give a basic illustration of his character through action, interaction, and dialogue. Moreover, as Zarathustra descends from a cave he dwelt in for ten years of solitude, he brims with wisdom, love, and an urge to teach his brethren about the overman (caution: some books translate it to the “superman”). However, when he arrives in town and announces that the human race is a bridge between creature and overman, he’s met with disinterest and scorn. Thus, readers are left with Zarathustra cast aside, together with his determination to convince those few who wish to separate from the herd.
Zarathustra gives an overview of the three stages that lead towards the overman; camel, lion, and child. In the first stage, he declares that we must renounce our comforts, learn self-discipline, and accept difficulties which guide us to knowledge. Thus, we assert our independence, and decide to speak against outside influences and commands. Afterwards, the act of new creation is born, when we become oblivious to prior mistakes and grow to become an ‘overman,” hence a metamorphosis.
In addition to Zarathustra’s message about the overman, he establishes certain matters in regards to the weak and powerless. He states that each resent their masters, but detest themselves more so because they’re unable to strike back against them. Thus, he asserts that divine justice is set up as a means to secure vengeance for those that are too feeble to care for each other. In addition, he cites “evil” as a concept invented by man, once more as an excuse to explain wealth, health, strength, and vigor. In contrast, the poor view themselves as “good,” for they deem the concept of “unhappiness” and “sickness” as misfortune which we must experience if we are to embrace the “bigger” or “better” side of ourselves in the afterlife. Zarathustra, though he doesn’t agree with this exactly, does support natural inequality between people, as he claims it evokes creative freedoms, ambition, and the ultimate end.
Zarathustra’s alone, and begins to mainly address himself, for he is soon to realize that his efforts to reach the overman might be futile. In the process, he becomes a “yes-sayer,” a person who loves life as it is. Therefore, it serves to represent the acceptance of fate, a characteristic of the overman that perhaps he and a few others can achieve.
In the book’s finale, Zarathustra is able to assemble a number of men in his cave who are close to the overman. Throughout, these characters enjoy a feast, some songs, and poetry. However, Zarathustra is soon given the gift of eternal recurrence, and it’s implied that he’s reached his goal.
In truth, this wasn’t an effortless read, as Thus Spoke Zarathustra is quite uneven. As Nietzsche wrote it in ten days, his work is longer than it needs to be, and is often repetitive. Thus, it appears as though certain segments are oftentimes uncertain, and are torn between symbolism and the desire to be direct. That said, its unique outlook and doctrine is passable enough to recommend. Enjoy!