Also sprach Zarathustra : ein Buch für alle und keinen

by Friedrich Nietzsche

Paperback, 1987



Call number

CG 5904 Z36



Stuttgart: Reclam


Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML: Thus Spake Zarathustra is an important philosophical text by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. In it he begins his exploration of morality, questioning the assumption of Christianity or Judaism as a basis for morality. He wrote about the "death of God" and the "?bermensch" (superhuman) who would have supreme morality. Ironically, Nietzsche mimics the style of the Bible, fictionalizing Zarathustra as his protagonist.

User reviews

LibraryThing member gbill
Nietzsche was one tortured dude. He suffered to an extreme physically, with insomnia, stomach cramps, migraines, bloody vomiting, hemorrhoids, lack of appetite, and night sweats, and on top of all that, he was nearly blind. He spent long, lonely hours hunched over his writings and ultimately
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suffered a complete mental breakdown at the age of 45 that left him in the care of his mother for most of what remained of his life.

It’s ironic that such a cowed man would write feverishly of transcending the all-too-human in the form of the “Ubermensch” (Overman, or Superman). Zarathustra is the prophet who descends down from the mountains in Biblical fashion to deliver this message to humanity.

His main principles:
1. God is dead.
2. Traditional virtues and the morality of the masses (e.g. Christianity) promote mediocrity.
3. Education of the masses and popular culture also promotes mediocrity, lowering social standards.
4. Man must rise above the masses and the “all-too-human” to give his life meaning, and he who does this will be the Ubermensch. “What is the ape to man? A laughing-stock or a painful embarrassment. And man shall be just that for the overman…”
5. Power and strength of will characterize the Ubermensch, as do lightness of mind and exuberance, as seen in dance.

As with a lot of original thinkers, Nietzsche was controversial all around: radicals claimed him for #1 and #2; conservatives for #3 and #4. The German military used portion of Nietzsche as a part of the mindset for both WWI and WWII; it was easy to extrapolate “Ubermensch” to “Master Race”, which is obviously an ugly association.

There are elements of truth in #3 and #4 but the reverse, to over-stratify society and threaten a return to conditions at the time of the Industrial Revolution or prior, rubs me the wrong way. It’s a fine balance and it seems to me Nietzsche was too much of a reactionary. Another theme in this book, eternal recurrence, also seems a little odd in the extreme he takes it, and I’m not a big fan of his views on women.

However, I do like and agree with the concept of needing to develop meaning for ourselves in this bleak universe and all-too-short life, and of needing to transcend the baser aspects of humanity. I also appreciate the strength of his writing, his originality, and elements of his arguments. In that way I am reminded of Ayn Rand, who I also like in spite of my liberal political views. I guess what I’m saying is, thumbs up, even if you’re not a Nazi.

On the lightness of being, and individuality:
“I would believe only in a god who could dance. And when I saw my devil I found him serious, thorough, profound, and solemn: it was the spirit of gravity - through him all things fall.
Not by wrath does one kill but by laughter. Come, let us kill the spirit of gravity!
I have learned to walk: ever since, I let myself run. I have learned to fly: ever since, I do not want to be pushed before moving along.
Now I am light, now I fly, now I see myself beneath myself, now a god dances through me.”

On loneliness:
“O you loving fool, Zarathustra, you are trust-overfull. But thus you have always been: you have always approached everything terrible trustfully. You have wanted to pet every monster. A whiff of warm breath, a little soft tuft on the paw - and at once you were ready to love and to lure it.
Love is the danger of the loneliest; love of everything if only it is alive. Laughable, verily, are my folly and my modesty in love.”
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LibraryThing member paradoxosalpha
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
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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.

One 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.
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LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
Thus Spake Zarathustra differs from most of Nietzsche's other works in that it has as much in common with a novel as a philosophical work. This makes it more difficult to interpret than his more traditionally academic works, as he tries to convey his philosophy not only in words, but in narration
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of actions, moods, and tone, more so than elsewhere. Sometimes the message is too loud, or the writing too exuberant for it to possess the clarity found in his more restrained works. It would be more difficult to attempt a summary of what this book says than to describe what it variously is: bombastic, profound, lyrical, sentimental, ruthless, tender, and hearty in several senses of the word.
Though the book appears to be full of meaning, some of Nietzsche's thoughts come across less ambiguously than others. One of these being the exaltation of the strong and despising of the weak; this he justifies on a moral level, which is in itself worth discussing. How can someone be truly good, unless he has the power to do evil and refrains? How can someone be truly virtuous who is weak and lacks the strength for proper wickedness? This mirrors the other aspect of the question of morality: who can be evil who knows not what wickedness is? Can only the wise, who has an intellectual understanding of moral questions be truly virtuous, as they can knowingly choose between good and evil? This elevation of power and knowledge as necessary for virtue is at least partly why he places the superman, or ubermensch, as the goal of humanity – as they alone are capable of true virtue, a state which Nietzsche describes as being beyond good and evil.
There is also the recurring theme of the mountain, which he implies to be where the Ubermensch belongs, at least some of the time. This is surely metaphorical for, amongst other things, surpassing oneself and others, solitude, and elevation. This, I feel, is partly just him justifying post hoc what he feels instinctively; Nietzsche was very athletic in his youth, and undoubtedly an intellect, and he could be accused of praising the qualities that he feels that he himself possesses. Whether this was a conscious undertaking, or something driven from the subconscious, it would be difficult to say, but I think that it is mainly the latter. I don't think Nietzsche was dishonest or vain, I think he is was driven to write in support of what he thought was the truth. Even if the delivery of his message might be objectionable to some, which I cannot doubt, I think his thoughts deserve an open-minded scrutiny. To react emotionally to a question inhibits one from making a fair answer, yet this plays both ways for Nietzsche, much of what he writes is written in a way that makes it palatable and attractive by way of the lifefulness of it.
The final third of the book then goes onto what seems like a partly separate track, and I don't think it was quite obvious what Nietzsche meant by it all. He talks about the "Higher Man" a lot, but this idea is then broken down into a multiplicity of things which do not seem higher at all, and it is doubtful at the end whether this can either be reassembled, or if it ever existed in the first place. Night, and then Day, also replace the mountain in importance in the final section. There is also the recurring theme of "God is dead", and while this seems to mean something in some places, it doesn't in others, yet the meaning does seem clear in Nietzsche's Joyful Wisdom. In addition to this there are numerous other Biblical allusions and quotation.
Something I found curious was a parallel between events and moods in the book and stages in Carl Jung's description of individuation, which would probably be worth closer examination. Nietzsche had psychological problems, and went mad, and that his writing has parallels with stages of psychological development is intriguing.
The questions and thoughts mentioned above are all to be found in the book, though more often than not they must be read from between the lines. Sometimes a sentence in itself will contain an hours worth of thought, but much of the philosophy in this book runs below the surface, and must be extracted by the thinking reader.
This book is not a good introduction to the philosophy of Nietzsche as it is more challenging than most of his other works. His Joyful Wisdom has many of the same themes as this and a somewhat similar tone; much of what he says here in a roundabout way he says there clearly.
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LibraryThing member Meh_ssdd
This book is meant to be an anchor for Nietzsche's philosophical system. With that in mind it makes a great place for anyone interested in his works or of existentialism in general to begin. The exercise (read 'incredible difficulty') to tease Nietzsche's meaning out from the complex metaphors and
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puns that he employs is greatly alleviated by the translator's notes provided by Walter Kaufmann. These are helpful both to crystallize the function of each section and also to explain Nietzsche's elaborate plays on words, which often translate incompletely or not at all. This added guidance is often the difference between a successful or failed read of Zarathustra.

The book is written largely as a series of sermons and parables by the teacher Zarathustra, a vehicle meant to lampoon the biblical teachings of Christ. The joke lies in the fact that Nietzsche is employing the stylistic trappings of Christianity to deliver an individualist message which was meant not just to criticize the traditional morality of the time, but to charge each individual with crafting their own replacement. It represents a major break with all preceding philosophies in that it abhors the metaphysical and divine as foundations of human morality and announces the need for valuations which acknowledge the relative and subjective nature of human life. Thus the teachings in Zarathustra are not just a rewriting of older moral systems with new objects of authority with differences only in ritual or mythical basis, but a radical shift in the relation of those moral systems in relation to the people who develop and practice them. Nietzsche's Zarathustra is one of the formative works of existential philosophy as well as one of the first works of what could be called modern philosophies.
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
I find it very difficult to rate or access--or even make much sense of this book. Reading it I often thought to myself it was little wonder Nietzsche ended his life in an insane asylum. I don't know that I can say I really "liked" it (three stars) or found it "OK" (two stars on Goodreads) but I
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just can't say I had a "meh" reaction or hated it--I did find it worthwhile a read--thought-provoking and even beautiful in parts.

It's not what I expected. I'd heard various things about Nietzsche. That he was Ayn Rand on steroids. That he was a seminal philosopher and this his most important (or just infamous?) work. That he is the "Godfather of Fascism." I can't say I saw any of those things in this work. Whatever you might think of Ayn Rand's arguments, she does have them, even in her novels--indeed, it's what many readers complain about in her speechifying. Whatever I might think of Plato or Kant or Rousseau, or find difficult or abstruse, I do recognize they are presenting reasoned logical arguments for their positions worthy of philosophy. Nietzsche is different, or at least Thus Spake Zarathustra is. It's famously full of aphorisms--that is strikingly stated views we're supposed to take on faith so to speak--as in sacred texts. Indeed, the style very deliberately echoes the rhythms and rhetoric of scripture. Zarathustra is the character and mouthpiece for a philosophy presented through speeches, parables and stories--such as what happens when he's bitten by a snake--but not really through reasoned argument. To my mind that takes it out of the realm of philosophy and makes this more akin to Lao-Tzu's Tao Te Ching than Plato's Republic.

And I admit, for all the notorious calls for the "Superman" and references to a "will to power" I found it hard to see the roots of fascism here--unless you really, really twist things. In contrast it was easy to see the roots of the totalitarian left in Plato's Republic and Rousseau's Social Contract. Maybe it's just that given we're much more sympathetic to the totalitarian left in America (I had several Marxist professors) I'm much more alive to the implications in works that tend that way. But I could see Nietzsche's call for the Superman as a call to aspire to the best in ourselves--I didn't detect anything racist or particularly Darwinian in it. Similarly I could see the "will to power" as more ambitious striving than a call for domination. Nor did I find anything anti-semitic in its thrust--Nietzsche seems an equal opportunity iconoclast. I do resonate a bit with his message about religion presenting a "slave" mentality. That's one of the things I find most disturbing about religion, besides its basis in the supernatural. That the call of religion above all is for unquestioning obedience, and every time I see a reference to God using "He" in uppercase I'm reminded of and am disturbed by that.

But then the assessment above means assuming I read Nietzsche right, and I'm by no means sure about that on a first read, and am doubtful I'd go in for seconds. He's certainly an interesting if disturbing thinker.
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LibraryThing member Stevil2001
Like Daniel Quinn's My Ishmael, this isn't really a novel, but a philosophy in a very poor disguise. Unlike Daniel Quinn's My Ishmael, this does not feature a telepathic gorilla. More's the pity. This Penguin edition (1978) is mostly worth it for Walter Kaufmann's hilarious notes, which apologize
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profusely for Nietzsche's deficiencies at the same time they venerate his genius.
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LibraryThing member StephenBarkley
Thus Spoke Zarathustra is a difficult book to read. In fact, literary critic like Harold Bloom called it "unreadable"! Why, then is it one of Nietzsche's most famous works? Why is it reprinted generation after generation? What made it "the book of choice" (345) for German soldiers on the
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Zarathustra is the story of a man who leaves his contemplation to share his wisdom with the rest of humanity. The book contains eighty short chapters on various repetitive themes and ideas that have no logical order. This is not a carefully crafted philosophical argument—it is a collection of ideas thrown out to take root in people's minds.

Three themes stand out above the rest:

1) It was here that Nietzsche first claimed that God is dead.
2) Humanity needs to evolve into the Superman (or Overman), a person beyond good and evil.
3) The Superman embraces "eternal recurrence"(341) by taking ownership of everything that has happened and will happen again.

In Zarathustra, Nietzsche called on people to reject the moral claims of the religious and embrace the will to power. Nietzsche viewed Christianity as a religion of weakness (which, ironically, it is—God's strength demonstrated in weakness).

Nietzsche's desire to evolve beyond mere humanity to the Superman is a lonely task. In the end, Zarathustra leaves all his weak followers behind. There is no room for a community of Supermen—only a lone powermonger. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is no less than a manifesto for an anti-Christ.
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LibraryThing member pickwick817
I am always hopeful that a philosophy will confirm my beliefs and put them better than I can put them myself. I am always dissapointed that what I read fails to meet my expectations. I enjoyed this book a little more than most because of the way it was written. There were parts of the book where I
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did feel that Nietzsche did confirm my beliefs, and put things well. Much of the book either missed my expectation, or I simply couldn't see things the way they were intended. Interestingly enough, immediately after this I read Ibsen's "An Enemy of the People" where Ibsen outlines "the strongest man in the world". Contrasting that with Nietzsche's superman helped me get more out of each book.
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LibraryThing member jwhenderson
How do you overcome your life? Perhaps by reading Schopenhauer or better yet by reading Friedrich Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra is Nietzsche as poet philosopher. The titular character and protagonist of the book, Zarathustra, is portrayed in the chapter "Thousand and One Goals" as "the creator"
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(p 58). Through his travels and speeches and especially his introspective monologues we experience discourse on the nature of knowledge (gnosis), spirit, language, judgement and consciousness. This is a work that expounds some of Nietzsche's key ideas such as "eternal recurrence" and the "death of god". The latter represents a shift in the grounding of morality as Nietzsche rejects the traditional view the morality comes from God above. Instead replacing this view with a morality based in the existence of the individual, thus making Nietzsche a precursor if not one of the founders of existentialist philosophy.
The mythic poetical style of this work mark its literary quality and make it read like a spiritual work. It also has an aphoristic quality that permeates Nietzsche's writing. While it is a difficult book to read the questions it raises make it worth the effort of those interested in a more literary approach to philosophy.
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LibraryThing member adaorhell
I wasn't sure what I was expecting but it wasn't that. I couldn't stop thinking that he was writing this while picking up silk underwear for Cosima Wagner on Richard Wagner's orders. People simp for this dude? So much stolen from Schopenhauer which he in turn has stolen from Mainlander. Also
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Calvinism? I feel like that's the real problem here. I feel terrible for him, like. To be that miserable and that filled with self loathing and not even have anything pretty to look at in return. It's kind of a weird sad bad Blake, a weird sad bad Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer hated this book so props to him for that. If I was 12 and read this I'd probably turn into a school shooter too.
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LibraryThing member Big_Bang_Gorilla
Being Nietzsche's attempt to provide a summary of his Weltanschauung in an unsystematic, literary format (for a somewhat more conventional version of same, try Beyond good and evil). The book is wonderful, heady reading, though Nietzsche's philosophy, never conventional anyway, does sometimes
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become a trifle difficult to excavate from the poetic turns.
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LibraryThing member tungsten_peerts
I can never make up my mind about Nietzsche. Is he a genius or a nitwit? Is he even, in the end, anything that can reasonably be called a "philosopher"?

My personal answer to the first question is (as you might have predicted) "both!" and to the second question ... well ... I am not even competent
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to answer this for myself, because my reading in philosophy has been somewhere between desultory and selective. My impression is that if you toss Nietzsche from the philosophical canon, you'd have to toss Kierkegaard as well, but that's based on very minimal experience with the great Dane.

The present book will not clear up either question for anyone -- I don't think, anyway. Even the translator admits that, in the end, Nietzsche really does go on and on and ... and one of the confusing things for me is that his ideas, such as they are, are pretty easy to summarize -- it's easy to give a capsule response to the question "what is the Overman," so one wonders why all these things, all these parables and stories that range from interesting to incredibly annoying, are necessary.

I don't think they are. I'm not going to condemn Nietzsche as a valueless writer, but I do think he's been over-rated. I think of him as more of a creative artist than as a rigorous thinker (I think of someone like Derrida, who in most ways couldn't be more different from Nietzsche, in the same way) ... a sort of cultural critic on steroids.

I can only take this book in snips and snaps. Reading much of it at once just makes me shift in my seat and anxious to go watch my cat be a loaf ... because I ultimately learn more from watching my cat be a loaf.

Your mileage, OF COURSE, may vary.
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LibraryThing member jpsnow
Nietzsche was brilliant and insane. In fact, whatever disease that killed him 8 years after writing this book had already started by this time. His evolution of the "overman" (ubermensch) is created through the travels and musings of Zarathustra. The best conceivable description of the style is
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that of a negative version of Kahlil Gibran. It's earthy, it's about the earth, but it's a violent form of passion based on the least desirable creatures, both human and animal -- when you can tell the difference. During the 4 books, Zarathustra first learns not to talk to the common man (in the "marketplace"), then learns to conquer his nausea, and finally conquers his pity. His loyal companions -- a variety of animals but primarily a snake and an eagle -- crowd about him during his repeated returns to his cave, wherein he contemplates and discovers more meaning about the overman. The evolution of the overman would require three stages: that of a camel (carrying the load), that of the lion (fighting the dragon), and that of the child (asking the obvious questions?).
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LibraryThing member keylawk
Although Professor Alderman credits his own interpretation of Nietzsche as a derivation of Heidegger's, Alderman takes Zarathustra as the paradigm of the philosopher, leaving Heidegger to his Will to Power notebook. But Heidegger is wrong-- about philosophy and about Nietzsche and about
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Zarathustra is NOT a proponent of objectivist nihilism. He is explicitly, explicitly and songfully, and beingfully trying to FREE humankind from metaphysics and its thin-lipped sour Schopenhauer bower. It is Socratic! The opposite of a Will with a need to be UBER.

[do the love dance]
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LibraryThing member AMD3075
Thus Spoke Zarathustra (1883-1885) is one of the greatest achievements in the history of philosophical literature and Nietzsche's most complete and captivating doctrine of the overcoming of man by the superman, the idea that humanity must be elevated beyond itself by the noble genius gifted with
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the highest level of the will to power, a passionate creator who transcends the crowd and its common morality to achieve a higher state of existence. The fictional philosophical prophet Zarathustra is Nietzsche's ideal superman, a sort of heroic messiah who wanders the mountains in search of a deeper meaning for existence, both within himself in profound solitude and within his metaphorical companions gathered along his journey. It is a highly involving and mystical work of vigorous poetic insight further investigating Nietzsche's ideas of eternal recurrence, the death of God, and the superman.
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LibraryThing member SnakeVargas
I find a lot that is admirable in Nietzsche's philosophy... and there's some that i think Nietzsche was a bit naieve about. I found this book to be incredibly hard going, despite its easy 350 pages, it probably took me two weeks or more to finish. Mostly, i suppose, because the book is almost
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entirely composed of sermons by Nietzsche's Zarathustra with almost no motion or narration apart from his speaking. Also, Nietzsche seems to have written this book in almost a sort of prose-poetry, relying heavily on metaphor, his meaning is not always clear. I might have had an easier time of it if i were more familiar with some of his other works, so i could readily identify what he was refering to.

In any case, this is a famous, important book for Western thought, arts, culture etc. You should read it, even if its hard. Some things that are worthwhile are.
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LibraryThing member diocletian
Love it! Translators seem to be enjoying something of a bitchfest contra Walter Kaufmann's earlier beautiful English translation, which doubles the fun really. Incorrigibly weird and deliriously funny - woe to anyone who teaches this as philosophy! No no no! No
LibraryThing member sfisk
One of those books that, at the time, changes your whole world view...
LibraryThing member JeroenBerndsen
A classical work of filosophical significance. A treasure for the interested 'few'.
LibraryThing member ccavaleri
It has been said that Thus Spoke Zarathustra is best read in high school because it is the only time a reader can tolerate such transparent exposition. This is probably accurate. I would recommend The Gay Science to a new reader of Nietzsche, but Thus Spoke Zarathustra is shorter and more popular.
LibraryThing member Borg-mx5
A must for those of philosophic.
LibraryThing member hbergander
A leitmotif of this book is, following Nietzsche’s own interpretation, the doctrine of eternal recurrence: All that has happened, has happened before, and will be repeated endlessly.
LibraryThing member richardtaylor
This is the most tedious book I have ever read. I usually like philosophy, but this is incredibly dull and unispirational.
LibraryThing member trilliams
This book is so different from anything else I've ever read that I don't quite know what to say. Don't... try... this... at home?
LibraryThing member kcshankd
Ah Nietzsche, you crazy old cat. Doesn't hold up nearly as well to a re-reading in my 40s, compared to the impression it made upon me in my 20s. Beautiful Folio Society edition.


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3150071119 / 9783150071113

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