For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Thus Spake Zarathustra
  • Friedrich Nietzsche
  • Translator: Thomas Wayne
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Thus Spake Zarathustra.
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This fresh translation of Nietzsche's classic on the Superman, new, more accurate and more acute recaptures his wordplay, emotional color and mock-Biblical tone, his boyish malice, cracked aphorisms, academic irreverence and gutter rhymes. This new translation by Thomas Wayne is the first challenge to Walter Kaufmann’s dated take on the nuanced language of this classic text.

About the Author

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), the influential German philosopher, shook 19th–c. Europe with concepts like the “superman" and the "will to power."

Thomas Wayne is an English Professor at Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida. He has published two translations of Nietzsche's classics with Algora Publishing, as well as Hermann Hesse's much-loved Steppenwolf, followed by Goethe's Faust. His approach in translating these iconoclastic German powerhouses is to return the juice the authors originally intended, with all their the verve and dynamic energy. He brings alive the best of German literature for today's readers.

About the Book

"Zarathustra" was Nietzsche's masterpiece, the first comprehensive statement of his mature philosophy, and the introduction of his influential and well-known (and misunderstood) ideas including the "overman" or...

"Zarathustra" was Nietzsche's masterpiece, the first comprehensive statement of his mature philosophy, and the introduction of his influential and well-known (and misunderstood) ideas including the "overman" or "superman" and the "will to power." It is also the source of Nietzsche's famous (and much misconstrued) statement that "God is dead."

Though this is essentially a work of philosophy, it is also a masterpiece of literature, a cross between prose and poetry. A considerable part and parcel of Nietzsche's genius is his ability to make his language dance, and this is what becomes extraordinarily difficult to translate.

It has been almost 40 years since Hollingdale's version for Penguin and almost 50 since Kaufmann's. However, anyone who appreciates the German original knows that these translations are merely adequate.

While earlier translators have smoothed out the rough edges, cut corners and sometimes omitted troublesome passages outright, this one honors and respects the original as no other.

Kaufmann and others are guilty of the deplorable tendency to "improve" on the original. Much is lost by this means, to say nothing of the interior rhythms, the grace notes, the not always graceful but omnipresent and striking puns and wordplays. And in not a few instances the current translation improves on Kaufmann's use of English or otherwise clarifies what Nietzsche is really saying.


Introduction

Friedrich Nietzsche may well be the most misunderstood philosopher of all time. Apologists for Nazi doctrines are only the most obvious case among those who have wrongly appropriated him for their own. “No, no,” we can almost hear him complaining, “I didn’t mean that at all!” And yet, honest attempts to systematize his...

Friedrich Nietzsche may well be the most misunderstood philosopher of all time. Apologists for Nazi doctrines are only the most obvious case among those who have wrongly appropriated him for their own. “No, no,” we can almost hear him complaining, “I didn’t mean that at all!” And yet, honest attempts to systematize his thought, to get it just right, haven’t done much better, so that the ordinary reader can’t be sure what he was really getting at. Bits and pieces of his ruined edifice lie all around us, and they don’t always fit together. And then there is the problem of translation.

A considerable part and parcel of Nietzsche’s genius is his ability to make his language dance, and this is what becomes extraordinarily difficult to translate. Some have failed in the attempt while others have hardly tried. Our present translator, Thomas Wayne, is himself an aphorist of palpable genius if not yet repute, with several collections to his credit which I have been privileged to edit. He knows that wordplay is the thing wherein he’ll catch the conscience of the reader. I have seen him wrestle with a particularly intractable word or phrase of Nietzsche’s masterwork and snatch an exasperated success from the jaws of failure. While the great tendency among earlier translators has been to smooth out the rough edges, cut corners and sometimes omit troublesome passages outright, this one honors and respects the original as no other.

He has gone into the thicket of Nietzsche’s offering with all its nettles and thorns and pestiferous stinging insects to pluck those deliciously tart red and purple berries which are practically the whole reason for such an exercise. Every now and then he comes into a clearing where blinding sun or a blast of fresh wind will clear it all away, making the air pure and all the more worth breathing for the difficulty of attainment. Such is Nietzsche’s own embattled and tortured spirit breaking free, and our translator’s desire to render it in its ultimate exultation and exaltation in utter spite of whatever would hold it back: Nietzsche not only with every wart and thwart but in full forte.

If Nietzsche’s German in its coruscating brilliance, its disorienting jumble and tumble of styles from the highest to the lowest (or vice versa!) doesn’t read consistently either like everyday German or its higher expressions in imagistic poetry or polished expository prose, why should Mr. Wayne’s altogether admirable attempt to match him in English read like that? Perhaps most in evidence here, he has retained Nietzsche’s seemingly inordinate use of italics and even his strange-looking punctuation, regarding these as dynamics in the musical sense. For our author himself was extraordinarily sensitive to music and allowed his spirit to be ruled by it.

Wayne’s close reading of the original text has exposed the deficiencies of earlier translations, preeminent among them that of the highly esteemed Walter Kaufmann. A few cases in point: Kaufmann has arbitrarily grouped Nietzsche’s very short, often single-sentence paragraphs (which effectively imitate Biblical verses) into larger paragraphs; conversely, he sometimes breaks up his longer paragraphs for the sake of a “nicer-looking” English text. Not consistent in honoring his italics, let alone his punctuation, Kaufmann and others are guilty of the deplorable tendency to “improve” on the original in their use of a more academic style, smoothing over, toning down, and sometimes omitting its rough vernacularities (especially the adjectives, when they are doubled and tripled to good effect). Much is lost here, to say nothing of the interior rhythms, the grace notes, the not always graceful but omnipresent and striking puns and wordplays.

I note many specific cases in which Mr. Wayne’s rendering cuts closer to the bone than Kaufmann’s, more sharply and cleanly, and above all more in keeping with the original. Here are just a few. Where K has: “Is not your soul poverty and filth and wretched contentment?”, W has: “dirt and dearth and a wretched comfort.” K: “I love him who makes virtue his addiction and his catastrophe”; W: “I love him who makes out of his virtue his fancy and his fate.” K: “Their devils draw them down”; W: “Their demons demean them.” K: “Back to the body, back to life”; W: “Back to life and limb.” K: “tomb-tears comfort”; W: “graves’ tear cheer.” K: “musty mystifiers and hearth-squatters”; W: “muddlers, mumblers and mama’s boys.” K: “gourmets and gourmands” (how many readers would know or remember the fine distinction here without consulting their dictionary?); W: “lip-lickers and lip-smackers.” In these cases and many more, Mr. Wayne has achieved a simplicity as well as alliteration and wordplay that are more in line with Nietzsche’s literary genius.

And there are not a few instances in which he improves on Kaufmann’s use of English or otherwise clarifies what Nietzsche is really saying. K: “If you believed more in life you would fling yourself less to (wrong preposition) the moment. But you do not have contents enough in yourselves (awkward) for waiting — and not even for idleness”; W: “If you believed more in life you would throw yourselves less into the moment. But you do not have enough in you of what it takes to wait — not even to vegetate.” K: “Let man fear woman when she hates; for deep down in his soul man is merely evil, while woman is bad”; W: “For at the bottom of his soul man is merely angry; woman, however, is downright mean.”

Let’s open the book and see for ourselves which of these is true of Friedrich Nietzsche.

Roger W. Phillips, PhD


More . . .
I. When Zarathustra was thirty years old, he left his home and the lake by his home and went into the mountains. Here he enjoyed his spirit and his solitude, and did not tire of this for ten years. Finally, however, he had a change of heart — and one morning, rising with the dawn, he stood before the sun and spoke to it thus:

“You great star! What would your happiness be if you had not those for whom you shine!

I. When Zarathustra was thirty years old, he left his home and the lake by his home and went into the mountains. Here he enjoyed his spirit and his solitude, and did not tire of this for ten years. Finally, however, he had a change of heart — and one morning, rising with the dawn, he stood before the sun and spoke to it thus:

“You great star! What would your happiness be if you had not those for whom you shine!

For ten years you have come up here to my cave: you would already have been weary of your light and this journey were it not for me, my eagle, and my serpent.

But we waited for you each morning, relieved you of your overflow, and blessed you for it.

Behold! I am weary of my wisdom; like the bee that has gathered too much honey, I need the hands that stretch out for it.

I want to dispense and distribute, until the wise once more enjoy their folly and the poor once more enjoy their riches.

That is why I must descend to the deep, as you do in the evening when you pass beyond the sea and bring light even to the underworld, you over-rich star!

Like you I must go down, as people say; I want to go down to them. So bless me then, you tranquil eye, that can look without envy upon even an all-too-great happiness!

Bless the cup which wants to overflow, so that the water flows golden out of it, carrying in every direction the reflection of your delight!

Behold! This cup wants to become empty again and Zarathustra wants to become a man again.”

— Thus began Zarathustra’s downgoing.

Zarathustra climbed down the mountain alone and he came across no one….


Categories

Pages 272
Year: 2003
LC Classification: B3313.A43E5
Dewey code: 193—dc21
BISAC: PHI009520
BISAC: PHI016000
BISAC: PHI007000 PHILOSOPHY / Free Will & Determinism
Paper
ISBN: 978-0-87586-209-5
Price: USD 22.95
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ISBN: 978-0-87586-210-1
Price: USD 28.95
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