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Also sprach Zarathustra
Also sprach Zarathustra (Thus Spoke Zarathustra or Thus Spake Zarathustra) is a book started in 1885 by German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche; it is arguably one of the most famous books in philosophy. The book was originally written as three separate volumes over a period of several years. Later, Nietzsche decided to write another three volumes but only managed to write a fourth (although it is said by his sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, that the notes to the fifth and sixth parts exist in her introduction of the text and were in her possession at that time). After Nietzsche's death, it was printed as a single volume.
The book chronicles the wanderings and teachings of a philosopher, Zarathustra, who has named himself for Zarathustra (Zoroaster), the ancient Persian prophet who founded Zoroastrianism. The book uses a poetic, fictional form, often satirizing the New Testament, to explore many of Nietzsche's ideas.
Central to Zarathustra is the notion that human beings are a transitional form between apes and what Nietzsche called the Übermensch, literally "over-person," usually translated as "superman" or more literally "overman". The name is one of the many puns in the book and refers most clearly to the image of the sun coming over the horizon at dawn as well as the basic notion of overcoming.
Largely episodic, the stories in Zarathustra can be read in any order. Zarathustra contains the famous statement, "God is dead," although this also appeared in Nietzsche's earlier book Die fröhliche Wissenschaft (The Gay Science).
The final two unwritten volumes of the book were planned to depict Zarathustra's missionary work and his eventual death.
See also: Übermensch.
Strauss's Zarathustra, and its use as a cliché
Also sprach Zarathustra is also the title of a symphonic poem by Richard Strauss, composed in 1896 and inspired by the book. It is best known for its use in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey (which is postulated to have also been inspired by the book, at least in part). The opening "Dawn" section is used three times, most famously in the opening title sequence.
Since being popularized by its use in the movie, the "Dawn" section has been used as the entrance music for singer Elvis Presley and professional wrestling star Ric Flair, and also at many occasions at the University of South Carolina. The use of this piece at South Carolina began in 1983, when the school's late football coach Joe Morrison introduced it as the team's entrance music. This has spread to pre-game introductions for basketball and is played for baseball also, and is used in graduation ceremonies at the University.
During the Boston Red Sox 2005 Opening Day ceremony, members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Boston Pops played Strauss' "Also sprach Zarathustra," while a huge banner proclaiming "World Series 2004 Champions" dropped from the top of the Green Monster and covered nearly all of the 37-foot-high wall.
the FiNG!?, a contemporary jazz and funk quartet also redid the theme, using a similar funk approach to create the music.
Please note: the Thomas Common translation (the one Project Gutenberg uses) is known to be incorrect, and at times to be very distorted compared to more modern translations, such as the one that Walter Kaufmann has done. The Thomas Common translation is to be used for historical purposes only.
- Free eBook of Also sprach Zarathustra at Project Gutenberg — German
- AlsoSprachZaratustra in c2.com wiki
- Thus spake Zarathustra - an article.
- MIDI version of Sprach Zarathustra (MIDI Audio file)
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