A Commentary on, and Partial Analysis of, Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part 4, with Especial Reference to Discourses 11 to 20

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A Commentary on, and Partial Analysis of, Nietzsche's Thus Spoke Zarathustra, Part 4, with Especial Reference to Discourses 11 to 20

Although Zarathustra gains his happiness before the 'Fourth and Final Part' of Al Sprecht Zarathustra, that which he is most concerned with- his work, is still ahead of him in ' The Temptation of Zarathustra: an Interlude' (which Nietzsche viewed as the fourth part's "proper title in view of what already transpired and what follows" in the text as we find it abridged today). As an interlude, it bastardises the integrity of the previous three books if they are viewed as an artistic whole, and was only published in Nietzsche’s lifetime as a private run of 40 copies and only seven copies were circulated amongst Nietzsche's close friends (and they were admonished to keep the fourth part's existence secret). Nietzsche did not include it in the publication he oversaw although it had been written the previous year. He wrote to Carl Von Gersdorff "There is a final (last) part of Zarathustra, a sort of sublime finale, which was intended for the public…. But this part should and must be printed- 20 copies, for me and for distribution amongst my friends, and with every discretion." (Letter to Carl Von Gersdorff, February 12th 1885 [Kritische Gesamtausgabe Briefarechsel, ed. G. Collit and M. Montinare (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter; 1975)]). To Overbeck he wrote: "I have sent no copy to Burckhardt or to anyone in Basel. Please let us remain silent about the existence of a fourth part." (Letter to Overbeck, end of May 1885 [Ibid.]). To Peter Gast, Nietzsche, a month before his mental collapse, wrote of his desire to recall the copies he had distributed, saying "I read it these past few days and almost died of emotion… If I published it later, after a few decades of world crisis- wars! - then that will be the proper time." (Letter to Gast, December 9th, 1888 [Ibid.]).

It is R. J. Hollingdale's view that part four is comparatively unimportant and contributes nothing new to the book. Ronald Hayman interprets part four simply as a parody of Nietzsche's acquaintances and previous friends, the caricatures which appear referring to such people as Wagner, Liszt, Rhode and/or Overbeck, and Nietzsche's secretiveness regarding the work being motivated by his nervousness "that his friends would recognize themselves". Indeed, part Four of Zarathustra does strikes one as a rather comic, burlesque work, which stands in sharp contrast to the prevalent somber and serious tone of the first three parts. This fourth part brings Nietzsche home as more of a fleshy, palpitating thing than the previous dialogues did; in this part, his encounters are embodied: visceral as they previously were not (providing for the buffoon and the mob). In addition, the dominance of the narrative voice over part four distinguishes it from the previous three parts, with its ironic asides about the story it tells, suggest a partial removal (a telling of the tale from some other place) from the happenings it details: "This, however, was the beginning of that long meal which is called 'The Last Supper' in the history books." (Al Sprecht Zarathustra, part 4, discourse 12: The Last Supper) is a notable example of this. Zarathustra is not the sole protagonist of part 4 either, as he frequently is in books one to three, and once one or another of these characters is introduced he remains to play out his role for the duration of the book. However, it is my view that the broader purpose of this fourth book is to show how the work of Zarathustra may be denigrated and subverted by 'caving in' to the temptation of compassion, and hence despair, for what is highest in the higher men of Nietzsche's age (as is indicated by the excerpt from part 1 on the title page of book 4) and is only a fragment of what was initially intended to be a larger whole (a project Nietzsche later aborted, keeping to his previous resolution, expressed in a letter to...
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