Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche.
It has been many years since I heard about it and wanted to read it. The book has been so famous and so applauded that some might even say that if it is allowed to read only one book in your life, then it is the one to be read. And because of the hype, I started reading with too much expectation. But however I didn’t find it as appealing as anticipated. I have loved a similar book The Prophet, perhaps equally famous, written by Kahlil Gibran, many times more. By the way, the structure and style are the same with both books. I enjoyed every bit of The Prophet, whereas in this one, all is not as enjoyable, even though there are pages as appealing as The Prophet. Perhaps it is because of the difference in the sizes of the books. The Prophet is a thin book. Zarathustra.. is thicker. Perhaps if all less interesting pages of Zarathustra.. are removed, the remaining will look as much qualified as The Prophet. Was Kahlil Gibran inspired by this book in creating his Prophet?
A part I loved very much is this:
“Your slaying, ye judges, shall be pity and not revenge. And whilst slaying take care to justify life itself !
It is not enough that ye should be reconciled unto him whom ye are slaying. Let your sorrow be love unto beyond-man : thus ye justify your still living.'Enemy' ye shall say, but not 'wicked one' ; 'diseased one' ye shall say, but not 'wretch' ; 'fool' ye shall say, but not 'sinner.'
And thou, red judge, if thou wert to declare aloud all that thou hast done in thy thoughts, everybody would cry : ' Away with this filth and worm of poison ! ' ”
This book is a desperate cry of Nietzsche himself to see a radical change in the world and humankind. He hates man and openly proclaims his wish of destruction of the humankind. He sees the total destruction and death of humankind as the foundation for a new, better generation, not of man, but of what Zarathustra calls ‘beyond-man’. Nietzsche wishes a new world for those rare people who are different from the wretched hypocritical crowd and stand alone companionless, to which he himself belongs:
“Ye lonely ones of to-day, ye who stand apart, ye shall one day be a people : from you who have chosen yourselves, a chosen people shall arise : and from it beyond-man.”
I still feel Gibran has done it far better than Nietzsche. The former has kept it brief and compact. Sweet and short. Instead of talking too much, he just gave us the essence in a nutshell. Nevertheless at some points I felt I have found something I never came across anywhere in The Prophet. I must say this is simply a marvel. I haven’t come across this brilliance anywhere, let alone Gibran! :
“The man of perception must not only be able to love his enemies, but also to hate his friends.”
I couldn’t enjoy it as a complete book. But it offered me a treasure of golden quotes. Too many of them! I don’t remember when it was that I read some book with so many lines I felt like quoting. It is in stark contrast that even books I enjoy for their completeness don’t necessarily guarantee any quotable lines. But this one I could consider a book of great quotes, even though I couldn’t enjoy it as one having complementing portions of a well rounded plot or narration.