- Unpublished Fragments from the Period of Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Summer 1882–Winter 1883/84) by Friedrich Nietzsche
Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2019. 880 pp.
isbn: 978-1-503-60572-1. Paper, $28.00.
The Stanford University Press edition of Nietzsche’s works in English translation continues here with the Nachlass from what is described as “the period of Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” Based on the edition of Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, it corresponds to volume 10 of their Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe and to volume 7/1 of their Kritische Gesamtausgabe: Werke, which appeared in 1976. Colli and Montinari’s editorial apparatus has been included, and the translators, Paul S. Loeb and David F. Tinsley, have added notes of their own, as well as a lengthy after-word. The result is a substantial volume of over eight hundred pages, with much of interest to Nietzsche scholars in various ways. [End Page 133]
The Nachlass represented here begins at the completion of GS in its original form. Nietzsche sent the final text to his publisher at the start of July 1882, and added a notice for the back cover that described the book as the conclusion (Abschluss) of the “free spirit” series that had started four years earlier with HH. Having made that public declaration, he was forced to find a new direction. We know that this was Z, but at the time other options also seemed promising. Nietzsche was drawn to the idea of a small collection of aphorisms, and even compiled a collection, included here as 12, combining selections from the “free spirit” books with new items. In the end he decided against the scheme, perhaps because it would have looked like Paul Rée’s Psychological Observations. The new aphorisms were used in Z and BGE, and other projects were set aside as the opportunities offered by Zarathustra’s discourses were explored.
The first few notebooks take us through a turbulent period in Nietzsche’s personal life, starting with the high point of his relationship with Lou Salomé during the summer of 1882. The meeting of spirits achieved during their shared stay in the resort of Tautenburg, despite the presence of Nietzsche’s sister, was soon to be lost, causing him considerable suffering. A self-deceptive belief that Lou had become his disciple is clearly expressed in the notes on style that he wrote for her benefit (1). This compact text makes fascinating reading. The writing style that it recommends is highly rhetorical and designed to imitate the persuasive resources of speech. Nietzsche assumes that the purpose of writing, as of speaking, is to work on an audience (a practice whose musical counterpart—exemplified in Wagner’s operas—is severely condemned in WS 165). Typical is his advice to Lou: “Style should demonstrate that we believe in our thoughts, that we not only think them, but also feel them.” In other words, she should not write in the cool, detached manner of Paul Rée (or, one might add, of the author of HH). Nietzsche emphasizes that a writer should have a particular reader in mind, and that is certainly true of these rules. Hence, it would be hasty to take them as his last word on the subject of writing, even if they do resonate with the soon-to-come discourses of Zarathustra.
One puzzle in this text is left unresolved by Loeb and Tinsley. Nietzsche warns Lou about the use of periods. “Only those people with real stamina, also in speaking, have the right to use periods. For most people the period is an affectation,” he writes. American readers who take “period” to mean a full stop will be baffled by this comment, as they may be by Nietzsche’s [End Page 134] older observation that “Good writers alter the rhythm of many periods” (HH 198). In fact, Perioden as used in these passages, and with more context in Nietzsche’s Basel lectures on ancient rhetoric, is a technical term...