Thus Spoke Zarathustra


  • Alexander Tille, 1896
  • Thomas Common, 1909
  • Walter Kaufmann, 1966
  • R.J Hollingdale, 1973
  • Thomas Wayne, 2003
  • Clancy Martin, 2005
  • Graham Parkes, 2005
  • Adrian Del Caro, edited by Robert Pippin, 2006

The first English translation of Zarathustra was published in 1896 by Alexander Tille.

Thomas Common published a translation in 1909 which was based on Alexander Tille's earlier attempt.[13] Common wrote in the style of Shakespeare or the King James Version of the Bible. Common's poetic interpretation of the text, which renders the title Thus Spake Zarathustra, received wide acclaim for its lambent portrayal. Common reasoned that because the original German was written in a pseudo-Luther-Biblical style, a pseudo-King-James-Biblical style would be fitting in the English translation.

The Common translation remained widely accepted until more critical translations, titled Thus Spoke Zarathustra, were published by Walter Kaufmann in 1966 and R.J. Hollingdale in 1973, which are considered to convey more accurately the German text than the Common version. Kaufmann's introduction to his own translation included a blistering critique of Common's version; he notes that in one instance, Common has taken the German "most evil" and rendered it "baddest", a particularly unfortunate error not merely for his having coined the term "baddest", but also because Nietzsche dedicated a third of The Genealogy of Morals to the difference between "bad" and "evil".[13] This and other errors led Kaufmann to wonder whether Common "had little German and less English".[13] The translations of Kaufmann and Hollingdale render the text in a far more familiar, less archaic, style of language, than that of Common.

Thomas Wayne, an English Professor at Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida, published a translation in 2003. The introduction by Roger W. Phillips, PhD, says "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", and gives several reasons.

Clancy Martin's 2005 translation opens with criticism and praise for these three seminal translators, Common, Hollingdale, and Kaufmann. He notes that the German text available to Common was considerably flawed, and that the German text from which Hollingdale and Kaufmann worked was itself untrue to Nietzsche's own work in some ways. Martin criticizes Kaufmann for changing punctuation, altering literal and philosophical meanings, and dampening some of Nietzsche's more controversial metaphors.[14] Kaufmann's version, which has become the most widely available, features a translator's note suggesting that Nietzsche's text would have benefited from an editor; Martin suggests that Kaufmann "took it upon himself to become his [Nietzsche's] editor".[14]

Graham Parkes describes his own 2005 translation as trying "above all to convey the musicality of the text."[15]

In 2006, Cambridge University Press published a translation by Adrian Del Caro, edited by Robert Pippin.

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