My brother had the figure of Zarathustra in his mind from his very earliest youth: he once told me that even as a child he had dreamt of him.
Could not a rejuvenated Graeco-Roman system of valuing (once it had been refined and made more profound by the schooling which two thousand years of Christianity had provided) effect another such revolution within a calculable period of time, until that glorious type of manhood shall finally appear which is to be our new faith and hope, and in the creation of which Zarathustra exhorts us to participate?
In his private notes on the subject the author uses the expression "Superman" (always in the singular, by-the-bye), as signifying "the most thoroughly well-constituted type," as opposed to "modern man"; above all, however, he designates Zarathustra himself as an example of the Superman.
Although the figure of Zarathustra and a large number of the leading thoughts in this work had appeared much earlier in the dreams and writings of the author, "Thus Spake Zarathustra" did not actually come into being until the month of August 1881 in Sils Maria; and it was the idea of the Eternal Recurrence of all things which finally induced my brother to set forth his new views in poetic language.
During the month of August 1881 my brother resolved to reveal the teaching of the Eternal Recurrence, in dithyrambic and psalmodic form, through the mouth of Zarathustra.
It was on these two roads that all 'Zarathustra' came to me, above all Zarathustra himself as a type;--I ought rather to say that it was on these walks that these ideas waylaid me.
His reasons, however, for choosing Zarathustra of all others to be his mouthpiece, he gives us in the following words:-- "People have never asked me, as they should have done, what the name Zarathustra precisely means in my mouth, in the mouth of the first Immoralist; for what distinguishes that philosopher from all others in the past is the very fact that he was exactly the reverse of an immoralist.
Zarathustra had more courage in his body than any other thinker before or after him.
Thus, he has inspired art and artists, from Thomas Mann and Robert Musil to Rilke and Hermann Hesse, from Strauss' Thus Spoke Zarathustra
and Mahler's Third Symphony to contemporary Hungarian director Bela Tarr's The Turin Horse; he has influenced philosophy, from Martin Heidegger and the early thinkers of the Frankfurt School (Adorno and Horkheimer) and existentialism, to the radical French postmodern philosophers of the second half of the 20th century (Foucault, Deleuze, Derrida); and, though to a considerably lesser degree, after being rehabilitated by Princeton University's Walter Kaufmann in the 1950s, Nietzsche has also gained some repute in American philosophical academia.
For example, Pezzotta's analyses help us understand the artistic and discursive functions of the opening of Richard Strauss's Also sprach Zarathustra
in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968); however, she leaves it to other scholars investigate how Kubrick's musical choices functioned within the marketing apparatus of a major studio.