"Zarathustra" is my brother's most personal work; it is the history of his most individual experiences, of his friendships, ideals, raptures, bitterest disappointments and sorrows.
All Zarathustra's views, as also his personality, were early conceptions of my brother's mind.
That is why, after having tested the worth of our noblest ideal--that of the Saviour, in the light of the new valuations, the poet cries with passionate emphasis in "Zarathustra":
The author of "Zarathustra" never lost sight of that egregious example of a transvaluation of all values through Christianity, whereby the whole of the deified mode of life and thought of the Greeks, as well as strong Romedom, was almost annihilated or transvalued in a comparatively short time.
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.
It would even be possible to consider all 'Zarathustra' as a musical composition.
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. Among the notes of this period, we found a page on which is written the first definite plan of "Thus Spake Zarathustra":--
"Zarathustra born on lake Urmi; left his home in his thirtieth year, went into the province of Aria, and, during ten years of solitude in the mountains, composed the Zend-Avesta."
In that summer of 1881, my brother, after many years of steadily declining health, began at last to rally, and it is to this first gush of the recovery of his once splendid bodily condition that we owe not only "The Gay Science", which in its mood may be regarded as a prelude to "Zarathustra", but also "Zarathustra" itself.
Whether my brother would ever have written "Thus Spake Zarathustra" according to the first plan sketched in the summer of 1881, if he had not had the disappointments already referred to, is now an idle question; but perhaps where "Zarathustra" is concerned, we may also say with Master Eckhardt: "The fleetest beast to bear you to perfection is suffering."
My brother writes as follows about the origin of the first part of "Zarathustra":--"In the winter of 1882-83, I was living on the charming little Gulf of Rapallo, not far from Genoa, and between Chiavari and Cape Porto Fino.