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Groth, H.M. (1982). Nietzsche's Zarathustra: His Breakdown. Am. Imago, 39(1):1-20.

(1982). American Imago, 39(1):1-20

Nietzsche's Zarathustra: His Breakdown

H. Miles Groth

This discussion of a text from Also Sprach Zarathustra is a continuation of my earlier study of the second chapter of Part Three. To some extent, it requires familiarity with what I have called in that study Nietzsche's “ontogenic theory of time.” But the present essay is a departure from the earlier work in that I will now attempt to analyze what may be called Zarathustra's breakdown, as described by Nietzsche in the thirteenth section of Part Three, “The Convalescent.”

The work as a whole is divided into two vastly disproportionate sections: “Zarathustra's Prologue” and “Zarathustra's Speeches.” Of the eighty speeches, “The Convalescent” immediately precedes what Heidegger has called the climax of the great fable (“On the Great Longing”). It is a remarkable chapter in the work, giving as it does a narrative of Zarathustra's collapse and seven-day estivation in his cave. His “condition” will be explored psychoanalytically. No “diagnosis” will be offered, unless that term is understood not as a final clinical assessment but rather an exposition and description of what can be discerned in Nietzsche's account of Zarathustra's “Wesen.”

2 The English translation referred to throughout in this paper is by Walter Kaufmann, in The Portable Nietzsche (PN) New York: Viking Press, 1954.

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