17 May 2009

Zarathustra's Heavenly Gold. Nietzsche's Letter to Peter Gast (Johann Heinrich Köselitz), from the 23rd of April, 1883

Zarathustra's Heavenly Gold

Friedrich Nietzsche

Letter to Peter Gast (Johann Heinrich Köselitz)

23rd of April, 1883

When writing on Nietzsche's symbolism, Deleuze notes that one reason Nietzsche chose Zarathustra as a character was in fact a result of pure chance. Deleuze refers us to a letter Nietzsche writes to Peter Gast, where he explains that only after writing the text did he learn that the meaning he wanted his character to have was found in his name's etymology.
Today I learnt by chance what "Zarathustra" means; it means "Gold-Star". This coincidence made me happy. One might think that the whole idea of my little book was rooted in this etymology — but until today I knew nothing about it.

Heute lernte ich zufällig, was "Zarathustra" bedeutet: nämlich "Gold-Stern". Dieser Zufall machte mich glücklich. Man könnte meinen, die ganze Conception meines Büchleins habe in dieser Etymologie ihre Wurzel: aber ich wußte bis heute nichts davon.
(Briefwechsel: Kritische Gesamtausgabe, edited by G. Colli and M. Montinari, 24 vols in 4 sections (Berlin, 1975 - 1984), III 1, p.366).
[Note, Deleuze cites the letter as the 20th of May, 1883, but it appears that in fact it comes from the 23rd of April, 1883]

From :
Bishop, Paul. The Dionysian Self: C.G. Jung's Reception of Friedrich Nietzsche. Walter de Gruyter, 1995, p.282, footnote 47.
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