Zarathustra's Blessed Isles: Before and After Great Politics

Journal of Nietzsche Studies 52 (1):135-163 (2021)
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Abstract

This article considers the significance of the Blessed Isles in Nietzsche’s Thus Spoke Zarathustra. They are the isolated locale to which Zarathustra and his fellow creators retreat in the Second Part of the book. I trace Zarathustra’s Blessed Isles back to the ancient Greek paradisiacal afterlife of the makarōn nēsoi and frame them against Nietzsche’s Platonic conception of philosophers as “commanders and legislators,” but I argue that they represent something more like a modern Epicurean Garden. Ultimately, I suggest that Zarathustra’s Epicurean impulse toward withdrawal (whether into a sequestered friendship community or mountain solitude) undermines his Platonic attempts at great politics.

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Peter Groff
Bucknell University

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