32 pages 1 hour read

Friedrich Nietzsche

The Gay Science

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 1882

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Key Figures

Narrator/Zarathustra

One character dominates, and dictates, The Gay Science: a voice obsessed with understanding the origins and architecture of knowledge and interrogating the selfish needs that drive human intelligence. It is debatable whether the voice in the text is Nietzsche himself, functioning as an unnamed narrator, or Nietzsche writing as the voice of Zarathustra, who, after ten years of thinking and living in the mountains, decides to descend in to the realm of humankind to share the interrogations, insights, and proposals put forth in The Gay Science.

In either case, Nietzsche selects to use the voice of a medieval poet in The Gay Science. In doing so, Nietzsche breaks away from the language of traditional philosophic rhetoric, just as his philosophy breaks with all preexisting, conventional philosophies. Nietzsche plans to declare that God is dead, and proposes humanity still lives in the shadow of the errors of the Middle Ages, errors that have been perpetuated since antiquity. Therefore, taking on the voice of a medieval poet shows form fitting function: society has largely not learned from its past mistakes, so the voice in The Gay Science is a voice from the past, and therefore, and metaphorically, a voice from Nietzsche’s own time, as well.

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