Page:Thus Spake Zarathustra - Alexander Tille - 1896.djvu/21

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INTRODUCTION XVii of quotations familiar to literary men. But even in explaining the knowledge of many of the others a large part will have to be ascribed to oral communication from persons who were probably no longer conscious of the fact that they uttered sayings of others. However peculiar a book Thus Spake Zarathustra be, it stands neither in its form nor in its tendencies quite isolated in modern German literature. A similar aim is pursued by the whole Weltanschauungsroman, which since the early seventies of this century has partly taken an historical turn, and has by preference dealt with subjects from periods of history which show the like struggle about religious belief, as the present time. Books like Felix Dahn's prose-poem Odhiris Trost (1880) are very much like Zarathustra in style, form, and general drift of thought, only that much more stress is laid on the story and their purpose is not mainly philosophico-didactic. The philosophy of the Gods and warriors appearing in Dahn's novel, differs little from Zarathustra's wisdom except as regards the extreme individualism of the latter. The lake-dwelling story in Auch Einer by Friedrich Theodor Vischer (1879) shows the same element of travesty as prevails in Zarathustra, and the religious examination of the lake-dwellers' children is based on exactly the same feelings and the same criticism as the Ass-Festival in Nietzsche's book. The tendency of modern German lyrics to prefer free rhythms to rhymed verses based on a regular change of accented and unaccented sylla bles, spreads far beyond Zarathustra, in which it is mixed with some elements of ancient Greek hymnology. Most of these books, especially those by Dahn, show in some respects a very advanced state of thought, whilst in others they delight in sub mitting to old fancies and antiquated prejudices. In the same way Zarathustra mixes with the highest knowledge of our time