In Thus Spake Zarathustra, Chapter VII says this:

Of all that is written, I love only what a person hath written with his blood. Write with blood, and thou wilt find that blood is spirit. It is no easy task to understand unfamiliar blood; I hate the reading idlers. He who knoweth the reader, doeth nothing more for the reader. Another century of readers--and spirit itself will stink.

My guess is that if one writes with his own blood, he must be writing a message worthy of his own vital fluid (blood). It must be an important message. It will be draining to do so, and he will lose his spirit. Is that what Nietzsche meant by the first two sentences? Is unfamiliar blood a metaphor for passionate discourse from someone you do not know? Is that what Zarathustra is saying? What does the last sentence mean about the spirit sinking?

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    Blood is the essence of your life. Writing has to come from your heart and soul, not the letters of books you read. It should come from what you have done, experienced, and achieved with your body and express the essence of your unique life (hence blood). Only then, the written will have spirit [Geist] proper. This is in decline with a spirit turning in itself. Dying because of the severed connections to the lives of the writers it eventually will begin to rot and stink. This is a pun against Hegel where spirit is pure self-consciousness. Unfamiliar blood = alien lives and thus thought.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Dec 4, 2018 at 7:11
  • @PhilipKlöcking That should be posted as a full answer
    – CriglCragl
    Dec 4, 2018 at 13:00
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    @CriglCragl: I maybe will as soon as I find some citeable source to back this intuitive, purely exegetic interpretation of mine
    – Philip Klöcking
    Dec 4, 2018 at 13:21

2 Answers 2


That there is nothing worse than being solicited to or from. “He who knoweth the reader doeth nothing more for the reader”, can be interpreted as, someone who writes for an audience is not truly writing something that has substance. Only entertaining or trying to persuade for a purpose other than a true one, of blood.

“In the mountains the shortest way is from peak to peak, but for that route one must have long legs”, you have to be able to think for yourself to understand me, otherwise you will be told what I mean. This might also refer to the Bible and its interpretation for the masses.

To write in “your own blood” can also mean to be yourself and follow your own ideals even against the incredible odds. Most will only survive, trying to find themselves inside the given parameters, while “those who write in blood” Sacrifice themselves for some high reaching ideal. Not an easy task, and definitely not a common one.


Live your philosophy

Blood is life. If you write your message with your blood, you are writing it with your life. That means you are ready to sacrifice your life for your message (obvious parallel to Jesus, perhaps Socrates), and you are living your message. Nietzsche was more of a poet then philosopher, especially classical German philosopher who was "reader" i.e. scholar (often professor) . Think Kant above all others. Those kind of philosophers did create seemingly wondrous works, but those works didn't influence their life and their philosophy remained scholastic.

Nietzsche was looking for a kind of message that would fundamentally change perspective and spirit of the man, toward his goal of Übermensch. Unfamiliar blood = spirit of another man, not just his words but also things unspoken and hiding between the words. One example could be words of Jesus: "Father, forgive them, because they do not know what they are doing". Simple words, but gain weight if you know that they were spoken from the cross and that Jesus supposed to be God the Son.

Even the name of the book (Zarathustra) implies that for Nietzsche ancient prophet-philosophers like Zoroaster were more valuable then scholarly types of his age.

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