Loeb, Paul S. The Death of Nietzsche's Zarathustra. Cambridge: CUP, 2010.
Paul Loeb's The Death of Nietzsche's Zarathustra is a superb contribution to the philosophical scholarship on Nietzsche's notoriously most inaccessible book, Thus Spoke Zarathustra (hereafter TSZ). Through careful exegesis of some of TSZ's most complicated and densely symbolic passages, and through rigorous, critical analysis of all the important secondary literature on the thought of the eternal recurrence, Loeb's book presents an ingeniously argued and richly insightful interpretation of Nietzsche's literary fiction that pointedly and often persuasively takes issue with each of the major TSZ commentaries to have been published within the last twenty-five years or so.
Loeb's central project is twofold: first, to advance a "performative understanding" of the "clue" Nietzsche offers his readers for interpreting TSZ -- namely, that the thought of eternal recurrence is the book's fundamental conception; and second, to rely on that clue to solve four of TSZ's most prominent "riddles" or "interpretive difficulties" (1, 6).
By "performative understanding," Loeb has in mind the thesis that the narrative of TSZ embodies and enacts the thought of recurrence and, more specifically, that it displays "the unconditioned and endlessly repeated circular course of Zarathustra's life" (2). On the basis of this understanding, the riddles Loeb purports to solve include 1) the question of the relative significance of Parts III and IV of TSZ; 2) the difficulty of making sense of the various dreams, visions, allegories, and symbols that animate TSZ; 3) the problem of understanding the relationship between Nietzsche's notion of eternal recurrence and his concepts of the superhuman and the will to power; and, finally, the issue of whether the thought of recurrence is to be understood as a thought of total, unconditional affirmation, or as a selective thought that excludes the recurrence of the so-called "small man."