In the volume before us we have the first two books of what was to be Nietzsche's greatest theoretical and philosophical prose work. The reception given to Thus Spake Zarathustra had been so unsatisfactory, and misunderstandings relative to its teaching had become so general, that, within a year of the publication of the first part of that famous philosophical poem, Nietzsche was already beginning to see the necessity of bringing his doctrines before the public in a more definite and unmistakable form. During the years that followed—that is to say, between 1883 and 1886—this plan was matured, and although we have no warrant, save his sister's own word and the internal evidence at our disposal, for classing Beyond Good and Evil (published 1886) among the contributions to Nietzsche's grand and final philosophical scheme, "The Will to Power," it is now impossible to separate it entirely from his chief work as we would naturally separate The Birth of Tragedy, the Thoughts out of Season, the volumes entitled Human, all-too-Human, The Dawn of Day, and Joyful Wisdom.
Beyond Good and Evil, then, together with its sequel, The Genealogy of Morals, and the two little volumes, The Twilight of the Idols and the Antichrist (published in 1889 and 1894 respectively), must be regarded as forming part of the general plan of which The Will to Power was to be the opus magnum.
Unfortunately, The Will to Power was never completed by its author. The text from which this translation was made is a posthumous publication, and it suffers from all the disadvantages that a book must suffer from which has been arranged and ordered by foster hands. When those who were responsible for its publication undertook the task of preparing it for the press, it was very little more than a vast collection of notes and rough drafts, set down by Nietzsche from time to time, as the material for his chief work; and, as any liberty taken with the original manuscript, save that of putting it in order, would probably have resulted in adding or excluding what the author would on no account have added or excluded himself, it follows that in some few cases the paragraphs are no more than hasty memoranda of passing thoughts, which Nietzsche must have had the intention of elaborating at some future time. In these cases the translation follows the German as closely as possible, and the free use even of a conjunction has in certain cases been avoided, for fear lest the meaning might be in the slightest degree modified. It were well, therefore, if the reader could bear these facts in mind whenever he is struck by a certain clumsiness, either of expression or disposition, in the course of reading this translation.