The Birth of Tragedy
The Birth of Tragedy
The Birth of Tragedy was Nietzsche's first published work, one of the most remarkable and influential books of the nineteenth century.
A compelling argument for the necessity for art in life, Nietzsche's essay is fuelled by his enthusiasms for Greek tragedy, for the philosophy of Schopenhauer and for the music of Wagner, to whom this work was dedicated.
Nietzsche argues that Greek tragedy arose out of the fusion of what he termed Apollonian and Dionysian elements—the former representing measure, restraint, and harmony and the latter unbridled passion—and that Socratic rationalism and optimism spelled the death of Greek tragedy.
Nietzsche outlined a distinction between its two central forces: the Apolline, representing beauty and order; and the Dionysiac, a primal or ecstatic reaction to the sublime.
He believed the combination of these states produced the highest forms of music and tragic drama, which not only reveal the truth about suffering in life, but also provide a consolation for it.
The final part of the book is a rhapsody on the rebirth of tragedy from the spirit of Richard Wagner’s music.
Brilliantly original, it confirmed Nietzsche’s position as the towering European philosopher of his age.
Greeted by critical dismissal at first, his ideas became the object of heated controversy for those who mistook it for a conventional work of classical scholarship. It remains a classic in the history of aesthetics.
Impassioned and exhilarating in its conviction, The Birth of Tragedy has become a key text in European culture and in literary criticism.
FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (1844–1900) was a German philosopher, cultural critic, poet, philologist, and Latin and Greek scholar whose work has exerted a profound influence on Western philosophy and modern intellectual history. Nietzsche's body of work touched widely on art, philology, history, religion, tragedy, culture, and science, and drew early inspiration from figures such as Schopenhauer, Wagner, and Goethe. A powerfully original thinker, Nietzsche's influence on successive writers, such as George Bernard Shaw, D.H. Lawrence, Thomas Mann and Jean-Paul Sartre, was significant.