Nietzsche and Schiller: Untimely Aesthetics

By Nicholas Martin | Go to book overview

I
INTRODUCTION

It may seem strange, perverse even, that anyone should think of comparing Nietzsche's and Schiller's aesthetics. The suggestion that the two writers have anything in common is likely to puzzle some and may offend others. The prefatory remarks by the author of the only previous book-length comparison of the two, in 1908, are still pertinent:

'Schiller ein Vorläufer Nietzsches!' Ohne Einschränkung und nähere Erläuterung ausgesprochen, kann diese Behauptung nur den lebhaftesten Widerspruch hervorrufen. Fast wie eine Blasphemie wird sie denen klingen, die gewohnt sind, in Schiller den idealen, hoheitsvollen Dichter zu verehren und in Nietzsche nur den Zerstörer aller alten Werte zu hassen. Die unbedingten Nietzscheschwärmer aber werden mitleidig lächcln. Schiller und Nietzsche! Schiller, gut für Knaben und unreife Jünglinge, Nietzsche, der Dichter und Philosoph für Ausnahmemenschen, der große Prophet! Was sollten sie gemein haben? Die Menge der Fernerstehenden wird mit Verwunderung die Namen dieser beiden Männer in so enge Verbindung gebracht sehen.

1

While it is highly unlikely that any present-day observer would regard linking the names as a 'blasphemy', or see the contrast between them in quite the way Gaede describes, the link may nevertheless surprise.

One reason for this is that Nietzsche's work is commonly perceived, and not only by latter-day 'Nietzscheschwärmer', to be a profound break with western philosophical tradition. It is widely assumed to be an œuvre without precedent. Some maintain that Nietzsche's philosophy of art represents a radical departure from the German aesthetic tradition of which Schiller was a pre-eminent representative. J. P. Stern, for example, has asserted that ' Nietzsche's speculations on the physiology of taste are intended as a challenge to traditional

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Udo Gaede, Schiller and Nietzsche als Verkünder der tragischen kultur ( Berlin: Alexander Duncker, 1908), 9; unlike Gaede's, the present study does not argue that Schiller was a precursor of Nietzsche, though, as we shall see, the early Nietzsche thought he was.

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Nietzsche and Schiller: Untimely Aesthetics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Editorial Committee i
  • Title Page iii
  • ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations ix
  • I- Introduction 1
  • 3- The Use and Abuse of History 53
  • 4- Reinventing the Greeks 100
  • 5- The Aesthetic Process 152
  • 6- CONCLUSION: THE POVERTY OF AESTHETICISM? 188
  • SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY 204
  • Index 217
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