The Birth of Tragedy

The Birth of Tragedy

The Birth of Tragedy

The Birth of Tragedy

Synopsis

In The Birth of Tragedy Nietzsche expounds on the origins of Greek tragedy and its relevance to the German culture of its time. He declares it to be the expression of a culture which has achieved a delicate but powerful balance between Dionysian insight into the chaos and suffering which underlies all existence and the discipline and clarity of rational Apollonian form. In order to promote a return to these values, Nietzsche critiques complacent rationalism of late nineteenth-century German culture and makes an impassioned plea for the regenerative potential of the music of Wagner. A wide ranging discussion of the nature of art, science, and religion, The Birth of Tragedy's argument raises important questions about the problematic nature of cultural origins which are still valid today.

Excerpt

Whatever may lie at the bottom of this questionable book: it must have been a question of the greatest interest and appeal, as well as a deeply personal question--as witnessed by the time in which it was written, in spite of which it was written, the exciting time of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1. While the thunder of the battle of Wörth died away over Europe, the exasperated friend of perplexing puzzles who was to father this book sat in some corner or other of the Alps, very perplexed and puzzled, at once very careworn and carefree, and wrote down his thoughts on the Greeks--the core of this wonderful and difficult book to which this belated foreword (or afterword) is to be added. Some weeks later: he found himself beneath the walls of Metz, still pursued by the question marks which he had added to the alleged 'serenity'* of the Greeks and of Greek art; until finally in that month of the greatest tension, as peace was being negotiated in Versailles,* he made his peace with himself and, during a slow convalescence from an illness brought home from the field of battle, completed the definitive version of the 'Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music'.--From music? Music and tragedy? The Greeks and the music of tragedy? The Greeks and the pessimistic work of art? The most accomplished, most beautiful, most envied type of men so far, the most persuasive of life's seductions, the Greeks-- what? they were the very people who needed tragedy? Even more--art? To what end--Greek art? . . .

One may surmise where all this places the great question mark of the value of existence. Is pessimism necessarily the sign of decline, decay, of the failure of the exhausted and weakened instincts?--as it was for the Indians,* as it is to all appearances for us 'modern' men and Europeans? Is there such a thing as a strong pessimism? An intellectual preference for the hard, horrific, evil, problematic aspects of existence which stems from well-being, from overflowing health, from an abundance of existence? Might . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.