Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik

by Friedrich Nietzsche

Paperback, 1991



Call number

CG 5904 G293



Stuttgart: Reclam


Die Geburt der Tragödie (1872) is one of the most important philosophical texts of the modern period. Nietzsche describes how Greek tragedy was born out of the encounter between the Dionysian and the Apollonian and represents a culture in which a balance between the two was achieved. The Dionysian plunged Greek culture into chaos and despair but also paved the way for the regenerative power of Apollonian clarity and rationality. It is this model that Nietzsche employs to understand both the decline of modern culture and the possible rebirth of this culture. In genuine tragic art, the Dionysian and Apollonian elements are completely entwined. In the music of Richard Wagner, to whom the work is dedicated, Nietzsche sees a redemptive power that can overcome the intellectual dichtonomy between the Dionysian and the Apollonian that characterises modern society.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member slumberjack
I was a bit amazed at how much I did not love this book. I had heard much about The Birth of Tragedy, all in such glowing terms, that I felt I was missing a lot by not having read it. Turns out, I wasn't missing as much as I thought.

The basic thesis behind The Birth of Tragedy is, to me,
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unconvincing. Too much is Romantic hooey, with typically Nietzchian hyperbolic prose. As much fun as that prose is to read, the overall argument - that there is a fundamental distinction between the more mannered Apollonian style and the wilder, freer Dionysian style - suffers from the lack of subtlety.

This is not to say that Nietzsche is an unsubtle writer. Far from it. But I find in him an annoying tendency to make brash claims, posit extreme contrasts, and ignore (if not deny) middle ground. In Zarathustra's hortative call for people to overcome social pressure to conform to a life of mediocrity, bold and brash may be called for. In an examination of literary styles, it seems to be not very apt.

Ultimately, for me, the success or failure of a book of literary criticism must be how original and how convincing the argument is. It's certainly an original argument, and a provocative one. But it doesn't persuade me at all.
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LibraryThing member pulpexploder
I haven't read much yet, but it seems to be more about Nietzsche having a man-crush on Wagner than about music.
LibraryThing member Fledgist
Nietzsche's examination of the origins of tragedy.
LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
The Birth of Tragedy is a disquisition on the Hellenic spirit, as expressed in tragedy and music, its remaining legagy, and its origins in the depths of time and consciousness. Nietzsche's philosophy throughout focuses on the aesthetic and its relation to the human condition. He attempts to assign
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life purpose through the value we gain from aesthetic pleasure, contrasting the opposing but equally necessary Dionysian (emotional, chaotic, communal ) and Appolonian (introspective, rational, high art), forms, into which all aesthetic experience can be divided, providing it is not a mixture of the two, in which case he argues it is not pure art. He writes in a forcefully oratorical style, with florid conviction, which to some extent eclipses the deep insights he gives the reader, superficially lending them weight. This was a relatively brief book, less than two hundred pages, and I think I probably enjoyed reading it far more than I ought to have done, and I will probably re-read it soon so I actually take in properly the intellectual content, without getting too carried away by the literary quality of the prose.
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LibraryThing member jrgoetziii
I'm going to differ with the other reviewers here, but I understand their quibbles and Nietzsche is hit-or-miss, love-him-or-hate-him in general. He says in 109 pages what could very easily be said in 25 and does so by making the matter more confusing. Reading Nietzsche is like solving very
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difficult algebraic problems because you have to often substitute ideas for words, wihch take on a "variable" form. Nevertheless this is much better than Thus Spoke Zarathusra and on par with On the Genealogy of Morals.

In this case I think the conception of tragedy as part Dionysian, part Apollonian is useful, if you substitute "hidden reality" for Dionysisan and "visible ideal" for Apollonian and assume that on a large scale that combination--or to be more specific the contrast and conflict between the two--produces discomfort.

And yes, he does have a man-crush on Wagner. No further comment.
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LibraryThing member Pandaros
This the book which ruined Nietzsche's career as a classical philologist. He had been appointed to the Chair of Greek at Basle University aged just 24 (the youngest ever Professor in Classics) and was full of all the impetuousness that youth provides. This book is a product of it, and in reading it
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one can see all the brash claims that brought Willamowitz, through jealousy, to ruin Nietzsche.

Certainly the history behind the book improves it. And even Nietzsche had to admit that he disagreed with much of the work, hence the much later preface he wrote which is present in the Penguin edition. If it wasn't for this book, however, and his subsequent ousting from Basle, Nietzsche may not have become the great philosopher he is - which is the grounding Willamowitz gave in his autobiography to justify his incredibly harsh and insulting rebuttal of the book.

Modern scholarship has now looked with a much more credible eye over this book. Many scholars, viz. Stephen Halliwell, the late W.B. Stanford, Malcolm Heath; are now calling this book misinterpreted and maligned. Indeed the main aim of Nietzsche's book was not to say that the Greek view of life was pessimistic or to explain the origins of Greek tragedy, but to attack the scientific methodology of philology. Yes, his book does support those claims and over one hundred years later people are willing to listen to what he has to say, but philology was Nietzsche's main victim of this book.

I have given it three stars. I agree with his view of philology, but his conclusions are rashly drawn and I don't entirely agree with what he says about the Dionysian-Apolline division in tragedy.
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LibraryThing member Becky221
This a review for the online version at solargeneral.com
Hmmm..... a difficult read to be sure. The book consists of Nietzsche's philosophical meanderings without converging on a point. I liked the contrast between the Apollonian idea of art and the idealized individual versus the Dionysian feeling
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of unity achieved through music and dance, however I was not sure if Nietzsche was advocating a marriage of the two to achieve a true tragedy? And to what purpose --- unification of a people? Perhaps he may have been calling for the "rebirth" of tragedy to unite the Germans during a difficult period of time. I would have given BoT only two stars but I wasn't sure if some of the coherence was lost in translation.
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LibraryThing member michaelbartley
I like a lot of nietzsche said, but I thought his writing was too complex, too flowerly. Nietzsche later said that was his poorest writing. His later work was more direct.
LibraryThing member madepercy
It is not without significant trepidation that I approach this otherwise short work. The cover blurb tells me this is a "challenging work". Never truer words written. I was comfortable with the basic premise of Nietzsche's later work (written after 1888) - I understand this book represents the
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starting point for much of Nietzsche's later Apollonian (order) versus Dionysian (chaos) modes, but I was still not convinced about his critical position towards Socrates. How little I knew. There is too much in this work to make coherent comment, but suffice to say if one were to start reading Nietzsche, start with this one. Although it might not make so much sense unless one jumps in later when his ideas are more fully developed. Maybe. The thought that wouldn't leave me alone while reading this was Edward de Bono's idea about the Greek Gang of Three (Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). This really challenged my thinking. At the same time, I can't help but think of the Socrates who was also a soldier and was learning to play music just before he drank the hemlock, whereas Plato as far as I know didn't do anything else and was keen to ban certain types of music. So lumping them altogether al la de Bono might be clever but I am not convinced. I am also not convinced that de Bono (and yes, I am a fan of de Bono) was all that original. This is one of the great wonders of reading the original texts. I did identify with the varieties of self-consciousness versus meta-cognition issues that consistently arise in the work. But I was unprepared for the onslaught of the Fans of Shakespeare that dominate my thoughts recently. To have Carlyle, Bloom, Nietzsche, and then before I have even written this, Oscar Wilde, tell me how important Shakespeare is, and I realise once more how far behind I am in my reading.
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Original publication date



3150071313 / 9783150071311
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