Thursday, 15 September 2011

The Birth of Tragedy - Nietzsche

Genre: Literature & Fiction
Tagline:The Life Affirming Power of Art & Music

In this, his first book, written when he was 27, Nietzsche offers a dense but compelling speculation into the psychological origins of Greek tragedy, its untimely death after a few brilliant years, and the potential for its re-birth in the German context at the end of the 19th century. But as well as philosophical examination, this is also a celebration of music, dream and myth in art forms that defy conceptualization, transcending the plastic boundary of the individual and rational, and reflecting an intuitive feeling of will that strives not for satisfactory resolution, but rather to suffer the veils of appearances and so burn through them to the ineffable things-in-themselves. Tragedy then is the fusion of Apollonian impulses for individuation, beauty and restraint with Dionysian impulses for unity, intoxication and participation, these two, objective and subjective, represented in poetry by Homer and Antilochus respectively. In the witnessing of the tragic chorus, in whom the audience see themselves, these two impulses merge in imagination and music. But the Apollonian was neutralised over time by the scientific impulse for mastery that yearns for a continuous unveiling of the goddess of truth, a delighting in the outer forms of her appearance without getting to her heart, while the Dionysian was poisoned by Socratic optimism unfit to withstand the retribution of her violent sensuality. Nietzsche's dream then is a revival of that divine intercourse, and tragedy's re-birth.

Whether we agree or not with Nietzsche's thought, the call is to bring our understanding to life!


  1. And here we are back to Kingsley's book I promised to review.... I'm going to do that now because it is directly relevant to this issue....

    Loved reading this Okei...

  2. Thanks a lot for this Nancy! It sounds like a great book. I hope to try to look it up next week... and just to link back to your review...