The Birth of Tragedy: Out of the Spirit of Music

Penguin UK
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A compelling argument for the necessity for art in life, Nietzsche's first book 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 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. Impassioned and exhilarating in its conviction, The Birth of Tragedy has become a key text in European culture and in literary criticism.
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Penguin UK
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Published on
Nov 27, 2003
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Literary Criticism / General
Philosophy / Aesthetics
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This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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This volume comprises one of the key lecture courses leading up tothe publication in 1966 of Adorno's major work, NegativeDialectics. These lectures focus on developing the conceptscritical to the introductory section of that book. They show Adornoas an embattled philosopher defining his own methodology among theprevailing trends of the time. As a critical theorist, herepudiated the worn-out Marxist stereotypes still dominant in theSoviet bloc – he specifically addresses his remarks tostudents who had escaped from the East in the period leading up tothe building of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Influenced as he was bythe empirical schools of thought he had encountered in the UnitedStates, he nevertheless continued to resist what he saw as theirsurrender to scientific and mathematical abstraction. However,their influence was potent enough to prevent him from reverting tothe traditional idealisms still prevalent in Germany, or to theirlatest manifestations in the shape of the new ontology of Heideggerand his disciples. Instead, he attempts to define, perhaps moresimply and fully than in the final published version, a‘negative', i.e. critical, approach to philosophy. Permeatingthe whole book is Adorno’s sense of the overwhelming power oftotalizing, dominating systems in the post-Auschwitz world.Intellectual negativity, therefore, commits him to the stubborndefence of individuals – both facts and people – whostubbornly refuse to become integrated into ‘the administeredworld’.

These lectures reveal Adorno to be a lively and engaginglecturer. He makes serious demands on his listeners but alwaysmanages to enliven his arguments with observations on philosophersand writers such as Proust and Brecht and comments on currentevents. Heavy intellectual artillery is combined with a concern forhis students’ progress.

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