The Birth of Tragedy, Paperback
3 out of 5 (1 rating)


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of Western philosophy
  • ISBN: 9780486285153


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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, 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.