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The Birth of Tragedy

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  13,062 ratings  ·  483 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, New Edition, 160 pages
Published November 27th 2003 by Penguin Classics (first published 1871)
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Mishou If you've never read Nietzsche before the worst possible thing you can do is read Thus Spoke Zarathustra. That is his final complete piece of writing …moreIf you've never read Nietzsche before the worst possible thing you can do is read Thus Spoke Zarathustra. That is his final complete piece of writing with so much weight and hardiness after writing complex pieces previous to it. Yes The birth of Tragedy is his first published work but it is still quite an undertaking and not to be read lightly. If you truly want to experience and appreciate his thoughts and philosophy properly, the best thing you can do is read a secondary source to get a sense of the matter without having to jump through fiery hoops to understand it. I'm a minor in Philosophy and my boyfriend is a 3rd year Major. Trust me you'll be doing yourself a favor and will have better success in excelling with Nietzsche. A great secondary source is "The Importance of Nietzsche" by Erich Heller. Then, if you want to move on past Secondary sources I suggest (smaller than The Birth of Tragedy) "Human, All-Too-Human". (less)

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Glenn Russell
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing

With his vivid, passionate language, 19th century German philosopher Fredrich Nietzsche wrote his books as a way to pry open a space in a reader’s psyche, a space empowering an individual to embark on a journey of inner exploration. This is precisely why I think any attempt, no matter how well intended, to rephrase, paraphrase or synopsize Nietzsche, without including a fair amount of Nietzsche’s actual words, is a terrible injustice committed against one of the greatest literary stylists in the
Riku Sayuj

Apollo Vs Dionysus: A Darwinian Drama

Nietzsche never struck me as a real philosopher. He was too much the story-teller.

This is probably his most a-philosophical (?) work. But it is my favorite. It was the most accessible to me and it was the most relevant of his works. It helped me form my own convictions. It was universal and yet not choke full of platitudes. It was forceful but not descending into loud (almost incomprehensible) invectives. (you know which works I subtly allude to)

'Birth of Tra
Sean Barrs
Nietzsche talks in abstract ways and I find it very difficult to access his words and ideas, and even harder to actually agree with them or sympathise with his stance.

As such, I’ve always found this book a little odd. I read it years ago for university, but I recently picked it up again with the hope of appreciating it a little more now that I’m older and more widely read. It didn’t make any difference. Perhaps it’s this work or perhaps me and Nietzsche just don’t get on, either way I will have
Roy Lotz
Feb 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
A few weeks ago, I finished Marx’s Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right. It strikes me now that that book and this one are similar, in that they shed light on the two thinkers as young men. In Marx’s Critique, we see the twenty-something grappling with the tentacled beast of Hegel; in The Birth of Tragedy, we see young Nietzsche taking his first bold step off the straight-and-narrow path of academia into his own world of thought. Both books are, to put it delicately, ‘young men’s books’—bold, ...more
Jon Nakapalau
Another '10%' book for me: I think I understood about 10% of what Nietzsche was trying to say - so here is my 10% review: the dichotomy between (A)pollonian (rational) and (D)ionysian (irrational) impulses is a constant 'tug-of-war' that seems to go on for the soul of a nation; indeed this is the singular impulse that must be addressed if one is to talk of creativity and the "Primordial Unity" that underlines all such endeavors. Nietzsche then turns his focus to Greek tragedy to 'flesh' out both ...more
Nietzsche. Years ago, all I knew about him was that overused quote that says “Without music, life would be a mistake”. A couple of days ago, I found a funny picture that reminded of that.


Ha! Ok, maybe not funny ha-ha. If you speak Spanish...

Anyway. The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche's first work. I read it years ago (the great Schopenhauer led me to him) but I didn't remember much. Since I want (or wanted, I don't know) to start with Thus spoke Zarathustra, I figured I should begin with something s
Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy

In Helen Morales' introduction to Tim Whitmarsh's fine new translation of Leucippe and Clitophon ,

written by the Alexandrian Greek Achilles Tatius in the 2nd century CE, she mentions that Nietzsche condemned the ancient Greek novels as a final sign of the degeneration of Greek literary art. I had forgotten all about that, so I thumbed through Die Geburt der Tragödie to find what he said in context and was pul
Brian Michels
Nov 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Before Nietzsche became unhinged he wrote this great work. It took a toll on me after I read it because it was my introduction to Nietzsche and everything of his that I read afterwards was miscued; it scattered my thought process for a few years. The Joyful Wisdom, filled with remarkable poetry, was nearly like an acid trip. Thank goodness young minds have the capacity of recovering.

At its simplest, The Birth of Tragedy is a foundation for drama - that which captures you and also moves you, wax
Elie F
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book helps me understand why I don't like Socrates: his generalization about rationality and virtue is too optimistic, unartistic, and will-negating. In one word, boring. Rationality itself can never make life worth living. Disillusion, semblance, errors, deceptions, irrational impulses, all of which Socrates negate, are inseparable from life, they are what life ultimately rests on. What can theoretical knowledge possibly lead to, other than the killing of action, or the nihilistic revelati ...more
Jonathan Terrington

The Birth of Tragedy is by far the better written and useful of the three works by Friedrich Nietzsche that I have so far read. Thus proving that when he is not angrily ranting about religion and morality, that Nietzsche does have important points to make about humanity. That is not to say that Nietzsche does not have his own pointed comments about religion in this narrative argument that he creates, more that these comments are superseded by the other arguments created by Nietzsche.

In the fore
Czarny Pies
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers with a strong knowledge of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Aristophanes.
Shelves: religion, philosophy
This is very obviously a major work of literary criticism. Nietzsche succeeds with the very improbable endeavor of presenting a new vision of Greek tragedy in opposition to the interpretation of Aristotle. Reducing to the point of absurdity, Aristotle argues that tragedy offers us catharsis; that is to say, it purges us of our existential anxiety whereas Nietzsche argues that tragedy is a celebration of the basic absurdity of man's condition.

Nietzsche attacks with considerable success everything
Jul 30, 2012 rated it liked it
Recipe for "The Birth of Tragedy":

1. Add one part speculative psychological inquiry into the deepest recesses of Hellenic consciousness.
2. Stir in some rousing and thought-provoking anti-Socratic and anti-Euripidean invective.
3. Season with a pinch of ecstatically Dionysiac rhetoric.
4. If necessary, add more speculative psychological inquiry to taste.
5. Beat vigorously until mixture produces an unqualified dithyrambic adoration of Richard Wagner.
6. Let stand until properly matured.

Serves 1.
Matthew Hartley
Oct 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
‘Only as an aesthetic phenomenon that existence and the world are eternally justified.’

In The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche’s first book, he describes what he believes are the two central forces in art and how they merged to form Greek tragedy. The two forces are the Dionysian and the Apolline. The Dionysian is wild, formless and is associated with music, the will and breaking through cultural norms. The Apolline deals with sculpture, dreams, poetry, restraint and the individual.

The ancient Gree
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Friedrich Nietzsche is a good philosopher, "The Birth of Tragedy" explains and explores the relationship between order and chaos, and how they are both interlinked. If one has order, one has chaos, if one is in order, one is in chaos, Nietzsche expands on these themes in "Beyond Good and Evil." Both good and evil come from the same place. Nietzsche's argument that art is necessary to heal oneself of tragedy, it is very similar to Aristotle's "Poetics", catharsis through art. "The Birth of Traged ...more
Meh. I get his point, but I just can't agree with him.
Rowland Pasaribu
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As The Birth of Tragedy was Nietzsche's first published book, it is a rather awkwardly written representation of his early ideas. Nietzsche lamented as much in a supplementary preface, which he wrote fifteen years later in 1886. The older Nietzsche looks back, as we all do, with embarrassment on his younger self. He writes, "Today I find it an impossible book: I consider it badly written, ponderous, embarrassing, image-mad and image-confused, sentimental, in places saccharine to the point of ...more
Feb 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The author, who certainly knew his Greek history, argues that early classical Greek tragedies (i.e. written by Aeschylus and Sophocles) demonstrated an heroic effort to understand and affirm human suffering and existence in a meaningless world. Greek culture was a blend between the Apollonian and the Dionysian. Apollo, the sun god, sought to bring order, meaning, and form to the harsh world people saw around them. Dionysus, the god of wine, sought to immerse people in the immediate changing worl ...more
Po Po
May 08, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
An examination of the origins and essence of Greek tragedy as the duality of two interwoven artistic impulses: Apollonian versus Dionysian.

Apollonian: represents apotheosis of individuation
Dionysian: represents agonies of individuation

Very yin-yang-y. Overly simplistic. Sophisticated versus primal. Good versus evil. Pure versus impure. Rational versus irrational. Cerebral versus emotional.

Inaccessible, excessively wordy. Needless repetition of ideas.
Apr 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting insights. His reading of tragedy is absolutely superb, although I think there is a little irony in conceptualising the dinoyesian. I like that he privileged music above other forms; it seems intuitively true. I also think this whole 'hatred of rationality' shite is... well, shit. If you read him carefully, he's saying that the best art has an unmixable mix of the 2 forces. I think that he's saying it's impossible to be either 'completely', or if you are, art loses out. He was ab ...more
A young, bookish moustachioed professor, newly appointed to a provincial chair of philology, falls under the spell of a mysterious, scheming and possibly malevolent composer, whose unholy music break all the boundaries of taste or custom. Our hero soon suspects a dark secret at the heart of his mesmerizing arrangements – but enamored of the composer's innocent wife, the professor descends further and further into the primal madness of music, exploring ancient nameless wisdom so terrible mankind ...more
Jacob Hurley
Jun 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Nietzsche's first work, prior to his conceptions of morality and unter/ubermenschen. He has the prototype of Apollonian and Dionysian, and uses this to fill up his theory of history which concerns the motion from the tragedy of Aeschylus with its nonhuman revelry all the way to Euripides and Socrates who corrupt this primative, natural glory with vain and ugly searches for truth and beauty. I think he misuses those concepts a little bit, which he does concede in his "Attempt at Self Criticism" f ...more
Oct 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
With this one I think I'm finally getting Nietzsche, as this is an early work which introduces a number of concepts which, though he didn't continue with them in whole, he still retained their essence. The most important one is how closely tied aesthetics, ethics, and epistomology are, which prefigures many of his later stances on morals and reason. Even stronger to me this time around is his timeliness which lays testimony to his astute historical sense. The institutions of art at the time were ...more
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
S5: .... we know the subjective artist only as the poor artist, and throughout the entire range of art we demand first of all the conquest of the subjective, redemption from the “ego,” and the silencing of the individual will and desire. Indeed, we find it impossible to believe in any truly artistic production, however insignificant, if it is without objectivity, without pure contemplation devoid of interest. [Note - a concept from Schopenhauer] Hence our aesthetics must solve the problem of how ...more
A difficult book to scrutinise unless you're versed in German thought (Kant, Schopenhauer, Schiller, Goethe, etc) and Greek myths, philosophy, and tragedy (Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides). Nietzsche pits strict, clear-cut Apollonian individuation (man as artist) against the unifying primal forces of Dionysius (man as work of art, as god, as nature), before arguing that the Tragedy marries the two. The last line of the book says: 'But now follow me to the tragedy and let us perform a sacrifice i ...more
Kyle van Oosterum
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
In a work, originally intended to outline the genesis of an art-form, Nietzsche has created what we can liken to the most fascinating conceptual coin. On one side of the coin, we have the 'Apolline', a term which loosely relates to our love for the rational and the beautiful, for systematising reality and cherishing illusion. On the other side, we have the 'Dionysiac', a term which accurately encapsulates a primal frenzy, a chaotic revelry under which "man is no longer an artist, but a work of a ...more
This took me almost a year (9.5 months) to finish! I read 3- 5 pages every few days because it's hard to understand otherwise. The Birth of Tragedy is a very dense piece of literature. Nietzsche pretty much talks about how Greek tragic art was controlled by two forces - the rational, light of Apollo versus the drunken insanity of Dionysus. I liked the concept that the world is meaningless and so we create art and music to give it a meaning.
Probably my favorite part was Nietzsche's little anec
Steven Godin
I had never read Nietzsche before, but after reading, Sartre, Wittgenstein, Schopenhauer, and Freud, I thought I was ready for some Nietzsche. It would also make me look clever if let's say The Birth of Tragedy ever came up in conversation at a dinner party or whilst out dining with friends. Not that that was ever likely to happen, but you just never know. This was everything I would come to expect from a philosopher, and although I was intrigued by what he was getting across, his convoluted wri ...more
Nov 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, philosophy
A great introduction to Nietzsche. If you want to understand him at all, you have to understand the tension and balance between the Apollonian and Dionysian forces and this is where he clearly explains that dynamic. This is the book that started my love affair with all things Nietzsche.
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
Nietzsche is really speaking about the death of tragedy not its birth. He really doesn't like humanism in any of its variations. He says that it's our experiences which give us our understanding (a very Husserlian Phenomenological thing to say). The instinct, emotion, passion, the mysticism within us, and our intuitions are what really empower us (he says) not our reason. Music and dance lets the real person who lies within come to full actualization. Knowledge of the real world is not truth and ...more
Marts  (Thinker)
Feb 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I decided on a review of works by Nietzsche and considered reading as many of his works (most likely in chronological order), so this came up first. Having read other Nietzsche works I must say though that this one was a bit on the difficult side, rather wordy and overly descriptive. Generally, he presents thoughts on the tragedy art form distinguishing between the Dionysian and Apollonian (the disordered and the ordered), with existence being in the midst of constant struggle as though battling ...more
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Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a German philosopher of the late 19th century who challenged the foundations of Christianity and traditional morality. He was interested in the enhancement of individual and cultural health, and believed in life, creativity, power, and the realities of the world we live in, rather than those situated in a world beyond. Central to his philosophy is the idea of “life- ...more

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