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on 26 May 2014
This is a fine translation of a book that seems to be largely overlooked in studies of Nietzsche these days. After 1880 Nietzsche did the majority of the work for which he is best known but this, his first book, is well worth reading.

The Nietzsche who wrote this short book was a 26 year old classicist who had decided to major in classical philology but who had also experienced the Franco Prussian war as a medical orderly and been invalided out after a bout of dysentery. One has to concede that Nietzsche was from the outset not a conventional classical philologist. Indeed from a classicist's point of view and from that of the philologist this is a weird book. Ostensibly Nietzsche is seeking to explore and explain the origins of classical Greek drama.Nietzsche does this by seeking to identify Apollonian and Dionysian aspects to Greek culture and to place them in opposition. The main part of the book is then a development of these ideas in parallel and in opposition.

One key aspect of the book is that it is only partly about the origins of Greek classical drama. It is at least as much about the possibility of a regeneration of great art through the spirit of music and specifically the music of Richard Wagner. A few short years later Nietzsche would turn on Wagner and also on Schopenhauer but in this book the young Nietzsche is still the ardent disciple of both.

Nietzsche here is already the strident voice he will become in the 1880s. It is just that he is strident in the service of ideas which are not yet fully fledged Nietzschean ideas. Here he is towards then end of the book, "Music and tragic myth are equal expressions of the Dionysian capacity of a people and are inseparable from one another. Both stem originally from an artistic domain which lies beyond the Apollonian."

One interesting aspect of the book is that while there is much reasonably sober exposition there are plenty of moments when Nietzsche launches into " passages of lyrical evocation, moral exhortation and disdainful invective". (this last quotation from Douglas Smith's excellent introduction to the book). It was this latter side of his style that Nietzsche went on to develop. He is never a convincing reasoner in a conventional philosophical sense (even here) but he is more convincing in this book than anywhere else in his work because his tone here is less hectoring and, let's face it when we reach the very last works, less borderline hysterical. Those last comments may seem unfair but Nietzsche is a thinker I left behind when I was about 25 but I do still recognise that his thought has an appeal and was certainly very influential in some areas of 20th century thought.

The book does contain Nietzsche's own introduction to the 1886 2nd edition in which the older Nietzsche explains his changes of mind in a ten page "attempt at self criticism"

There is an excellent introductory essay by Douglas Smith and his notes on the text are thorough, clear and very useful.
I have read a couple of other translations of this book and this is the one I strongly recommend.
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on 20 June 2016
Found this most useful for my A2 English Literature coursework on tragedy. Though I was studying post-war tragedy on e.g. The Great Gatsby and Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, it was most helpful to look back at the classical and original theories and ideas concerning tragedy. The Birth of Tragedy would not be considered as one of Nietzsche's best, as it is very biased and very informal, however, that is what makes the book perfect for coursework, enabling students to put it down to discussion, debate or show the examiner that you have your own personal opinion (by agreeing or disagreeing with Nietzsche's view)
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on 20 September 2011
This is a small book with big ideas.

I had never read Nietzsche before and decided to read this book in conjunction with others I was reading for a talk I am giving.

Although his writing is convoluted at times, as I would expect from a philosopher, I was intrigued by what he was saying, particularly in the light of later psychoanalytic theorists, such as Freud,Lacan,Klein, Bion etc., since he seems to be working on ideas that would later become crystallized in psychoanalytic thinking and theory.

This, enabled me to shape what it was I wanted to say in my talk. I was also able to understand his thinking, not only theoretically, but also in the light of his illness, which would, later, have a profound effect on his work and his life.

I could relate also to his notion of art, and music in particular, as stimulus for experience of the sublime.
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on 22 September 2016
Great introduction of almost perfect length and depth. The notes are extremely useful as Nietzsche references a lot of works and books most people have not read. A good starting point for reading Nietzsche as it's one of his first and most accessible works - which cant be said for most of his other works. Nietzsche makes a valuable statement of the importance of art as metaphysical consolation, where Attic tragedy is the highest achievement of art with it's ''perfect'' mixture of the Apollonian and Dionysian attributes. The arguements for this are extremely unconventional for a philosopher, but entertaining and passionate nonetheless.
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on 23 July 2016
fast delivery bought this edition as it was on offer.Do note that the book has very small print
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on 20 November 2013
Friedrich Nietzsche's 'The birth of tragedy: out of the spirit of music' raises the most profound questions about the nature art. Drawing from both Greek mythology and a deep knowledge of pre-Socratic Greek art Nietzsche attempts to account for the development and fate of Greek tragic theatre. It's a fascinating account that invites the reader to consider the contrasting artistic powers that find expression in different works of art. The text also suggests why every human is a consummate artist!
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on 19 May 2016
Good book. Thank you
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on 17 November 2015
present so can't comment but good book
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on 2 December 2017
Difficult read takes the author a while to make a point
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on 19 March 2015
The text itself is great, full of love for the Greek culture and myth, a real source of inspiration for people who believe in high and eternal art. But kindle version is full of typos - and it's in Penguin edition!
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