I have written before of my difficulties with Nietzsche’s Birth of Tragedy, but obviously this doesn’t mitigate against its importance for any study of Greek drama and theatre. Now a new book from Contra Mundum Press provides a unique look at the basis for Nietzsche’s first major work.
The Greek Music Drama offers for the first time in English translation a lecture that Nietzsche delivered in 1870 at the Basel Museum. The publisher describes the book:
[It] was the first public enunciation of the great themes that would echo throughout Nietzsche’s philosophy: the importance of aesthetic experience for culture, the primacy of the body and physiological drives, and the centrality of music to Greek tragedy. Here we see Nietzsche’s genealogical methodology in embryonic form alongside the anti-humanist aesthetics that will bloom in his later work. …
Addressing the material conditions of Greek theater in detail, Nietzsche repudiates the abstract scholarly approach to the art of classical antiquity, proposing that in its stead we cultivate different emotional and intellectual powers in order to gain greater insight into that art. This seminal lecture offers an account of tragic experience from the sole perspective of the Dionysian, presenting a reading of nature of startling and far-reaching implications.
The Greek Music Drama presents the lecture in both its original German and in a new translation by Paul Bishop. More information about the book can be found here, and it’s now available via amazon.com here. The publisher is also offering a sample of the book and its introduction by Jill Marsden.