An Essay on the Tragic

Paperback (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $14.25
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 31%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (15) from $14.25   
  • New (7) from $14.25   
  • Used (8) from $14.99   


Peter Szondis pathbreaking work is a succinct and elegant argument for distinguishing between a philosophy of the tragic and the poetics of tragedy espoused by Aristotle. The first of the books two parts consists of a series of commentaries on philosophical and aesthetic texts from twelve thinkers and poets between 1795 and 1915: Schelling, Hölderlin, Hegel, Solger, Goethe, Schopenhauer, Vischer, Kierkegaard, Hebbel, Nietzsche, Simmel, and Scheler. The various definitions of tragedy are read not so much in terms of their specific philosophies, but rather in the way their views assist in analyzing tragedies with an aim to establish a general concept of the tragic.

The second part presents exemplary analyses of eight tragedies: Sophocles'Oedipus Rex, Calderons Life Is a Dream, Shakespeares Othello, Gryphius Leo Armenius, Racines Phaedra, Schillers Demetrius, Kleist's The Schroffenstein Family and Büchner's Danton's Death. The readings neither presuppose a concept of the tragic determined by context (as in Hegel's idea of the conflict between two orders of right), nor do they focus exclusively on the texts explicit contents. Instead, they elaborate the dialectical or aporetic structures at the heart of the tragic. The works analyzed represent the four great epochs of tragic poetry: the age of Greek tragedy; the Baroque era in Spain, England, and Germany; French Classicism; and the age of Goethe.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This is a gem of a book. Few critics would be capable of engaging a significant number of the great tragedies and important theorists of tragedy in such short compass. But Szondi does it in completely remarkable fashion. Not only does this make for captivating reading, it also makes this a virtually ideal teaching tool, for it features the signature of Szondi’s writing: great clarity, about complex matters. No one has really replaced Szondi in his role as a theoretically informal interpreter of comparative literature.”—Ian Balfour, York University
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780804743952
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/2002
  • Series: Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Szondi (1929-1971) was Professor of Comparative Literature at the Free University in Berlin. He is the author of groundbreaking works on the theory of drama, on literary hermeneutics, on Hölderlin, and on Celan.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Pt. I The Philosophy of the Tragic
1 Schelling 7
2 Holderlin 11
3 Hegel 15
4 Solger 23
5 Goethe 25
6 Schopenhauer 28
7 Friedrich Theodor Vischer 31
8 Kierkegaard 34
9 Hebbel 37
10 Nietzsche 41
11 Simmel 44
12 Scheler 47
Transition 49
Pt. II Analyses of the Tragic
13 Oedipus Rex 59
14 Life Is a Dream 64
15 Othello 70
16 Leo Armenius 74
17 Phaedra 78
18 Demetrius 82
19 The Schroffenstein Family 90
20 Danton's Death 95
Notes 101
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)