An Essay on the Tragic

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Overview

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.

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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
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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.

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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
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