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 reaction to the sublime. He believed the combination of these states produced the highest forms of music and tragic drama, which not only reveal the truth about suffering in life, but also provide a consolation for it. Impassioned and exhilarating in its conviction, The Birth of Tragedy has become a key text in European culture and in literary criticism.
Friedrich Nietzsche was born near Leipzig in 1844, the son of a Lutheran clergyman. At 24 he was appointed to the chair of classical philology at Basle University, where he stayed until forced by his health to retire in 1879. Here, he wrote all his literature, including Thus Spake Zarathustra, and developed his idea of the Superman. He became insane in 1889 and remained so until his death in 1900. Shaun Whiteside has translated widely from French, German and Italian. Michael Tanner is a Fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He is particularly interested in Wagner and Nietzsche.