- Birth of Tragedy; or, Hellenism and Pessimism (Version 2)
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This is one of Nietzsche's early academic writings - a scholarly theory about Ancient Greek theatre, specifically tragedies. In a nutshell, this work theorizes about why (Greek) spectators enjoy watching actors in a long series of scenes that depict human suffering (i.e., tragedy). It is a curious question, especially at the time since scholars generally thought of the Greeks as "A race of men, well-fashioned, beautiful, envied, life-inspiring, like no other race hitherto" (per Nietzsche's introduction). What did they need tragedy for? The question itself, and the path Nietzsche takes to answer this question, outraged the academic world. Later, an older Nietzsche criticizes this book himself and warns the reader that this text "should be treated with some consideration and reserve; yet I shall not altogether conceal how disagreeable it now appears to me, how after sixteen years it stands a total stranger before me."