From the Stanford Encyclopedia
A few hints for perspective on Nietzsche’s conception of tragedy:
The second “untimely meditation” surveys alternative ways to write history, and discusses how these ways could contribute to a society’s health. Here Nietzsche claims that the principle of “life” is a more pressing and higher concern than that of “knowledge,” and that the quest for knowledge should serve the interests of life. This parallels how, in The Birth of Tragedy, Nietzsche looked at art through the perspective of life. The third and fourth studies — on Schopenhauer and Wagner, respectively — address how these two thinkers, as paradigms of philosophic and artistic genius, hold the potential to inspire a stronger, healthier and livelier German culture.
In Daybreak: Reflections on Moral Prejudices (Morgenröte. Gedanken über die moralischen Vorurteile, 1881), Nietzsche continues writing in his aphoristic style, but he marks a new beginning by accentuating as opposed to pleasure, the importance of the “feeling of power” in his understanding of human, and especially of so-called “moral” behavior. Always having been interested in the nature of health, his emerging references to power stem from his earlier efforts to discover the secret of the ancient Greeks’ outstanding health, which he had regarded as the effects of how “agon” (i.e., competition, one-upmanship, or contest, as conceived in his 1872 essay, “Homer’s Contest”) permeated their cultural attitudes.
Birth of Tragedy outline:
Chpt 1 -15 Theory of Attic Tragedy
Chpt 12 – 15 Its demise
Chpt 16 – 25 Extension of theory to Wagner’s opera’s
The book was generally not well received. It was considered too mystical, too ‘Wagnerian’.
The theory of Attic tradegy is to be explained through two artistic drivers: Apollonian and Dionysian. It sets out the aesthetics of tragedy, the significance of tragedy, how it works, and its component parts.
Apollo and dreams:
1. Dreams have determinate shapes and forms (things are individuated).
2. “we retain a pervasive sense that it is semblance” – a dream is appearance, and somewhere behind it is reality.
3. We experience good and bad things in dreams.