THE SPIRIT OF TRAGEDY by Herbert J. Muller


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This is a scholarly, long, and only sometimes provocative discussion of the role of tragedy in its four most important periods- the Greek, the Shakespearean age, the French classical period, and the modern as typified by Ibsen and O'Neill. In an interesting and stimulating preface, Professor Muller (for he is nothing if not professorial) defines tragedy as ""a fiction inspired by the serious concern with man's fate"". From this point of view, he delimits tragedy as pessimistic, humanistic, but never cynical. The bulk of the book however is devoted to a detailed discussion of the works of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Seneca, Marlowe and Shakespeare, the French classicists, and finally the moderns. Unfortunately many interesting ideas are buried under a mass of erudition- and some awkward writing. The appeal here is therefore limited to a number of academicians and students of literature.

Publisher: Knopf