TRAGEDY AND PHILOSOPHY by Walter Kaufmann

TRAGEDY AND PHILOSOPHY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Aside from his study of Nietzsche, this is the most interesting and important work Professor Kaufmann has written. Ambitious in scope (it closely reviews the theories of Plato, Aristotle, Hegel, Hume, Schopenhauer, and Nietzsche concerning the nature of tragedy), controversial in matter (Professor Kaufmann not only debates the ideas of the six philosophers, but also presents his own ""new poetics""), Tragedy and Philosophy offers as well, more or less on existential grounds, a spirited defense of the tragic poets, specifically the Greek dramatists and Shakespeare, who, the author contends, ""show us the reality of life,"" and not the illusory ""images of images"" Platonic criticism suggests. Of course, Kaufmann's particular definition of tragedy as an exalted symbolic action and so forth, is hardly exceptional (Kenneth Burke has developed along these lines a far more thoroughgoing and systematic analysis), and many of Kaufmann's immodest statements, such as that his reading of the Oedipus plays is possibly ""more illuminating than the standard interpretations from Aristotle to Freud,"" will not sit well with most readers. And yet it is really Kaufmann's combative tone, his itch to show up the vagaries of literary historians or wrong-headed assumptions or bad translations or inflated reputations (Styron's Nat Turner is slaughtered) that gives his book its special flair and impact. Add to this, truly intimidating scholarship, and you have a distinctive and challenging treatise.

Pub Date: Oct. 18th, 1968
ISBN: 0691020051
Publisher: Doubleday