The Birth of Theater from the Spirit of Philosophy

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ISBN 978-0-8101-3262-7

Cloth Text – $99.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3261-0

Paper Text – $34.95

ISBN 978-0-8101-3260-3
Publication Date
May 2016
Page Count
256 pages
Trim Size
6 x 9

The Birth of Theater from the Spirit of Philosophy

Nietzsche and the Modern Drama
David Kornhaber

Nietzsche's love affair with the theater was among the most profound and prolonged intellectual engagements of his life, but his transformational role in the history of the modern stage has yet to be explored. In this pathbreaking account, David Kornhaber vividly shows how Nietzsche reimagined the theatrical event as a site of philosophical invention that is at once ancestor, antagonist, and handmaiden to the discipline of philosophy itself. August Strindberg, George Bernard Shaw, and Eugene O'Neill— seminal figures in the modern drama's evolution and avowed Nietzscheans all—came away from their encounters with Nietzsche's writings with an impassioned belief in the philosophical potential of the live theatrical event, coupled with a reestimation of the dramatist's power to shape that event in collaboration with the actor. In these playwrights' reactions to and adaptations of Nietzsche's radical rethinking of the stage lay the beginnings of a new direction in modern theater and dramatic literature.
About the Author

DAVID KORNHABER is an assistant professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Texas.

 “David Kornhaber’s book is a brilliant and original study of Nietzsche’s debt to theater and vice versa. In a clear and engaging style, Kornhaber explores a dialogue between philosophy and theater history.” —Matthew Wilson Smith, author of The Total Work of Art: From Bayreuth to Cyberspace and editor of Georg Büchner: The Major Works

“David Kornhaber’s book shows how ancient and modern theater as well as cultural criticism and theory, art history, musical analysis, and philosophy all interact with one another in Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy. In this detailed analysis, Nietzsche’s ‘speculations’—which initially created an academic scandal—are not only steeped in a profound understanding of the history and theory of the theater but also reveal themselves as a major source of inspiration for the most important developments of modern drama.”—Freddie Rokem, author of Philosophers and Thespians

“Written with exemplary clarity and verve, this book uncovers Nietzsche’s deepest attachments to the theater. It also explains why dramatists from Shaw to O’Neill were so captivated by this flamboyant thinker. The result is a new understanding of modern drama as the intersection of theater and philosophy.” —Martin Puchner, author of The Drama of Ideas: Platonic Provocations in Theater and Philosophy