Author : Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 -1900)

Title : Art and Aesthetics?

Keywords: degeneration, wagner, art, music, philosophy, insanity .

Pages : Introduction | page 1 | page 2

Nietzsche’s reputation as a philosopher rests on his iconoclastic challenges to traditional morality and values, and the tenets of Christianity. Yet his corpus of work reveals a thinker whose themes and subjects ranged from personal attacks on contemporary artists and philosophers, to the ‘birth of tragedy’ in Greek culture. Influenced by Wagner and Schopenhauer, his later aphoristic work developed a more personal, less scholarly style.

In this extract, Nietzsche attacks the composer Richard Wagner (1813-1883), whom he knew personally, and whom he considered an example of German decadence. Superficially criticising Wagner in an almost Nordauseque vein, Nietzsche in fact hugely admired some of Wagner’s works. The philosopher’s writings on degeneration and decadence are not pieces to be read in the same way as other ‘degenerationist’ works of the same period - and need to be dovetailed with an understanding of his ideas on ‘great men,’ values, and cultural continuity.

Back to Degeneration Documents | Introduction | page 1 | page 2