Tragedy and the idea of modernity

Joshua Billings, Miriam Leonard

Research output: Book/ReportBook

15 Scopus citations


From around 1800, particularly in Germany, Greek tragedy has been privileged in popular and scholarly discourse for its relation to apparently timeless metaphysical, existential, ethical, aesthetic, and psychological questions. The tradition of philosophical appropriations of Greek tragedy encompasses many of the most important thinkers of the past two centuries, including Hegel, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, and Heidegger. These theories have arguably had a more profound influence on modern understanding of the genre than works of classical scholarship or theatrical performances. Tragedy and the Idea of Modernity aims to mediate between the concerns of classicists and those of intellectual historians and philosophers, and thereby to open paths for approaching and appropriating this tradition. The book is focused on the way that understandings of Greek tragedy have conditioned notions of modernity, and suggests that the meaning of tragedy today is substantially formed by this interplay. Chapters span 2500 years of literature and philosophy, mediating between ancient and modern concepts of tragedy, and between readings of individual plays and considerations of genre.

Original languageEnglish (US)
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages368
ISBN (Electronic)9780191800672
ISBN (Print)9780198727798
StatePublished - May 21 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Aesthetics
  • Classical reception
  • Classical scholarship
  • German idealism
  • Greek tragedy
  • Philosophy of art
  • Psychoanalysis
  • The tragic


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