Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure?

Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure?

3.15 (13 ratings by Goodreads)
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Why does tragedy give pleasure? Why do people who are neither wicked nor depraved enjoy watching plays about suffering or death? Is it because we see horrific matter controlled by majestic art? Or because tragedy actually reaches out to the dark side of human nature? A. D. Nuttall's wide-ranging, lively and engaging book offers a new answer to this perennial question.

The 'classical' answer to the question is rooted in Aristotle and rests on the unreality of the tragic presentation: no one really dies; we are free to enjoy watching potentially horrible events controlled and disposed in majestic sequence by art. In the nineteenth century, Nietzsche dared to suggest that Greek tragedy is involved with darkness and unreason and Freud asserted that we are all, at the unconscious level, quite wicked enough to rejoice in death. But the problem persists: how can
the conscious mind assent to such enjoyment? Strenuous bodily exercise is pleasurable. Could we, when we respond to a tragedy, be exercising our emotions, preparing for real grief and fear? King Lear actually destroys an expected majestic sequence. Might the pleasure of tragedy have more to do with
possible truth than with 'splendid evasion'?
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Product details

  • Paperback | 120 pages
  • 136 x 216 x 9mm | 168g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0198187661
  • 9780198187660
  • 1,324,621

Table of contents

1. Aristotle and After ; 2. Enter Freud ; 3. The Game of Death ; 4. King Lear ; Index
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Review quote

Review from previous edition shrewd and learned book * London Review of Book * shrewd and learned book. * London Review of Book *
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About A. D. Nuttall

A. D. Nuttall is Professor of English and Fellow of New College, Oxford
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Rating details

13 ratings
3.15 out of 5 stars
5 8% (1)
4 31% (4)
3 38% (5)
2 15% (2)
1 8% (1)
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