What in the world does Friedrich Nietzsche have against Weltliteratur?

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The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) briefly mentioned world literature twice in his work, once in Die Geburt der Tragödie aus dem Geiste der Musik (The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music), first published in 1872, then later in Jenseits von Gut und Böse (Beyond Good and Evil) of 1886. Both mentions are puzzling, ambivalent, allusive, and in need of hermeneutic explication. They ask the "big question" of world literature, namely what consolation (Trost) it can provide modern man. This essay examines Nietzsche's discussion in light of the (substantially different) overall arguments of the two works, and of the potential sources for Nietzsche's idea of world literature. It then turns to later writers who, at times under the direct influence of Nietzsche, have examined world literature under a similar optic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)367-379
Number of pages13
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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