Philosophies of literature in the works of Nietzsche and Benjamin
Stephens, John Allen
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In Friedrich Nietzsche’s The Birth of Tragedy and Walter Benjamin’s “The Storyteller” the emergence of art is based on cultural traditions which are negated by modernizing forces. For Nietzsche these modernizing forces can be negated by the re-emergence of tragedy through the German spirit” that possesses the same capacity for aesthetic sensitivity and creativity as the Hellenic genius of Greek tragedy. For Benjamin however, modern culture is unable to utilize storytelling as a remedy for the modern world’s loss of meaning. Under Benjamin’s perspective historical realism, culture and social structure are both tied to particular historical moments, and the present is unable to recover past experiences. This thesis considers how Nietzsche and Benjamin assess the connection between art and culture, and how these philosophies of literature reflect different assessments of the possibilty of the rebirth of art.