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Literature, Modernism, and Dance$
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Susan Jones

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565320

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565320.001.0001

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Nietzsche, Modernism, and Dance

Nietzsche, Modernism, and Dance

Dionysian or Apollonian?

Chapter:
(p.44) 2 Nietzsche, Modernism, and Dance
Source:
Literature, Modernism, and Dance
Author(s):

Susan Jones

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565320.003.0003

Friedrich Nietzsche, together with Mallarmé, provided one of the major sources of inspiration for the relationship between literature and dance in the modern period. But whereas Mallarmé's symbolist reading ultimately resides in the beauty and elegance of the dancing figure, an opposing aesthetic polarity arises from the more earthy, agonistic style of Nietzsche's ‘Dionysian’. This chapter shows how Nietzsche's rediscovery of the Dionysian, through his exploration of classical drama, constituted a major influence on the aesthetics of modern dance and literature. Moreover, the tension between Dionysian and Apollonian modes, present in Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, is illustrated by the aesthetic struggles of literary and choreographic experimentalism in the texts of J. M. Synge's prose, Yeats's drama, and through the experimental choreography, including Greek dance and the work of Isadora Duncan in Europe and innovators in the USA. Using the example of George Balanchine's landmark ballet Apollo, the chapter concludes by showing how modernism encountered the recovery of the harmony and rationality of the Apollonian in the twentieth century.

Keywords:   Nietzsche, Dionysian, Apollonian, modernist aesthetics, chorus, identity

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