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Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure? Paperback – May 24, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0198187660 ISBN-10: 0198187661

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (May 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198187661
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198187660
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,326,680 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Why Does Tragedy Give Pleasure? offers a highly engaging discussion of its title question and a very suggestive answer....I would recommend that any one who wants to take his or her own run at the problem of tragedy should first spend some time engaging with the arguments in Why Does Tragedy give Pleasure?."--Review

"This delightful little book not only attracts the reader with its enigmatic title, it ensnares her into following its argument like a detective story, whose solution is not disclosed before its final pages. In a style more reminiscent of poetry than a philological treatise it deserves to be handled with care...."--Bryn Mawr Classical Review

About the Author

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

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Rasband VINE VOICE on February 24, 2008
Format: Paperback
Nuttall's short, 100 page book can get pretty densely academic in its prose for a general reader like me. But it's rewarding when he boils down his argument in the last 50 or so pages. He says that tragedy in literature is a "game of death" that we play in order to rehearse for the worst that can happen. So far, so good. But then Nuttall deftly demonstrates how in King Lear (Norton Critical Editions) Shakespeare deliberately breaks all the rules of the game of classical tragedy in order to write the most horrific story he could imagine. And we love the play anyway. So it turns out that tragedy is not just a game after all, but a gate to knowledge we could never otherwise get, except by actually experiencing tragedy ourselves in real life. So the problem of "tragedy giving pleasure" remains. Because there is a mystery at the center of life that is inexplicable--except through the feelings we have at the end of a great book, or play like "Lear." This is a stimulating little essay.
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