The lyric dimension of Nietzsche’s philosophy is undeniable, and he often asserts the importance of poetic and artistic expression in his philosophy. He for instance criticises his own style in his ‘Attempt at self-criticism’ of The Birth of Tragedy: ‘It should have sung, this “new soul”—rather than spoken! What a pity that I did not dare to say what I had to say then as a poet: I might have managed it!’ (BT ‘Attempt’ 3) In this attempt to write as a poet, the work Nietzsche considers as his chef-d’oeuvreThus Spoke Zarathustra, presents itself in the form of a long poem. As such it contains perhaps more images, metaphors, and allegories than philosophical concepts. The opposition and filiation between metaphor and concept is by the way at the centre of one of Nietzsche’s early unpublished essays, On Truth and Lie in a Nonmoral Sense. But what does it mean to express philosophical ideas as a poet?

While the poetic dimension of his philosophical writing has been extensively explored, Nietzsche furthermore wrote volumes of lyric poetry. His Idyll from Messina and his Dionysus-Dithyrambs are poetic volumes that explore his philosophical ideas in a different way. The relation between philosophy and poetry is further exemplified by The Gay Science which contains a prelude in rhymes. Two recent collected volumes in German have explored this lyrical production, but it remains rather unexplored in the English-speaking scholarship. This absence might be a consequence of the attempt to affirm Nietzsche’s philosophical significance that has been undertaken since Walter Kaufmann at least and that shadowed the lyric dimension of his work.

This themed conference aims to explore the relation between Nietzsche and the lyric. We welcome papers that explore the poetics of Nietzsche’s philosophy, his conception of metaphor and other poetic phenomena, his lyrical production as such, and the broader relation between philosophy and the lyric in his works.

Topics include but are not limited to

  1. Nietzsche as lyrical thinker
  2. Nietzsche’s style: prose or poetry?
  3. Translating Nietzsche’s lyric poetry
  4. Nietzsche’s reception as a lyric poet
  5. Lyrics as genre/lyric as gender in Nietzsche
  6. Relations between the lyrical and the bodily in Nietzsche
  7. Nietzsche and German Romanticism
  8. Nietzsche and specific poets (Goethe, Baudelaire, Byron, etc.)
  9. Nietzsche and music, theatre, tragedy, dance, song, etc.
  10. Metaphor and concept in Nietzsche
  11. Lyricism as evaluative criterion (e.g. pathos of distance, rank order of types, etc.)
  12. Nietzsche‘s lyrical rhetoric: between poetry and politics
  13. Close reading of his lyrical works that explore their lyrical form or content, for example from Idyll from Messina, Dionysus-DithyrambsThus Spoke Zarathustra, etc.

14 September 2023 — 16 September 2023
2:40 pm

University of Lausanne

Link to the conference