Jonathan Dollimore
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Art in time of war
Towards a contemporary aesthetic

This chapter refers not just to the literary encounter with war, but the way wars in the last century compelled artists and intellectuals into rethinking the aesthetic its scope, its power and its dangers. The Second World War confirmed the bankruptcy of Enlightenment humanism. For Hermann Hesse and numerous others in earlier generations, the humanist aesthetic was a liberating expression of profoundly civilising sympathies. The chapter argues that modernists like W. B. Yeats and D. H. Lawrence, under the influence of F. Nietzsche, offer an exhilarating celebration of an amoral aesthetics of energy. The importance of Nietzsche contrasting the Dionysiac conception of art with the humanitarian is in terms of two distinct kinds of sufferer, those who suffer from a superabundance of life and those who suffer from an impoverishment of life.

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