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ISSN : 1226-4946(Print)
ISSN : 2288-5412(Online)
The Yeats Journal of Korea Vol.71 pp.1-20

On Tragedy: Maeterlinck, Nietzsche and Yeats

Hyungseob Lee
Hanyang University


Intertwining bardic artistry with Bergson’s notion that “to perceive is to immobilise,” Yeats astutely discerned the potential of European Symbolist drama to inform his own theatrical venture. This resonance was notably apparent in the “static drama” championed by Belgian playwright Maurice Maeterlinck, a pivotal influence on Yeats during the 1890s, and one that would reverberate throughout his later years. Concurrently, Yeats found allure in Nietzschean philosophy’s exploration of tragedy, which highlighted the harmonious fusion of Apolline and Dionysiac impulses. This study delves into Yeats’s theory of tragedy, dissecting its merits and limitations by placing it in dialogue with Nietzsche’s philosophy of tragedy on one hand, and Maeterlinck’s conception of static drama on the other. Particular attention is devoted to the complex relationship between tragic effect and dramatic form in Yeats’s theory. While drawing profound inspiration from both sources, Yeats aspired to develop his distinctive theory of tragedy. In his vision, the essence of tragic elation arises from profound stillness, delving into the deepest corners of the human soul, ultimately striving for the transcendental.





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