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Nietzsche, Tristan, and the Rehabilitation of Erotic Distance


Though Nietzsche’s lifelong fascination with Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde is well documented, its impact upon the developmental trajectory of his philosophy and in particular, his thinking on the nature of eroticism remains far from obvious. This article examines the previously unheralded influence of Wagner’s opera on Nietzsche’s various attempts, throughout the 1880s, at forging an alternative conception of erotic desire—a conception no longer subordinated to the pursuit for fusional reconciliation but rather linked to the eternal return and the unconditional affirmation of distance itself.