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Nietzsche's OrphansMusic, Metaphysics, and the Twilight of the Russian Empire$
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Rebecca Mitchell

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780300208894

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300208894.001.0001

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Introduction: In Search of Unity

Introduction: In Search of Unity

(p.1) Introduction: In Search of Unity
Nietzsche's Orphans

Rebecca Mitchell

Yale University Press

This chapter emphasizes the central place music held in late imperial Russian cultural discourse, where it served both as a symbol of, and possible means for, forging a unified Russian identity. It defines the central concepts of “Nietzsche’s orphans” (an aesthetic community of individuals from disparate social and professional backgrounds who shared the belief that music provided a means of reunifying a society increasingly rent asunder by the strains of modernity) and the “Search for Orpheus” (the expectation of a Russian composer whose theurgic power would provide the basis for unifying society in the modern age). Multiple possible interpretations of Russian identity that vied for preeminence in the final years of the empire (imperial, ethnic-national, social, religious) are introduced, as is the perceived division between educated society and the Russian narod.

Keywords:   aesthetic community, modernity, narod, Nietzsche’s orphans, Orpheus, Russian identity, theurgy

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