Idea of Poetry, Idea of Prose

Heron Nicholas

in The Work of Giorgio Agamben

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780748634620
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652440 | DOI:
Idea of Poetry, Idea of Prose

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This chapter reconstructs the series of references, left largely unexamined by Giorgio Agamben himself, that gather around the central notion of ‘the idea of prose’. It reviews the origin of this movement in three major texts of Walter Benjamin: ‘The concept of criticism in German Romanticism’, ‘The Storyteller’, and the preparatory notes to his final text ‘On the Concept of History’. According to Benjamin, the basic epistemological presuppositions of the early Romantic concept of criticism are entirely concentrated in the concept of reflection. ‘The idea of poetry is prose’: this formula, according to Benjamin, is the ‘final determination’ of the early Romantic idea of art. The idea of poetry as that of prose must be confronted — according to that salient expression which, more than two decades later, suffuses Benjamin's very last fragments — with the idea of prose, understood, precisely, as that of poetry.

Keywords: Giorgio Agamben; Walter Benjamin; prose; poetry; reflection; The Storyteller

Chapter.  7032 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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