Friedrich Schlegel and the Myth of Irony

Kevin Newmark

in Irony on Occasion

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780823240128
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823240166 | DOI:
Friedrich Schlegel and the Myth of Irony

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The question of the philosophical significance of irony is paradoxical to the extent that it was first posed in a theoretical manner by Friedrich Schlegel, whose own seriousness as a philosopher will always remain in doubt. This chapter examines that paradox by following the way a seminal study by Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy, The Literary Absolute, addresses the relation between philosophy and literature within the main texts of German romanticism. Can the “non-serious” dimension of literature be addressed adequately by philosophy without being reduced to a philosophical concept of the serious that it will always also resist? The response involves a consideration of the literary “image” and the way that its appearance (Schein) both invites and interrupts philosophical comprehension. The image as it is deployed in Schlegel's texts enacts a mode of ironic fragmentation that by extension unsettles any philosophical claim to understand the limits of its own discursive practices.

Keywords: Friedrich Schlegel; Myth; Irony; Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy; German romanticism; Image; Schein; Fragment; Chance; Madness

Chapter.  11407 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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