Bewildering: Paul de Man, Poetry, Politics

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:
Bewildering: Paul de Man, Poetry, Politics

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No writer in the 20th century was more responsive to the possibilities and pitfalls of irony than Paul de Man. Although the term “irony” is not deployed in sustained manner in his last writings, it could be argued that irony remained de Man's constant object of interrogation and concern. This chapter considers how the motif of “articulation” functions in de Man's late thought as one site where irony's force of disruption must be encountered and accounted for. The specific example is Kant's third Critique, and within it, the moment of the sublime. The sublime must supply the final articulation between pure and practical reason, cognition and action. De Man's reading of Kant's text discloses how this articulation, as necessary as it remains, falls subject to “ironic” disarticulation at every point. It therefore also suggests how and why “irony” becomes a principle of repeated interruption in the reception of Kant's aesthetic by Schlegel, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche.

Keywords: Paul de Man; Irony; Articulation; Kant; The third Critique; the aesthetic; the sublime; Cognition; Action; Disarticulation

Chapter.  9706 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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