Chapter

Introduction

Brenda Machosky

in Structures of Appearing

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242849
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242887 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823242849.003.0001
Introduction

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In order to examine allegory as a unique and peculiar phenomenon, the author subjects it to a process of phenomenological reduction, a philosophical method adapted from the work of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger. A phenomenology of allegory seeks to uncover what has been buried under centuries of sedimented traditions and prejudicial assumptions. Contrary to the conventional definition that allegory is basically “saying one thing and meaning another,” the author asserts that allegory is fundamentally a structure of appearance for things and ideas that cannot appear in any other way. The traditional emphasis on meaning, on “hidden levels” of allegory, is a product of the long-standing metaphysical approach to literature and art through aesthetics. A phenomenological reduction of allegory must first suspend the influences of philosophy and aesthetics as determinative. Moving away from meaning and towards appearance, the book focuses on the image, on appearance itself rather than a supposed manifest content. In studying the structure of appearance, the phenomenological study of allegory also becomes a challenge to philosophical language and aesthetic judgment, once more engaging in the “old quarrel” between philosophers and poets, initially noted by Plato in The Republic.

Keywords: aesthetics; allegory; appearance; meaning; phenomenological reduction; image

Chapter.  11352 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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