Chapter

On the Poetics and Politics of Voice

Jan Mieszkowski

in Labors of Imagination

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9780823225873
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235346 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823225873.003.0004
On the Poetics and Politics of             Voice

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The vision of the self that emerges from Heinrich von Kleist's reading of Kantian ethics differs sharply from the figure of specular self-determination generally associated with Idealist thought. In forcing one to reconsider the assumption that language can be a medium of rational activity, Kleist seems to part company from those inheritors of Immanuel Kant who accord ultimate primacy to the authority of reason. At the same time, one could argue that Kleist shares with both Kant and the Idealists a sense of the volatile power of literary language and a more general concern with the historical dimensions of artistic creation. It is precisely these problems that come to the forefront in the work of Friedrich Hölderlin. Like Kleist, Hölderlin is routinely celebrated for the innovative character of his writings, a judgment usually accompanied by the label of “difficult” or “obscure”. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of Hölderlin's oeuvre is its unique account of the relationship between literature and history.

Keywords: Heinrich von Kleist; Immanuel Kant; ethics; self-determination; literary language; Friedrich Hölderlin; self; literature; history

Chapter.  15201 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Language

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