In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the protagonist frequently and eloquently refers to his own taciturnity and to the fundamental insights into the ways of the world that this silence conceals from his interlocutors. It is partly due to this emphasis on a pivotal inaccessibilty that the play has provoked numerous philosophical interpretations. For example, Nietzsche in The Birth of Tragedy and Walter Benjamin in Origin of the German Trauerspiel have dealt with Hamlet’s loquacious refusal to communicate, and their interpretations, while problematic in some respects, can contribute to a better understanding of the drama, especially when they are placed in relation to one another. While Nietzsche’s somewhat forced interpretation traces Hamlet’s silence to the Dionysian experience of ancient tragedy, Benjamin’s counter-interpretation construes this silence as the expression of a specifically Protestant, melancholic conception of history, as well as of its dialectical overcoming. Although Origin of the German Trauerspiel convincingly demonstrates that Hamlet transforms his relationship to society and its language in the course of the play by reinterpreting the contingency of historical events as manifestations of eternal providence, a closer reading of the drama shows that this reinterpretation is not, as Benjamin claims, unfolding a genuinely Christian dialectic, at the endpoint of which stands the blissful silence of assured salvation. Rather, this reinterpretation appears as the expression of an amor fati that in many respects prefigures Nietzsche’s categorical affirmation of blind necessity; Hamlet’s interpretation of the course of the world as a circulus vitiosus resembles the idea of the eternal return, embracing this figure of thought in its most hopeless and most seminal form: as an apotheosis of endless annihilation.
Guigo II is commonly known and praised among specialists of Western mysticism for his Scala claustralium, a work that presents a spiritual program for cloistered monks. His Meditations, on the other hand, have usually been relegated to the margin of attention. The First Meditation, in particular, is generally regarded as a minor piece. The paper argues, however, that a new approach can make better sense of the First Meditation, while also enabling us to recognize its specific function and value. Seen from this new perspective, Guigo’s purpose with the text is to train and exercise his readers’ minds according to the spiritual program laid out in the Scala. The paper shows that the First Meditation realizes that goal, surprisingly, by having the same essential features that Umberto Eco found in the ‘open works’ of the Western avant-garde.
Taking its cue from the critical treatment given to unreliable narration by Wayne C. Booth and his early followers, and in contrast to the claims often made in the field of authentication theory, this paper seeks to join the debate on “third-person” narrative unreliability by outlining an inclusive approach to this phenomenon in which the “person” parameter need not be a determining factor. To theorize and illustrate this approach, a methodological context is first developed by juxtaposing Genette’s revisionist stance on voice and perception with Booth’s 1961 dismissal of the vocal issue and his controversial assimilation of tellers and observers. Then Ryan’s dissenting views are addressed by identifying common ground between her idea of the impersonal narrator and the principles of inclusivity which precisely rest on the impersonating potential of that figure. Finally the inclusive conception of unreliability is shown at work in three Jamesian tales – “The Aspern Papers” (1888), “The Liar” (1888), and “The Beast in the Jungle” (1903) – whose different vocal options do not seem to immunize their narrators against charges of untrustworthiness.
Kalīla and Dimna was translated from Pahlavi into Arabic in the 8th century AD by Ibn al-Muqaffaʿ, and it became an influential text in numerous literary cultures. Copyists in the Arabic manuscript tradition acted as coauthors, changing the text in ways both large and small. The modern scholarly tradition tends to see Kalīla and Dimna as part of a Fürstenspiegel genre or as an example of animal fables. What these categorizations overlook is the variegated medieval reception of the text, which was more multifaceted than is generally appreciated. The unruliness of the text’s
The question “What is a classic text?” combines in a single formulation what are in fact two distinct questions: a more general one, “What is a text?”, and a more specific one, “What is a classic text?” My remarks consider first the former question and then the latter one. They are personal in nature, based as they are upon my reflection and reading, and upon my practice over the course of many years as a textual philologist specializing in the Western Greco-Roman tradition but at the same time keenly aware of its limits and intensely curious
Scholars hold that performance art wants to seize the moment, cannot be preserved or put on display, and necessarily remains outside the cultural archive. In contrast, this essay stresses the medial and material aspect of performance art and highlights the temporal opposition of presence and permanence as a feature of written documents. The linguistic origins of performance art and its temporal nature are a key to understanding Wolf Vostell’s artworks. His relationship to poetry and language has only recently received attention. Vostell’s drafts, notes, invitations, manifestos, score cards, correspondences, and books form the basis of a vast collection that create permanence beyond the fleetingness of the happening. Central to the following investigation is the temporal flux of Vostell’s concept of “dé-coll/age,” the way in which language informs his aesthetics, and the role that the museum plays in his artistic considerations.
Three documentaries on poetry appeared in China during a short period between 2014 and 2016, indicating a renewed interest in the real dimension of poetry, especially its “real” link with social and political issues. Despite the fact that they were made by very different cultural producers – state-owned China Central Television, independent filmmakers, and Youku, one of China’s largest commercial video websites – these documentaries all deploy and appropriate the cultural discourse of xianchang 现场 (on the spot, live scene) to authenticate poet, poetic texts, poetic tradition, and poetic practices of writing, reading, and performing for political, social, aesthetic purposes. Approaching the intersection of poetry and documentary from the perspective of transmedia, this case study also explores destabilized criteria of poethood and evaluation, changing writing and reading practices as well as altered textuality of poems across media.
Monika Schmitz-Emans. Enzyklopädische Phantasien: Wissenschaftsvermittelnde Darstellungsformen in der Literatur – Fallstudien und Poetiken. (Literatur – Wissen – Poetik, Band 8.) Hildesheim, Zürich, New York: Georg Olms Verlag, 2019. 753 pages. ISBN 978-3-487-15640-8.
This massive, scrupulously documented work truly deserves to be called innovative. Schmitz-Emans has demonstrated prodigious scholarly energies in surveying many realms of writing and in illuminating their deeper epochal relationships. The heart of her scholarly territory in Enzyklopädische Phantasien comprises the many attempts in the modernist era, most notably among the Surrealists after the Cubists, to play with cultural matter, efforts that
Hamlet tends to be regarded as a largely immobile man of the mind who fails to move in the material world of action. But right from the start, Hamlet is a play about displacement: the displacement of a dead king who walks the earth, of a corpse dragged around and hidden in the castle, of soldiers dying for a piece of land that cannot even offer them burial, of the bones of the dead thrown out of their graves. Hamlet gradually comes to recognize the extent to which he has to become an agent of the displacement of others and the master of his own displacement until, in the graveyard-scene, he can proclaim that he is “Hamlet the Dane”.