Theory as Practice: A Critical Anthology of Early German Romantic Writings

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England, of course, is peculiarly fortunate in that its national church is also a Christian one, but in any case priestly authority must be responsible for the heterogenous though interdependent functions of national and spiritual well-being:. The clerisy as the guardian not just of the state's civilization that is, its material development but as Coleridge repeatedly insists of its culture its philosophical and moral development must always be, as it were, in touch with a noumenol realm "outside" the nation if it is indeed to arrive at anything approaching culture.

And yet that realm must never be equated with the cultural mission of the nation-state as such. Practically, to do so would be to equate transcendental conditions of morality to the particular mores of a time and place—at an extreme, to institute not a clerisy but an inquisition. Even ideally, Coleridge cannot permit himself to imagine such an end to his project, for it would lose its antithetical and productive power cf.

Prickett Human history and divine providence would be at all times and everywhere the same. The irony of Coleridgean clerisy lies in the thoroughly secular nature of its defense of theology.

It also lies in the thoroughly theological ground of its secular ideals. More precisely, it lies in the impossibility and the necessity of bringing these together. The choice of the word irony to describe On the Constitution of Church and State may always seem a bit counter-intuitive. It is far from an amusing read—Coleridge could not be more in earnest—but romantic irony is no joke.

I refer again to Schlegel, this time on Socratic irony in the Lyceum : "It contains and arouses a feeling of indissoluble antagonism betwen the absolute and the relative, between the impossibility and the necessity of complete communication" Schlegel Linking "irony" and "clerisy" draws out the structure of fundamental "antagonism" that they share.


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In this context, too, it becomes clear that irony is not so much the crisis of clerisy or clerisy a response to that crisis as that both are negotiations of antithetical structures that can be traced across boundaries of discursivity and subjectivity, culture and theology, philosophy and poetry. Such negotiations are the topic of the four essays that follow. All are variegated and nuanced in ways that the telegraphic summaries of an introduction cannot hope to convey. One rather marked difference, however, between all of them and my own formulations lies in the greater prominence they give to political questions and concepts.

Adam Carter's "'Insurgent Governments': Romantic Irony and the Theory of the State" specifically traces the relation between Schlegel's theory of irony and his theory of the state. It suggests, too, the tensions—productive but also dangerous—between an ironic dialectic of political pluralism and the impositions of arbitrary authority that bring it to a halt even in the relatively early writings of the Lyceum and Athenaeum fragments.

The next two essays take up quite explicitly the question of political apostasy that, I think, hovers in the margins of Carter's discussion of Schlegel.

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More particularly, they take up the political turn from revolutionary to reactionary that constitutes the narrative irony of so many romantic trajectories. Charles Mahoney's "The Multeity of Coleridgean Apostasy" reads Coleridge's own working through of "apostasy" as the very principle of vacillation against which and yet through which his thought takes shape.

Mahoney suggests apostasy as a uniquely Coleridgean translation of Schlegelian irony: a falling away from any possibility of foundational or static principles, that is all too often misread—even by Coleridge himself—as the foundation for yet another stance. Linda Brigham's " Alastor , Apostasy, and the Ecology of Criticism," reads Shelley's poem as offering an analysis of just such ironies of apostasy especially as they shape Shelley's own reading of Wordsworth. In Alastor , Shelley dramatizes a tale of two poets to explore how a Wordsworthian opposition to an earlier or an other self a perfection taken to the point of irony produces the mirror image of what it opposes.

This reading of the poem brings it into closer conjunction with later Shelley works such as Prometheus Unbound , but Brigham also implicates contemporary literary criticism and theoretical debate in a similarly structured dialectic of opposition and identity.

Romanticism in Literature and Philosophy

In Shelley, she finds a different model of reading and writing, one whose point of departure includes a sheer "communication of pleasure" that in Shelley's view Wordsworth has replaced with a symmetrical discourse of sympathy that can all too easily give way to ideology and totalization. This threat is reflected in Brigham's view in the totalizing implications, whether sympathetic or oppositional, of much academic debate.

Romantic Writings

The concluding essay, Forest Pyle's "'Frail Spells': Shelley and the Ironies of Exile" takes up similar problems, but situates them in relation to Shelley's rhetoric of exile. Pyle argues that Shelley can be productively read as deriving a powerful and liberatory language of critique both from his position of exile from Britain and from a supplementary critique of the concepts of nation and homeland that underwrite that position. The dialectic of contemporary criticism that would recuperate exile—or "diaspora"—as a position of authoritative critique fails to take such a supplementary critique of exile into account—a mistake that Shelley, in Pyle's reading, does not make.

Shelly's "exile" operates, therefore, as a limit case of "epistemological irony so extensive that it disqualifies the claims of any clerisy to escape it. In a broader sense, all four of the pieces gathered here reflect an interest in "irony" and "clerisy" not only as historical artifacts but as historical forces at once enabling and disrupting the antithetical structuring of an ongoing scholarly, critical, and pedagogical Bildung.

It is cultivation or formation, and still more specifically "liberal education leading to self-development," Hartman For Schlegel, a more or less normative definition of its aims may be found in Fichte's definition of Cultur as a harmonious oneness between man's rational and sensuous nature:. Albert, Georgia. Behler, Ernst. Darmstadt: Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Breazeale, Daniel, Ed.

Fichte: Early Philosophical Writings. Ithaca: Cornel UP, Notes to Introductory Essay. Fichte Studies Fichtes Basic Characteristics of the Present Age On Incomprehensibility Faith and Love and Political Aphorisms Fragments on Literature and Poesy Philosophical Fragments Philological Fragments.

Toward a Theory of the Feminine. Feminizing Philosophy. London: Henry G. Bohn, Literary Notebooks, , edited with introduction and commentary by Hans Eichner. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, Lucinde and the Fragments , translated with an introduction by Peter Firchow.

ART BEYOND AESTHETICS: PHILOSOPHICAL CRITICISM, ART HISTORY AND CONTEMPORARY ART

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4 editions of this work

German Romantic Literary Theory. Beiser, Frederick C. Chaouli, Michel. Forster, Michael N. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Frank, Manfred. Friedrich Schlegel and the Emergence of Romantic Philosophy. Nassar, Dalia, ed. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press, Bernasconi, Robert. Clarke, J.

Literary theory

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