Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Poets and the Language of Life

Overview

In this study of the Austrian lyric poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Adrian Del Caro proves that this precocious contemporary of Rilke, too often considered a typical fin-de-siecle aesthete, was in fact an early and consistent opponent of aestheticism. In lucid and graceful prose Del Caro clearly establishes a parallel between Hofmannsthal's work and Nietzsche's Lebensphilosophie, demonstrating that the poet, with his efforts to find a legitimate source for values, can indeed be seen as Nietzsche's heir. The author's ...
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1993 Hard cover First edition. New/Unused. Sewn binding. Paper over boards. 152 p. Audience: General/trade. NEW/UNUSED from the Publisher. U.S. Domestic Tracking/Confirmation ... Included. Will Ship International, to the Military, and Priority. Read more Show Less

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Overview

In this study of the Austrian lyric poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Adrian Del Caro proves that this precocious contemporary of Rilke, too often considered a typical fin-de-siecle aesthete, was in fact an early and consistent opponent of aestheticism. In lucid and graceful prose Del Caro clearly establishes a parallel between Hofmannsthal's work and Nietzsche's Lebensphilosophie, demonstrating that the poet, with his efforts to find a legitimate source for values, can indeed be seen as Nietzsche's heir. The author's thesis is that poets are more articulate spokespersons for life than philosophers. "For this reason," concludes Del Caro, "and perhaps best for this reason, namely that the poets are naive and disavow the role of teacher, they are heard when the philosophers are not heard." In thoughtfully sequenced chapters Del Caro presents the basic themes of Hofmannsthal's poetry - themes such as Pre-existence, Threshold, and Transformation. His explications of these themes effortlessly draw on figures as diverse as Goethe, Sartre, and Schopenhauer while anchoring each concept to the texts of the poems themselves and illustrating with well-chosen metaphors and poems their relevance to day-to-day existence. In the early chapter "Words," for example, Del Caro discusses Hofmannsthal's perspective on the relationship between Art and Life, between Word and Deed. Beauty, Hofmannsthal posits, competes with life for the poet's attention, and there is always the danger of mistaking words for actual events and experiences, thus living life vicariously rather than embracing it "as a series of actions or deeds." The poet's attempts to resolve such oppositions are dazzlingly illuminated in Del Caro's exegesis of the poem "Secret of the World," wherein the secret cannot be plumbed through cognition but only through poetry. Poetry, moreover, is understood not by reading but by living. To the poet, according to Hofmannsthal, words are feral things over which no power can be exerted
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Despite the author's insistence that this admirable study of the 19th-century German poet Hofmannsthal is directed to the nonspecialist, this work will appeal mainly to scholars in German literature and philosophy. Del Caro (German, Univ. of Colorado at Boulder) devotes considerable space to Nietzsche, particularly to his philosophy of life and its influence on contemporary poets and writers. Rather than writing literary criticism of Hofmannsthal's poetry, Del Caro uses major themes such as words, actions, threshold, and time to show how the poet exemplifed life through the language of poetry. He also shows that Hofmannsthal was able to reach out through his poetry beyond the influence of the philosophers as an advocate of life both for his day and into the present. This thorough scholarly work is recommended for academic collections.-- Ingrid Schierling, Univ. of Colorado at Colorado Springs
Booknews
Argues that Austrian lyric poet Hofmannsthal (1874-1929), usually considered a typical fin-de-siecle aesthete, was an early and consistent opponent of aestheticism, and was, in fact, an heir of Nietzsche in his search for a legitimate source for values. Also argues that poets describe life better than philosophers do. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807117866
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/1993
  • Pages: 184
  • Product dimensions: 6.32 (w) x 9.33 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
1 Lebensphilosophie 1
2 Words 22
3 Actions 46
4 Preexistence 54
5 Threshold 74
6 Transformation 91
7 Time 114
8 Inscription 138
Bibliography 145
Index 149
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