Heinrich von Kleist and Jean-Jacques Rousseau : Violence, Identity, Nation

By: Howe, StevenMaterial type: TextTextSeries: eBooks on DemandStudies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture: Publisher: Suffok : Boydell & Brewer, 2012Description: 1 online resource (250 p.)ISBN: 9781571138415Subject(s): Kleist, Heinrich von, -- 1777-1811 -- Criticism and interpretation | Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, -- 1712-1778 -- Criticism and interpretationGenre/Form: Electronic books.Additional physical formats: Print version:: Heinrich von Kleist and Jean-Jacques Rousseau : Violence, Identity, NationDDC classification: 838/.609 LOC classification: PT2379.Z5 -- H75 2012ebOnline resources: Click here to view this ebook.
Contents:
Frontcover -- Contents -- Acknowledgments -- List of Abbreviations -- Introduction: Interpreting Kleist's Paradoxes -- 1: Kleist, Rousseau, and the Paradoxes of Enlightenment -- 2: Das Erdbeben in Chili -- 3: Die Verlobung in St. Domingo -- 4: Die Herrmannsschlacht -- 5: Prinz Friedrich von Homburg -- Conclusion -- Bibliography -- Index -- Backcover
Summary: Heinrich von Kleist is renowned as an author who posed a radical challenge to the orthodoxies of his age. Today, his works are frequently seen to relentlessly deconstruct the paradigms of Idealism and to reflect a Romantic, even postmodern, perspective on the ambiguities of the world. Such a view fails, however, to do full justice to the more complex manner in which Kleist articulates the tensions between the securities of Enlightenment thought and the anxieties of the revolutionary age.Steven Howe offers a new angle on Kleist's dialogue with the Enlightenment by reconsidering his investment in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Where previous critics have trivialized this as intense but fleeting and born of personal identification, Howe here establishes Rousseau's importance as a lasting source of inspiration for the violent constellations of Kleist's fiction. Taking account of both Rousseau's critique of modernity and his later propositions for working toward the Enlightenment promise of emancipation, the book locates a mode of discourse which, placed in the historical context of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, sheds new light on the political and ethical issues at play in Kleist's work. Steven Howe is Associate Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, UK. He is co-editor, with Ricarda Schmidt and Seán Allan, of Heinrich von Kleist: Konstruktive und Destruktive Funktionen von Gewalt (forthcoming, 2012).
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Frontcover -- Contents -- Acknowledgments -- List of Abbreviations -- Introduction: Interpreting Kleist's Paradoxes -- 1: Kleist, Rousseau, and the Paradoxes of Enlightenment -- 2: Das Erdbeben in Chili -- 3: Die Verlobung in St. Domingo -- 4: Die Herrmannsschlacht -- 5: Prinz Friedrich von Homburg -- Conclusion -- Bibliography -- Index -- Backcover

Heinrich von Kleist is renowned as an author who posed a radical challenge to the orthodoxies of his age. Today, his works are frequently seen to relentlessly deconstruct the paradigms of Idealism and to reflect a Romantic, even postmodern, perspective on the ambiguities of the world. Such a view fails, however, to do full justice to the more complex manner in which Kleist articulates the tensions between the securities of Enlightenment thought and the anxieties of the revolutionary age.Steven Howe offers a new angle on Kleist's dialogue with the Enlightenment by reconsidering his investment in the philosophy of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Where previous critics have trivialized this as intense but fleeting and born of personal identification, Howe here establishes Rousseau's importance as a lasting source of inspiration for the violent constellations of Kleist's fiction. Taking account of both Rousseau's critique of modernity and his later propositions for working toward the Enlightenment promise of emancipation, the book locates a mode of discourse which, placed in the historical context of the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars, sheds new light on the political and ethical issues at play in Kleist's work. Steven Howe is Associate Research Fellow at the University of Exeter, UK. He is co-editor, with Ricarda Schmidt and Seán Allan, of Heinrich von Kleist: Konstruktive und Destruktive Funktionen von Gewalt (forthcoming, 2012).

Description based upon print version of record.

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CHOICE Review

An established scholar, Howe (Univ. of Exeter, UK) has written a fascinating study of Rousseau's seminal influence on Kleist. Although the response to Rousseau and other philosophers has been addressed before, notably by Tim Mehigan, no one has treated the subject as thoroughly and with as much aplomb as Howe. Arguing that Rousseau's influence was most significant among the German-speaking intelligentsia, the author shows that Kleist "demonstrates across his oeuvre a ... nuanced understanding of the tensions and ambiguities embedded within the structures of reason-based philosophy." Howe focuses on Rousseau's concepts of nationhood and "founding violence," emphasizing the inevitability of violence in addressing questions of social order in national life and human affairs in general. Furthermore, Kleist's "dramas and particularly his tales seem to be fixed on the violent collision of values and the collapse of secure notions of agency and identity, and so to issue a subversive challenge to Idealist teleologies of emancipation." Though this assertion will come as no surprise to those who know Kleist's works, Howe's contribution is to fill in the literary-historical gaps and to set up a standard that will serve as a scholarly reference point for years to come. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. M. McCulloh Davidson College

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