Traveling with Hermes: Hermeneutics and Rhetoric

Traveling with Hermes: Hermeneutics and Rhetoric

Traveling with Hermes: Hermeneutics and Rhetoric

Traveling with Hermes: Hermeneutics and Rhetoric

Synopsis

"A bold venture in to the realm of contemporary literary theory, this book takes as its point of departure "the nexus between philosophical hermeneutics and rhetoric" that Hans-Georg Gadamer discusses in his writings. But rather than simply explicating Gadamer's theoretical insights, Bruce Krajewski applies them to a series of discrete texts, from Jan Steen's painting Rhetoricians at a Window, to Shakespeare's Coriolanus, to the post-modernist film Brazil. In the course of his readings, Krajewski explores the complex relationship between truth-telling and lying, being and non-being, clarity and obscurity, the fixed and the unstable, the extraordinary and the commonplace. Underlying these dichotomies is an even more fundamental opposition between two approaches to language and discourse. One is the way of philosophy and linguistics, where the objective is to reduce language to its purest logical form. The other is the way of hermeneutics and rhetoric, where the aim is to preserve the multifariousness of discourse as it occurs concretely in everyday life. Krajewski's goal throughout is to underscore the extent to which understanding is not a private but a social act. For meaning, he argues, can never be divorced from lived experience." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Recently, it seems, some of my colleagues have been trying to "save my soul" from such dishonest things as rhetoric! They think that hermeneutics is no noble pursuit and that we must be suspicious of rhetoric. I had to reply that rhetoric has been the basis of our social life since Plato rejected and contradicted the flattering abuse of rhetoric by the Sophists. He introduced dialectically founded rhetoric as in the Phaedrus, and rhetoric remained a noble art throughout antiquity. Yet one wonders why today everybody is not aware of it.--Hans-Georg Gadamer

In the midst of this disintegrating world appear the rhétoriqueurs, each in his own way tormented by a conscious inability to know the world or express it in suitable terms.--Paul Zumthor

It is certain that quacks habitually collaborated with Rederijkers. --Albert Heppner

If you want a frame for this work, you might look at the frontispiece, Jan Steen painting Rhetoricians at a Window, where the rhetoricians are not in a hothouse, nor in an enclosed environment, but out in the open. The viewer is at street level, and the rhetoricians are leaning out toward the viewer. Completed sometime during the 1660s, Steen's work is but one of many he did on the rederijkers, the rhetoricians who played a large part in popular entertainment in the Netherlands. As Heppner explains, "The Rederijkers were organised throughout the Netherlands in 'kamers' or chambers, which were in touch with one another and gave joint performances, such as dramatic competitions" (PTR, 22). By nature, and perhaps by occupation in this case, rhetoricians are social . . .

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