The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism

The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism

The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism

The Literary Absolute: The Theory of Literature in German Romanticism

Excerpt

Although Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe and Jean-Luc Nancy are not part of a self-declared school like that of the Annales group in history, the Frankfurt School for Social Research, or the Konstanz school in literary studies, they have been associated since the late 1960s with a group of French philosophers now well known in the United States, including most notably Jacques Derrida, Sarah Kofman, Bernard Pautrat, and (more distantly) Jean-François Lyotard, philosophers who share with them certain methodological and theoretical assumptions. Both individually and in collaboration (besides The Literary Absolute, they have coauthored a study of Lacan and numerous articles), Lacoue- Labarthe and Nancy have published a wide range of texts, generally concerned with the modern period in philosophy, from Descartes through Kant and idealism to Heidegger, but dealing as well with literature, art, music, psychoanalysis, and what they refer to as "the political." While they freely acknowledge their debt to Derrida, it would be a mistake to assume that their work might be qualified as "Derridean," much less that it might be resumed under the literary- critical rubric of "deconstruction" or that its philosophical nature might be assimilable to a general conception of literary theory. For if they have been a central part of this loosely defined group's many organizational initiatives-- colloquia and conferences, collectively organized volumes of essays such as Mimesis: des articulations , GREPH (the "groupe de recherche sur l'enseignement de la philosophie"), the Parisian "Collège de philosophie" founded under the auspices of the Mitterand government, or the "Centre de recherches philosophiques sur le politique," which they founded in 1980--their work nonetheless retains a specificity of its own, constituting a particular project within this larger context.

In its broadest outlines, the question that informs and constitutes the specificity of their work is that of the relation between literature and philosophy, although these terms must be taken in a provisional manner. Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy assume a post-Heideggerean understanding of philosophy that takes into account Derrida's inflection of the Heideggerean question of Being, and a concern with "literature" that is indebted to Heidegger's investigation and . . .

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