Academic journal article German Quarterly

Mythenfiguren in Holderlins Spatwerk

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Mythenfiguren in Holderlins Spatwerk

Article excerpt

Kocziszky, Eva. Mythenfiguren in Holderlins Spatwerk. Konigshausen & Neumann, 1997.161 pp. DM 38.00 paperback.

Kocziszky attempts to explicate the function of the Greek myths in Holderlin's late writings, primarily the annotations to his translations of Sophocles's Oedipus and Antigone. She interprets these myths broadly, and in her discussions explores the figures of the centaur (here her textual basis is "Das Belebende," Holderlin's translation and commentary of one of the Pindaric fragments), Oedipus, Antigone, Danae, and the "Muse," Greece itself, as tragic figures whose significance emerges as one considers their relationship to the poetological, historical, political, and also profoundly personal concerns expressed in Holderlin's work. Following Jean LaPlanche's observation that poetry and disease share a common discourse in Holderlin's work, she is interested in elucidating those paradoxical points of simultaneous creativity and destructiveness in the poet's writings, in order to speak, provocatively, of the "intellectual failure" (denkerisches Scheitern) of Holderlin's poetic enterprise (8-9, 152-54).

The centerpiece of her study, the discussion of Oedipus, Antigone and Danae, takes its theoretical point of departure in the essays Holderlin wrote during his first stay in Homburg, specifically the fragment "Uber Religion." The "Gott der Mythe," which Holderlin discusses here as the dialectical synthesis of intellectual and historical relationships, constitutes, Kocziszky maintains, the "philosophical sense of the tragic occurrence," which is Holderlin's chief concern in his Sophocles annotations (32). Moreover, Kocziszky finds that Holderlin's discussion here of the homo religiosus (one who lifts himself above necessity to an infinite relationship with his "sphere") also bears importantly on the Sophocles annotations. But this elevation becomes increasingly problematic, indeed tragic, in the later context: Oedipus interprets the oracle "zu unendlich," making himself the "nefas" and the point of tragic collision between the human and the divine. The poet's optimistic vision in the Religionsfragment of a "gemeinschaftliche Gottheit" shared by individuals' different gods and different spheres also gives way to a tragic view of colliding, irreconcilable views of the gods, particularly in the dispute between Creon and Antigone. Here, the tragic impetus does not arise, according to Kocziszky, from Antigone's appeal to a subjective view of god (her recourse to "mein Zeus")-the Religionsfragment prescribes such a view-but from the newly won tragic view of the later Holderlin that the individual gods cannot be reconciled with one another. There is no "gemeinschaftliche Gottheit" in Antigone, but only the tragic collision of views of the divine. Here she sees a continuation of themes developed in the Empedokles project, with the difference that Holderlin does not valorize the Empedoclean/Antigonean view of the divine (characterized as "aorgic," rebellious, opposed to law, formality and tradition) in his Antigone commentary, but ascribes to both views a degree of legitimacy and sees both succumbing to a tragic fate (73). …

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