Academic journal article German Quarterly

Heros und Messias: Holderlins messianische Mythogenese und das judische Denken

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Heros und Messias: Holderlins messianische Mythogenese und das judische Denken

Article excerpt

Charlier, Robert. Heros and Messias: Holderlins messianische Mythogenese and das judische Denken. Wurzburg-- Konigshausen and Neumann, 1999. DM 58.00 paperback.

In his TU Berlin dissertation, painstakingly researched and composed in the dense style of a scientific treatise, Robert Charlier takes on a formidable task thus far not attempted in the enormous body of scholarship concerning Friedrich Holderlin. By tracking markers of Jewish and pre-Christian influence within Holderlin's poetic corpus, he aims to demonstrate that the "messianic idea" inherent in the conceptual framework of the poet's writings and embodied in the mythic figures that inhabit them produces a unique model of religious redemption and speculative progress influenced not only by Christian typology but also by Judaic thought. This messianic idea expresses itself, according to Charlier, through a complex progression of images that Holderlin confronts throughout his productive life. Reconstructing several key points along this trajectory, from the Magisterspecimen of 1790 to the late Nachtgesdnge, Charlier blazes a unique and sometimes daunting path through some very well trodden material. The result is an uneven treatment of a multitude of texts and themes that offers some truly original insights while leaving other points very much in question.

Charlier sets out by asserting that in the final decade of the eighteenth and the first years of the nineteenth century, Holderlin's work focuses virtually in its entirety on the "messianic idea": "Wie ist eine universelle Erlosung durch das immanente Eingreifen einer transzendenten Instanz moglich and welchen geistigen oder politischen Anted konnen die groBen einzelnen als Seher, Kunder oder Fuhrer daran nehmen?" (9). He concedes that the late eighteenth century saw numerous attempts within philosophy to "secularize" in speculative form messianic traditions handed down since the Middle Ages: Kant's "Garantie des ewigen Friedens," Schiller's Asthetische Briefe, even Holderlin's own collaboration with Hegel and Schelling on the Alteste Systemprogramm des deutschen Idealismus. However, he argues that Holderlin's own poetry and theoretical reflections represent a singular attempt to think through the messianic idea as an "eschatological moment" or "Zeitbruch" simultaneously in religious, aesthetic and political registers; Christian and Jewish influences converge in the dualities of interiority and exteriority, pneumatism and political action, Geistprinzip and Tatprinzip that structure this concept. To describe the process by which Holderlin represents that moment poetically, Charlier proposes the term Mythogenese: a synthesis of imageless abstraction (the messianic idea as theological construct) and concrete manifestation in the heroic figures of Greek mythology that inhabit Holderlin's poetry from its outset. Rewriting the Greek heroes anew in the spirit of Jewish and Christian typologies, he endows them with a messianic force that in the final analysis comes to represent a modern "Uberwindung des Tragischen."

But the title of this book promises more than an illumination of this "mythogenetic" mode in Holderlin's poetry, for it juxtaposes that term provocatively with "judisches Denken." How is it possible to align Holderlin's thought-a thought so immediately determined by the figures and tropes of both Greek mythology and Christian theology-with a Jewish tradition to which he never directly refers? In the first two chapters Charlier delves into this question with a thorough consideration of "origins," examining formative moments in Holderlin's education at the Tubinger Stift: his course of study under the Orientalist Schnurrer, who encouraged his students to approach bible exegesis from a hermeneutical standpoint rather than a theological one; the ardent rhetorical "parallelism" of his 1990 Magisterspecimen, in which he attempts a critical comparison of biblical text and contemporary politics; the trajectories of influence through which he may have come into contact with Jewish thought via the gospel of John and with the messianic speculations of the late Hellenic philosopher Philo via the writings of Pseudo-Longinus. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.