Gothic Masculinity: Effeminacy and the Supernatural in English and German Romanticism

By Ellen Brinks | Go to book overview

1
Hegel Possessed:
Reading the Gothic in The Phenomenology of Mind

La pensee est, en somme, le travail qui
fait vivre en nous ce qui n 'existe pas.

—Paul Valery

THE PHENOMENOLOGY OFMIND TELLS A STORY. AS A JOURNEY OF BEcoming and maturation, Hegel's narrative bears a strong resemblance to the literary coming-of-age fictions known as Bildungsromane. Critics and theorists as diverse as M. H. Abrams and Judith Butler have emphasized the symbolic debt the Phenomenology owes to that genre, seeing it as a philosophical Doppelgänger of Goethe's Wilhelm Meister and his Faust.1 And in part they are right, for Hegel traces the development of the protagonist Mind (der Geist) through “his” development — our protagonist is gendered masculine—and calls it explicitly a Bildung (education). Charting the Stufen eines Weges (stages/steps of a way, path, or passage), the narrative labor of the text becomes one of exhuming, refiguring, projecting, and staging. It is memory (Er-innerung) that externalizes the forgotten, faded, or alienated content of experience or history as “figures” or “shapes” (Gestalten) in order to allow Mind to reclaim them as his own:

… was vorher die Sache selbst war, ist nur noch eine Spur; ihre Gestalt ist
eingehüllt und eine einfache Schattierung geworden. Diese Vergangenheit
durchläuft das Individuum … Er [der Geist] ruft die Erinnerung derselben
zurück … Der Einzelne muß auch dem Inhalte nach die Bildungsstufen
des allgemeinen Geistes durchlaufen, aber als vom Geiste schon abgelegte
Gestalten, als Stufen eines Wegs. …2

[… what was previously the matter itself is now only a trace; its shape is
veiled and has become a mere shade. This past passes through the individual
… Mind recalls the memory of these (shades) … Each man must go

-24-

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Gothic Masculinity: Effeminacy and the Supernatural in English and German Romanticism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Bucknell Studies in Eighteenth-Century Literature and Culture 2
  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Introduction 11
  • 1: Hegel Possessed 24
  • 2: The Male Romantic Poet as Gothic Subject 49
  • 3: Sharing Gothic Secrets 68
  • 4: “This Dream It Would Not Pass Away” 91
  • 5: The Gothic Romance of Sigmund Freud and Wilhelm Fliess 113
  • Notes 144
  • Selected Bibliography 198
  • Index 213
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