The Solid Letter:
Readings of Friedrich Hölderlin

Information · Omslag · Preface · Innehåll


Vetenskapliga uppsatser · Redaktör · På engelska · Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999, xv + 512 sidor · Omslag: Håkan Rehnberg, Utan titel (1998) · ISBN: 978-08047-2942-5


Uppsatserna i The Solid Letter erbjuder det första samlade försöket på engelska att belysa de många skilda aspekterna av Friedrich Hölderlins (1770-1843) verk. Boken vänder sig inte endast till specialister i tysk litteratur, utan även till läsare intresserade av modern poesi, filosofi och estetik. Antologin är bred till syftet men precis till sitt fokus och betonar Hölderlins betydelse för dagens diskussion av begrepp som historia, kultur och språk. The Solid Letter behandlar hans färdiga arbeten, men även hans skrivandes processinriktade karaktär. Genom att diskutera förhållandet mellan opublicerade varianter, teoretiska och poetiska texter, samt olika föreställningar om skillnaden mellan teori och praktik, erbjuder essäerna många möjligheter att ompröva de kategorier med vilka humaniora definieras idag.

Boken tar upp Hölderlins föreställning om historia, vad som står på spel i vissa centrala begrepp i hans tänkande och betydelsen av till synes marginellt material och texter som vanligen inte betraktas som en del av en författares verk i trängre mening (översättningar och brev). Essäerna fäster särskild uppmärksamhet vid Hölderlins skriftpraktik och söker på så vis bidra till en ökad förståelse av läsaktens politiska och historiografiska aspekter.


Aris Fioretos är forskare vid Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen, Stockholms universitet. Bland hans böcker finns en översättning till svenska av Hölderlins ”fosterländska sånger” och The Gray Book (Stanford, 1999).



I drink wine from two glasses
and comb through
the king’s caesura
like that one
with Pindar,

God turns over the tuning-fork
alone of the small
just ones,

from the fate-engine falls
our measure.1

Included in the posthumous 1976 collection Zeitgehöft, Paul Celan’s “I Drink Wine” is not the first, nor by any means the last, literary document to take Friedrich Hölderlin, the poet, translator, and theoretician (1770-1843), as its subject matter. Yet with its crystalline allusiveness and prismatic brevity, the text might be one of the more acute treatments of the highly particular relationship to writing that characterizes much of Hölderlin’s oeuvre. On repeated accounts, Celan dealt with his precursor in both poetry and prose, the best known instance being the frequently quoted and much interpreted poem “Tübingen, Jänner” from the early 1960s, which contains a clear if complex Auseinandersetzung with the figure and writings of Hölderlin.2 In “I Drink Wine,” the roles are less certain, the identification with the older poet neither as prompt nor as peculiar, and the radical compaction at work in the text in greater evidence. Even the relation between the poem’s two pronominal instances — “I” and “that one” (Ich and Jener) — is relativized, not only by the conjunctive “like” (wie), but also, of course, through its bearing on the earlier poet’s relation to one of his precursors, Pindar.

In certain respects, this triangulation — coordinating Antiquity, the dawn of Modernity, and its postwar aftermath — is characteristic for the realm of thought within which the writings of Hölderlin have come to be perceived toward the end of the present century.3 His preoccupation with the concepts and convictions of the ancients, as well as the always keen, invariably subtle meditations on the differences between Antiquity and Modernity contained in his work, notably in the parts dealing with (the translation of) tragedy, cannot be read today without causing reflections also upon the particular — and particularly vicious — ceasura of the years between 1933 and 1945 in Germany. With the conceivable exception of Kleist, no other German writer of comparable stature has received treatment similar to Hölderlin’s during this disastrous period, which Celan, in a poetological statement, once referred to as being marked by both “terrifying silence” and “the thousand darknesses of murderous speech.”4 Although during the 1930s-40s, the internal dissonances, persuasive parataxis, and many modifiers of mood, creed, and orientation that characterize Hölderlin’s writings were straightforwardly ignored in favor of extolling him as the poet of the Fatherland (whose poems were disseminated in so-called Feldausgaben intended to edify foot soldiers at the front), it is nonetheless obvious that few if any of his colleagues have faced, with such critical acumen, the fraught issue of what is contained in the name of Germany.

Later, less wayward readings of Hölderlin — of which, encouragingly, there are some — have tended to sidestep this “question of Germany,” in the words of one of the contributors to the present volume. Rather than addressing the politically precarious and ideologically overdetermined resonances of Hölderlin’s preoccupation with what he variously termed Vaterland, Abendland, and Hesperien, postwar scholarship has tended to focus instead on issues of textual (thus purportedly more neutral) character.5 And, admittedly, distinguished by an evermore rigorous philological scrutiny and historico-critical accuracy, recent work has removed scholarship far from the stage when Hölderlin’s writings were read as tracts of truth or professions of faith prefiguring the alleged probity of the Third Reich.

After a brief period of notoriety — during which Hölderlin, recognized as a man with unsettling poetic and intellectual resources, was read and supported by the likes of Hegel, Schelling, Goethe, and Schiller — for almost a century his work was, by and large, depreciated and neglected. Notable exceptions can be found, of course, such as Mörike and Nietzsche, who read him with care and considerable empathy. Not until the circle of friends, poets, and philologists formed around the commanding figure of Stefan George championed him as the poet of poets, however, was Hölderlin rescued from unconcern and oblivion.6 Until then, if his poetry was known at all, it was considered as compositions of near-transcendental quality, but also, and more damaging, it was deemed too brittle in its claim to equipoise, too close to incoherence for hermeneutical comfort, communicated by a mad writer of rare promise but of even more destructive talent. The commendable edition initiated, in the 1910s, by Norbert von Hellingrath, a scholar belonging to the George Circle, and completed, after his death, by Friedrich Seebaß and Ludwig von Pigenot, launched a new, philologically sounder period of interest — one which, however, soon became marked by the ideologically biased adulteration and tantamount disregard for the letter characteristic of wartime scholarship. From this time dates the image of Hölderlin as the Dichter der Deutschen, a poet torn between ire and sobriety, finally embracing the twilight of insanity as the only remedy for over exposure to heavenly light.

During a long period which came to an end only in the first postwar decades, Hölderlin’s texts were indeed studied, even scrupulously, but with rare, scattered exceptions (one thinks, most immediately, of Benjamin’s early essay),7 the particular understanding that emerged from these works was mediated by one of several dominant fictions concerning his distraught life and pitiable fate. Hagiographic accounts and nationalistically phrased interpretations did not begin to lose their hold on the poet’s received image until Friedrich Beißner, a Classicist who had started as a young wartime celebrator of Hölderlin, set out to replace the Hellingrath edition with the immense philological labor of love known today as the Große Stuttgarter Ausgabe. Commenced already during the war (in 1943) and completed some forty years later (in 1985), the edition put an effective end to the less hermeneutically controlled efforts at interpretation which thus far had been the fate of Hölderlin’s writings. Beißner’s work also lay the ground for what was to present, from the 1950s and on, an unprecedented amount of exegetical effort — comparable, perhaps, only to the one bestowed on Kafka during the same period. Gradually discrediting the notion of the poet as the front figure of a certain Deutschheit, Hölderlin scholarship soon bloomed into an industry of its own, marked in equal measures by reverence and solemnity. The need to rescue Hölderlin’s writings from the grips of Blut und Boden philosophy, the desire to read it as an achieved body of work displaying every appropriate sign of coherence and monumentality, the will to reinstate him as one of the few truly regal writers of German literature, on a pair with Goethe and Schiller, these and similar scholarly urges are both meritorious and understandable.

Yet the texts presented by Beißner — organized as trajectories leading from partial notations, glosses, and scattered ruminations, over first, second, and third drafts, to finished products marked by the signal characteristics of completed masterpieces — presuppose a critical doctrine guided by assumptions of a systematized whole which might strike today’s critical awareness as, in matching parts, naive and conceited. Not even the claims made by Pierre Bertaux and others, in the late 1960s and early 70s, that Hölderlin had been a radical revolutionary as well as a stout Jacobin, perhaps even involved in serious political plots, a notion that forced scholarship to recast the framework within which his writings had been understood, managed to change the fundamental assumptions about Hölderlin’s working methods or attitudes toward the poetical process. Even less did these claims tackle the internal rifts and discontinuities at play on all levels in his texts, fractures which, far from questioning the solidity of the poems, might in fact account for their exceptional energy and truly compelling character.

Begun by way of an “introduction” in 1975, Dieter Eberhard Sattler’s historical-critical Frankfurter Ausgabe (the third major edition of Hölderlin’s work in less than three quarters of a century), set out with the explicit purpose of laying bare the faulty premises of the Stuttgart edition, by then the standard of long standing. Here an editorial policy was presented which, in vital regards, ran counter to the scholarly premises taken for granted by Beißner. While thoroughly in sympathy with the cardinal virtues of philology — rigor, truthfulness, accuracy — the aim of Sattler’s edition was, and remains, to avoid establishing an internal textual hierarchy and instead to respect the processual character of the poems. Textual layers are not ranked in accordance with their distance to a presupposed finality; rather, their palimpsestic qualities and graphematically adventurous features are acknowledged, making possible a perusal of documents which remains focused and yet multifaceted, singular but still sprawling, an activity, thoroughly historical in nature, for which collaboration in the texts’ manner of making sense is not merely encouraged but inevitable. Framed in this way, the reader’s participation in the production of a poem is constantly emphasized and the vicissitudes of understanding brought to the fore with exemplary efficacy. In Sattler’s edition, texts are offered which are neither definitive nor thing-like, but occurance, movement, constellation — philological reflections, it might be argued, of the perhaps apocryphal account that Hölderlin (who, judged mentally incompetent in 1807, was confined for the second half of his life to a room in a tower next to the river Neckar in Tübingen) covered his walls with maps from all corners of the world.

Yet the reading practice required by such textual rarities is, of course, by no means obvious. The complexities involved in interpreting Hölderlin’s work remain considerable and the challenge his imbricated poems pose to perceived notions of cognizance cannot be ignored. While Hölderlin, the poet, translator, and theoretician, has, by now, been so eruditely treated by scholarship as to spawn tertiary literature and even a website,8 it is less clear to what extent some of the principal cruxes thus signaled by his writerly practice — to take only two examples: those of the problematic relationship between history and materiality, reference and aporia — have received proper, or even minimal, critical scrutiny. Although a scholarly cliché, hence devoid of the epistemic acuity needed to spur exegetical readiness into action, it is difficult to avoid the impression that we have only really begun to read Hölderlin in the manner his texts demand.

Since 1913, when von Hellingrath undertook to publish the first critical edition, Hölderlin’s writings have provided one of the main bodies of work by which the disciplines of German literary criticism, theory, and historiography have defined themselves. Today available in two massive publications of rather different persuasion — the one directed by Beißner completed; the one headed by Sattler stalled momentarily — his oeuvre and its importance for any contemporary understanding of the place, value, and significance of poetry, is by no means limited to the academic disciplines traditionally considered closest to literature. Over the last eighty years, philosophy as well, and with it, aesthetics, have been shaped, particularly in their Continental form, as extended interpretations of central texts in Hölderlin’s work. His role, for example, in the authorship of the so-called “Oldest System-Program” (SA 4;1:297-9), considered the founding document of German Idealism, has been treated and debated extensively; the intricate issues raised by Hyperion (FA 10 and 11) concerning notions of epistolarity and aesthetic edification, the vexed relationship between Bildungsroman and Geistesgeschichte, as well as more or less questionable doctrines of nationality and fatality, have been scrutinized repeatedly; and the importance of Hölderlin’s views on the interrelationship between Antiquity and Modernity have been significant not only for his contemporaries, but also for later generations of thinkers, such as Nietzsche, Heidegger, Benjamin, and Adorno. One may even argue, as one of the contributors to the present volume does, that Hölderlin has become, in the course of the present century, the poet of philosophers.

Yet, and despite early and consistent translations into English of his main poetical works, including Hyperion, Hölderlin’s oeuvre has been treated almost exclusively within the institutional confines of German studies.9 By and large considered the author of an epistolary novel and some dozen or so late hymns, as well as the translator of mainly Greek verse and drama into German, Hölderlin the thinker on history, poetics, and philosophy has received scant attention from critics writing in English or working within disciplines with tangential relation to Germanistik. (One American exception of note is the multiauthor volume edited by Emery E. George in 1972.)10 Only in the 1980s — particularly due to the early efforts of Paul de Man — did his philosophically oriented writings, as well as the theoretical presuppositions of much of his poetry, receive close critical consideration. Interpretative efforts by Timothy Bahti, Adrian DelCaro, Véronique Fóti, Eckhart Förster, Rainer Nägele, Eric Santner, and Andrzej Warminski, among others, as well as translations of essays by German and French scholars (among them Maurice Blanchot, Dieter Henrich, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Jean-Luc Nancy, and Peter Szondi) have been instrumental in establishing the crucial pertinence of these writings not only for an understanding of the history of German and/or Romantic literature, but also for a less local, more concise consideration of the relationship between poetry, philosophy, and history. Although not uniformly persuasive in style or conceptual consistency, recent translations by Jeremy Adler and Thomas Pfau have further broadened the textual foundation from which Hölderlin’s daunting oeuvre may now be addressed.11

While different in focus and dissimilar in nature, thus revealing the shifting allegiances among a group of critics at the cutting edge of theory, the essays gathered in The Solid Letter are written in the context of this rejuvenated, theoretically informed and critically sophisticated, interest in Hölderlin’s work. The first consolidated attempt, in English, to affirm as well as to discuss fundamental philosophical aspects of his writings, the volume aims to be wide in scope but succinct in nature, thus hoping to appeal to specialists not only in German studies, but also in modern poetry, comparative literature, literary theory, and philosophy. Striving to be philologically responsible, it endeavors to bring together into a constellation related, though diverse contributions, with the explicit purpose of both acknowledging and demonstrating the relevance of Hölderlin’s writings for thinking about history, culture, language, and difference today.

While previous scholarship has tended to define Hölderlin either as a poet, or an epistolary novelist, or a philosopher, or a translator, this volume focuses on him as a writer who cares for “the solid letter” to which the late hymn “Patmos” urges attention (SA 2;1:172). Detailed in their concerns yet broad-minded in scope, wide-ranging in choice of readings though consistently focused on textual singularities, the essays collected here attempt not only to offer a prismatic understanding of Hölderlin’s finished or published work, but also to treat the processual character of his writing. By discussing, for example, the interrelationship between various unpublished variants, between theoretical and poetic texts, as well as between different conceptions of the distinction between theory and practice itself, the contributions provide a propitious opportunity to reassess the categories by which humanistic study presently is defined. Furthermore, by addressing the theologico-political implications of Hölderlin’s notion of history, as well as the philosophical stakes involved in his concepts of “measure” and the “alternation of tones,” the significance of marginalia, notations, and seemingly auxiliary or secondary materials, as well as kinds of text not commonly considered intrinsic to an author’s oeuvre (such as translations and letters), the essays provide analyses of the formidable multifacetedness of Hölderlin’s writerly practice. Thriving on a variety of approaches and benefiting from the scholarly authority of the contributions, The Solid Letter wishes to go a certain way, then, toward reinstating for serious debate questions concerning the political and historiographical implications of reading.

While the prismatic effects created by the proximity of varying approaches are an explicit objective, the volume also aims to provide a stable framework within which the reader may orient him- or herself according to more traditional criteria of interest. Thus the essays are grouped into three principal parts, each focusing on a particular set of texts, tropes, and concerns. Whereas the first section deals mainly with the philosophical, poetological, and theological aspects of Hölderlin’s writings, the second centers on his often radical theory and practice of translation. In addition to containing a treatment of the textual intricaties involved in Hölderlin’s so-called Pindar comments, the third and final part of the volume is largely devoted to his poetry, ranging from the early poems and mid-career elegies to the late, often uncompleted and always heterogeneous hymns.

In his contribution to the first section of the volume, Peter Fenves offers a reading of the particular place accredited to philosophy in Hölderlin’s writings. Entitled “Measure for Measure,” the essay argues that the philosophical character of his poetry consists not of its discursivity, as previous scholarship generally has clamed, but of its digressiveness — a certain strategic “besideness” which is captured only partly in the famous phrase concerning “an eccentric path” (SA 3;1:83). Juxtaposing the famed interpretations of Heidegger and Adorno, and proposing to consider them as theoretical inversions of each other, Fenves pinpoints the realm of meter — where measure is all — as the peculiar domain in which Hölderlin’s thinking about poetry and philosophy, Antiquity and Modernity, is articulated both most alluringly and with greatest consequence. As a “differentiation in language of language,” measure is shown to be not that which gives mass, volume, or even form to anything, but rather that which distinguishes language from itself, and in so doing, gives rise to different languages. Hence, Fenves argues, it may also account for “the immense difference” between the poetries of Hellas and Hesperia, so important to Hölderlinian historiography, as well as the distinct difference between poetry and philosophy often treated — and mistreated — in Hölderlin scholarship.

The second essay, Jean-Luc Nancy’s “The Poet’s Calculus,” continues Fenves’s line of inquiry by investigating two hypotheses, neither particularly favored by earlier scholarship: first, that the poet is more important to Hölderlin than poetry; second, that the task of the poet resides in a calculus. Rather than proposing or even animating a theory of literature or an aesthetics, Hölderlin’s thinking about poetry thus assumes an ars poetica in the stricter sense of the term, that is, as a technics of composition. The poet’s task is neither equivalent to, nor translatable into, that of the philosopher: the objective of his endeavors is a synopsis, as Nancy demonstrates, not a synthesis. Whereas the philosopher treats time as an occasion on which to elaborate thoughts and in which to unfold the path of thinking, the poet must measure and calculate time in view of precision and exactness. Only then is the merging of self and other, familiar and foreign, man and gods, possible, even if not attained. By establishing exactness — and thus, by implication, determination, definition, and even destination — as the objective of the poet’s calculus, Nancy is able to lay bare the kairology implicit in Hölderlin’s writings, as well as to reframe and to reinterpret his difficult, often misconstrued remarks concerning prosody, rhythm, tone, and tact.

In “The Courage of Poetry,” the third essay of the opening section, Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe treats one of the implications of such consideration of measure and calculus with particular attentiveness: that of destination. Beginning with an evaluation of Heidegger’s Hölderlin interpretations from the 1930s and 40s, in which determination and destination are considered along “theologico-political” lines, and the courage of the poet identified as that of someone who assumes a (national) vocation, Lacoue-Labarthe turns to Benjamin’s celebrated analysis of “Dichtermut.” In this poem, later entitled “Blödigkeit” (FA 5:683-700), the motif of the poet’s vocation is dealt with in association with a theory of das Gedichtete, or “that which is poetically written,” a terminological innovation of considerable conceptual complexity. In contrast to Heidegger, Benjamin theorizes the topoi of mission and vocation as a courage to turn to das Gedichtete rather than to what might be covered by terms such as Volk or Nation — thereby conceiving of Hölderlin as the poet of poetry, rather than as the poet of Germany. An entire politics is determined by this difference, Lacoue-Labarthe argues, and concludes by treating its implications for the contemporary discussion of the political stakes of theory.

In the fourth essay, “Winke: Hölderlin, Heidegger, Nancy,” Hent de Vries shifts the focus, but only slightly, by attempting to trace the concern with the topos of the divine prevalent in both Hölderlin and Heidegger. Framing the inquiry as an examination of Jean-Luc Nancy’s propositions regarding “divine places,” and focusing on the fragmentary texts “Was ist Gott?” (SA 2;1:210) and the perhaps spurious “In lieblicher Bläue” (SA 2;1:372-74), as well as on the interpretations of them offered by Heidegger and, subsequently, by Derrida, de Man, and Nancy, de Vries is able to circumscribe the divine “nod” or “sign” as the elusive gesture by which poets function as heralds in Hölderlin’s poetry. Yet rather than supposing a soteriological scheme in which the poet acts as mediator, de Vries proposes to conceive of such Wink as an indication which can be neither inscribed into a negative theology, nor conceptualized as part of the gestural vocabulary of linguistic mysticism. Rather, he suggests, the singular rigor and alluring integrity of Hölderlin’s texts emancipate the question “What Is God?” from the dilemmas of linguistic ineffability, thereby helping, by implication, to elucidate questions of naming and placing the divine that preoccupy much of contemporary philosophy.

Continuing the line of inquiry opened by Lacoue-Labarthe and de Vries, Jean-François Courtine further treats the vexed issue of “What Is God?” in an essay devoted to “Hölderlin’s Christ.” Emphasizing that the figure of Christ, in Hölderlin’s writings, changes the course of time by opening it onto another scansion, and underscoring that the turn from Greece to Hesperia signaled in much of his work is articulated as a prolonged meditation on the nature of the tragic, Courtine traces elements of christology in three late poems in particular: “Der Einzige,” “Friedensfeier,” and “Patmos,” including earlier versions and variants (SA 2;1:153-64, FF, and SA 2;1:165-87, respectively). In this reading, the figure of Christ emerges not as the conventional, if unique, mediator between the divine and man, but rather as the one who accomplishes mediation itself. The last hero in a succession of demigods, he does not simply represent an “image of God,” but in him, God is seen as having arrived on earth. The transition from ancient Greece to modern Germany is thus accomplished as a non-reversible trajectory which allows for little nostalgia for the past and much concern about the present. Accordingly, Courtine suggests, any attempt to conceptualize Hölderlin’s view of Antiquity must attend to the particular temporality characteristic of this trajectory — an unorthodox path, marked by disjunctiveness, for which the care of the veste Buchstab remains crucial and “that which endures” must be “well interpreted” (SA 2;1:172).

The sixth and last essay of the opening section, Edgar Pankow’s “Epistolary Writing, Fate, Language: Hölderlin’s Hyperion,” concludes the treatment of fate and destination in Hölderlin’s oeuvre by turning to a text for which these problems are both immanent and generic: the epistolary novel Hyperion, published in 1797 and 1799. Focusing on the much neglected importance of letter writing in Hölderlin’s life as well as work, Pankow is able to discern the peculiar form of addressing that informs his notion of correspondence. Hölderlin departs from conventional concepts of the epistolary, based on structures of exchange between distinct and stable subjects. Rather, the “psyche among friends,” mentioned by Hölderlin in the second letter to his friend and colleague Casimir Ulrich von Böhlendorff (SA 6;1:433), seems to evoke a mutual exploration of otherness, which requires a refined notion of writing and temporality. Pinpointing the implications of such Psyche, a Greek word introduced into a German phrase, Pankow thus delineates the presence of “a kind of foreign language” in Hölderlin, which cannot be reduced simply to a national language or a question of terminology. More appropriately, it is the language in which the “psyche” — and, in other contexts, die Seele — chooses to speak: that is, the language of the other. Establishing the origin of thinking in conversation and correspondence, Hölderlin appears to consider the originality of thought as something possible to attain only in speaking with another. Persuing such conceptualization of the language of the soul, Pankow traces the consequences of this notion not only for an understanding of the status of Hyperion within German literary history, but also for the tropes which traditionally have secured the stability of the relation of Modernity to Antiquity — among them return, repetition, and naming. Through close readings of chosen passages, he is able to make clear a particular uncertainty concerning destination (and thus also relationality), which far from undermining Hölderlin’s enterprise in Hyperion conveys to it its exemplariness.

In the first contribution to the second section of the volume, “Figures of Duality: Hölderlin and Greek Tragedy,” Arnaud Villani discerns the manners in which figures of duality and discord in Greek drama are conceived of by Hölderlin in his remarks to the translations of Oedipus and Antigone (FA 16:247-58 and 409-21, respectively). Arguing that the texts of Greek tragedy already contain the complex logic of doubling which previous scholarship had confined, at best, to the transition from ancient original to modern version, Villani demonstrates not only the importance of these texts for Hölderlin’s conception of the relationship between Antiquity and Modernity, but also the manner in which their rendition in German doubles and displaces the original duplicity. Through this doubling of doubling, the translations offered by Hölderlin and theorized in his adjacent notes to the plays, are texts in which the stakes of modernity remain open — their significance suspended in a temporality most akin to what the remarks on Ödipus term the “caesura” (FA 16:250).

In “Monstrous History: Heidegger Reading Hölderlin,” Andrzej Warminski continues this line of inquiry by discussing Heidegger’s interpretation of Hölderlin’s translation of the so-called polla ta deina choral ode of Antigone (FA 16:298-303). Analyzing the ways in which translation in Hölderlin’s understanding is not merely confined to the transition between languages, but also occurs within one language, as its difference from itself, Warminski focuses on Heidegger’s translation of Sophocles’s deinon as unheimlich, in contrast to Hölderlin’s rendition of the word as ungeheuer. By treating also Heidegger’s explication of the poem “Der Ister” in close detail (SA 2;1:190-92) — an analysis in which the turn to the native, and thus familiar, is enacted as a turn to that which is heimisch12 — Warminski is able to demonstrate how Heidegger’s interpretation of Hölderlin’s ungeheuer as nicht geheuer leaves something behind: the word’s “self-translating difference from itself” loses the very monstrosity, he argues, which for Hölderlin alone accounts for the radical disjunction between Hesperians and the Orient which is the Greeks.

In “Disowning Contingencies in Hölderlin’s Empedokles,” Stanley Corngold shifts the focus by turning to Hölderlin’s sole, if thrice repeated, attempt to write a modern tragedy. Discussing Sattler’s recent reconstructions of Hölderlin’s Empedokles manuscripts and Andrzej Warminski’s readings of portions of the Third Version of the play,13 Corngold proposes a new interpretation of the drama. Paying particular attention to the “field of relations” suggested by the logic of Verläugnen (“denying,” “disowning”) that he argues is part of Hölderlin’s conception of tragedy, Corngold attempts to understand the form a tragedy might take when it tries rigorously to deny contingency. In this drama, Hölderlin constructs an aporia the thrust of which is to represent the experience of an empirical personality in images and signs so severe as to border on the invisible. His tragedy is caught up, Corngold underscores, in a logic in which the rigorous elimination of accidentals will finally affect the conditions of its structure of presentation (Darstellbarkeit). Hence, struggling to bring his drama into conformity with a conception of tragedy as the visible agon of the heroic individual and the mob, the embodied will of his adversary, Hölderlin is forced to turn Empedokles into the author or Darsteller of his own fate. In so doing, however, the need for poetic autonomy must give rise to doubts concerning its representability. Disowning contingent imagery, the play impedes representation at the same time as it transforms consciousness into a stage, that is, into a scene of representation. Envisioning death as a scene in which “the constraining environment of the sensory Bild is cast off,” in Corngold’s reading, Hölderlin’s Empedokles becomes a tragedy of incomplete self-deification — or, in other words, a tragedy of hubris. The punishment for the failure of his tragic hero is at once not to die and not to find another way. Thus, the aporia at the core of the play must result in the abandonment of the Empedokles project, the price paid for an insight into the insistence of the material image.

In “Reading the Poetics after the ‘Remarks,’” the fourth contribution to the second section, Christopher Fynsk returns to Hölderlin’s concern with the object of tragic representation, in particular as it is spelled out in the remarks on his Sophocles translations. Focusing on the crucial reference to Aristotle’s Poetics, a subject scarcely treated in the previous scholarship, he proposes to reread not Hölderlin in view of Aristotle, but the Greek text in light of the German. In this context, Fynsk offers a reconsideration of a central poetological tenant in view of its far-ranging reconceptualization in the work of one of the most serious readers of the texts of Antiquity. By analyzing Hölderlin’s description of the “tragic transport” as a rhythmic structure (FA 16:250), Fynsk argues, a solution may be found to what has traditionally been perceived as the fundamental crux of the Poetics: the question of catharsis. Maintaining that catharsis must proceed from a certain movement — “an engagement in the tragic action . . . that involves something more than contemplation” — he establishes rhythm as the element in which the visualization and gestures of speech, fundamental to the Aristotelean doctrine of tragic representation, is articulated, and in which the effect of truth is produced. For Hölderlin by contrast, Fynsk concludes, the presentation of the separation of man and nature’s powers, the object of tragedy, occurs in a structure that may follow the calculus of rhythm which Aristotle termed the soul, but it can do so only by way of that vaterländische Umkehr in which which beginning and end no longer rhyme.

In his “Ancient Sports and Modern Transports: Hölderlin’s Tragic Bodies,” Rainer Nägele augments this reading by proposing to understand the difference in ancient and modern means of conveying the object of tragic representation in relation to word play, or as a tension between trope and meaning. Long avoided by Hölderlin scholars — or, if acknowledged at all, quickly dismissed as a case of literary contingency — the pun has traditionally been deemed a linguistic casualty in Hölderlin’s search for a deeper meaning that critics may term truth. Discussing not only such reduction of the subject of literary criticism to a “mere” vehicle, with “real presences” as its true and legitimate ground, but also the treatment of the interrelationship between the letter and its interpretation in Hölderlin, Nägele considers tragedy as an exemplary instance of textuality for signaling the limits of language. Doing so with and within language, however, “in the . . . display of the wounded body and being that speaks,” tragedy is also the genre in which the historical difference between Antiquity and Modernity may be observed most acutely. A variance primarily residing in different understandings of the relationship of body and language, this historical difference is traced in a careful analysis of the crucial importance of “transport” for Hölderlin. Focusing on the Sophocles translations, as well as on remarks concerning tragedy contained in letters and adjacent materials, Nägele is able to elucidate, in Hölderlin’s renditions, the very transport that is the transport of the Darstellung itself. Presupposing a sacrifice (Hölderlin takes literally the German Opfer, derivative of the Latin offere, “to offer” as well as “to present”), these German translations of Sophocles becomes not only the vehicle, but the object as well, of a certain — tragically ironic — undoing of Darstellung.

The sixth and concluding essay of the second part of The Solid Letter, Aris Fioretos’s “Color Read: Hölderlin and Translation,” traces some of the implications of the earlier essays contained in this section by proposing to treat Hölderlin’s Antigone rendition not only as a translation of tragedy, but also as a text documenting the tragedy of verbal transfer. In particular, Fioretos offers a close reading of the moment in the drama which Hölderlin defined as its constitutive core or “caesura.” Identified formally as the speech of Tiresias, in the Greek text, it is articulated as a failed rendition of material events into celestial meaning, whereas in Hölderlin’s German version, the translation of sign into significance appears successful. On a second level of interpretation, however, Hölderlin does not translate the Greek. Pursuing the historico-political consequences of this disjunction for the rupture that, for Hölderlin, marked the relationship between Antiquity and Modernity, Fioretos suggests that such “transport of non-transport” — providing a repetition of what occurred in the original without ever taking place — signals a “traur’ge Arbeit,” or a “mournful work” (FA 16:265), of exemplary linguistic transmutation.

In “The Philosophy of Poetic Form: Hölderlin’s Theory of Poetry and the Classical German Elegy,” the opening contribution to the third and final section of the volume, Cyrus Hamlin attempts to shift the attention from the late hymns, long a dominant preoccupation among Hölderlin scholars, to the earlier elegies written before 1800. Tracing Hölderlin’s development as a poet within the larger context of Idealist philosophy during the latter part of the 1790s, Hamlin appeals for a reconsideration of the early poetry in light of the poet’s subsequent theory of tonal variation. He first discusses Hölderlin’s implicit reconception of Schiller’s definition of a “sentimental” elegy in the fragmentary text “Über die Verfahrungsweise des poetischen Geistes” (FA 14:303-22), then treats his subsequent critical reaction to Fichte in the brief fragment labelled “Urtheil und Seyn” (SA 4;1:216-7) (or also “Seyn Urtheil Möglichkeit” [FA 17:156]), before analyzing the poet’s radicalization of both Schillerian and Hegelian correlations of the work of art with its emotional affect in the elegy “Menons Klagen um Diotima” (earlier entitled simply “Elegie”) (KT 6:74-8). Here, Hölderlin’s theory of poetic structure is shown to be primarily philosophical in nature, but fundamentally musical in its affects. In no way dependent on — or derivative of — a philosophically informed theory of poetic composition, Hamlin concludes, Hölderlin’s poetry must receive priority as an example of poetic language, rather than as an illustration of philosophical insights concerning its formal arrangement or distribution of cognitive material.

In the second essay, “‘Brod und Wein’: From the ‘Classical’ Final Version to the Later Revision,” Bernhard Böschenstein chronicles both the genetic progress of the elegy “Bread and Wine” and its intrinsic narrative development (FA 6:222-33). Analyzing the passage from final version to later revision, and focusing in particular on the fact that Hölderlin hardly revised the first triad of the text, although he rewrote both second and third strophes to significant extents, Böschenstein argues against previous editorial attempts to integrate different layers of the text organically. Rather, he suggests, the text must be considered a heterogenous work, in no manner concluded, whose expressive thrust resides in the very fact that it resists any “equalizing systematization” of different phases of development, as well as different levels of thematic organization and narrative ordering.

In the subsequent contribution to the volume, “Turns and Echoes: Two Examples of Hölderlin’s Poetics,” Arne Melberg is able to augment Böschenstein’s argument by showing how Hölderlin’s famous remarks concerning beauty in Hyperion — containing his reinscription of the Heraclitean hen diaferon eauto, “the one in itself differing” (SA 3:81), which turns a passive verb construction into an active one — gives way to the later, post-1800 poetics, for which division and difference seem constitutive. Proposing to consider Hölderlin’s concept of beauty in relation to his attempts to define “primordial division” in the seminal fragment on “Seyn Urtheil Möglichkeit,” Melberg provides two examples of the peculiar poetic practice that this interrelationship effects. Focusing in particular on the tropes of turning and echo, he offers close readings of a crucial passage from the revised version in “Brod und Wein,” as well as the late hymnic fragment variously entitled “Mnemosyne” and “Die Nymphe Mnemosyne” (e.g., SA 2;1:193-8 and FA Einleitung, 55-70). By tracing their implications, Melberg is able to demonstrate, in conclusion, that for Hölderlin, poetry and poetics seem to supersede philosophical meaning. Hence, by extension, he argues, rhythmical patterns appear to be primary to any paraphrasable content. Indeed, rhythm, which Hölderlin is reported to have claimed “is all,”14 appears to be the most inclusive term to designate his late, radicalized poetics — and thus his notion of language and history, too, as well as their interrelationship in that which, Melberg suggests, can only be termed humanity.

In his essay on “Hölderlin’s Marginalization of Language,” Hans-Jost Frey localizes some of the issues at stake in Melberg’s reading by investigating the complex manners in which Hölderlin’s texts are engendered. Focusing on the relationship between the supposed body of a text and its assumed margins, he addresses two fragments in particular, both written in the margins of manuscripts, in which language is crucially at issue: “Aber die Sprache . . .” (FA 4:131) and “Im Walde” (SF 34). Discerning the textual consequences of these notations, as well as the theoretical implications ensuing from such indicative marginalization of language about language, Frey proposes to read the very place of inscription — a border, a division — as constitutive of meaning. Although deeming too hasty any allegorical interpretation of the textual frontier with reference to Hölderlin’s explicit intention, he is nonetheless able to demonstrate the impossiblity of ignoring the potential significance of a text’s margins for the particular ways in which it makes sense. The clearer marginalia circumscribe the assumed body of a text, it is suggested, the more open their status as borders must become. Hölderlin’s manuscripts reveal a writerly practice, Frey thus affirms, scarcely addressed and rarely theorized, the far-reaching implications of which may account for its pivotal importance for literary criticism today.

The fifth and last essay of the third part of The Solid Letter, Thomas Schestag’s “The Highest,” continues the pursuits of previous contributions, in particular those of Melberg and Frey, by examining the fifth of Hölderlin’s so-called “Pindar Fragments” (FA 15:355). These texts — they consist, in toto, of nine — demonstrate an intricate and often paradoxical interplay between original, translation, and adjacent commentaries. Undermining the customary faith in translation as a substitution of the words and turns of phrase of one language with those of another, Hölderlin’s Pindar-Kommentare offer an altercation, according to Schestag’s philologically scrupulous reading, in which the laws of two languages, cultures, and beliefs, as well as the laws of difference itself, are enacted instructively in all their theologico-linguistic radicality.

By focusing on a writerly practice of such rigorously differentiating, albeit hermeneutically demanding, nature, Schestag’s essay also completes The Solid Letter on a note shared by all the essays included: that of an interpretative respect for the consistency of letters whose meaning, while not given, continue to offer food for thought. Participating in an enterprise which never seems in situ nor in asitu, but remains perhaps, more properly, in parasitu (a place, or rather predicament, where languages intersect but also diverge, and where understanding is invariably at stake), such sharing is always also a parasitical reading (or partaking) of that which Hölderlin, in a late fragment of “Patmos,” termed an “inedible writing” (SA 2;1:185) — a trace and remainder, ever material, of what, in the final analysis, cannot be assimilated into meaning. As the collected contributions to this volume suggest, to care for the solid letter might mean this, too: to continue to engage in aporetic structures that teach us the difficult art of endurance.

The volume concludes with an select bibliography of Hölderlin in English, listing all book-length translations of his literary writings, the more significant translations of his theoretical texts and letters, as well as most critical studies, available in English, devoted in part or in whole to Hölderlin.

When the subject of Celan’s “I Drink Wine” claims to toil with the “king’s caesura / like that one / with Pindar,”15 it is also, among other things, hinting at the summum, or “the highest,” about which Hölderlin’s Pindar commentaries speak and in relation to which they claim that “strict mediacy . . . is the law” (FA 15:355). For Celan, writing a century and a half as well as two world wars later, such mediacy is not merely binding, but has become cutting and critical:

Ich trink Wein aus zwei Gläsern
und zackere an
der Königszäsur
wie Jener
am Pindar,

Gott gibt die Stimmgabel ab
als einer der kleinen

aus der Lostrommel fällt
unser Deut.16

Organized according to a formal pattern initiated by Ich and ending on Deut, putting the mention of Gott at the exact center of the poem, with fifteen words coming before and after, Celan’s poem might be read as a careful attempt to bring out the difference between two forms of calculating poetry. While divided into 15 + 1 + 15 words, stressing a concentric disposition of the lexical material, the text is also arranged into three stanzas of five, three, and two lines, respectively — a pattern, moving in ever more concentrated fashion from the opening “I” to the concluding “measure,” that corresponds to the classical, indeed royal, formula of the golden section (5:3:2).17 For a poem so preoccupied with fate and allotment, subjectivity and divinity, justice and measure, it is hardly surprising, although of course dazzling, to discover that “Ich trink Wein” thus includes two contradictory means of poetical organization: one emphasizing a concentric order, the other delineating a more eccentric sequence. If God, at least alphabetically, rests at the exact middle of Celan’s text, affirming the harmony of formal order, the subject of his poem seems to move according to a course — repeated by the reader — that is decidedly less tranquil.

This distinction between the path as well as position of finite and infinite beings might be brought to bear on the differentiation that Hölderlin introduced in his fifth Pindar commentary — or, rather, already in his translation of the fragment — between mortals and immortals:

Das Gesez,
Von allen der König, Sterblichen und
Unsterblichen; das führt eben
Darum gewaltig
Das gerechteste Recht mit allerhöchster Hand. (FA 15:355)

(The law,
King of all, mortals and
Immortals; just for this reason it wields
The most rightful law with the very highest hand.)

In the original, Pindar had allowed mortals and immortals (thanaton . . . kai athanaton) to cohabit the same line, thus also to share the same rhythmic measure; by contrast, in his translation, Hölderlin observes what the notes to his translations of Sophocles term a “counter-rhythmic rupture” (FA 16:250),18 introducing a break that dissociates the two entities metrically. The statement of the law is interrupted by a caesura — all the more abrupt since it introduces a split in the cardinal form of syntactic union: the conjunction and. In the “Remarks,” Hölderlin had defined such breach as the moment when Tiresias interrupts Kreon:

He enters the course of fate as the custodian of the natural power which, in a tragic manner, removes man from his own life-sphere, the center of his inner life into another world and into the eccentric sphere of the dead. (FA 16:251/102)

For Hölderlin, the caesura is the moment when the chosen representative of the law is confronted with the law of “natural power.” Appearing in the guise of the blind prophet, this other law is forcefully “counteractive” (FA 16:251/102). Already at an early stage of Ödipus der Tyrann, Oedipus had addressed Tiresias with the emphatic “O König” (FA 16:111), and the prophet’s word does indeed carry the entire weight of royalty. It should come as no surprise, then, that, for the subject of Celan’s poem, who toils “like that one / with Pindar,” such counteractive interruption has become the property of a “king.”

In his poetological speech “The Meridian,” Celan had proposed to understand the exclamation “Long live the king!,” Lucile Desmoulins’s last words in Georg Büchner’s Danton’s Tod, as a tangible Gegenwort: “. . . a word against the grain, the word which cuts the ‘string,’ which does not bow to the ‘bystanders and old warhorses of history.’ It is an act of freedom. It is a step.”19 Such emancipatory effect is, indeed, the attribute of the caesura in Hölderlin. In it, “the change of representation does not appear, but the representation itself” (FA 16:250/102 [trans. modified]). Itself expressing nothing, neither an intention nor its representation, the critical power of the caesura effects no more and no less than the form of representing. It is a “pure word” (FA 16:250/102), according to Hölderlin, in which “nothing exists but the condition of time or space” (FA 16:258/108 [trans. modified]).20 A “counter-word,” to use Celan’s own description, it is an opening-up in the form of a keeping-apart, a rupture which both differentiates and distances. Or: a disjunctive connective, it imparts. As such, the caesura is the condition of possibility of mediacy and offers, as Peter Fenves notes in his contribution to this volume, “the dialectical opposite of fate, namely freedom.” It announces “the problem of measure, or of meter,” or in any case, “the problem of finding the right measure when measure is no longer, or not at all, given.”

While God remains at the exact middle of the text, centered and unmovable, the subject of Celan’s poem moves — according to an eccentric path, therefore always already in mediated manner — toward a Deut. Signifying “measure,” but also “token” or “allotment,” the word refers, more narrowly, to a coin of little or negligible value (viz., a “tuppence”). Designating the smallest difference conceivable, it nonetheless decides between head and tail, gain and loss, victory and ruin — and ultimately, of course, between life and death. In addition, in a poem forcibly preoccupied with poetry and history, Deut obviously also indicates an activity which, in Hölderlin, and crucially in “Patmos,” is described as one of well elucidating “what endures.” The verb deuten carries several meanings, among them “to interpret,” “to indicate,” “to announce,” and “to bring to light,” but the word is also, more problematically, related etymologically to zu deutsch, “to make understandable, Germanizing, for the people, the Germans.”21

Freedom and fate, Zäsur and Deut: the movement traced between these two principles describes the peculiar path of zackern. “Toiling” with the king’s caesura — but also “plowing,” “furrowing,” and “combing” it “through” — and, figuratively, even “repeatedly working it over” — the subject of Celan’s poem delineates the back-and-forth rhythm that is the gestural blueprint of any engagement with Hölderlin’s texts. That this undertaking should project us “into the eccentric sphere of the dead,” as the remarks to Sophocles has it, is only appropriate. When drastically initialized, contracted according to the prismatic logic of crystallization that “Ich trink Wein” seems to intimate, Celan’s two-noun Königszäsur becomes KZ, the abbreviation for “concentration camp” — that industry of deadly transport for which no words, however measured, will ever account properly. Celan’s Deut, only a syllable, barely a word, indicates a legibility-yet-to-come and makes us aware of the equivocal perspective from which, today, measure for measure, Hölderlin’s writings must be approached. In the words of “Patmos”:

Vieles wäre
Zu sagen davon. (SA 2;1:167)

(Much could be
Said thereof.)

The essays in this volume were finalized in 1993-94. Only the Bibliography and references in a few notes have since been slightly updated.

A. F.


November 1997


Sidorna 1–21.


1  Paul Celan, Last Poems, trans. Katharine Washburn and Margret Guillemin (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986), 189.

2  “Tübingen, Jänner,” Werke, Tübinger Ausgabe, ed. Jürgen Wertheimer (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp), Die Niemandsrose, ed. Heino Schmull (1996), 37. “Tübingen, Jänner,” in Paul Celan, Poems, trans. Michael Hamburger (Manchester: Carcanet, 1986), 177.

3  As one typical example, see Charitas Jenny-Ebeling, “Von Deut zu Deut: Pindar — Hölderlin — Celan,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung (April 10-11, 1993), No. 83, 61-2.

4  “Ansprache anläßlich der Entgegennahme des Literaturpreises der Freien Hansestadt Bremen,” Gesammelte Werke, 3:186. “Speech on the Occasion of Receiving the Literature Prize of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen,” in Paul Celan, Collected Prose, trans. Rosmarie Waldrop (Manchester: Carcanet, 1986), 34. For a brief overview of this period, including references to Hölderlin, see Jost Hermand, Geschichte der Germanistik (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1994), esp. 98-113.

5  Hermand offers a diminutive list of plausible reasons for such avoidance. See ibid., 116.

6  At present, there are roughly 20,000 entries of secondary literature. In “Ein Zeichen sind wir, deutungslos”. Die Rezeption Hölderlins von ihren Anfängen bis zu Stefan George (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1992), Henning Bothe offers a survey of the Diskursmilieu of the Hölderlin reception from his own time, over Nietzsche, Haym, Zinkernagel, Lange-Eichbaum, and Dilthey, in particular, through the George Circle.

7  See “Zwei Gedichte von Friedrich Hölderlin,” in Gesammelte Schriften, ed. Rolf Tiedemann et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1977), 2;1:105-26.


9  For references, see the Select Bibliography.

10  Friedrich Hölderlin: An Early Modern (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1972).

11  For these, see the Select Bibliography.

12  Hölderlins Hymne “Der Ister”, Gesamtausgabe (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1984), volume 53. Martin Heidegger, Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister”, trans. William McNeill and Julia Davis (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1996).

13  See FA 13 and 14, as well as “The Deaths of Empedocles,” in Andrzej Warminski, Readings in Interpretation: Hölderlin, Hegel, Heidegger (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987), 11-17.

14  The claim was made by Bettina von Arnim. See Die Günderode, ed. Elisabeth Bronfen (München: Matthes & Seitz 1982), 224-28.

15  Celan has the unusual verb zackern from a letter reproduced by von Pigenot and Seebaß in their edition. On July 11, 1805, Gerning van Knebel, Court Counsellor in Homburg, writes: “Hölderlin, who is always half-mad, also toils [zackert] with Pindar.” See Sämtliche Werke (Berlin: Propyläen, 1923), 6:373. Cf. Bernhard Böschenstein, “Hölderlin und Celan,” Hölderlin-Jahrbuch 23 (1982-83), 147.

16  Gesammelte Werke, ed. Beda Allemann et al. (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1983), 108.

17  Cf. Jenny-Ebeling, “Von Deut zu Deut,” referred to in note 3 above. Although Jenny-Ebeling’s interpretation remains vague on certain key issues, such as the relationship between the poem’s formal structure and its anticipation of the act through which it is made hermeneutically available (crucially concentrated in the monosyllabic Deut), it is nonetheless the first serious attempt to come to terms with the tension between formal and historical structures of signification in Celan’s poem. In turns illuminating and suggestive, Böschenstein’s and Manger’s essays — hitherto the only two extended readings of “Ich trink Wein” — remain resolutely thematic in their orientation. For Böschenstein, see his “Hölderlin und Celan,” referred to in note 15; for Klaus Manger, see “Die Königszäsur. Zu Hölderlins Gegenwart in Celans Gedicht,” Hölderlin-Jahrbuch 23 (1982-93), 156-65.

18  The English translation is taken from Friedrich Hölderlin, Essays and Letters on Theory, intro. and trans. Thomas Pfau (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988), 102. Further references to this edition will appear in the main body of the text, after references to the German original.

19  “Der Meridian. Rede anläßlich der Verleihung des Georg-Büchner-Preises Darmstadt, am 22. Oktober 1960,” Gesammelte Werke, 3:189. “The Meridian: Speech On the Occasion of Receiving the Georg Büchner Prize, Darmstadt, October 22, 1960,” Collected Prose, 40.

20  Entirely precise, Hölderlin’s use of the disjunctive connective “or” indicates the condition of spatio-temporal conditions: without it, neither the possibility of time nor that of space would be given. As a differing and deferring oder, the caesura is this setting-free of their possibility. For an extended meditation concerning such an ultra-transcendental condition, see Werner Hamacher, “Ou, séance, touch de Nancy, ici,” Paragraph 16, 2 (1993), 216-31 (part 1); and 17, 2 (1994), 103-19 (part 2).

21  Cf. Warminski, “‘Patmos’: The Senses of Interpretation,” Readings in Interpretation, esp. 74-6. For the etymology, see Grimm, Wörterbuch (Leipzig: Hirzel, 1854), 2:1038 (also quoted by Warminski). There is, of course, a vaste scholarly literature devoted to Hölderlin’s “Patmos”-hymn, not to mention the question of the status of interpretation in it, as well as in his oeuvre in general.To give just one example, explicitly devoted to the Biblical allusion, contained in Hölderlin’s poem, to 2 Cor 3:4-8: Alice A. Kuzniar, “Hölderlin,” in Delayed Endings: Nonclosure in Novalis and Hölderlin (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1987), 133-90.


Sources and Abbreviations     xi

Contributors     xiii


Aris Fioretos     1

Part I

Measure for Measure: Hölderlin and the Place of Philosophy

Peter Fenves     25

The Calculation of the Poet

Jean-Luc Nancy     44

Poetry’s Courage

Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe     74

‘Winke’: Divine Topoi in Hölderlin, Heidegger, Nancy

Hent de Vries     94

Hölderlin’s Christ

Jean-François Courtine     121

Epistolary Writing, Fate, Language: Hölderlin’s ‘Hyperion’

Edgar Pankow     142

Part II

Figures of Duality: Hölderlin and Greek Tragedy

Arnaud Villani     175

Monstrous History: Heidegger Reading Hölderlin

Andrzej Warminski     201

Disowning Contingencies in Hölderlin’s ‘Empedocles’

Stanley Corngold     215

Reading the ‘Poetics’ After the ‘Remarks’

Christopher Fynsk     237

Ancient Sports and Modern Transports: Hölderlin’s Tragic Bodies

Rainer Nägele     247

Color Read: Hölderlin and Translation

Aris Fioretos     268

Part III

The Philosophy of Poetic Form: Hölderlin’s Theory of Poetry and the Classical German Elegy

Cyrus Hamlin     291

“Brod und Wein”: From the “Classical” Final Version to the Later Version

Bernhard Böschenstein     321

Turns and Echoes: Two Examples of Hölderlin’s Poetics

Arne Melberg     340

Hölderlin’s Marginalization of Language

Hans-Jost Frey     356

The Highest

Thomas Schestag     375

Notes     415

Hölderlin in English: A Bibliography     483

Index of Names     507