Non-Fiction Books:

From Romanticism to Critical Theory

The Philosophy of German Literary Theory



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From Romanticism to Critical Theory by Andrew Bowie
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Literary theory is now perceived by many as being in crisis because many of its dominant theoretical assumptions are proving hard to sustain. From Romanticism to Critical Theory offers a new view of literary theory, seeing it not as a product of the French assimilation of Saussurian linguistics and Russian Formalism into what we term deconstruction', but rather as an essential part of modern philosophy which begins with the German Romantic reactions to Kant, the effects of which can be traced through to Heidegger, Benjamin and Adorno. Andrew Bowie argues that, contrary to many current assumptions, the central question in contemporary literary theory is really the question of truth. He begins by showing how Kant's and F.H Jacobi's reflection on grounding truth in modern philosophy form the background to the exploration of the relationship between literature and philosophy in early German Romanticism. The importance attached by Friedrich Schlegel, Novalis and Schleiermacher to questions of literature for philosophical approaches to language is seen as playing a crucial role in the genesis of modern hermeneutics, as well as being significant for issues raised in contempor analytical semantics. Romantic ideas are also used to argue against the cultural materialist view of literature as merely a form of ideology. The book makes clear links between the thread of Romantic philosophical tradition, Martin Heidegger's approaches to art and truth, and the related work of Benjamin and Adorno. From Romanticism to Critical Theory argues that key problems in contemporary literary theory are therefore inseparable from the major questions of modern philosophy after Kant. In addition to offering detailed accounts, based on many untranslated texts, of major positions in German literary theory since the Romantics, this controversial new approach to literary theory makes fascinating and important links between hermeneutics, analytical philosphy and literary theory and will be a vital point of reference for future work in areas.
Release date NZ
November 14th, 1996
Country of Publication
United Kingdom
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