"This is vintage Krell—he is as always, a reader in the best sense of the word. . . ." —Dennis J. Schmidt
"Krell is a strong and often eloquent writer . . . I regard this to be one of his most important works. . . ." —Jason M. Wirth
In The Tragic Absolute, David Farrell Krell shows that German Idealist and Romantic theories of literature and aesthetic judgment, especially when it comes to tragedy, are closer to the heart of metaphysics and ethics than previously thought. Krell not only explores the contributions of Schelling, Hölderlin, Novalis, Hegel, and Nietzsche to the aesthetics of tragedy, he also charts the fate of the absolute and speculative philosophy in terms of the tragic. Krell explodes the usual conception that aesthetic judgments about literary genres are relatively marginal subjects for philosophy. Indeed, in Krell's view, even God himself, the very absolute of traditional metaphysics, is seen as languishing and condemned to tragic downfall. Questions concerning the death of God, the role of trauma and forgetting in narrative, the overcoming of barriers between humans and other living beings, and the role of music and rhythm as sources of ecstasy are highlighted in this keen, precise, and lively book.
Key to Works Cited
1. The Oldest Program toward a System in German Idealism
The Philological Dispute
Das älteste Systemprogramm des deutschen Idealismus: Text and Translation
The Tragic Absolute?
2. Three Ends of the Absolute
Absolute Inhibition: Schelling
Absolute Separation: Hölderlin
Absolute Density: Novalis
A Note on Absolute and Relative Death
3. At the Stroke of One
A Peripheral Reading of Schelling's Treatise on Human Freedom
Excursus on Sehnsucht: Languor, the Languid, and Languishment
The Peripheral Reading (continued)
An Indifferent Reading of Schelling's Treatise on Human Freedom
4. God's Trauma
The Earliest Notes toward Schelling's The Ages of the World
The Genealogy of Time, and the Golden Age
Trauma, Repression, and the Absolute Past
An Excursion to Samothrace
5. God's Footstool
From the 1811 Draft of Die Weltalter, with Variants from the 1810
Stuttgarter Privatvorlesungen and the 1827–1828 System der Weltalter
From the Sketches toward the Second Proposed Volume of
Die Weltalter, "The Present"
The Olympian Zeus of Pausanias's Guide to Greece
The Forlorn Foot of Divinity
6. Brazen Wheels
Freedom to Burn: Schelling's Tenth Letter
Absolute Mythology: The 1802–1803 Philosophy of Art
The Klang of Music, the Fine Arts, and Tragedy
7. Voices of Empedocles
"Dame Philosophy Is a Tyrant"
Essence or Accidents?
Nefas or Destiny?
Formal Aspects of the Three Drafts of Hölderlin's Mourning-Play
Rhea's Disappearance and the Rise of the Doppelgänger
8. Hölderlin's "Translations" of Sophocles
The Labors of Translation
Absolute Intensity and the Task of the Translator
9. A Small Number of Houses in the Tragic Universe
At the Center of Aristotle's Thought: The Poetics
Divine Betrayal: Hölderlin's "Notes on Oedipus"
In the Figure of Death: Hölderlin's "Notes on Antigone"
10. Hölderlin's Tragic Heroines
Three Commentaries: Kommerell, Reinhardt, Loraux
Jocasta's Shadow, Antigone's "Ath, Niobe's Tears, Danaë's Gold
Return to Jocasta
11. Antigone's Clout
Lacan on the Essence of Tragedy
Lacan on the Tragic Dimension of Psychoanalytic Experience
Antigone between Two Deaths, Two Births
12. Nietzschean Reminiscences
Not a Single New Goddess?
"Against the Oncoming Night"
Kavqarsi~ and "Ekstasi~ in Absolute Music, Absolute Rhythm
The Tragic Absolute
Appendix: Plot Summaries of The Death of Empedocles