The eclipse of the transcendent and the poetics of praise
Literature has a central place in Hannah Arendt’s writings. In particular, scholars continually discuss the implications of storytelling to her theory of action. This paper takes a different approach by drawing attention to an early literary essay, ”Rilke’s Duino Elegies”, which Arendt co-authored with Günther Stern (later Anders) in 1930. The paper locates the essay in the early twentieth century intellectual response to the ”break in tradition”, arguing that the construction of a poetics dramatized in the Duino Elegies is crucial for judging the originality of Arendt’s philosophical methodology, and the ontological significance of her poetic conception of praise. In this conception, meaning is to be found in things as they appear to human beings capable of using the language designating them poetically. I present my interpretation of the Arendt-Stern essay by contrasting it with Heidegger’s comment on the eighth Elegy from 1942-43 and Blanchot’s reading of Rilke from 1955.
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