Cover

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Title page, Copyright, Quotes

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Contents

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

In the context of intellectual or conceptual history, “the demonic” may seem relatively peripheral—and perhaps it is. It undoubtedly covers, however, an extremely varied field spanning numerous intellectual traditions without at any point landing in a single discipline or arriving at a clear consensus or...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xv-2

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Introduction

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pp. 1-20

In keeping with Goethe’s famous presentation in book 20 of Poetry and Truth (Dichtung und Wahrheit), the first thing that must be said about the demonic (das Dämonische) is what it is not. According to Goethe’s autobiographical narrative, the demonic was in the first place a “something” (an “etwas”)...

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1. Urworte Goethisch: Demonic Primal Words

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pp. 21-38

Goethe’s “Urworte Orphisch” is a cycle of five stanzas—stanzas in the strict sense of “octave” or “ottava rime”—written in September and October 1817. In addition to the main title, each stanza has a subtitle corresponding to a different “primal word.” The occasion for this work was Goethe’s encounter...

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2. Demons of Morphology

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pp. 39-58

Given the size and importance of Goethe’s natural scientific writings, my analysis of his theory of morphology will be relatively brief. Impossible to definitively categorize, Goethe’s work as a natural scientist and his thinking about nature can be read as philosophical reflections—whether in the direction...

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3. Biographical Demons (Goethe’s Poetry and Truth)

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pp. 59-86

In Friedrich Gundolf’s reading of Goethe’s “Urworte,” he rather surprisingly asserts that the “primal words” represent a simple series rather than a unified conception: they do not represent a narrative progression nor do they articulate a system. Where virtually all readers have seen the “Urworte” as...

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4. The Unhappy Endings of Morphology: Oswald Spengler’s Demonic History

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pp. 87-110

The Austrian novelist Heimito von Doderer used the term “Erfüllungs- Rückstoß”—“the recoil of fulfillment”—to refer to a wide range of phenomena associated with the idea of realization in its various senses. The term appears in Doderer’s diary as a part of the important 1933 “thematic” list...

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5. Demonic Ambivalences: Walter Benjamin’s Counter-Morphology

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pp. 111-134

One of the most likely places where the contemporary reader may have encountered the idea of the demonic is the work of Walter Benjamin. Other candidates would be Kierkegaard or Georg Lukács, who, though certainly aware of Goethe’s use of the term, do not so directly establish their understandings...

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6. Georg Lukács and the Demonic Novel

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pp. 135-160

The difficulty of giving closure to a biographical narrative may have led Goethe to introduce “the demonic” in a series of interconnected excurses at the end of Poetry and Truth. This underlying formal difficulty as well as the substance of the excurses on the demonic are both directly relevant to the...

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7. Demonic Inheritances: Heimito von Doderer’s The Demons

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pp. 161-192

As in the preceding chapter, this one pursues the hypothesis that Goethe’s conceptions of the demonic may reflect, wittingly and unwittingly, an infrastructure of the novel that is focused on character in the nineteenth century—and, in a somewhat different configuration, focused increasingly...

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Conclusion. Transformations of the Demonic

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pp. 193-200

In the introduction, I claimed that the “the demonic is not one (thing)” and that it is a “something.” Lest this be taken as an indication that it is nothing at all and that I, following Goethe, have allowed it to expand into all-encompassing vagueness, this conclusion will attempt to answer the questions...

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Appendix: German Text and English Translation of Goethe’s “Urworte Orphisch” (with Commentary)

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pp. 201-208

Nachstehende fünf Stanzen sind schon im zweyten Heft der Morphologie abgedruckt, allein sie verdienen wohl einem größeren Publicum bekannt zu werden; auch haben Freunde gewünscht daß zum Verständniß derselben einiges geschähe, damit dasjenige was sich hier fast nur ahnen läßt auch einem...

Notes

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pp. 209-238

Bibliography

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pp. 239-248

Index

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pp. 249-253