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Epochal Discordance

Holderlin's Philosophy of Tragedy

Veronique M. Foti

Publication Year: 2006

Friedrich Hölderlin must be considered not only a significant poet but also a philosophically important thinker within German Idealism. In both capacities, he was crucially preoccupied with the question of tragedy, yet, surprisingly, this book is the first in English to explore fully his philosophy of tragedy. Focusing on the thought of Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Reiner Schürmann, Véronique M. Fóti discusses the tragic turning in German philosophy that began at the close of the eighteenth century to provide a historical and philosophical context for an engagement with Hölderlin. She goes on to examine the three fragmentary versions of Hölderlin’s own tragedy, The Death of Empedocles, together with related essays, and his interpretation of Sophoclean tragedy. Fóti also addresses the relationship of his character Empedocles to the pre-Socratic philosopher and concludes by examining Heidegger’s dialogue with Hölderlin concerning tragedy and the tragic.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Epochal Discordance

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pp. vii-viii

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Prefatory Note

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pp. xi

All translations from the German and French are my own, unless otherwise indicated. Translations from the Greek are based on the Greek texts cited and, where indicated, on other translations consulted, which have for the most part been modified. In citing Greek names, I have generally rendered the letter ...

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pp. 1-6

It is astonishing that this book—completed, as it happens, almost exactly two centuries after the publication (in April 1804) of Hölderlin's Sophocles translations—remains one of the first two efforts to study Hölderlin's thought on tragedy as a whole from the three fragmentary versions of his own tragedy, The Death of Empedocles, and the body of essays on the poetics and ...

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1. The Tragic Turning and Tragic Paradigm in Philosophy

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pp. 7-28

Toward the close of the eighteenth century, tragedy, which had been of scant interest to philosophers since Plato and Aristotle, began to move to the forefront of German thought. Not only was this tragic turning of philosophy sustained well into the nineteenth century, it also surfaced anew in the first half of the twentieth century in the work of Martin Heidegger. Whereas Plato and ...

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2. Communing with the Pure Elements: The First Two Versions of The Death of Empedocles

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pp. 29-40

Hölderlin wrote to Ludwig Neuffer from Homburg on 4 June 1799 that he had completed his tragedy, The Death of Empedocles, except for the last act, and that he expected to publish it in the literary periodical (Iduna, named for the ancient Germanic goddess of dawn) that he was seeking to found.1<./sup> To his half-brother Karl Gok, he wrote on the same day of the "slow love and effort" ...

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3. Singularity and Reconciliation: The Third Version of The Death of Empedocles

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pp. 41-54

Having abandoned the Second Version of The Death of Empedocles in late 1799, Hölderlin sought to work out his philosophy of tragedy and to clarify issues as to the poetics of tragedy in the essay now titled "Concerning the Tragic," which is comprised of three parts: a reflection on the tragic ode, the "General Ground," and the "Ground for Empedocles."1 In manuscript, the "Plan for the Third ...

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4. Between Hölderlin's Empedocles and Empedocles of Akragas

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pp. 55-64

Although Hölderlin relied mainly on Diogenes Laërtius's account of Empedocles' life and thought, without benefit of critical scholarship,1 his dramatization is both erudite and philosophically insightful. Given his own strongly held democratic (or, in the terminology of his time, "republican") and egalitarian political ideals (notably as they inspired the French Revolution), he shows ...

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5. The Faithless Turning: Hölderlin's Reading of Oedipus Tyrannos

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pp. 65-74

Given the loss of the manuscripts of Hölderlin's translations of Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannos and Antigone and the fact that his epistolary discussion or mention of the translations is limited to six letters, most of them addressed to his publisher Friedrich Wilmans and written between late September 1803 and April 1804,1 it is not possible to date the inception of the work or ...

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6. Dys-Limitation and the "Patriotic Turning": Sophocles' Antigone

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pp. 75-90

If Antigone has retained a power to fascinate and haunt sensibility, thought, and imagination that is probably unrivalled by other tragic characters (only the epic figure of Odysseus seems, in this respect and within ancient Greek literature, her equal), Hölderlin himself indicates the fundamental conditions that empower a poetic work to present such a figure. He ...

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7. From an Agonistic of Powers to a Homecoming: Heidegger, Hölderlin, and Sophocles

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pp. 91-104

Greek tragedy is, for Heidegger, an initial and significant modality of thinking the being of beings in its essential interrelation with and differentiation from becoming (phainesthiai) and semblance (Schein), as well as thinking (Denken) and obligation (Sollen). In Introduction to Metaphysics of 1935, Heidegger understands Oedipus Tyrannos as "a single strife between semblance ..,.

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pp. 105-110

Hegel situates tragedy not only within ethicality, but also within the domain of law as the scene of nomic conflict or, in Schürmann's terms, of double prescriptions, and of the quest for a justice that brings these imperatives into balance. 1 Hölderlin situates tragedy in the context of an epochal transition that exacerbates the conflict between the aorgic and the organic principles (or ...


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pp. 111-132


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pp. 133-138

Index of Persons and Topics

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pp. 139-143

E-ISBN-13: 9780791481189
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791468593
Print-ISBN-10: 0791468593

Page Count: 155
Publication Year: 2006

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Subject Headings

  • Tragedy -- Philosophy.
  • Hölderlin, Friedrich, 1770-1843 -- Philosophy.
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