In part I of the essay, I investigate Johann Gottfried Herder’s philosophy of the origin of language, arguing that Herder’s philosophy cannot philosophically justify the natural origin of linguistic expression in man without presupposing the philosophically incomprehensible concept of what Herder himself termed “the language of nature.” In essence, Herder’s philosophy of language lacks a theory of negative representation to articulate the grounds by which it can claim to understand the limits of its own linguistic representation. My stake in making this argument becomes clear in part II of the paper, which aims to show how the German early Romantic concept of allegory transcends this philosophical problem by way of understanding the essence of linguistic expression proper rather than in the praxis of reflexive language. I then turn to the subject of Germanic runes and “nature hieroglyphs” in the German early Romantic imagination to show how the Romantics saw art and language as a common praxis in their effort to engage the mystery of what is nature. In part III, I provide a close reading of Tieck’s novella in order to substantiate the former two parts of the essay. (CG)


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pp. 405-430
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