Abstract

ABSTRACT:

My response to Thomas Pavel's review focuses on two of the questions he raises. The first concerns narration's relation to nonhuman domains of life, and the second concerns the erotic couple as the topic that sets the nineteenth-century novel apart from philosophical and scientific discourse, constituting its distinctively human form. Recent studies in narrative theory and cultural anthropology have identified narration and fiction as uniquely human capabilities, reiterating the nineteenth-century novel's anthropocentric remit. Forms of posthuman narration become imaginable—even experimentally practicable—after Charles Darwin's intervention in the debate on human nature. New conceptual pressure comes to bear, meanwhile, on erotic love as a special medium of human formation (Bildung), with the identification of biological reproduction as the decisive criterion of species being. Nineteenth-century art—not only fiction but, preeminently, Wagnerian music drama—imagines a sexual drive or life-force that flows through the erotic couple and ultimately transcends it, leaving individual lives discarded in its wake.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-974X
Print ISSN
1063-3685
Pages
pp. 122-128
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-10
Open Access
No
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