The Fate of the Self

German Writers and French Theory

The Fate of the Self

Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: Published: October 1994

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Much recent critical theory has dismissed or failed to take seriously the question of the self. French theorists—such as Derrida, Barthes, Benveniste, Foucault, Lacan, and Lévi-Strauss—have in various ways proclaimed the death of the subject, often turning to German intellectual tradition to authorize their views. Stanley Corngold’s heralded book, The Fate of the Self, published for the first time in paperback with a spirited new preface, appears at a time when the relationship between the self and literature is a matter of renewed concern. Originally published in 1986 (Columbia University Press), the book examines the poetic self of German intellectual tradition in light of recent French and American critical theory. Focusing on seven major German writers—Hölderlin, Dilthey, Nietzsche, Mann, Kafka, Freud, and Heidegger—Corngold shows that their work does not support the desire to discredit the self as an origin of meaning and value but reconstructs the allegedly fragmented poetic self through effects of position and style. Offering new and subtle models of selfhood, The Fate of the Self is a source of rich insight into the work of these authors, refracted through poststructuralist critical perspectives.


“A breathtaking panorama of German literature . . . [and] a series of brilliant and provactive essays. . . . Both for the impressive scope of its subject and the probing, imaginative intelligence with which it is written, this book constitutes a major contribution to contemporary German studies and critical theory.” — Mark Anderson , Germanic Review

"The Fate of the Self is a daring and independent work—daring in the scope of its inclusions, independent in its attitude toward received ideas in literary theory. It brings intellectual history and literary criticism together, without slighting either." — Allan Megill, University of Virginia

"An impressive tour de force. . . . The Fate of the Self is precisely the kind of book one will want to read closely, learn from appreciatively, and engage in strenuous debate." — Dominick LaCapra, Cornell University

"The question of the self has not gone away, and Corngold is one of the first critics in the U. S. to have taken it up again in the wake of the poststructuralist polemical proclamation of the death of the subject." — Mihai I. Spariosu, University of Georgia


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Stanley Corngold, Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures and Comparative Literature at Princeton University, is the author of several books, including Franz Kafka: The Necessity of Form.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface to the Paperback Edition ix

Preface xvii

Acknowledgments xxi

Abbreviations xxiii

Introduction 1

1. Holderin and the Question of the Self 21

2. Dilthey's Poetics of Force 55

3. Self and Subject in Nietzsche During the Axial Period 95

4. Mann as a Reader of Nietzsche 129

5. The Author Survives on the Margin of His Breaks: Kafka's Narrative Perspective 161

6. Freud as Literature? 181

7. Heidegger's Being and Time: Implications for Poetics 197

Postscript: On Rhetoric, Its Treachery, Confession, and the Desire for Wholeness 219

Notes 229

Index 271
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1523-0
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