Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Hölderlin and the Measure of Enthusiasm
by Briley, Alexis C., Ph.D., Cornell University, 2014, 260; 3583135
Abstract (Summary)

Hölderlin and the Measure of Enthusiasm argues for a new understanding of measure (Maß) in German lyric poetry around 1800, focusing on the work of Friedrich Hölderlin. Rhythmically and syntactically, Hölderlin’s poetry resonates with the tradition that associates lyric expressivity and inspiration, or Begeisterung. Within this context, most famously exemplified in Goethe’s Erlebnislyrik and Klopstock’s hymns in freie Rhythmen , poetry is more “free” for being more irregular. While Hölderlin’s poetry assimilates the sense of Begeisterung as poetic inspiration, I argue, it abandons the mimetic relationship between form and subjectivity implied in the work of these earlier poets. Instead of evoking unfettered subjective expression, Begeisterung assumes its own kind of measure—what Hölderlin calls das Maas Begeisterung. Although Hölderlin is among the most central figures in modern literary criticism, or perhaps because of this, his work tests the limits of conventional critical methods. While previous critics have sought to define Hölderlin’s measure by looking at his poetological writings or by tracing the instances of key phrases or concepts, I am concerned with the implications of measure for Hölderlin’s poetic practice. Through a close analysis of individual poems and translations, I examine the senses of measure underlying the composition—and decomposition—of the work.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gilgen, Peter
Commitee: Chase, Cynthia, Culler, Jonathan, Fleming, Paul, Waite, Geoff
School: Cornell University
Department: Comparative Literature
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 75/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Comparative literature, German literature
Keywords: Begeisterung, Expressivity and inspiration, German lyric poetry, Holderlin, Friedrich, Poetic measure, Poetic practice
Publication Number: 3583135
ISBN: 978-1-321-12597-9
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