Thursday, March 8, 2007

Daily to-read, to-research list

Looking today at Hölderlin's "Hälfte des Lebens" and especially at the manuscript from which it presumably (organically?) emerged and thinking about the grand struggle between nature and the "Man-Made," especially in "Heidelberg," a hopeful paper topic began to take root:

Could I not look at Goethe's "Im Herbst 1775," Hölderlin's "Hälfte des Lebens," and Rilke's "Herbsttag" together? Goethe's text is an apostrophe, urging the grapes to ripen and plump before frost falls, Hölderlin's shows fat pears dipping from their trees and the world settling rather suddenly into winter, and Rilke's conjures up the specter of winter's solitude descending on the poet. They all show the world at it's tipping point and both feature elements of nature at their center (Rilke somewhat more tangentially: he, too, has grapes that need ripening and their cultivation is only accompanied by the trees' fallen leaves blowing through the streets. Natural imagery is much more prominent in both of the other poems, but is that indicative of the time in which the poets were working? Is there a trajectory away from nature and toward a more anthropocentric understanding of the world?)

Another tack: Look at Hölderlin, Rilke, and Klopstock (Klopstock!) with regards to syntax. I know for a fact that Hölderlin and Rilke both use convoluted syntax to create an uneasy, breathless tone (that's the Hölderlinton, no?) and I believe that Klopstock does as well ("Frühlingsfeier?"). How does the syntax function in the poems? How innovative were each of them with their syntax at the time?

Non sequitur: an old gripe inherited from an even older advisor. The word "interesting" doesn't mean anything. Stop using it.

Daily to-read/research list:

  • look up Mallarmé and the French symbolists
  • learn Greek

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