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Responding to the Sovereign Work: Gadamer and Mallarmé

Responding to the Sovereign Work: Gadamer and Mallarmé BRiaN o'Keeffe Responding to the Sovereign Work GadamerandMallarmé Literature goads literary theory and the philosophy of literature into exploring the limits of interpretation. There is something about literature, or something of literature, that slips through the fingers, evades the hermeneutical grasp, refuses to be fitted up as a definite concept. Yet while that "something" may remain provokingly out of reach, there is no reason to cast literature as an antagonist, blame it for withdrawing into evasive secrecy after it has claimed our attention. We do not necessarily have to compensate for our dashed hopes by adopting an attitude of hermeneutic suspicion. For the altogether more encouraging scenario--Gadamer's, for instance--replaces provocation by friendly invitation: readers are invited into a relation that can be characterized as a conversation, a dialogue between friends. To encounter a text is to enter into a good-willed partnership--goodwill being what we bring to the relationship, and what we trustingly impute to the text. From such conversation, surely, will come a release of the text's meaning. What will come is reinforcement of the faith in the meaning and value of literature that interpreters-- friends of literature--hold fast to, even if it remains hard, nonetheless, to fully http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Comparatist University of North Carolina Press

Responding to the Sovereign Work: Gadamer and Mallarmé

The Comparatist , Volume 36 (1) – May 19, 2012

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © Southern Comparative Literature Association.
ISSN
1559-0887
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Abstract

BRiaN o'Keeffe Responding to the Sovereign Work GadamerandMallarmé Literature goads literary theory and the philosophy of literature into exploring the limits of interpretation. There is something about literature, or something of literature, that slips through the fingers, evades the hermeneutical grasp, refuses to be fitted up as a definite concept. Yet while that "something" may remain provokingly out of reach, there is no reason to cast literature as an antagonist, blame it for withdrawing into evasive secrecy after it has claimed our attention. We do not necessarily have to compensate for our dashed hopes by adopting an attitude of hermeneutic suspicion. For the altogether more encouraging scenario--Gadamer's, for instance--replaces provocation by friendly invitation: readers are invited into a relation that can be characterized as a conversation, a dialogue between friends. To encounter a text is to enter into a good-willed partnership--goodwill being what we bring to the relationship, and what we trustingly impute to the text. From such conversation, surely, will come a release of the text's meaning. What will come is reinforcement of the faith in the meaning and value of literature that interpreters-- friends of literature--hold fast to, even if it remains hard, nonetheless, to fully

Journal

The ComparatistUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 19, 2012

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