The Poetics of Death : The Short Prose of Kleist and Balzac
Traditionally, the act of writing constitutes a challenge to the finality of death. Yet "writing" as a subject for literary texts has its own tradition of imagery whose rhetoric is associated with loss rather than immortality. The limit of death seems to force a more explicit analysis of the process of writing. Writers consider the impact of their work on their readers, or re-articulate the link between the written text and the subject it is meant to represent. Each writer constructs a "subversive" text. The conjunction of writing and death--besides highlighting or demystifying the creative act--leads in each case to a decidedly critical stance. Guenther examines how Kleist's and Balzac's representations of death bring with them a critical awareness that calls attention to the historical context in which the texts are produced.
- Paperback | 216 pages
- 148.1 x 225.6 x 11.7mm | 322.06g
- 12 Jul 1996
- State University of New York Press
- Albany, NY, United States
- Total Illustrations: 0
Back cover copy
Traditionally, the act of writing constitutes a challenge to the finality of death. Yet 'writing' as a subject for literary texts has its own tradition of imagery whose rhetoric is associated with loss rather than immortality. The limit of death seems to force a more explicit analysis of the process of writing.
"Especially impressive is the way Guenther shows how the alliance between death and writing can produce two different but fascinating effects: in Kleist, the subversion of the idea of Bildung, and in Balzac, the ingenious strategies of 'endless survival, ' most obviously symbolized in the 'totalizing' aspirations of the Comédie Humaine and in his 'exorcism of doubles.'" -- Maria DiBattista, Princeton University "A book that goes to the very grounds of our anxieties and relativities, a book that seeks to explore how literature has been able to deal with the most extreme of human margins." -- Virgil Nemoianu, Catholic University of America
About Beatrice Martina Guenther
Beatrice Guenther is Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures at the College of William and Mary.