Allegories of Reading: Figurative Language in Rousseau, by Paul de Man

By Paul de Man

'Through tricky and chic shut readings of poems by way of Rilke, Proust's Remembrance, Nietzsche's philosophical writings and the most important works of Rousseau, de guy concludes that every one writing matters itself with its personal job as language, and language, he says is often unreliable, slippery, impossible....Literary narrative, since it needs to depend on language, tells the tale of its personal lack of ability to inform a story....De guy demonstrates, fantastically and convincingly, that language turns again on itself, that rhetoric is untrustworthy.' Julia Epstein, Washington submit publication global

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Extra resources for Allegories of Reading: Figurative Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke and Proust

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The temporal totalization is brought about by the chiasmic reversal of the categories night/day and light/dark. "Oer Ball" ( 1 :395) is a strictly descriptive version of a totalization that includes the contradictory motions of rising and falling [Flug und Fall ] . 25 The moment of reversal is graphically represented 24. The totalization of rise and fall is one of the fundamental tropes of Rilke's poetry. It is thematically asserted at the end of the Tenth Elegy but recurs persis­ tently throughout the work.

The purpose of the text is not to reunite the two separate entities but to evoke a specific activity that circulates between them. The poem does not mention this activity by name . " That it is called a fulfillment [Vollendung] and that the will of the "du" is said to be accomplished by this act does not allow for its definition but repeats in fact the relationship of immanence between the two "persons" that is being staged in the tex t . A more implicit reading permits however some further speci­ fication.

29. " TROPES (RILKE) 47 dass eine Welt aus Klage ward, in der 30 alles noch einmal da war: . [ 1 :300] However, since it stems from a desire for presence, the com­ plaint is almost inevitably transformed into the impatience of a desire. It tends to consider the fictional world it engenders as an absent reality, and it tries to repossess what it lacks as if it were an exterior entity. The confusion can only lead to the loss of language which, in the symbolism of the poem, corresponds to Orpheus's increased inability to perceive sounds to the point of forgetting the existence of his lyre.

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