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The fear and trembling of Malte Laurids Brigge
Downes, Daragh Anthony
THESIS 7316.1 THESIS 7316.2 This thesis attempts to clear a space for a >transcendentalist< reading of Rainer Maria Rilke's Die Aufzeichnungen des Malte Laurids Brigge (1910) by querying the >immanentism< of much modern Malte-scholarship. In Chapter One the double argument is advanced that: a) critical fixation on the book as a quintessential Gro?stadtroman in the very vanguard of modernist response to a new socio-historical epoch around the turn of the century runs the risk of >paradigm-blindness<, occluding existential, occultistic and spiritual themes; b) the formal radicalness of the book has been greatly exaggerated, being in turn perennially enlisted for a reductively socio-historical hermeneusis. A preliminary case is presented for reading the Malte in terms of a Kierkegaardian aesthetic. Chapter Two scrutinises the earliest Papers in the book for initial clues as to the peculiar grammar of Malte Laurids Brigge's Sehenlernen project. Malte's flaneries through Paris, as well as his more sedentary moments there, are read as experiments in metanormal perception. From a close reading of these early Papers there quickly emerges the sense of an unfolding epistemological tragi-comedy. Chapter Three theorises the injection of paranormal motifs into the Papers, leading to a characterisation of Malte as an apprentice magus. The development of transcendental faculties of perception and experience is identified as the reigning concern of the book. Sehenlernen is shown to signify, at least in part, an apprenticeship in Hell-sehen, with Malte pretending to the status of a Graf Brahe-like seer. Yet here too, in a cluster of episodes of Hoffmannesque ambiguity, epistemological humiliation is seen to haunt Malte as he inscribes both his Parisian present and his Danish past. Chapter Four chronicles the disintegration phase of Malte's apprenticeship in occultism with a textual analysis of two particularly revealing moments - the Medizinstudent and Zeitungsverkaufer episodes (Papers XLIX-LIII and LIX respectively). Chapter Five tentatively establishes a Kierkegaardian framework for understanding Malte's crisis and his corresponding textual praxis. The Unhappy Consciousness has failed to bridge the sensuous and supersensuous realms, yet this monistic defeat results not in sheer spiritual collapse but in a passionate enrichment of subjective authenticity. The >experimental< character of the later Papers, as defined in the Kierkegaardian sense, is sketched. A brief >Conclusion?< section synthesises and problematizes the findings of Chapters Two to Five.
Keyword(s): Germanic Studies, Ph.D.; Ph.D. Trinity College Dublin
Publication Date:
Type: Doctoral thesis
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Institution: Trinity College Dublin
Citation(s): Daragh Anthony Downes, 'The fear and trembling of Malte Laurids Brigge', [thesis], Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). Department of Germanic Studies, 2003, pp 309, pp 299
Publisher(s): Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland). Department of Germanic Studies
Supervisor(s): Barkhoff, Jurgen
First Indexed: 2016-12-01 08:23:40 Last Updated: 2018-11-09 06:35:00