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The deadly goddess: Friedrich Holderlin on politics and fate

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Abstract:

This paper develops an account of the political theory of Friedrich Holderlin through an analysis of the concept of fate in his epistolary novel, Hyperion, or the Hermit in Greece. Contrary to a longstanding interpretive tradition which understands Hyperion as the culmination of an intellectual development over the 1790s in which Holderlin, disillusioned with the French Revolution, rejects politics in favour of poetic union with nature, the paper concludes that the political vision of Hyperion is inspired by the possibility of overcoming this very conflict between nature and politics. Such a possibility arises unexpectedly in the encounter with fate at precisely that moment when all hope for the fulfilment of Hyperion's political ambitions has been lost.

Keywords: Disappointment; Fate; German Idealism; Holderlin; Hyperion; Politics

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Mount Allison University, Political Science Dept., Sackville, New Brunswick, E0A 3C0, Canada. Email:lmichael@mta.ca

Publication date: 1999-02-01

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