Category: Literature

Edgar Allan Poe: The Purloined Letter. 1844

This short story by Edgar Allan Poe provoked a debate between Lacan and Derrida. Jacques Lacan wrote an essay about the story, where he proposes a post-structuralist interpretation: the content of the Queen’s letter is irrelevant to the story and the proper “place” of the signifier (the letter itself) is determined by the symbolic structure in which it exists and is displaced repeatedly. Jacques Derrida responded to Lacan’s reading in “Le Facteur de la vérité” (“The Purveyor of Truth”), by pointing out what Lacan himself “missed” in his reading. Derrida argues that the letter does not lack meaning, as Lacan...

Oscar Wilde: De Profundis. 1897

“De Profundis” is a letter written by Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) in 1897, during his two-year imprisonment for the crime of “gross indecency with other men.” He had been in an intimate relationship with a young aristocratic man, whose father decided to accuse  Oscar Wilde of sodomy. Wilde lost the ensuing lawsuit for libel and was subsequently arrested and tried for indecent sexual acts, based on testimony from several young male prostitutes. Here are some excerpts from the text:  . . . Suffering is one very long moment.  We cannot divide it by seasons.  We can only record its moods, and...

Jean Paul: Aphorismen.

Jean Paul heißt eigentlich eigentlich Johann Paul Friedrich Richter (1763 in Wunsiedel bis 1825 in Bayreuth), war ein deutscher Schriftsteller. Sein Werk steht literaturgeschichtlich zwischen der Klassik und der Romantik. Die von ihm gewählte Namensänderung geht auf Jean Pauls Bewunderung für Jean-Jacques Rousseau zurück. Im folgenden sind einige Zitate aus seinen Werken.

Goethe: Der Versuch als Vermittler von Objekt und Subjekt. 1792

Aus J.W. Goethe: Gedenkausgabe der Werke, Briefe und Gespräche., Bd. 16, S. 844-855 Herausgeber:Ernst Beutler. Entstehungsdatum: wohl April 1792. Erscheinungsdatum:1949.  Sobald der Mensch die Gegenstände um sich her gewahr wird, betrachtet er sie in bezug auf sich selbst, und mit Recht. Denn es hängt sein ganzes Schicksal davon ab, ob sie ihm gefallen oder mißfallen, ob sie ihn anziehen oder abstoßen, ob sie ihm nutzen oder schaden. Diese ganz natürliche Art, die Sachen anzusehen und zu beurteilen, scheint so leicht zu sein, als sie notwendig ist, und doch ist der Mensch dabei tausend Irrtümern ausgesetzt, die ihn oft beschämen und ihm...

Karl Kraus: Tourist Trip to Hell. 1920.

I have in my hands a  document that surpasses and seals the shame of this age, and would warrant assigning a place of honor in a cosmic boneyard to this money-hungry mess that calls itself mankind. If ever a newspaper clipping meant a clipping of creation-here we face the utter certainty that a generation to which such solicitations could be directed no longer has any better instincts to be violated.

W. H. Auden: The Shield of Achilles. 1952

Introduction to the poem from the Wikipedia: “Auden’s poem is written in two different stanza forms, one form with shorter lines, the other with longer lines. The stanzas with shorter lines describe the making of the shield by the god Hephaestus, and report the scenes that Achilles’ mother, the Nereid Thetis, expects to find on the shield and which Hephaestus, in Auden’s version, does not make. Thetis expects to find scenes of happiness and peace like those described by Homer. The stanzas with longer lines describe the scenes of a barren and impersonal modern world that Hephaestus creates in Auden’s version. In the...

Kurt Vonnegut: EPICAC. 1950

Hell, it’s about time someone told about my friend EPICAC. After all, he cost the taxpayers $776,434,927.54. They have a right to know about him, picking up a check like that. EPICAC got a big send off in the papers when Dr. Ormand von Kleigstadt designed him for the Government people. Since then, there hasn’t been a peep about him — not a peep. It isn’t any military secret about what happened to EPICAC, although the Brass has been acting as though it were. The story is embarrassing, that’s all. After all that money, EPICAC didn’t work out the way...

W. H. Auden: September 1, 1939

This poem by W. H. Auden (1907-1973), marks the beginning of World War II, which started with the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. He is an analyst of the times, and his deep insights are as true today as they were in September 1939: Those to whom evil is done, do evil in return… The enlightenment driven away, the habit-forming pain, mismanagement, and grief…. For the error bred in the bone of each woman and each man, craves what it cannot have, not universal love, but to be loved alone…..All I have is a voice, to undo the folded...

Leo Löwenthal: On Sociology of Literature. 1948

Source: [easyazon_link identifier=”0878554890″ locale=”US” tag=”mainacademicsite-20″]Literature and Mass Culture. Communication in Society,[/easyazon_link] Volume 1. Leo Lowenthal, published by Transaction Books, 1984. Leo Löwenthal (1900-1993) was a sociologist associated with the Frankfurt School. He began his career by joining the Institute for Social Research in 1927 and became managing editor of its journal Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung. Soon thereafter he migrated to the United States where he held various positions, including research director for Voice of America, the Stanford Center for the Advanced Study of the Behavior Sciences, and finally settled in the department of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His...

Murderous Rage: The Story of Achilles

Achilles, the hero of the Iliad, is one of the most famous Greeks: He is the exemplary warrior who leads the Greeks to victory against Troy, but he is also emotionally unbalanced. He falls in love, he is easily angered, he becomes passive-aggressive, and finally he is so enraged that he goes on a killing spree. Is it his anger that makes him a great warrior, or is he a victim of his own emotions? Should we call a man who is engulfed in rage “a hero?” The emotions of Achilles are at the center of the story in the Iliad. What...

Paul Celan: Mohn und Gedächtnis. 1952

Ein Lied in der Wüste Ein Kranz ward gewunden aus schwärzlichem Laub in der Gegend von Akra: dort riß ich den Rappen herum und stach nach dem Tod mit dem Degen. Auch trank ich aus hölzernen Schalen die Asche der Brunnen von Akra und zog mit gefälltem Visier den Trümmern der Himmel entgegen. Denn tot sind die Engel und blind ward der Herr in der Gegend von Akra, und keiner ist, der mir betreue im Schlaf die zur Ruhe hier gingen. Zuschanden gehaun ward der Mond, das Blümlein der Gegend von Akra: so blühn, die den Dornen es gleichtun, die...

E.M. Forster: The Machine Stops. 1909

It is amazing that somebody in 1909 could predict our Internet age with such accuracy. This short story by E.M. Forster is a chilling account of the role of technology in our lives. Written in 1909, it’s as relevant today as the day it was published. Forster had several visions of the future that materialized just as he predicted: instant messaging, video chats (cinematophoes), international travel, separation from nature, and reliance on technology. His vision, however, is dystopian. Here are some quotes, and then the short story. “Night and day, wind and storm, tide and earthquake, impeded man no longer....

Beckett: What is the Word. 1989  

folly – folly for to – for to – what is the word – folly from this – all this – folly from all this – given – folly given all this – seeing – folly seeing all this – this – what is the word – this this – this this here – all this this here – folly given all this – seeing – folly seeing all this this here – for to – what is the word – see – glimpse – seem to glimpse – need to seem to glimpse – folly for to need to...

Antigone

“Antigone” is a tragedy by Sophocles, written on or before 441 BC. It is the third of a trilogy of Theban plays, but it was written chronologically first. The play expands on the Theban legend that predated it and picks up where Aeschylus’ “Seven Against Thebes” ends. The Theban plays consist of three plays: Oedipus the King (also called Oedipus Tyrannus or by its Latin title Oedipus Rex), Oedipus at Colonus and Antigone. All three plays concern the fate of Thebes during and after the reign of King Oedipus. They have often been published under a single cover. Sophocles, however, wrote the...

Basic Desires

I want to live I want to know I want to love I want to be loved I love to know I want to eat I want to sleep I want to dream I want to die   Copyright @Jurgen Braungardt, 2014.

Poetry, Nature, Thought. Rilke’s Late Poetry.

And we, spectators always, everywhere, turned towards everything, and never towards the open. It fills us. We arrange it. It decays. We arrange it again, and decay ourselves. Und wir: Zuschauer, immer, überall, dem allen zugewandt und nie hinaus! Uns überfüllts. Wir ordnens. Es zerfällt. Wir ordnens wieder und zerfallen selbst. The German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote these lines in 1922; they are a part of the eighth Duino Elegy. It describes us humans as spectators. We are turned towards life, hungry for experience and excitement, but we don’t want to look at ourselves, and we resist change, even...

Ann Sexton – More Poems

Her poems are like music, and her confessional style is at times breath-taking. No matter how many poems she writes, the emotional pain never goes away.   Her Kind I have gone out, a possessed witch, haunting the black air, braver at night; dreaming evil, I have done my hitch over the plain houses, light by light: lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind. A woman like that is not a woman, quite. I have been her kind. I have found the warm caves in the woods, filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves, closets, silks, innumerable goods; fixed the suppers for...

The Waste Land

T.S. Eliot (1888–1965).  The Waste Land.  1922. I. THE BURIAL OF THE DEAD APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing Memory and desire, stirring Dull roots with spring rain. Winter kept us warm, covering          5 Earth in forgetful snow, feeding A little life with dried tubers. Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,   10 And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch. And when we were children, staying at the...

James Joyce: Ulysses

We all have internal monologues, but it is exceedingly hard to capture the flow of consciousness in words. James Joyce came as close as one can get, and here is the famous example of Molly’s soliloquy. Introduction The last 50 pages of Ulysses (1922) are some of the most extraordinary  prose in the English language. They are written with no punctuation as the swirling thoughts of Molly Bloom before she falls asleep. She is lying beside her husband Leopold in bed (they sleep head to foot) and thinking about her day and their life together. Most of Ulysses has been...