The Riddle of Hölderlin

When Hölderlin’s first works began to circulate in Germany in the 1790s, they met with limited response. Hölderlin was known to be a man of considerable poetic and intellectual power: both Hegel and Schelling, who had been his fellow-students at the theological seminary in Tübingen, had been struck by his …

The Literature of Nihilism

These two recent books on the German literary tradition serve to show that highly competent treatment of detail can be warped by a misleading general view. Both works deal with the same topic: the development in the history of German thought and literature that took place during the nineteenth century …

The Mask of Albert Camus

The subtle but radical change that separates the intellectual atmosphere of the Fifties from that of the Sixties could well be measured by one’s attitude towards the work and the person of Albert Camus. During his lifetime he was for many an exemplary figure; his work bears many traces of …

What is Modern?

The full title of this substantial and ambitious anthology twice uses the word “modern,” thus stressing modernity as the key concept that binds together a miscellaneous collection of literary and philosophical essays dating from the second half of the eighteenth century till 1960. On the other hand, the title also …

Whatever Happened to Andre Gide?

It has almost become a commonplace of today’s criticism to state that André Gide’s work had begun to fade away even before the author’s death in 1951. Compared to Proust, to Valéry, to Claudel, and, outside France, to Henry James, Joyce, and Thomas Mann, he seems hardly to be part …

A Modern Master

   Empty eyeballs knew That knowledge increases unreality, that Mirror on mirror mirrored is all the Show —W. B. Yeats Although he has been writing poems, stories, and critical essays of the highest quality since 1923, the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges is still much better known …

Sartre’s Confessions

Last year, when Jean-Paul Sartre’s autobiography began to appear in his review Les Temps modernes, it stirred up great expectations among its readers. One had the impression of rediscovering a voice which had spoken with great authority in the past but which had lost some of its power in more …

Heidegger Reconsidered

The main interest of this book stems from the contrast between the two parts in which it is divided. They deal with the same topic—the work of the contemporary philosopher Martin Heidegger—but were written twelve years apart. The first essay originated shortly after the war, at a time when American …

Giraudoux

It is a nostalgic experience to encounter Giraudoux dressed in the dignity of a foreign translation which, coming several years after his death, consecrates him as an “immortal” figure. His works—the now too neglected novels as well as the works of the theater—had something deliberately ephemeral about them, a selfironic …