Encountering the other in general text: An approach to intertext through poetry of the German sensibility
Niazi, Mohammed N
OF DISPUTABLE MEANING but nonetheless useful to the most divergent positions, intertext serves both as an associative springboard into meditalions on semiotic and cultural codification and, at the other end of the spectrum, as a modern euphemism for traditional forms of source study.1 The least contentious meaning of intertextual designates any allusion in one text to another text and serves as a handy label for signaling some sort of interconnectedness: a statement such as “Intertextuality involves the relation of one text to other texts” (Mailloux 151 ) represents in definitional terms the lowest common denominator, whose banality, at first glance, seems to be offset by the indisputable nature of its content. Yet almost immediately one is struck by a tacit assumption in this definition concerning the given object of inquiry: namely, that a “text” is a singular, discrete entity. It is between groups of such entities (texts) that the intertextual presumably takes place. Asking ourselves what else a text might be, however frustrating and inconclusive an enterprise this ends up being, is the first necessary step towards introducing my primary aim in this inquiry: animating the term intertext as an interpenetrative relation between “texts” and forms of exteriority usually excluded from a text, such as referential effects usually designated as objective reality. Any more refined formulation of my problematic must await its emergence from a preliminary foray into the question of the text; it suffices to say for the moment that the usual disagreement about whether intertextuality is to be regarded as a general state of affairs textual or as an inherent quality of specific texts, can only be a potentially misleading, secondary affair until we approach the intertext through the question of the text.
The most compact way of introducing the question of the text in between which intertext is supposed to occur probes the morphological self evidence of the decomposition inter-text which, so divided, assumes in advance that texts are discrete entities admitting of the spatial in-between signified by the inter. We would be well advised to suspend the inclinations of common sense when we regard the separable meaning of inter and the multitude of prefixes available in theoretical discourse (in Genette for example, responsible for five of the following), prefixes that seem to modify and compound a base morpheme text: sub-, intra-, extra-, geno-, pheno-, con-, para-, hypo-, hyper-, arche-, meta-, crypto-, traps-, and so on. Rather than take text for granted and explore the plethora of interrelations induced by this multiple compounding, we could do just the opposite; we could train our attention on text rather than inter through the insights of the deconstructive discourse that grapples with the vexed limits of the text with the most rigor, if also the least definitional certitude.3
Derrida preempts the desire to identify and instrumentalize intertext as a relation “between” texts with a notion of general text (perhaps best written in the light of the morphology discussed above as generaltext, but I will stick to convention) that disabuses us of a belief in a bounded, autonomous signifying “text,” itself related to the traditional literary critical object of investigation, the discrete work of a great, great-ish or great enough author. The sense of general text as a differential, deferred, purely relational pseudo-structure of the trace, of indefinitely postponed presence, renders the bounds and limits of the autonomous text, the demarcated phallocentric corpus of writing, untenable. Within such a pattern of thought, the in-between is no longer a tenable concept, as self differing general text is shot through with the other text, drawing in the marginal in-between of texts into their center and vice versa.
Moreover, general text calls most urgently for a reevaluation of its relation to the exterior of linguistic signification: “What is produced in the current trembling is a reevaluation of the relationship between the general text and what was believed to be, in the form of reality (history, politics, economics, sexuality, etc.), the simple, referable exterior of language or writing, the belief that this exterior could operate from the simple position of cause or accident” (Positions 90). The trembling is alive with the energy of a reading praxis that rebounds off the edge of an exteriority enveloped by general text but never simply exterior to it. In this reverberation the purely dichotomized relation between text and the other of text, be it the “in-between” in the usual sense of intertext or the referential outside of the text, is deconstructed: general text is, first of all, always self differing, incapable of asserting itself as a discrete textual region and thus exploding the common in-between notion of intertext; and second, it does not allow for the sharp demarcation of intratextual and extratextual (social, psychological, political, historical) codes. Both these registers of general text will inform my investigation into intertext.
I stress the both in this undertaking. Derrida is careful not to conflate a general text problematizing the limits of its own extension into reality with the intratextuality of Roland Barthes’s infinite circularity of textual codes within the textual field of signification (211), or the variations on such infinitization exercised by Michael Riffaterre, who anchors the text within the domain of belles lettres by making intertextual hypograms, syntagma from other texts, the key to decoding “ungrammaticalities,” the deviations of a literary text from mimetic modes of representation. General text ingests, but does not digest, “reality” or the referential effects ideologically bound with that term, and respects (in admittedly unusual form) those boundaries to the extratextual that hinder infinite textualization. It skirts the boundaries of the notion of a limitless text without being identical to such an entity:
What has happened, if it has happened, is a sort of overrun [debordement] that spoils all these boundaries and divisions and forces us to extend the accredited concept, the dominant notion of a “text,” of what I still call a “text,” for strategic reasons, in part-a “text” that is henceforth no longer a finished corpus of writing, some content enclosed in a book or its margins, but a differential network, a fabric of traces referring endlessly to something other than itself, to other differential traces. Thus the text overruns all the limits assigned to it so far (not submerging or drowning them in an undifferentiated homogeneity, but rather making them more complex, dividing and multiplying strokes and lines)-all the limits, everything that was to be set up in opposition to writing (speech, life, the world, the real, history, and what not, every field of reference-to body or mind, conscious or unconscious, politics, economics, and so forth). (Derrida, “Living On” 83)
Despite the associations evoked by “endlessly,” the notion of the limitless text gives way to a principle of textuality that subverts its difference from its “own” exteriority but does not do away with such difference: “making them [the limits to the textual other] more complex” is here an index of a problematization of the spatial demarcation of the border where a text ceases to be “itself.”
Only after having returned to the familiar designation text through the discussion of general text can Derrida, in a final move, re-acknowledge the indigestion of the gesture with which text “swallowed up” reality as the formulation of a project; jockeying for position in the most limited of spaces, he approaches the ontologically real thus:[. . .] it was never our wish to extend the reassuring notion of the text to a whole extra-textual realm and to transform the world into a library by doing away with all boundaries, all framework, all sharp edges (all aretes: this is the word that I am speaking about tonight), but . . . we sought rather to work out the theoretical and practical system of these margins, these borders, once more, from the ground up. (84)
There is no theology of the text here, no new, more diffuse and all-encompassing totality to get us out of the task of thinking general text in all its subtlety. The simultaneous textualization of the exterior and the recognition of the limits of a vulgar pan-textualism coincides with the “theoretical and practical system” of a hybrid ontology of textualism, a crossing and meeting point of text and “exterior” socio-semiotic codes “within”-or better, as a form of-general text, whose precise contours and strategic positions I will attempt to illuminate by venturing outside the discourse of philosophical deconstruction.
There is indeed every reason to explore the theoretical resonance of general text outside Derrida’s work, as the significance of the issues raised is considerable: text understood as static linguistic structure and closed signifying chain combines and collides with the social and political conditioning structures of the textual other in, for instance, Marxist theories of literature, opposed often highly antagonistically to Derrida’s project. My primary aim in the following pages is to expound upon an isotope of the fundamental paradigm for intertext adumbrated above, regardless of whether or not this isotope bears the classificatory name of deconstructive criticism. I hope to illuminate the conceptual model and its attendant theoretical complications with a constellation of theoretical and poetic writing drawn from disparate historical periods, writing which, despite chronological and generic differences, coheres around the paradigm of general text delineated above. At the same time, each significant part of the constellation bears its own discursive slant on the elements of intertextuality I have been examining; that is, each views intertextuality within the horizon of its own understanding of the term. By paying sufficient attention to the thematic specificity of the writing in question, I also hope to avoid coercing each example into the overall framework I have established.
To phrase my thesis concerning the register of intertext quite schematically: Julia Kristeva effects somewhat brusquely just the kind of deconstructive collision between text and text-other that we explored in general text by means of a fait accompli during her appropriation of Bakhtin’s dialogics. By means of an extended examination of Bakhtin’s dialogism and the poetry of the German Empfindsamkeit (“Sensibility”) I will attempt to ground and justify Kristeva’s unreasoned, somewhat presumptuous, but prescient act of adding the word text in brackets as a synonym for any historically unique, socially determined utterance, and in doing so concretize the Derridean notion of general text through specific texts and traditions. In a theoretical coda I conclude with some remarks on the possibilities of what can be described as the intertextual feminization of literary history.
Kristeva, Bakhtin and the Image of Language
Where better to try and locate the general text’s unruly mixture of inside and outside than at the beginning of the intertext-story, at the philological origin of the term intertext in Kristeva’s appropriation of Bakhtin-himself talking about a form of intertext-during the course of which she fuses text and textual exterior in a paraphrase of her very own: “each word (text) is an intersection of words (texts) where at least one other word (text) can be read” (66). She characterizes Bakhtin’s “concept of the `literary word’ as an intersection of textual surfaces rather than a point (a fixed meaning), as a dialogue among several writings” (65). “Text” thus supplements “word” as its synonym and abounds in her several definitions of intertext:[. . .] in the space of a given text, several utterances, taken from other texts, intersect and neutralize one another [. . .] any text is the absorption and transformation of another [. . .]
Bakhtin considers writing as a reading of the anterior literary corpus and the text as an absorption of and a reply to another text.
The writer’s interlocutor, then, is the writer himself, but as reader of another text. The one who writes is the same as the one who reads. Since his interlocutor is a text, he himself is no more than a text rereading itself as it rewrites itself. The dialogical structure, therefore, appears only in the light of the text elaborating itself as ambivalent in relation to another text. (36, 66, 69, 86-87)
Kristeva forces text and word together with no rationale. The influence of Derrida’s Grammatology no doubt accounts for the shift from Bakhtin’s preoccupation with words as utterances to her own interest in “writing.” The Derridean notion of writing supplies a dimension missing in Bakhtin, that of difference, indeterminacy and dissemination, and a cursory look at Bakhtin’s notion of word would indeed seem to suggest that Kristeva has unjustifiably subverted and supplemented his terminology. For Bakhtin emphasizes the historical uniqueness of the social context engendering every word-utterance, an emphasis that apparently distances him from both an understanding of text as a static and closed linguistic structure and Derrida’s more complex appropriation of social and historical context in his notion of general text.
Yet Kristeva’s move will prove justified, as the following application of poetological categories from Bakhtin to Stolberg and Klopstock aims to demonstrate. I will show that, contrary to Bakhtin’s assertions-or perhaps in line with their latent potential-the unitary monologism of the poetic word, and the rhetorical trope in particular, does admit of a double-voicedness and languagednessdistinct from the rhetorical transmission of another’s voice-in a manner claimed by Bakhtin to be true only of the novel.
Bakhtin’s insistence on the dialogic relation of utterances (as words) to one another within a historical socially conditioned continuum shakes off the perennial philological and philosophical enthrallment to the mute atemporal linguistic units imposed as objects of study by hierarchical and centralizing socio-linguistic forces-such as Aristotelian and Cartesian poetics, the one language of truth in medieval scholasticism, or Saussurian linguistics-and shifts the focus of attention to the notion of a dialogue embedded in a sometimes discordant and self differing chorus of voices, the social heteroglossia. For all the shrillness of his apodeictic claims, Bakhtin is not just bashing Russian formalism, for he attempts to furnish a basis for the shift of attention to the dialogic in linguistic fact rather than in ideology: “The word is born in a dialogue as a living rejoinder within it; the word is shaped in dialogic interaction with an alien word that is already in the object. A word forms a concept of its own object in a dialogic way” (279) . The linguistic function establishing the extra-linguistic referent of discourse draws its referential power from dialogism, he claims, a fact that classical linguistics and formalist grammars have suppressed despite the internal resistance of language to their depredations. Bakhtin’s understanding of language as inherently dialogic is closely related to hermeneutic presuppositions determining the generation of understanding through question and answer-“every word is directed toward an answer and cannot escape the profound influence of the answering word that it anticipates” (280)-and furnishes a hermeneutic basis for launching a theory of the novel. The novel is not our concern here, and Bakhtin may not be really interested in traditional generic divisions either; rather, his and our concern is directed primarily towards the poetological categories, based in a dialogic conception of language’s referential power, wrought to lend the novel a decisive edge over its generic rival poetry.
According to Bakhtin, within the sphere of imaginative literary discourse poetry repeats the homogenizing impositions of formal linguistics on the fundamental characteristics of language, resulting in a discourse marked by a monolithic, unitary aspect: “The world of poetry, no matter how many contradictions and insoluble conflicts the poet develops within it, is always illumined by one unitary and indisputable discourse” (286) . Bakhtin expounds on such purity of language in terms of an intentional theory of language that focuses on the poet’s singular intention towards the object within the poetic work. In poetry, he explains, “the meaning must emerge from language as a single intentional whole,” and “to achieve this, the poet strips the word of others’ intentions; he only uses such words and forms (and only in such a way) that they lose their link with concrete intentional levels of language and their connection with specific contexts” (297). The one-dimensional nature of poetic intention towards meaning assumes the indisputable hegemony of a correspondence theory of linguistic reference: “What is more, the very movement of the poetic symbol (for example, the unfolding of a metaphor) presumes precisely this unity of language, an unmediated correspondence with its object.” Within the purified space of poetic intention’s linear direction towards its object of reference, poetry for Bakhtin is involved in a hermetic, quasi-religious cleansing of other intentions, “stripping all aspects of language of its intentions and accents of other people, destroying all traces of social heteroglossia and diversity of language” (292). This dogmatic linguistic “phallocentrism” (to use a Derridean term here in a preliminary alignment of terminology) attributed to the poet’s intention forms the contrastive other to Bakhtin’s discussion of novelistic discourse.
Not unsurprisingly, the novel preserves the multiplicity of intentions that poetry tends to eradicate, and Bakhtin’s definitions correspondingly emphasize the doubled nature of this literary form that by virtue of its double-voicedness has remained true to the essentially dialogic functions of language:
Heteroglossia, once incorporated into the novel (whatever the forms for its incorporation), is another’s speech in another’s languge, serving to express authorial intentions but in a refracted way. Such speech constitutes a special type of double-voiced discourse. It serves two speakers at the same time and expresses simultaneously two different intentions: the direct intention of the character who is speaking, and the refracted intention of the author. In such discourse there are two voices, two meanings and two expressions. [. . .] Double-voiced discourse is always internally dialogized. (324)
The intention in truly dialogic representation is double, apportioned equally between represented and representer, and the linguistic consciousness behind the intention is internally fractured, duplicitous and bifurcated:
The relativizing of linguistic consciousness, its crucial participation in the social mufti- and varilanguagedness of evolving languages, the various wanderings of semantic and expressive intentions and the trajectory of this consciousness through various languages [. . .] the inevitable necessity for such a consciousness to speak indirectly, conditionally, in a refracted way-these are all indispensable prerequisites for an authentic double-voiced prose discourse. (326)
The multiplicity and errancy of intentions in novelistic dialogue is thus clearly differentiated from the singularities, compressions and regressions marking the linguistic modality of poetry.
Bakhtin goes on to specify his central claim for the novel by expanding upon his concern with the multiple intentions it contains, claiming that “the central problem for a stylistics of the novel may be formulated as the problem of representing the image of a language” (335). The image of which Bakhtin speaks is language’s “potential, its ideal limits and its total meaning conceived as a whole, its truth together with its limitation” (336), which can only be wrought in literature by virtue of a concept related to double-voicedness, double-languagedness: “Thus double-voicedness in the novel [. . .] always tends toward a doublelanguagedness as its own outside limit” (356) . The characteristic feature of doublelanguagedness is, as is the case with double-voicedness, the presence of another’s intention in the dialogic representation:
The artistic image of a language must by its very nature be a linguistic hybrid (an intentional hybrid): it is obligatory for two linguistic consciousnesses to be present, the one being represented and the other doing the representing, with each belonging to a different system of language. Indeed, if there is not a second representing consciousness, if there is no second representing language-intention, then what results is not an image of language [obraz] hut merely a sample [obrazec] of some other person’s language, whether authenticated or fabricated. (359)
This borders on Schlegel’s discussion of the romantic art-work par excellence, the novel in which the “Dargestelldes” (“represented”) mingles within a potentiated reflexive medium with “Darstellendes” (“representing”). The image of a language in Bakhtin is defined by the represented other’s intention, which is by implication equally the representation of a linguistic consciousness behind the intention, in “the fusion of two utterances into one” (361). The image of the language is thus not a phenomenal one, but denotes a field of signification that encompasses both the other of the author’s intention and the linguistic consciousness behind the represented other’s intention within the play of languages constituting the heteroglossia.
As with double-voicedness, poetry, which tends here to be equated with its rhetorical means, is excluded from double-languagedness, although the differences are very fine:
Rhetorical genres possess the most varied forms for transmitting another’s speech, and for the most part these are intensely dialogued forms. Rhetoric relies heavily on the vivid re-accentuating of the words it transmits (often to the point of distorting them completely) that is accomplished be the appropriate framing context. Rhetorical genres provide rich material for studying a variety of forms for transmitting another’s speech. Using rhetoric, even a representation of a speaker and his discourse of the sort one finds in prose art is possible-but the rhetorical double-voicedness of such images is usually not very deep: its roots do not extend to the dialogical essence of evolving language itself; it is not structured on authentic heteroglossia but on a mere diversity of voices; in most cases the double-voicedness of rhetoric is abstract and thus lends itself to formal, purely logical analysis of the ideas that are parceled out in voice, an analysis that then exhausts it. For this reason it is proper to speak of a distinctive rhetorical double-voicedness, or, put another way, to speak of the double-voiced rhetorical transmission of another’s word (although it may involve some artistic aspects), in contrast to the double-voiced representation of another’s word in the novel w ith its orientation toward the image qfa language. (354)
The exclusion of the other as a valid presence within verbal representation characterizes poetry, and its “inauthentic” mode of incorporating the other’s voice is dubbed a mere “diversity of voices,” a formalist game:
Such poetic and rhetorical double-voicedness [. . .] remaining within the boundaries of a single hermetic and unitary language system, without any underlying fundamental socio-linguistic orchestration, may be only a stylistically secondary accompaniment to the dialogue and forms of polemic. The internal bifurcation (double-voicing) of discourse, sufficient to a single and unitary language and to a consistently monologic style, can never be a fundamental form of discourse: it is merely a game, a tempest in a teapot. (325)
If we ask why poetry is excluded on this count, we do not get very far. Elsewhere we learn that the doubleness of the poetic word is tantamount to a mere ambiguity issuing from a single voice (what nineteenth-century poetics beginning with Hegel’s analysis of the lyric would call the expressions of a pure subjectivity), rather than a dialogue of two voices:
The double-voiced prose word has a double meaning. But the poetic word, in the narrow sense, also has a double, even a multiple, meaning. It is this that basically distinguishes it from the word as concept, or the word as term. The poetic word is a trope, requiring a precise feeling for the two meanings contained in it. But no matter how one understands the interrelationship of meanings in a poetic symbol (a trope), this interrelationship is never of the dialogic sort; it is impossible under anv conditions or at any time to imagine a trope (say, a metaphor) being unfolded into the two exchanges of a dialogue, that is, two meanings parceled out between two separate voices. For this reason the dual meaning (or multiple meaning) of the symbol never brings in its wane dual accents. On the contrary, one voice, a single-accent system, is fully sufficient to express poetic ambiguity. (328)
Bakhtin does not explain in detail why the tropological function of symbol or metaphor would preclude an authentic form of alterity from emerging, and might have difficulty justifying his position if he were more specific. For it is not certain why the tropological detour from proper to improper meaning in a metaphor should not lead us to ascertain the presence or at least profound effect or trace of an otherness, given the inherent aberrance and otherness of such deviance from proper meaning-the scandalous position of metaphor within the philosophical discourse of truth and proper concepts certainly bears sufficient witness to the radical alterity of such otherness.
Perhaps troubled by the severity of the almost categorical exclusion of real double-voicedness from poetry, Bakhtin addresses briefly the possibility of a restitution, admitting a certain blurring of dogmatically rigid boundaries:
Double-voiced, internally dialogued discourse is also possible, of course, in a language system that is hermetic, pure and unitary, a system alien to the linguistic relativism of prose consciousness; it follows that such discourse is also possible in the purely poetic genres. But in those systems there is no soil to nourish the development of such discourse in the slightest meaningful or essential way. (325)
It is not my intention merely to prove this summary dismissal of poetry wrong by, to speak as Bakhtin does, displaying the weeds that sprout forth from the thinnest of poetic soil. To show the full extent of double-voicedness/languagedness and its concomitant image of language in poetry rather than in prose is not simply to rebut Bakhtin’s claims, but also to shed light on what he means in the first place by “authentic” doubling. How does the irruption of the linguistic consciousness of the other, signifying an other’s intention in its own language, manifest itself in any text, given the fine line Bakhtin draws between this “authentic” doubling and the mere rhetorical transmission of another’s words in an “inauthentic” diversity of voices? How can we show that it is indeed possible to “imagine a trope (say, a metaphor) being unfolded into the two exchanges of a dialogue, that is, two meanings parceled out between two separate voices”?
Stolberg and the Gottinger Hain: Opening the Dialogic
It is not an obvious choice of direction to go looking for answers to the questions raised by our reading of Bakhtin in the eighteenth-century poetry of the German Sensibility, nor is the distinctly formalist nature of our inquiry the only possible focus of attention. Nevertheless, I hope to demonstrate that a precise reading of individual poems addresses the issues raised above most directly. In terms of the (perhaps delusional) methodological shift during the course of the passage from conceptual discourse to literary criticism, allusion, verbal echo, quotation, scholarly reference and source study will surface as traditional modalities of reference to syntagma in other texts upon which I rely for localized interpretive claims, but do not in themselves constitute the intertext of theoretical interest here. These familiar operations must first be galvanized within the theoretical frame of general writing in order to distance us from the in-between sense of intertext with which they are invariably associated.
My analysis of Stolberg’s work begins at the level of pragmatic textual strategy with a reading of his “Lied auf dem Wasser zu singen, fur meine Agnes” (“Song to Sing Over the Water, for my Agnes”) that pays particular attention to the particle Ach (which I refer to as a lexical entity without citation marks):
Mitten im Schimmer der spiegelnden Wellen Gleitet wie Schwane der wankende Kahn; Ach, auf der Freude sanftschimmernden Wellen Gleitet die Seele dahin wie der Kahn; Denn con dem Himmel herab auf die Wellen Tanzet das Abendroth fund um den Kahn_ Uber den Wipfeln des westlichen Haines Winker uns freundlich der rotliche Schein; Unter den Zweigen des ostlichen Haines Sauselt der Kalmus im rotlichen Schein; Freude des Himmels and Ruhe des Haines Athmet die Seel’ im errothenden Schein. Ach es entschwindet mit thanigem Fligel Mir auf den wiegenden Wellen die Zeit. Morgen entschwinde mit schimmerndem Flugel Wieder wie gestern and heute die Zeit, Bis ich auf hoherem strahlenden Flugel Selber entschwinde der wechselnden Zeit.
Amid the shimmer of the reflecting waves The rocking boat glides like a swan; Ah, on joy’s gently shimmering waves My soul glides along like the boat; For down from the heaven onto the waves The sunset dances all around the boat. Over the treetops of the western grove Kindly beckons the reddish gleam, Beneath the branches of the eastern grove The calmus rustles in the reddish gleam; In the reddening gleam my soul breathes in Joy of the heavens and peace of the grove.
Ah, time vanishes away with dewy wings From me on the rocking waves. Tomorrow let time vanish with shimmering wings, Again as yesterday and today, Till I, on higher, radiant wings, Myself vanish from the changes of time.
My interest will center upon the Ach, for reasons to do above all else with the poetological significance attached to the extraordinary occurrence of this word– cry in lyric poetry. Two far from poststructuralist Germanists, Wolfgang Kayser and Emil Staiger, bring the somewhat obvious emotional intensity of this ejaculative cry within lyric to theoretical articulation. Kayser puts it most succinctly: “Ein kundgebender Ausruf, des Schmerzes, des Jubels, der Klage stellt demnach das Crphanomen des (sprachlichen) Lyrischen dar: in der Interjektion `Ach!’ wurzelt sozusagen all Lyrik” (335). (“An outcry announcing pain, jubilation, or lament represents accordingly the primordial phenomenon of the [verbal] lyric: in the interjection ah, so to speak, the entirety of poetry takes root.”) Kayser’s comment is part of a critical look at H. Junker’s fledgling attempt in 1924 to introduce the perspectives and rigor of the philosophy of language into literary criticism. Despite the somewhat offhand tone, Kayser’s remark about the Ach is perfectly consistent with his discussion of `Jubel” (`jubilation”) and “Klage” (“lament”)-linguistic functions he identifies as the essence of lyric, because they are utterances that tend toward the ejaculative before passing into the inexpressible. Staiger is more forthright in this respect:
Die Silbe darf als das eigentliche lyrische Element der Sprache gelten. Sie bedeutet nichts, sie verlautet nut and ist so zwar des Ausdrucks, abet nich der festen Bezeichnung fahig. Auf Silbenfolgen wie eia popeia, ach, [. . .], om, sind wit als auf letzte musikalische Sprachphanomene gestoBen. Sie stellen keinen Gegenstand fest. Sie entbehren der Intentionalitat. Wohl abet Bind sie unmittelbar verstandlich als ‘Schrei der Empfindung’, wie Herder sie beschreiben hat. Wo immer in der Sprache sich die Macht der Silben hervordrangt, durfen wit von lyrischea Wirkung sprechen. (204)
The syllable ought to constitute the properly lyrical element of language. It means nothing, it merely sounds out and is thus capable of expression but not firm designation. With syllables such as eia popeia, ach [. . .] , om, we run up against the last musical phenomena of language. They lead to the ascertainment of no object, they dispense with intentionality. But they are indeed immediately comprehensible as a “cry of feeling,” as Herder described them. Wherever in language the power of the syllable emerges, we ought to talk of lyrical effects.
The existence of sound as the transparent representation of feeling, signifying without the logical conceptual substrate of signified meaning (“Bezeichnung”) and independently of intentionality, is, according to such a definition, the philological “essence” of lyricism in a nutshell, the verbal index of a cry of pure feeling.’ Having proposed the equation of lyric and Ach, it is crucial to distinguish between “lyricism and lyric” in order to proceed (Staiger 70), that is, not to rest content having identified a plausible essence of poetry, however theoretically gratifying that may be, but to start looking at those philological configurations featuring the Ach that are powerful and convincing enough to induce theoretical generalizations that may yield further speculative gain.
In Stolberg’s poem the Achs are structurally crucial since they coordinate the poet’s pseudo-narrative development of a mediation between self and nature. The first Ach institutes the schematic alignment of self (its joy, soul) and world (the perception of light and motion) in the parallelism of the opening four lines, performatively setting off a transformative process that, by the end of the second strophe, sees self and world coalesce into a union of emotion, religiosity and nature. The culminating exchange of the subjective-the experiential consciousness of emotion and of spirit-and the (physical perceptions of the natural) world permeates the imaginative topography of the “Rain” (grove), giving rise to the central metaphorical expression of the interchange, “athmet die Seel’ in errothenden Schein” (“breathes the soul in the reddening gleam”). As if to reinforce this exchange of self and world, in the poem’s most accurately wrought effect the figural movement conveyed by this metaphor, “athmet die Seel”‘ ( “breathes the soul”)-but also present in “gleitet die Seele dahin wie tier Kahn” ( “my soul glides along like the boat”) as well-achieves almost corporeal literalization through the wave-like motions of the poem’s breathed vocalizations, its almost hypnotic repetitive rhyme and its perfectly regular dactylic meter.
The second Ach ruptures this almost atemporal harmonious coexistence and commingling of subject and natural world with premonitions of the subject’s death, economically expressed by a clever inversion of time’s escape from the subject. These visions’ negativity generates an ambiguity of feeling tautly held within the subjunctive, the poem’s single deviation from the lexically identical form of the grammatical indicative present and immediate future. Eclipsed by the specter of its coming non-being, the self vacillates between a death wish (or lament perhaps) and a prophetic ecstatic vision only imperfectly prefigured by the sensuous world. The tone hovers uncertainly, marking the poem’s final linguistic turn: the precipitation of an “ich” (“I”) from the preceding first person singular and plural reflexive pronouns “mir” and “uns,” an “ich” whose imminent “escape” from time signals the shattering of any relation with the objective world. Poetic closure follows upon the issue of the second Ach, after which the pure assertion of self is overwhelming; the lack of all relation to the exterior world in the transcendence over world marks the end of a poetic development in the relation between self and other, mind and nature, a development charted by the course of two exclamations.
So far so good. However, lacking in this ascription to the poem of a protoromantic agenda detailing the dialectic of nature and mind is any mention of the relation of the two Achs to each other rather than to the subject-object dynamic that seems to lend such clarity and significance of purpose to the unfolding of the poem’s linguistic and structural transformations.’ As portrayed up to now, the relation between the two Achs establishes a temporalizing, historical dimension, since between one utterance and the next a developmental narrative takes place between subject and object. But the relation can also be configured as a linguistic relation between two pieces of language, two language-utterances, thereby raising the question of double-voicedness and double-languagedness. Exploring the nature and significance of an intertextual rather than purely temporal relation between the utterances requires a more precise definition of the role and function of the Ach in those poems of the Gottinger Hain, a student group based at the University of Gottingen, that accord particular structural significance to this utterance.
This is the first appearance of a text-external socio-semiotic here, for this group of student poets, at their heyday long before Stolberg wrote the poem but never far from his thoughts, intrudes as a crucial context for our philological considerations. The Gottinger Hain, founded in 1772 and lasting just a few tempestuous semesters, was not just the usual band of literary accomplices sharing correspondence, literature and criticism in their Almanach. The space of their acquaintanceship was an idealized social sphere with its own elaborate codes of membership and conduct, self consciously fashioned in defiance of the encrusted feudal society around them, and the incorporation of Stolberg (a count) into their midst was celebrated for its socially egalitarian overtones as much as for its expression of the cult of friendship (see Kelletat 404-21 ) . The following remarks should be read in full consciousness of the dynamic textualization of microsocial structures effected by the intertransposition into the Gottinger Hain of Stolberg and his social context, as this crossing drives us towards intertext in the larger sense of general text.
The death usually heralded by the Ach within the Gottinger Hain.’s intramural poetic activities is the death of the female subject, often figured in the poet’s wish to die and reunite in death with her. (She is often experienced during the poet’s life only as an absence, a memory or sometimes merely a wish.) Holty’s ode “Die Ruhe”6′ ( “Calm”) is a lament over the absence of the feminine in which the Ach signals a re-presenting and re-presentation of the loved one through the sounds of nature, followed by a yearning for a swift death and return to blissful union with her. In his “Laura” the Ach in the exact middle of the poem concludes the lament for the absence of Laura and marks the articulation of a deathwish that would reunite the poet with his loved one, a sequence duplicated almost exactly in `Minnelied (SuBer klingt der Vogelsang)” (“Sweetly Sounds the Birdsong”). Holty’s Ach also heralds the recognition of love in its allegorically personified form (“Die Liebe” [“Love”]), and often forms part of a refrain, for example, “Ach Gott, mit welcher Freude” (“Ah God, with such joy”) in “Minnegluck”; in “An Miller” (“To Miller”) the refrain “und ach umsonst” (“and, ah, all for nothing”) repeated three times mourns the absence of a friend rather than a lover. Miller’s use of Ach in, for instance, “Der Morgen” (“Morning”), “Klagelied eines Bauern” (“Peasant’s Lament”) and “An den Mond” (“To the Moon”) is similar to Holty’s. The latter in particular is schematized very clearly, with the “Ach, ich lieb, ich lieb ein Madchen/Und sie weiB es nicht, daB ich sie liebe!” (“Ah, I love, I love a maiden/And she knows not that I love her!”) in the middle of the poem suddenly introducing the loved object of lament as unapproachable due to the lack of a reciprocal gesture of endearment. The poem’s conclusion-“Gott im Himmel, IaB mich sterben,/Wenn du nicht fur mich den Engel schufest!” (“God in heaven, let me die/If you do not create an angel for me! “)-is likewise almost predetermined by the sub-genre. Stolberg’s “Die Schonheit” (“Beauty”) contains an Acla that first relates the addressee (Love) to the living “Madchen” (“maiden”) rather than to the inanimate or impersonal beauty of the heavens and the grove, and the poem introduces the loved object in a lament over her absence through the Ach of the very first line (“Ach! mir ist das Herz so schwer!” [ “Ah! My heart is so heavy! “] ) . In all these poems, a sudden loss through death or the anticipation of the death-like absence of the loved “Madchen” precipitates an Ach. and a turn in the poem’s development that displays a remarkable set of refinements and variations on a theme.
In an interesting, vindictive twist to the emotional thematics of love and absence, Holty’s “Adelstan and Roschen” (“Adelstan and Roschen” (“Adelstan and Roschen”) and Miller’s “Lied einer Nonne” (“Nun’s Song”) both deploy the Ach to signal the various modes of presence to mind or sense of a betrayed or false loved one. Roschen’s death after she is betrayed by her false lover, Ritter Veit von Adelstan, leads her apparition to haunt Adelstan, who utters “Ach Roschen ist’s” (“Ah, it’s Roschen”) in petrified recognition before committing suicide on her grave. In “Lied einer Nonne,” the stammering “Ach ich bin, ich bin betrogen!” (“Ah, I am, I am betrayed! “) follows the nun’s bitter-sweet memory of holding the loved one, a transgressive act of self betrayal that elicits more than once the self reproach “Mutter Gottes! Ach ich schwur!” (“Mother of God! Ah I swore!”). Stolberg’s “Romanze” (“Romance”), finally, recounts the death of an entire cast of characters: Agnes, daughter of Ritter Rudolf, who longs for an heir, is courted by Albrecht and Horst, who quarrel over her and cause the deaths of all involved. Agnes’s Ach sets this chain of events in motion through the expression of a female desire for a loved one (and a son as heir) .
This list of examples should have sufficiently conditioned us to expect the shadow of a dead loved one lurking behind Stolberg’s “Lied auf dem Wasser zu singen, fur meine Agnes.” The mention of Agnes’s Ach in “Romanze” brings me metonymically (and most adroitly) to connect the ubiquitous death of the female associated with the Gottinger Hain’s Ach with an Agnes in the title of Stolberg’s poem, who in turn invites us to consider the significance of the biographical Agnes, with whom Stolberg was on honeymoon when he wrote the poem– somewhat perversely for a newly-wed, given the death at the end-in June 1782. Agnes died prematurely in 1788, long before Stolberg himself (see Hempel). Written six years before the tragic event itself, the poem invites a proleptic reading in which an imagined thought of death, what we assumed to be the poet– subject’s death, hides an actual, later death. One of the ways in which this foreshadowing of Agnes’s death is expressed in the poem is through the swan imagery so deeply embedded in the poem’s figural texture. The motif of the swan evokes the deification of the loved one at the same time as its final flight (swan song) indicates the destiny of the poet’s song.’ Taken together, the strands of the motif reveal a form of lament for Agnes: the swan, symbol for the beloved, deified Agnes, is also the end (both terminal point and purpose) of the poet’s trajectory-Agnes is the point of the poem. But the poem is not only fur (“for”), it is also an (“to”) Agnes; since the preposition “to” indicates a directed intention towards an object, the poem is directed or addressed to an addressee and thus might be said to resuscitate an apostrophe as well as commemorate a death. But in what modality of presence is Agnes present as apostrophe in this poem?
The question of presence itself directly addresses the (dis) continuity between the two Achs within whose tension field the lyric unfolds and extinguishes. Can one not wager that the “ich” emitting the second Ach in Stolberg’s lied is Agnes “herself’ come to voice, and the cry the resuscitated irruptive voice of the dead, a true, unexpected prosopopoeia?s Rather than a modulated repetition of the poet subject’s Ach, the second occulted Ach encrypts a reciprocally “dialogic” Ach echoing the first, but not necessarily in the mode of response.9 By using the inscription of the Gottinger Hain in this poem as a thematic preoccupation, we allow that social context and code (whose specificity as social event has nonetheless been erased in our philological considerations) to furnish a paradigm for a signifying structure-the dialogic exchange of double-voicedness-within the poem. In Bakhtinian terms, the tropological space in the poem bounded by the Achs constitutes the image of a language, because the cry of Agnes constitutes the sign of an intention to utter (and also the linguistic consciousness informing such an intention) other than that of the dominating poet subject, one existing conditionally and indirectly, refracted from the poet-subject’s intention beyond the margins of the single poetic voice.` Indeed, we may well have exceeded Bakhtin’s notion of the alterity of another’s language, for it is not certain that Agnes’s seemingly completely unintended “Ach” “serves to express authorial intentions, but in a refracted way” (324), as Bakhtin puts it, unless one maintains that Stolberg’s intention towards Agnes as announced in the title generates her language in the most refracted way conceivable.
The fact that this cry does not take the form of a dialogue such as we often find in bucolics enhances the dialogism of the word here, for the formal lack of a traditional dialogic structure testifies to the absence of the kind of “abstract formalism” or “stylized mannerism” that Bakhtin scorns as the trappings of inauthentic rhetorical double-voicedness. Further, the poet’s intention cannot be said to appropriate, and therefore detract from, the alterity of the other’s intention (such as through the figuration of its voice, as we will see in Klopstock) precisely because of the absence of a formalist device-such as the formal marks and indices of a dialogue-that would betray an intention towards the other Ach to capture it in a mere diversity of voices, assuming of course that the poet always signals his intention through the deployment of formal means.” This cry appears as a genuinely radical interruption in Stolberg’s narcissistic discourse of the poetsubject fixated on its own death and transcendence. Structuring these two cries as the internal dialogism of a poetic word both corrects Bakhtin’s restrictive view of poetry and illustrates what he actually meant by differentiating doublevoicedness from the mere formalistic “tempest in a teapot” of rhetorical transmission.
Locating such dialogism in what Bakhtin calls poetry is significant for our argument regarding general text. To map out the homology with the Derridean paradigm, poetry in Bakhtin is akin to a text purified of the “outside” (what the latter would exteriorize as the historically and socially determined heteroglossia of languages in dialogue with each other); as such it is what Derrida scorns as the bounded, closed corpus of writing, as phallocentric text. But by examining one example of how such text-poetry envelops and is infected by the other’s utterance in a form of double-voicedness and languagedness, 1 have attempted to argue that the “image of a language” thereby generated in poetry exemplifies the intertext as a general text through this very intersection of the poetic text with the historical, social heteroglossia informing double-voiced discourse. The parameters of that encounter in turn describe the typographical juxtaposition and implied equivalence between word-utterance and text in Kristeva’s synonymous usage of text for word.12
Klopstock: Closing the Dialogic
Probably the best way to foreground the applicability of Bakhtin’s notion of double-languagedness to Stolberg is by the starkest and most direct counterexample, that of a poet who represents his own consciousness of the two Achs’ dialogic relations to one another in an almost insidious perversion of the dialogic form we discerned in Stolberg. Would not such a consciousness take us away from the true irruption of another language, of the other’s voice in the poem, and degenerate into rhetorical double-voiced transmission? This is exactly the limit of the intertext enveloping Stolberg and the Gottinger Hain, and to demarcate this limit in our case we need only go as far back as the Oedipal father of the poetic movement Stolberg partook of as a youth, no less than the universally acknowledged father of modern German poetry, Klopstock, and his ode “Die kunftige Geliebte” (“The Future Beloved”) .13 The poem is different in size, scope and aspiration from Stolberg’s lied and from the many poems of the Gottinger Hain bearing the same title. It proceeds by dramatic turns of mood and its language is ejaculative. The central moments (climaxes) are comprised of three epiphanies in which the poet “presences” the invoked lover and is then carried towards a union with this presence, thus realizing a desire to be totally in the world of the imagination. The poem thus vacillates sharply between various modes of the presence and absence of the loved one, modes whose precise form I shall analyze in more detail.
The structure of the epiphanies involving the “Du” ( “you”) as “Geliebte” (“loved one”) is similar in all three cases. Before each epiphany we witness a surge of rhetorical questions and beseeching exclamations that provoke, describe, and interrogate the absence of a loved one, who is then precipitated in the poem as a perceived presence: in each case there is a grammatical transformation away from the declarative to the invocative modes of question, exclamation, address and hypothesis. In the first climax, the poet conjures up the hypothetical presence of the loved one through the urgency of the questions
Ach warum, o Natur, warum, unzartliche Mutter, Gabest du zum Gefuhl mir ein zu biegsames Herz? Und in das biegsame Herz die unbezwingliche Liebe, Daurend Verlangen, and ach keine Geliebte dazu? (5-8)
Ah why, 0 nature, why, unaffectionate mother/Did you give me a pliant heart to feel with; /And in that yielding heart irrepressible love,/Constant yearning, and, ah, no loved one thereto? to ascertain finally: “Die, du kunftig mich liebst, o du aus allen erkohren” (11) (“You who will love me, o you chosen from all others.”) The hypothetical presence of the loved one is partly asked, partly ordered, to betray its location to the poet in the ensuing “Sag, wo dein fliehender FuB ohne mich einsam jetzt irrt?” ( 12) (“Tell me, where does your fleet foot err now without me?”)
In the second climax, the poet clamors towards the visible presencing of the beloved through a series of parallel exclamations lamenting her inaccessibility: Oft um Mitternacht wehklagt die bebende Lippe, DaB, die ich liebe, du mir immer unsichtbar noch bist! Oft um Mitternacht streckt sich mein zitternder Arm aus, Und umfasset ein Bild, ach das define vielleicht!” (19-22)
Often at midnight trembling lips lamented,/That she whom I love, you remain invisible!/Often at midnight I reached out my trembling arm,/And embraced an image, ah yours perhaps! Questions follow, despairing of the lover’s invisibility: “Werd’ ich mein Auge zu dir einst, segnender Himmel, erheben,/Und umarmet sie sehn, die aufbluhen du sahst? [. . .] Soil ich jene Gefilde nicht sehn?” (27, 31) (“Shall I raise my eyes to you blessed heaven,/And see her embraced, whom you saw flowering? [. . .] Should I not see those Elysian fields?”) The hammering insistence on the negativity of blindness turns in one quick convulsion to sight, with the poet proceeding from despairing that he will never embrace her-“Sinkt sie, von siil3er Gewalt der machtigen Liebe bezwungen,/Nie mit der Dammerung Stern mir an die bebende Brust?” (33) (“Will she never sink with the evening star to my trembling chest, overcome from the sweet force of powerful love?”)-to the embrace of vision: “Und, o ich sehe sie!” (39) (“And, o I see her!”) The epiphany is precipitated from the crossing of categories-absence to presence, despair to joy, uncertainty to certainty-and once more we witness these crossings when, in the third climax, the poet experiences the presence of the lover’s feelings rather than her visual image.
Once again the unrelenting negativity of the poet’s questions, conjectures, and exclamations prompts a jubilant response and salvages a presence from the abyss of absence. The poet’s sadness and dismay negatively charges his hypotheses concerning her emotional life: “Tauschte dich jemand?” (“Did someone deceive you?”)
Oder liebst du, wie ich? Erwacht mit unsterblicher Sehnsucht, Wie sie das Herz mir emport, dir die starke Natur? Was sagt dieser seufzende Mund? Was sagt mir dieB Auge, Das mit verlangendem Blick sick zu dem Himmel erhebt? (60-63) Or do you love, as I do? Does nature, with undying yearning,/As she incites my heart, awaken you?/ What does this sighing mouth say? What does this eye tell me,/That looks up to heaven with a beseeching gaze?
An envisioned embrace plays the same instrumental role here as it did in the previous climax; asking through the subjunctive “Was entdeckt mir diefBeta tiefere Denken, als sahst du ihn vor dir?/Ach, als sankest du ans Herz theses Glucklichen hin!” (64) (“What opens up this deeper thought to me, as though you were to see him before you?/Ah, as though you would sink down upon the heart of this happy soul!”), the poet turns from the envisioned embrace to the joyous declaration “Ach du liebest!” (66) (“Ah you love!). Leaving aside the Ach here for a moment, it is clear that the poet has located the lover’s heart with an immediacy of sensuous perception comparable to that with which he imagined her visual presence.
What turns absence in each of the above three cases into fusion with this presence, and in doing so impacts on the relation between Stolberg’s Achs, is the figure structuring these moments. It stands out all the more clearly as a figure because Klopstock’s poem is sparse in traditional rhetorical figures, deploying but one distinct metaphor (the “bluhenden Mund” [“flowering mouth”] of the lover) , and two similes to which I will return later. In these instances, by “figure” I mean a “logical figure conveyed in the imaginative language of the poem.” Prominently marking and structuring each of these figured epiphanies is a particular use of Ach as an element in a logical figure of reciprocity and exchange. The Achfigure is prescribed by the poet as a precondition for localizing and embracing the invoked lover’s presence during the first climax, in which, as discussed above, the poet reaches the hypothetical assertion of the lover’s existence as her presence to mind. During the long, anaphoric construct framed by the two imperatives (“Sag [. . .] Sag”) and beginning with “Sag’, wo dein fliehender FuB ohne mich jetzt irrt?” (12), the poet asks the lover to betray her presence “Nur mit Einem verrathenden Laut, mit Einem der Tone,/Die der Frohen entfliehen” ( 13-14) . ( “With only a betraying sound, with one of the tones,/That spring from the happy.”) It is perhaps typical for such a “musical” poet that he should first ask for a sound rather than an image (Schiller 54-55), and the yearned for tone is none other than the Ach. Charged with the rhetorical intensification generated from the myriad clauses separating the two injunctions to speak in a manner typical of his dynamic style, the poet continues: “Sag’ es mit einem durchdringenden Ach, das meinem Ach gleicht,/Das aus innerster Brust Klage seufzet, and stirbt” (17-18) (“Say it with a penetrating ah, that matches mine,/
That sighs from the deepest lament of the heart, and dies.”) This Ach exceeds the sign of another’s presence and, due to the implied reciprocal penetration in the figure, becomes an index of the poet’s union with this presence. Beyond its value in the poem’s semantic network, however, the construct “Sag [. . .] stirbt” as a discrete formal entity signals consciousness of a pseudo-dialogic figure, inauthentically dialogic precisely because the poet’s manipulative, instrumental consciousness calls on and conjures up the lover’s cry, forging it through the trope into his own language. The cry of the other is related tropologically to the cry of the poet through “gleicht” (“to equal,” but also with the connotation “to analogize”), not through the exchange of dialogism, as though the two Achs in Stolberg were regathered into the “two meanings” of a single-voiced trope to eradicate the internal dialogism of the word-utterance.
This pseudo-dialogic figure has a prescriptive force that translates during the other two epiphanies into similar figures of exchange, so that we could almost assert that this poem is about the structural modulation of the logical figure of reciprocal exchange. At both of the other climactic moments in the poem we can readily discern the figures of a reciprocal exchange of nominalized Achs, modified by attributive, participal adjectives, signaling the transformation of a demarcation between poet and other (he sees her, he feels her) into a fusion with her. After having experienced the vision of the loved one against a floral rustic backdrop, the poet exclaims: “Und, o ich sehe sie! [. . . ] Ein mir lispelnder Hauch, and ein erschutterndes Ach;/Ein zusegnender Laut, der mir rief, wie ein Schatten dem Schatten/Liebend ruft, weissagt, dich, die mich horete, mir” (39-42) (“And, o I see her! [. . .] A lisping breath, and a shocking ah;/A blessing sound, that calls me, like a shadow to another shadow/Lovingly calls, proclaims you, who heard me, to me.) To the poet’s Achs liberally smattered throughout this piece (such as his “Ach wie schlagt mein Herz” [“Ah how my heart beats”] ) the loved one responds with her “lispelnder Hauch” and “erschutterndes Ach.”
The reciprocal figure of exchange following the overjoyed ascertainment of an emotional rather than visual presence of the other is similarly structured through the figured reciprocity of the Ach. The poet continues from “Ach du liebest!”with
Ach wenn du den doch auch kenntest, Dessen liebendes Herz unbemerket dir schlagt; Dessen Wehmuth dich ewig verlangt, dich bang vom Geschicke Fordert, von dem Geschick, das unbeweglich sie hors. Weheten doch sanftrauschende Winde sein innig Verlangen, Seiner Seufzer Laut, seine Gesange dir zu! Winde, wie die in der goldenen Zeit, die vom Ohre des Schafers, Hoch zu der Gotter Ohr, flohn mit der Schaferin Ach. Eilet, Winde, mit meinem Verlangen zu ihr in die Laube, Schauert hin durch den Wald, rauscht, and verkundet mich ihr. (68-77)
Ah if you only knew,/Whose loving heart beats unnoticed for you;/Whose melancholy eternally demands you,/Demands you anxiously from fate, who listens unmoved./Let soft winds rustle his inner want,/His sigh, his songs to you! /Winds that, just as in the golden age, flew laden with the shepherdess’s ah/From the ear of the shepherd to the gods’ ears./Make haste to her in the greenery, winds, with my longing,/Shudder through the forest, rustle, and announce me to her.
In this meandering subjunctive construction we move from the poet’s sense of isolation from the other’s love he has “presenced” to the wish for a form of union with this presence, a wish expressed and imaginatively realized by, yet again, a reciprocal exchange of Achs elaborated in the vocabulary and poetic idiom of the German anacreontic. Reciprocal exchanges and dialogues are an integral element of the bucolic, especially Schdferdichtung (poetry of the sheep- and goatherds), and Klopstock utilizes this aspect, I would argue, while paying only nominal attention to the rest of the tradition. The vocabulary of nature is present, but little if no trace of a playful eroticism between the lovers, a tension between nature and reason, town and country, or of a sensuous revelry in nature. Nor is there any wit. In fact there are none of the typical traits of Uz and Gleim’s version of anacreonticism in mid-eighteenth century German poetry (See Vol3kamp, Warde and Wegmann 81f.) More apparent than real, the generic shift seems designed solely to compel attention towards the figure of reciprocity and its background tradition, a significant part of which is peppered with formal dialogues whose mannered, perfunctory dialogism further attenuates our sense of the “genuine” dialogism eradicated in Klopstock’s logical figure.
Indeed, judging by the uniqueness of its occurrence in both his oeuvre and the Gottinger Hain, Klopstock’s logical figure of reciprocal exchange seems to have been tailored to sabotage Stolberg’s dialogism. Throughout the rest of his works we find few moments at which the Ach is woven into a poem with the care and deliberation demonstrated in “Die kunftige Geliebte.” Significantly, the few examples come mostly from the elegies, written around the time of “Die kunftige Geliebte,” as though a brief burst of experimentation came to fruition within one poem before passing away. “Petrarch and Laura” consists of a dialogic exchange and a nominalization of the Ach (“dein melancholisch Ach” [“your melancholy ah”]) but not a combination of the two; that is, it is bereft of the quasi-dialogic, reciprocal exchange of Achs. Elsewhere there are only fleeting glimpses of elements of the phenomena refined in “Die kunftige Geliebte.” In “Lehrling der Griechen” (“Apprentice to the Greeks”) Klopstock mentions in passing a nominalized dch (“kein mutterlicher Ach” [“no motherly ah”] ) during part of the labyrinthine opening sentence distinguishing the poet’s from the ancient warrior’s vocation. A nominalized version appears again with no great significance in his “Der Frohsinn” (“Good Humor”) as an answer to death’s coming and calling.’ “Selmar and Selma” comes closest to turning the Ach into a linguistic means of exchange effecting a higher union between the lovers:
Ach, wcnn eine Sprache dock ware, dir apes zu sagen, Was mein liebendes Herz, meine Selma, dir fuhlt’. Wurden das Aug’ and sein Blick and seine Zahren volt Liebe, and dies Ach des Gefuhls, das mir gebrochen entfloh, Doch zu einer Sprache der Gutter, dir apes zu sagen, Was mein liebendes Herz, meine Selma, dir fuhlt.
Ah if there were only a language in which to tell you all this,/What my loving heart, my Selma, feels for you!/If my eye and its gaze and loving tears./And this ah of feeling, that broke forth from me,/ Would but become a language of the gods, to tell you all this,/What my loving heart, my Selma, feels for you.
Selmar elaborates upon a figure similar to the one in “Die kunftige Geliebte” insofar as he expresses a wish to fashion a divine language hewn in part at least out of the “Ach des Gefuhls.” But the element of reciprocity in the linguistic circulation of Achs is lacking, and we are clearly dealing with an embryonic, fledgling version of the more fully developed figure of explicit reciprocal exchange dominant in the later poem. In the Gottinger Hain as a whole, the nominalized Ach makes just as few appearances, most notably in Miller’s “An die Stadtmadchen” (“To the City Maidens”), where there is mention of a “mit bangem Ach” (“with fearful ah”), and in Stolberg’s “Frauenlob” (“Praise of Women”), where we hear of a reconciliatory Ach (“mit einem Ach” [“with an ah”] ) designed to calm the male protagonist’s rage. Indeed, it should be unnecessary to dwell any further on statistical data to highlight the sophistication with which Klopstock handles the Ach in “Die kunftige Geliebte.”
To summarize, Klopstock’s unique inflection of the Achs in Stolberg’s poem transforms the dynamics of the relation between these utterances by virtue of the very deliberation in the deployment of the Ach in a poetic figure. The linguistic consciousness informing his own use of the Achs works to deprive the voice of the other the independent intentionality and linguistic consciousness it had in Stolberg. The Ach is here clearly the dummy of the Ach and vice versa, which is to say, the dialogism we located in Stolberg only extends so far before it falls all too readily back into the monological “poetic” voice, deprived of heteroglossia.
Coda: The Suppressed Voice of the Other
It surely cannot have escaped anyone’s attention that the occulted voice of the other in Stolberg’s poem is not gendered masculine, and the ascription of a nominally female figure (Agnes) to the other’s voice leads us to a different but related problematic. The theoretical cluster of intertextuality and feminist literary history is a rich seam in current debates on the link between poststructuralism and feminist theory, and with good reason. The fracturing of a text’s monolithic structure, the rupture of its logico-thematic, formalist and structural coherence by the intrusion of another, alien and unwelcome text or text-particle from the universe of texts, forms a structural parallel to the often elusive forms of repressed female voices intruding upon the patriarchal hierarchy controlling discourse.`’ When Agnes makes her tentative stage debut in and as the second Ach, her presence as irruption and occulted cry in Stolberg’s text can be construed as all the more radical a usurpation of phallocentric masculine discourse for not having been obviously manipulated as one of the male poet’s intentional formalisms.16 Stolberg allows us to think through the absence and presence of the female in literary history in new ways precisely because in the general text of the poem the female dialogic voice of the other eludes him and nonetheless makes its mark. The mode of emergence of Agnes’s Ach thus contributes in its own unique way to the cross-fertilization between poststructuralism, intertext, and a feminist literary history.
Institute for Comparative Literature, Freie Universitat Berlin
The battle lines have been drawn and need neither revising nor reviewing in the space of an introduction. For general studies that sketch the unfolding of the intertextuality debate over the years see Morgan, Pfister, Ette, and Mai. Of particular use for my inquiry are Worton and Still, and Clayton and Rothstein. My thanks to Sylvia Rieger (Berlin) and Eugene Chang (Yale) for their invaluable critical suggestions.
This formulation of what is perceived to be the central problematic of intertextuality is how Mai accurately summarizes the central problem of intertextuality he finds presented in the many approaches`to intertext he reviews.
3 Intertextuality, having torn itself from influence, is often lumped with all things foreign to AngloAmerican schools of tradition, and often serves as a synonym for deconstruction or poststructuralism. Nye clearly equates the “intertextual, an irregular mesh of differences and deferrals” (669), with Derridean differance. Leitch also associates the term intertextual with a discussion of deconstruction, culminating in his pronouncement that “everything gets textualized” (122), an unrefined judgment that nonetheless points by default in the right direction.
4Vischer’s description of the way a refrain contributes to the “lyrische Unordnung” 0887) refers to the role of interjections and forms the basis for Staiger’s remarks.
5This agenda is not mine, in fact, but borrowed from Brown (799f.), who superficially analyzes the poem’s generic conformity with the Empfindsamkeit in terms of nature, stasis and death, but completely fails to accord sufficient regard to the structurally crucial Achs. For more profound interpretations that are also alive to the function of the Arh see Kranz and Pro(mies.
6This and all poems of the Gottinger Hain to which I refer are in the edition Der Gottinger Hain.
7The various facets of the motif are described by Daemmrich, who comments that the “Schwan ist Liebesbild and Sinnbild der kunstlichen Berufung” (345). (“The swan is the sensuous and sensual image of the artistic-poetic vocation.”) The last flight illuminates ‘`das Schicksal der Dichter and ihrer Werke” (“the destiny of the poet and his works”).
8Hellinghaus curiously cites the last strophe of the lied when he mentions Agnes’s positive influence, as Muse, on Stolberg’s creativity without registering the presaged death of Agnes in this last strophe (20) . As 8 Hellinghaus also notes, “Lied auf dem Wasser” was set to music by Schubert, but, I would add, the hidden subtext of this song, as our remarks on the G’ottinger Hain make doubly clear, is another lied by Schubert, Matthias Claudius’s “Der Tod and das Madchen” (“Death and the Maiden”).
9 I am using “echo” here as an operator that upsets and dislodges the coherence of certain critical metalanguages. For an expanded notion of an echo-language that, unlike standard meta-languages, does not seek to impose logical, formal, aesthetic coherence on the text, see Irigaray and Cixous.
10 In rhetorical terms, the second Ach might be thought of as a meta-apostrophe which, unlike the fully fledged apostrophe deluding us into believing in a poetic summoning of the presence of the other, would be a speech act outside the intentionality of the poet that summons the pseudo- or meta-presence of the other, that is, the presencing of poetological grounds for assuming a presence of the other rather than this presence itself. In terms of de Man’s rhetoric of temporality, the temporal sequence of signifiers could be related to both allegory and irony, depending on whether we want to interpret the two-told cry in terms of a simultaneity or sequence. Crudely put, the sequential view of the two Achs is allegorical, and the simultaneous is ironical, with the empirical self’s experience of time bound in each case to the effects of a linguistic structure.
11 If we do not make this assumption, then we are in the different register of the psychoanalytic, whereby the dialogic would be a manifestation of the poet’s unconscious intentions. Agnes etudes the ensnaring formalism of the poet’s desire to turn her into the signified of the Ash, but in doing so functions in our discourse as the placeholder of the poet’s unconscious intention directed towards her.
12Kristeva later drops the term “intertextuality”‘ and adopts the idea of a “transposition” into other signifying material, as though the insistence on text were too dismissive of other (social) codes.
13 All numerical references to Klopstock’s poetry in this paper are line references. All translations into English are my own, and do not preserve the original meter
14 “WeiB auch der Mensch, wens ihm des Todes Ruf schallt?/Sein Antwort darauf% Wer dann mich klagen hort, verzeih dem/Thoren sein Ach: denn glucklich/ War ich durch Frohsinn.” (“Does man know when Death’s call will ring out?/His response? Whoever hears me complaining, forgive this fool/His ah: because happy I/Was through good humor.”)
15 The relation of feminist theory to a nuanced, differentiated model of intertext as dialogue has already been investigated by Lachmann, albeit with less than penetrating insight into the literary manifestation of a dialogism that does not express itself in the form of a dialogue. See also Hohne and Wussow, Bauer and McKinstry for the relation between Bakhtin and feminist theory. Ecker outlines convincingly the possibilities for a constructive interchange between poststructuralism and feminist theory and ecriture.
16 Stolberg’s retreat from a consciously manipulative figuration is important here. In contrast, see Johnson’s treatment of Mallarme, in which she concludes concerning Mallarme’s use of female figures: “Mallarme may be able to speak from the place of the silenced woman, but as Long as he is occupying it, the silence that is broken in theory is maintained in reality” ( 129) . A similar judgment is impossible to reach in the case of Stolberg’s poem. It is not Stolberg who throws his voice and thematizes the voice of the other in his poem, which may be as much to say that it is rue who are thematizing and essentializing the always elusive alterity of the textual other into a female voice.
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