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By Paul de Man

'Through difficult and chic shut readings of poems via Rilke, Proust's Remembrance, Nietzsche's philosophical writings and the key works of Rousseau, de guy concludes that each one writing matters itself with its personal task as language, and language, he says is usually unreliable, slippery, impossible....Literary narrative, since it needs to depend upon language, tells the tale of its personal lack of ability to inform a story....De guy demonstrates, superbly and convincingly, that language turns again on itself, that rhetoric is untrustworthy.' Julia Epstein, Washington publish publication global

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Extra resources for Allegories of Reading: Figurative Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke and Proust

Sample text

TROPES ( RILKE) 41 attribute of reality (the text stresses indeed reality, "Wirklich[keit]") was prepared from the first part on. In an apparent personification, which is in fact a prosopopoeia based on the language-embedded idiom according to which, in German as in English , streets are said to "go" from here to there, the auxiliary condition for an action (the streets, auxiliary device for the action of going) becomes the agent of this same action . The slight note of absurdity sounded in the first evocation of the walking streets ("Die Gassen haben einen sachten Gang / .

It remains subjected to the single authority, to the single achievement, of the text. This achievement, however, is primarily phonic in kind. The last stanza, in which the mastery is asserted, is also the one in which effects of euphony reach their highest point of elaboration. The poem comes to rest in the lines Lass deine Hand am Hang der Himmel ruhn und dulde stumm, was wir dir dunkel tun. It can easily be verified that, in this last line of verse, there appears rigorously no syllable that does not fulfill an effect of euphony.

This transfer then reveals a totaliz­ ing oneness that was originally hidden but which is fully revealed as soon as it is named and maintained in the figural language. One could stop here, and confine oneself to the discovery of further analogical parallels (such as the convergence of the spatial with the musical theme by way of an erotic connotation-since the body of the violin is that of a woman as well) and especially by stressing the perfect coalescence of the metaphorical narration with the sound­ pattern of the poem .

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