chapter  6
24 Pages

Heidegger and the poetic

A person who reads Heidegger and the monumental issues in his texts interested only in extracting some new method of reading to be added to the stockpile of literary criticism – this might be a good definition of an idiot. Heidegger’s readings of poets have been widely if often implicitly influential, but they were never in fact primarily intended as part of the business of literary criticism, a discipline Heidegger saw as a parochial representative of the sort of thinking he was trying to challenge. A disclaimer added to the fourth edition of Heidegger’s study of Hölderlin (1971) reads: ‘The present Elucidations do not aim to be contributions to research in the history of literature or to aesthetics. They spring from a necessity of thought’ (E: 21). That necessity relates to Heidegger’s discovery, in certain poetic texts, of modes of thought and being that offer a radical alternative to productionist thinking and the world of techno-science. Heidegger’s engagement with the poetic, especially the work of Friedrich Hölderlin, is the subject of this chapter.