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5 - Modern literature

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 December 2010

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Summary

The bird would cease and be as other birds

But that he knows in singing not to sing.

The question that he frames in all but words

Is what to make of a diminished thing.

Frost, “The Oven Bird” (1916)

We began a defense of art's indispensability by seeing, in chapter 1, that philosophical accounts of the satisfactions of modern life have an unsatisfying tendency toward abstraction and the self-alienating indenture of the lower faculties to the higher. The challenge to the post-romantic artist was to find ways to express the complexities of nineteenth-century life with the concrete immediacy necessary for aesthetic experience. The obstacles here derived from those very complexities – the overlapping jurisdictions of private right, moral duty, and civic role-playing elaborated in Hegel's social theory – and from the heavily discursive, intellectualist habits of mind characteristic of a prosaic culture. Later chapters have revealed that art's liberation of sense and imagination then turned out to involve the painter's self-investment in the act of creation; the poet's estrangement of the habits of prose; and the efforts of both to confront their audiences with an everydayness both invitingly familiar (the mirror in the roadway) and depressingly banal (yet another glass of schnapps). On the reading I have been developing, these are the elements – virtuosity, self-investment, an aggressively unnatural style, and an aggressively naturalist content – on which a Hegelian theory of the modern arts must stand.

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Hegel on the Modern Arts , pp. 212 - 268
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2010

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References

Bubner, , “Hegel's Aesthetics: Yesterday and Today” in Art and Logic in Hegel's Philosophy, ed. Steinkraus, Warren K. and Schmitz, Kenneth L. (Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities Press, 1980)Google Scholar
Beiser, F.C., ed., The Cambridge Companion to Hegel and Nineteenth-Century Philosophy [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008], 415)CrossRef

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  • Modern literature
  • Benjamin Rutter
  • Book: Hegel on the Modern Arts
  • Online publication: 06 December 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511760440.006
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  • Modern literature
  • Benjamin Rutter
  • Book: Hegel on the Modern Arts
  • Online publication: 06 December 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511760440.006
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Modern literature
  • Benjamin Rutter
  • Book: Hegel on the Modern Arts
  • Online publication: 06 December 2010
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511760440.006
Available formats
×