Allegories of Reading: Figurative Language in Rousseau, by Paul de Man

By Paul de Man

'Through difficult and chic shut readings of poems through Rilke, Proust's Remembrance, Nietzsche's philosophical writings and the foremost works of Rousseau, de guy concludes that each one writing matters itself with its personal task as language, and language, he says is often unreliable, slippery, impossible....Literary narrative, since it needs to depend on 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 put up e-book global

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Die eingehangte Welt von Spiegelbildern 20 so wirklich wird wie diese Dinge nie. The description of the details of this upside-down city, although i t maintains the realism of the local color (Estaminets , 1. 16) one expects in a poem that is also like a postcard , thus acquires a some­ what uncanny and as it were surreal character. The reversal of the 20. "the clear evening water . / in which . " . TROPES ( RILKE) 41 attribute of reality (the text stresses indeed reality, "Wirklich[keit]") was prepared from the first part on.

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 . . [1:156] 1 7 Instead o f being caught in the "somber net" of a pseudo­ dialectic between pseudo-subjects , we are at once within a much more familiar poetic landscape. From the beginning, the poem an­ nounces itself as naming the unity, the complementarity of an in­ side/outside polarity: the inner seclusion of the "room" (which intro­ duces a subject by the possessive of "my" room) and the infinitely wide expanse of the night outside. They are decreed to be one by categorical assertion, as if this unity were the sudden revelation of a single moment, a specific accord between the self of the poet and the world that surrounds him.

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