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Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. The intense energies of spirit, the technical force which steinfr has shown over these past decades are both the stimulus and the conse- quence of a larger re-direction.
The articles and papers put together in this book deal with related aspects of this general movement. They consider certain philosophic and literary elements in this radical return— a renovation which is at the same time a re-experiencing— of the image of the human person as uniquely related to the act of speech, to the Logos. The sources of the language revolution coincide in time and sensibility with that crisis of morals and of formal values which immediately precedes and follows on the First World War, particularly in Central Europe.
What I have called elsewhere “the retreat from the word” and the failure of humane literacy in the face of barbarism directly counterpoints the new linguistics, the new attempts — philosophical, psychological, poetic— to establish a seman- tic center.
Extraterritorial: Papers on Literature and the Language Revolution – George Steiner – Google Books
Analytic and mimetic ways of experiencing the deep paradoxality and fragility of language interact at extraterritoral key points. Wittgenstein’s Tractatus has its substantive counterpart in the poetry, drama, and even music of the period. This set of articles is a preliminary essay toward a history of the change in speech awareness, of the change in the ways culture inhabits language, as it has occurred since extdaterritorial ‘s.
A striking aspect of this language revolution has been the emergence of linguistic pluralism or “unhousedness” in certain great writers. These writers stand in extrqterritorial relation of dialectical hesitance not only steinfr one native tongue —as Holderlin or Rimbaud did before them— but toward several languages.
This is almost unprecedented. It speaks of the more general problem of a lost center. It makes of Nabokov, Borges, and Beckett the three representative figures in the literature of exile— which is, perhaps, the main impulse of current literature.
Different papers extraterrktorial this book touch on one or another aspect of their extraterritorial- ity. Only the article on Celine goes back to my earlier work, to my attempts to locate more precisely extraterritoeial coexistence of political barbarism with literary merit. To focus on the linguistic elements in Nabokov or Beckett, on the inter- and intra-linguistic cat’s cradle of extrterritorial inventions, is an obvious move.
But it points to the more general theme of the effects of the language revolu- tion on the ways in which we read literature. These effects seem to me penetrating and provocative. The demands made of literary criticism by Roman Jakobson and the poet-linguists of the Moscow Language Circle now press on literary awareness — or should be felt to do so— with a new insistence. All literature is a linguistic construct. The precise authority and range of pertinence which linguistics has for the poet, the student of letters, and the common reader remain arguable, and rightly so.
But the argument must be geogre home if literary criticism and literary history are again to become a serious enter- prise they georgr hardly that at the moment. At the pivot of this collection stands a paper which seeks to state what ought to be the creative interactions between linguistics and poetics. Today, any thinking about the nature of language and the relations of language to mind will have to take up either the feorge of transformational generative linguistics or, at least, those sections of the model nearest its own concerns.
This is as it should be. The contributions of Noam Chomsky to the formalization of the theory of gram- mar, and to the place now held by that theory in the study of logic and psychology, are pre-eminent. These are, more- over, contributions of great elegance and intellectual fasci- nation. I am neither competent nor inclined to question wteiner technical value and coherence. They are already, and decidedly, a classic part of the history of linguistic investi- gation. My differences with Chomskian linguistics— differ- ences argued throughout this book— are of a more funda- mental kind.
I am persuaded that the phenomenon of language is such that a rigorously idealized and nearly mathematical ac- count of the deep structures and generation of human speech is bound to be incomplete and, very possibly, dis- torting. It is the thinness, the determinism of the genera- tive transformational case— particularly in its current dogmatic vein— that I find disturbing.
In part, this is a point of history.
Despite its references to the grammarians of Port Royal and to Humboldt, Chomskian linguistics is insistent, often polemically, on its innovative autonomy. It is also rigorous in its inference of what is or is not relevant, of what is or is not respectable. The latter exclusion is key: Richards, but a total indifference to the more specula- tive, meta-logical areas extratterritorial the philosophy of language.
I have in mind the phenomenological tradition of Dilthey and Husserl with its stress on the historicity of speech acts, on the time-boundedness and mutations of even the most elemental of semantic modes. I am thinking of the investi- gations into language by Heidegger, of Paul Ricoeur’s De Tlnterpretation, and of the whole hermeneutic approach now so lively in France, Italy, and Germany.
geogre Or of the school of exegesis gathered around the Austrian journal the Brenner, immediately before and after —18, with its emphasis on the religious, “pneumatological” charac- teristics of human speech, and its links, as yet to be studied, with the early Wittgenstein. Cut off from these philosophic traditions, contemptuous of the uncertainties and transcen- dental intimations which they enact, the new linguistics, with its declared steinet ideals, runs the risk of a powerful triviality.
I include a small piece on chess in this book not only because of its obvious relevance to Nabokov, but to illustrate closely the notion of a mental construct which is at once powerful and formally of ex- treme depth, but also essentially trivial. The peremptory naYvetes of a good deal of transformational generative work make impossible any real access geofge language when it is in a condition of maximal concentration, when, as Heidegger X FOREWORD says, language is total steinsr, i.
A scientific dogmatism is there, in fact, a “linguistic science”? Yet extratedritorial is in that median quality, and in the fact, as Quine states it, that “No two of us learn our language alike, nor, in a sense, does any finish learning it while he lives,” that may be sought primary clues to the linguistic core of human identity. The theme of Babel is a case in point.
The “counter- economic” development on a crowded earth of many thou- sands of mutually incomprehensible tongues, often set only miles apart, poses fundamental problems. A com- prehensive theory of language— which will also be a theory of man’s singular humanity— cannot dismiss the question as pertaining merely to surface features.
A Deft Jumble of Cultural Correlatives
It is not in trans- formational grammars, however, but in hermeneutics, in the Sprachphilosophie of Walter Benjamin, with its un- steindr roots in kabbalistic thought, that the implications of Babel are grasped. The points at which I touch on the Babel motif in these articles are preliminary to a full-length study. Professor Chomsky has expressed strong doubts to me as to whether linguistics and the biological sciences have anything of value to say to each other.
He may well be proved right. Nevertheless, at present the exchanges of terminology, of implicit models, of habits of understand- ing, are vivid. They mark both fields, making of them, as it were, branches of a comprehensive science of meaning. Even if it should turn out that the affinities have been only metaphoric, such extrwterritorial through metaphor are of intense concern to the history of culture. I look at some of these reciprocities in the closing essay.
Extraterritorial: Papers on Literature and the Language Revolution
But my argument is also a more general one. That incorporation must be attempted, extraterritorail where it will remain largely “imaged” or ssteiner, if we are to emerge from the drift and boredom of edtraterritorial. One of the papers in this collection addresses itself specifi- cally to this theme.
Again, I believe, there is no inevitable merit in rejecting the religious or metaphysical reaches of the argument. For to speak of the generation and condition of language is to speak steinef that of man.
Each language crystallizes the inner history, the specific world-view of the Volk or nation. This theory is a natural part of romantic historicism and the nineteenth-century discovery of the shaping power of linguistic development. Indo-European philology seemed not only a road into the otherwise unrecapturable past, into the time of the roots of consciousness, but also a uniquely penetrative approach to the matter of ethnic quality.
These steoner, eloquent in Herder, Michelet, Humboldt, seem to match common sense. The writer is a special master of the language. In him the energies of idiomatic usage, of etymo- logical implication, declare themselves with obvious force.
He may, as D. Harding says in a well-known passage, bring “language to bear on the incipient thought at an earlier stage of its development” than do ordinary speakers. But it is his language he brings to bear; it is his familiarity with it, somnambular, genetic, extraterrritorial makes the bearing radical and inventive.
The life of the language, in turn, reflects the writer’s presence more than it does that of any other metier: Yet this sense of strangeness is more recent than one might think. Much of European vulgate literature has behind it the active pres- sure of more than one language. I would argue that a good deal of poetry from Petrarch to Holderlin is “classical” in geore very material sense: Racine’s perfect economy depends, in part, on the extraterritorail ing echo of the passage from Euripides— an echo fully present in the poet’s mind and assumed to be so, in some degree at least, in that of his literate public.
Quite often, in fact, the writer georeg more at ease in Latin or in French than he georg in his own tongue: Alfieri’s memoirs tell of his long struggle to acquire natural authority in Italian. Latin poetry continued to be pro- duced until almost our own time. Nevertheless, there is more than nationalist mystique to the notion of the writer enracine. Latin was, after all, a very special case, a sacramental and cultural interlingua pre- serving its function precisely because the European ver- naculars were moving apart in deepening self-conscious- ness.
The language of Shakespeare, of Montaigne, of Luther, embodies an extreme extraterritoiral strength, an assertion of specific, “untranslatable” identity. For the writer to become bi- or multi-lingual in the modern way, genuine shifts of sensibility and personal status had to occur.
These are visible, for the first time perhaps, stiner Heine. Binary values characterize his life. He was a Jew with a Christian up- bringing and a Voltairian view of both traditions.
His poetry modulates continually between a romantic-conserva- tive and a radical, satiric stress. This condition extraterritorkal mined his equal currency in French and in German and gave to his German poetry a particular genius. Adorno, “is the very opposite of native ‘at-homeness’ Geborgenheit. Only he who is not truly at home inside a language uses it as an instrument.
There is the Anglo-Irish relation with its tradi- tional bias toward an eccentric, exhibitionist mastery over English; there is also the Steiiner use of France as a counter to English values and Wilde’s own use of French thought and writing to strengthen his aesthetic, liberating polemics against Victorian standards.
But I wonder whether the linguistic display which allowed Wilde to write Salome in French or which inspired the Latin verse of Lionel John- son does not point deeper. We know absurdly little about the vital congruence of eros and language.
Oscar Wilde’s bilingualism may be an expressive enactment of sexual duality, a speech-symbol for the new rights of experiment and instability he claimed for the life of the artist.
Here, as at other important points, Wilde is one of the true sources of the modern tone. The links with Samuel Beckett are obvious.
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Another Irishman, fantastically proficient in both French and Eng- lish, rootless because so variously at home. For a good deal of Beckett’s work we do not know georgd the English or the French version came first. His parallel texts have an un- canny brilliance.