The Limits of Cyclization

Friedrich Schlegel’s Notes ‘On Philology’ as a Form of the Novel Lucinde

In: Philological Encounters
Christoph König Universität Osnabrück

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This article examines Friedrich Schlegel’s theory of philological practice and presents it as crucial for any philology that seeks to establish its philosophical ground without taking resort to theory. Schlegel’s concepts and the form of argument he employs, as illustrated in his notes “On Philology”, are elucidated. Schlegel focuses on ‘cyclization’ as a reiterated critique of a non-discursive practice that eventually leads to a mastership akin to art. Schlegel’s “Lucinde” is—as the article demonstrates—to be read as a novel that serves this philological purpose. Finally, the question of how to deal with art as a telos of philology in times of the modern university is discussed, with the conclusion being that we have to distinguish between the process of gaining insight and the discursive justification of that insight.

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