Hermeneutics and Poetics: Gadamer on the Poetic Word
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Despite Gadamer’s sustained engagement with poetry throughout his career, evidenced by his numerous publications on modern German poetry, his contributions towards a poetics have gone underappreciated. In this essay I argue that a poetics can be drawn from his work, a poetics hermeneutically attuned to the poetic word as the true word, as the privileged site where the being of language as an event of unconcealment comes to language. Indeed, what is at stake for Gadamer in the poetic word is the hermeneutic understanding of language as the medium of phenomenological self‑showing. The paper further outlines the salient features of hermeneutic poetics by highlighting, elaborating and integrating five basic traits of the poetic word as an event of language. First, because language itself appears in the poetic word it is language bound. Second, gathering itself into the unity of a linguistic configuration the poetic word is self‑standing. Third, listening to the language of the poem the reader enables what is said to come forth. Fourth, where this occurs the poem achieves a unique presence simply by virtue of its being‑said. In this way, fifth, the poetic word preserves our familiarity with the world by bearing witness to its nearness.
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