By Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht
Reading, we find, is an experiencing of particular moods and atmospheres, or Stimmung. those moods are on a continuum equivalent to a musical scale. They current themselves as nuances that problem our powers of discernment and outline, in addition to language's power to catch them. might be the easiest we will be able to do is to indicate of their path. Conveying own encounters with poetry, tune, portray, and the radical, this ebook therefore gestures towards the intangible and within the technique, constitutes a daring safeguard of the subjective adventure of the arts.
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Extra info for Atmosphere, Mood, Stimmung : On a Hidden Potential of Literature
In different dimensions and by means of different textual elements, these works make readers encounter past realities. One tends to overlook the effects of immediacy they create; indeed, it is almost a professional obligation for scholars and critics today to overlook them. This immediacy in the experience of past presents occurs without it being necessary to understand what the atmospheres and moods mean; we do not have to know what motivations and circumstances occasioned them. For what affects us in the act of reading involves the present of the past in substance—not a sign of the past or its representation.
I see bile floating in honey: On the outside, the world beautiful—white, green, and red— But inside black, as dark as death. Here, the combination of beautiful sweetness and black bitterness—the German employs the verb sweben to represent how honey and bile flow into one another—reaches a point of religious asceticism according to which all the pleasures of this world are revealed as deception. A decade earlier, in an invective he composed against Pope Innocent III (who had made an alliance with the Guelphs and the king of France against the Staufen dynasty), Walther had employed the image of bile as a metaphor for what interrupts the order and joys of the world in passing: Suddenly the angel exclaims: Woe, woe, a third time woe!
To be sure, in the Middle Ages, there were works and genres that featured—as do picaresque novels—a series of episodes of the more or less “adventurous” kind; here, various encounters permitted the identity of the protagonist to be displayed in different aspects. The highly influential “courtly romances” of Chrétien de Troyes, which were composed in the third quarter of the twelfth century, show young knights who—for various reasons—have lost honor and status at King Arthur’s court. The knights win their positions back by means of cycles of two aventiures; in the process, they offer paradigms of aristocratic comportment.