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Form and Life in the Theory of the Novel

Rudiger Campe
The following remarks on the modern novel and its theory are based on two complementary observations: 1) it was with regard to the novel that a theory was required in the eighteenth century, for the first time in European criticism, in order to adequately deal with a literary genre a theory that is to say as distinct from traditional poetics and rhetoric. This theory, as will be argued, was a theory of life. 2) Aesthetics, as it developed at the same time, was a theory of form and life, or, more precisely, of the problem of the form and the forming of life. The novel, although not a traditional object of critical assessment and not necessarily a favorite genre of the new aesthetics either, was the ideal point of reference for an aesthetics of the form of life precisely because of the problem it posed to criticism. According to these assumptions, the advent of a theory of the novel and the emergence of a concept of life in aesthetics were two intrinsically related phenomena. Understanding the semantics of life in aesthetics and understanding the problem of the novel for criticism are two sides of the same coin.1 If these, rather sweeping, claims hold true, they cannot be discussed within the history of criticism, the poetics of genres, or in the confines of a history of aesthetic theories and their use of the concept of life. What is at stake with the novels relation to life is its very status as a literary phenomenon. This is not only about how and in which sense life became to be discussed in the eighteenth century art criticism, but also and at the same time about the fact that the mode of discussion, theory, was different from what poetics and rhetoric had meant and done for centuries before. This is why the debate in question can only be addressed as a fundamental event and, in fact, a turning point in the relationship between literature and knowledge.2 Although most of the material in this paper will come from poetics and aesthetics in the decades before and shortly after 1800, the final point of reference is, of course, Georg a Luk css Theory of the Novel. I take it that form is a biological need.3 When Luk cs put a this phrase down in a letter from 1910 to his friend and companion in aesthetic debates and essayistic writing, Leo Popper, he had not yet the novel and its theory in mind. But in thus summarizing the thrust of his previous book Soul and Form, Luk cs may be said to move a into the direction of the novel and its theory. We can even argue that he became the one to coin the very title (and discourse) of The Theory of the Novel because the points of reference of his aesthetic philosophy Georg Simmels interpretation of Kant, Emile Boutrouxs Des contingences des loix de la nature and Bergsons conceptualization of life were specifically suited to lead him towards the modern novel and its status in literature. Luk css biological a need is then a need of life for form and, at the same time, a need of aesthetic theory to develop a concept of life.4 The emergence of the novel and its theory amounts to the coincidence and complementary nature of these two aspects. The point of departure for the following discussion is to reconsider the relationship between the modern novel and the concept of theory in aesthetics in some more detail (I). In the second and largest section, two exemplary cases of theories of the novel in the late eighteenth century from the German tradition will be foregrounded: the Essay on the Novel by Friedrich Blankenburg the first freestanding discussion on the novel that is, however,
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still based on rhetorical and poetical terms and the concept of life in Aristotelian tradition and Friedrich Schlegels pointed remarks on theory and the novel in his Dialogue on Poetry a rewriting of sorts of Blankenburgs critical enterprise in terms of Kantian aesthetics (II). In a short epilogue the discussion will turn to Luk css codification of the novels life in The a Theory of the Novel (III).

I. The Novel and Its Theory


Novels, theory: As long as there have been critical assessments of the novel, they have presented themselves as a theory of the novel. Such reflections were clearly meant to assert a particular claim by introducing themselves as theory. Accordingly, the fact that they framed the critical discussion as theory revealed that some new and unique kind of problem was up for negotiation with the emergence of the modern novel. Traditional treatises on poetics and rhetoric and even their critical revisions in the vein of Charles Dubos, Alexander Pope, or Johann Christoph Gottsched in the first half of the eighteenth century largely omitted the novel altogether. But as long as any authors assayed to treat the novel systematically and comprehensively in the case of Germany, beginning with Blankenburg and Schlegel they immediately and exclusively did so in terms of theory. Whether we consider the modern novel to have started with Defoe, or earlier with the petits romans in France or later with Fieldings Tom Jones and Wielands Agathon,5 the modern novel exists for all the lack of prescriptive and descriptive poetical form, and for all its formlessness from the point of view of poetics as a subject of knowledge in the late eighteenth century solely, but instantly, in the realm of theory. Theory and the novel, it appears, are allies. They can even be said to be chained together in the shackles of a structural problem underlying both of them. Theorizing the novel, it appears, was the incipit and the model for introducing theory in literary studies to this day. This is so, we may suspect, because of one simple fact, which allows for no simple explanation. Uniquely and for the first time among all genres, the form of the novel can only be described as a form of life.6 With the (modern) novel, literary form becomes a matter no longer of poetical forms but of the form of life.7 The poetical treatises of old Europe linked their formal patterns to situations of speech, genera dicendi, and to an arsenal of words and things, a copia rerum et verborum, whose social and epistemological foundation they took for granted within the realm of poetical concerns. Poetical forms of such provenance provide, however, no continuity to the form of the novel. Being a form of life, the form of the novel has to be established anew each time, and it does not differ in essence from instances of forming life in other fields (politics, ethics, biology etc.). From the Bishop Daniel Huets account in The Origin of Novels to Lukacss outright Theory of the Novel the co-emergence of the concepts of a poetically formless form and of life as its counterpart has been acknowledged but also made invisible by the differentiation between ancient epics and the modern novel. This differentiation already implied the fact that the change of subject (from poetical form to the form of life) was at the same time a change of method (from prescription and description to theory), and it gave an account of the double change through a philosophy of history in which content changes simultaneously with thinking. Addressing the turning point in the relationship between literature and knowledge will, however, require us to disentangle this complex of ideas and study in some greater detail the question of what it meant and how it was possible to discern the radical and even outrageous claim that, with the novel, form is the form of life.
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Theories of the novel: Let us briefly recall the most cogent historical facts: Theory of the Novel, emerged from a substantial essay by Luk cs, which, written in 1914, appeared in a Max Dessoirs Zeitschrift f r Asthetik und Allgemeine Kunstwissenschaft in 1916 and was u published as a monograph by Paul Cassirer in 1920. The emergence of the Theory of the Novel has thus been associated with the realistic novel of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But Luk cs famously took up what he had read before in Friedrich Schlegel. In a the Dialogue on Poetry, Schlegel is one of the first to speak of a theory of the novel. Since for him hardly any existing work fulfills the novels aspiration, theory indicates the outline of a genre that is still to come. In fact, for Schlegel, only one book stood in for the lack of an existing novelistic genre: Goethes Wilhelm Meisters Apprenticeship. This is so for systematic reasons. Not only is literary history in demand of novels, but the novel is always in demand of its own form. Novels dont have form, they are in quest of it. Antonio a.k.a. Schleiermacher, who in Schlegels Dialogue on Poetry is responsible for this discussion first of all sets out to identify small forms like novellas and fairy tales. If such examples became known, then I would have the courage for a theory of the novel which would be a theory in the original sense. . .8 Genres, this seems to say, are given forms, configurations of style and subject. They exist like Ur-forms in the natural history of poetry.9 Since the novel, in contrast to the epic, is not yet a developed genre or species, since it is, one might say, a genre-monster, any inquiry into its form must be pursued by investigating other forms. The novel is the process of form compensating for its own formlessness by incorporation of other forms. Thus the novel exists only through and as theory; and this theory then is ultimately a theory of something other than poetical forms. It is a theory of literature, culture, and media, or, as Schlegel himself claims, the novels theory is the art of life (Lebens/Kunst). As plausible as Schlegels remarks are, once we adopt the point of view of form, it is not self-evident why we should come to adopt such a perspective in the first place. In this respect, we might recall that in speaking of the novels theory Schlegel, on his part, follows the lead of Friedrich von Blankenburg who, some thirty years before, had introduced the expression theory of the novel for quite different reasons in his 1774 Essay on the Novel. Blankenburg, too, had assumed that only one single novel existed that would correspond to a theory of the novel. In his case, this novel was Christoph Martin Wielands Agathon. Only Wielands work, Blankenburg writes at the beginning of his 500-page theory, grounds the novel in its entirety merely in the character of the hero. The argument is the first appearance of what Blankenburg, in an aside, designates as a theory of the novel.10 The aside is telling in relation to what he undertakes by grounding a whole genre and its form in the protagonist. Since the 1760s, a great number of academic and critical works were published in Germany with titles such as Theory of Fine Arts and Sciences.11 Sulzers encyclopedic work, which appeared a few years before Blankenburgs Essay, and to which Blankenburg added additional volumes, is merely the best known of them. All of these works attempted to capitalize on the analytic description that Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten had provided for aesthetics in his Metaphysics: theory of arts; theoria artium.12 Aesthetics was the theory of arts, first of all, in a literal sense insofar as it endeavored to duplicate poetics and rhetoric with a second layer of observations. Being a theoria, it made rhetorical and poetical figuration observable by understanding them as the sensual perceptions of Leibnizian provenance. This was a difficult task and one might wonder whether Baumgarten or any of his many followers in and outside of Germany were able to fulfill the promise. Blankenburgs Essay on the Novel may well count as the most successful of these attempts. If, in fact, one places the character as the center of a text or even the genre in its entirety, then realizing the character in psychological terms virtually becomes the complete and seamless
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duplication or theory of all poetic form and rhetorical figuration in such a text and genre. This process of theorizing poetical forms and rhetorical figuration in Blankenburgs Essay is, as we will see, bound up with a particular emphasis on the figures of vividness and lively presentation, or rather, the poetical figures of life. It is not until Schlegels theory of the novel, as developed from Kantian aesthetics, that the novel can be formulated as the problem of form par excellence, the problem which admits theory and only theory as appropriate for its discussion. But only a patient reading of Blankenburgs Essay on the Novel allows us to grasp how the novel and its theory could develop a companionship strong enough as to render the novel and its theory an unavoidable configuration. Only when reading old European poetics and modern aesthetics together does one see how a network of terms related to life lively rendering, vivification, art of life comes together into a theory of the novel as the form of life. It is within the displacement of the old-European terms of life that the unique turn from the regime of poetics to the regime of the novel and literary theory occurs. Examining Blankenburgs and Schlegels terminological maneuvers therefore is a means to understand how re-conceptualizing life comes to be at stake at this turning point in the relation between literature and knowledge.

II. Vividness and Life: Theorizing Novels


Figures of Life: Blankenburg on the Novel: Starting again from Blankenburg in a more sustained fashion, we should recall, first, that his lengthy explication of Wielands Agathon proceeds in two steps. We can easily discern the traditional division of poetics into invention (res) and elocution (verba). The inner story is key to both parts. The story, the res, of the novel amounts, for Blankenburg, to an inner story because it is not the action of the hero and the events around him that make up the proper object of the novel, but rather the perceptions, feelings, and dispositions of the characters.13 Thus, according to Blankenburg, the res of the novel are surprisingly not actions and events, but the characters formed and conditioned vita. The words spoken and the actions performed are relevant as the vitas expression and presentation. Blankenburgs ubiquitous talk of lively presentation acquires its first focus and meaning in this context: the novel is vivid because what is presented is the characters vita manifesting itself in the lively actions and events of human life. Lively and vivid (lebhaft, lebendig) serve as translations for the rhetorical term evidentia, the lively and vivid depiction or narration.14 If the novel as a whole is in fact the manifestation of the protagonists character and vita in the vividness of his words and deeds, then the figure of life-like presentation is no longer a rhetorical device sprinkled here and there into the chain of narration. The evidentia of the protagonists actions expressing his vita in a lively fashion is rather the master trope of the novelistic res. As such it works by doubling and, as it were, absorbing the chain of narration with its primary rhetorical features in their entirety. This master trope is realized in the Essay on the Novel for the most part through a commentary a commentary concerning, the drama. According to Blankenburg, there are only a few writers who even attempted to compose novels that fulfilled the definition of the novels story as the lively presentation of the protagonists vita, Richardson and Fielding being the most important among them. And there is only one novel in which the process is actually accomplished: Wielands Agathon. But even with regard to Agathon there is not much Blankenburg has to say. Instead he delivers lengthy discussions of Shakespearian scenes with quotations and commentaries going on for pages at a time.15 In the interlocking
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commentaries, he doubles the action that takes place on stage before the eyes of the audience with direct references to the characters states of mind and, their underlying character. A fantasmatic text thus emerges in which literary commentary and a theory of the arts (Baumgartens theoria artium) coincide with the rhetorical process of placing dramatic action before ones eyes (the traditional formula for evidentia).16 It is this commentary that, with theory (the theory of the novel) performed as evidentia (lively presentation of dramatic action) not only describes but rather is the res or story of the novel: evidentia vitae. What then makes for the second step of traditional poetics, the elocution, or verba, in the case of the novel? The novels res as we could see arises mainly from the commentary of dramatic actions and passions, a scholarly discourse that can be traced back to critics and philosophers elaborating on the doctrine of affects, in particular, since sixteenth century humanism. The second step, in contrast, introduces a more contemporary instance of intervention. In characterizing the elocution of the novel, Blankenburg asks in regards to both the individual events and the entire novelistic plot: Why did an action take place in one way rather than another?17 He repeatedly dubs this method of determining the verba of the novel an interrogation of witnesses (Zeugenverh r). Rather than being bare narration, o the mode of narrating should be composed such that we vividly and at a glance see before us how the inner story in fact brings about those events of what ordinarily we think of as the novelistic plot.18 The master trope of the verba is again evidentia, but this time of a different kind. Novelistic verba are to place before the readers eyes how and whereby an occurrence took place the way it did take place.19 Instead of narrating actual occurrences, the interrogationlike style of the novel brings before the eyes how those actualities come about (the Wirklichwerden or actualization of the events). With reference to legal interrogation in trial settings, Blankenburg even clarifies this operation in terms of an examination of guilt: To judge an occurrence correctly means to determine to what extent a person behaved culpably or not. . .20 The elocutio of the novel thus amounts to a single trope and a single theory of interrogation. In it the event is represented according to the circumstances of its actualization and the deed is shown through a questioning of the doers accountability. Again, the novels vivid representation is not simply supposed to include interrogation-like procedures here and there. Instead the narrator is supposed to make his presentation vivid by adopting continuously and comprehensively a judges attitude. Novelistic style will thus be able to produce a connection, vividly visible at a glance, between effect and cause. . .a connection from which we see how the occurrence arose from the feelings and imaginations formed within a character. . . As opposed to the placid commentary responsible for the novels res, the implicit interrogation modeling its style confronts us with an active, even aggressive, intervention. The evidentia, in this case, is generated not through the as-if of a lively quasi-present (as if the events on stage were present to us). Instead, the intrusive device of interrogation brings the vivifying evidence into light (this time in accordance with the usual English sense of the word). There is however more to the two types of evidentia making up the commentary (for the res) and the implicit interrogation (for the verba) in Blankenburgs theory of the novel. They not only represent two variants of evidentia that have been discussed in rhetoric and poetics ever since antiquity but, by doing so, they also dip into the old European semantics of life and its theoretical implications. Blankenburgs interrogation, the theory of the novels stylistic formation, represents the older case in the terminological history of evidentia. To characterize its exemplary nature for
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the elocutionary mode of narration, Blankenburg repeatedly and insistently characterizes the style of the novel as presenting the process of becoming real (Wirklichwerden, actualization). Becoming real, actualization is a translation for the older type of evidentia called energeia in rhetoric. With this, we find ourselves in the realm of Aristotles Rhetoric; the device signified with the formula of placing-before-the-eyes, the pro ommaton, is the energetic metaphor. This formula amounts to the first contact we know of in the history of literary knowledge between forms of representation and the concept of life: Aristotle discusses the fundamental achievement of poetical stylistics, called placing-before-the-eyes, with the sole examples of specific metaphors. With Ricurs m taphore vive being the most prominent case,21 we are e used to speak of living or animated, energetic, metaphors to this day. According to Aristotle, metaphors can be characterized as living metaphors if, by performing the metaphoric process of substitution, they introduce something animate in place of something inanimate (dead, abstract, absent): Then all of Greece sprang to its feet.22 The sometimes curious examples Aristotle raises in the Rhetorics mostly bring up scenarios in which something virtually sets itself in motion (i.e., where something inanimate begins to move). The fact that Aristotle calls this trope energeia or (in Blankenburgs translation) the Wirklichwerden, the becoming real or actualization of a potentiality, can be understood with the connection between life, zo , and motion or kinesis, as discussed in Book XII of the Metaphysics.23 Zo , e e life, for Aristotle is not merely self-propulsion in general physical terms, as it was in Platos Phaedrus. Instead, and more precisely, by zo , Aristotle means the ability of generating e self-propelled motion as a characteristic quality of a substance. Thus the kinetic problem of a beginning in time or as time the first source of motion is brought together with the defining essence of Being, i.e. the metaphysical priority of what is being actualized, energeia, over what is possible, potentiality. The metaphor that substitutes an animate entity in place of what was inanimate or otherwise non-actual does not merely reproduce the metaphysics of life on a poetical and rhetorical level. Stressing instances of actual, living entities instead of potentiality and non-actuality seems in fact to perform what is implied in the metaphysics of self-propelled movement; and it does so by the gesture of substitution, the basic movement in each and every trope. So far the trope of the living metaphor just performs metaphysics. What then seems to be the rhetorical and poetical contribution to the complex formed from life and self-propelled motion is its association with visualization, pro ommaton. Introducing media transposition, the emergence of visibility where there was language, for the understanding of unmoved movement as metaphor and life seems a rhetorical and poetical concern. Blankenburg now inserts this terminological web into the stylistic theory of the novel: finding verba that address the process of the actualization (Wirklichwerden) of the events and actions is what does the jobs of vivification and visualization in the novel. We may add that, although the interrogation technique implementing this vivification through visualization asks for the potential to become real (why this happened and not something else), this turn already connotes the inverse reading, the question after the potentiality within the real (how in this occurrence, the potential of other occurrences is implied). Before Goethes Wilhelm Meister was even written, a space seems marked out for Musils Man Without Qualities in the network of terms for the novel and its theory. Drawing on this basic connection between life and forms of presentation becomes conclusive for Blankenburgs theory of the novel when we take into consideration that even its first part, the commentary on Shakespeare that serves to articulate the res of the novel, is equally constructed around evidentia, even if in another variant. That type of placing-before-the-eyes
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traditionally is called enargeia or vivid depiction. Vivid depiction is the core of Hellenistic and Latin narrative theory. Although it continues to make use of the Aristotelian vocabulary of striking the eye and making present, it has lost any recollection of metaphor or a built-in metaphysics. With Cicero and Quintilians enargeia, something spatially and/or temporally distant stands before ones eyes. By means of depiction or narration it plays out in the temporal-spatial present of those speaking and hearing: a rhetoric of narrative epistemology, without any further foundation in the metaphysics of life.24 Cicero and Quintilian, as Blankenburg would do later on, also emphasize the process of visualization and the element of the life-likeness in the figure of vivid description and narration, and they do so with a certain obsession. In the vividissime of depiction, life seems to have become a rhetorical effect. Visualization, the surplus effect in Aristotles energetic metaphor, now seems to be in the focus of narrative epistemology. What then might visualization mean here, and how is it connected to narration? As if under the pressure of the lack of a founding metaphysics of life, Quintilian attempts an explanation at least once. As enormous as the effect of enargeia (vivid depiction) might be, he remarks, it is equally simple to produce the corresponding figuration. We only need to stick to the opera vitae, the tasks or routines of life. By asking ourselves in each case what we would pay attention to or take into consideration in order to master a situation in life, we know in each case which details to select for its vivid depiction and how extensive the selection of details should be.25 With a modern term, we might say that, with opera vitae, life becomes to mean everydayness and relevance. Description or narration can be said to be vivid if they follow the routines and the norms of relevance in everyday life. So far as we can follow this small hint in Quintilian, life for the Roman poetics of placing-before-the-eyes is vita, a conditioned social form. In it, reality is understood not at all as coming-to-be-real (Wirklichwerden: actualization), but rather as relevancy in the everyday. Life-like and real refer here to whatever arouses attentiveness within the form of life that is assumed to be known and has form. There is one more step in reading Blankenburgs Essay on the Novel. This step addresses the relation between energeia and enargeia, the two variants of old European evidentia that with Blankenburg become constitutive for understanding content and style in the novel. On all levels of his Essay, in the theory and its performance, Blankenburg re-plays the old rhetorical-poetological drama of enargeia and energeia the intersection of vivid depiction, which makes present by visualization what is absent, with the figuration of becoming-real, the actualization of potentiality.26 In this intersection, the hidden motto of the modern novel, life, has already been named. Just as the representation of enargeia was conceived as vivid (life-like), so too is energeia, which Aristotle developed with the so-called living metaphor, the substitution of something inanimate with something animate. Blankenburgs theory of the novel aims for poetical life at the intersection of vivid content with vivifying wording. Both, the vividness of enargeia and the energeia substituting the animate for the inanimate, intimate life in the content and style of the novel. The triumphant naivety of this theory lies in the convergence of all levels and respects. But still, the vividness of the enargeia version of evidence is not identical with the reality whose becoming the energeia version of evidence implies. The life-likeness of presentation can only revive conditioned forms of life, whereas the reality of energetic technique can only refer to the becoming real of potential being. The hiatus between Aristotelian metaphysics and Hellenistic epistemology that had been inherent to rhetoric in the century-long mixing and confusion of enargeia and energeia, makes its return not only in but precisely as the theory of the novel. Life-like content (open to visualization) and animated style (implying vivifying actualization) converge. But they do so, without completely erasing the cleft between them.
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Vita, zo , and the form of life: Friedrich Schlegel on the novel: The first theory of the novel e in Germany relates vivid representation of characters to the vivifying actualization of their actions. But by doing so, it does not attain a form for their intersection, life itself. It is precisely this form of life that Schlegel takes as a given when conceiving of the novel as the art of life in his review on Wilhelm Meister. In fact, Schlegel picks up on the intersection of both types of evidence at the beginning of his review. As if taking them directly from Blankenburgs Essay, he seems to be set to continue playing the game of their rhetorical chiasm. The evidence of energeia, becoming-real, appears in Schlegels notion of the clear story of Goethes novel. Without presumption and without a single noise, just as the development of a striving spirit unfolds in silence, and as the world in its state of becoming [!] rises up quietly out of its interiority, the clear story begins. . .a clever old woman, who is constantly considering her own advantage. . .a girl, who can only tear herself away from the entanglements of the dangerous seductress in order to give herself to her beloved; a pure youth, who consecrates the beautiful fire of his first love to an actress.27 So far for the clear story, a becoming and actualizing world or, more specifically, the unfolding of the triangles of gender relations as they are so characteristic for Wilhelm Meister (casting Wilhelm, Mariane and Barbara, the old woman, in Book I). Enargeia follows close upon energeias heels manifesting itself in a lovely gallery of vivid images of evidentia. Meanwhile all this is present before our eyes. . .Moving portraits present themselves as if on their own to our spirits, landscapes of simple and inconspicuous charm appear and stick curiously bright and inextinguishable in our memories.28 Obviously these lines from the beginning of Schlegels review on Wilhelm Meisters Apprenticeship repeat Blankenburgs configuration of energeia and enargeia for the sake of defining the novel. But they do so as if in a playful reprise of what had been a serious and arduous undertaking with the predecessor. Neither Shakespearian commentaries nor legal interrogation and examination are needed any longer. Representation in the novel and its theory have coincided in a degree zero of energeia-enargeia. It is a degree zero of intervention and presentation, a point before the difference between actuality (whose mode of being is actualization) and life (as existing in images) or between zo and vita even opens up. This degree zero of evidentia makes e up the life whose art provides Schlegel with his understanding of the novel, as well as the starting point he assumes as a given. Life as a form and form as emergence again coincide in energeia-enargeia: life that is the unique instance of form and forming is also life that is always already there emerging without constitution. In all of their exactness, the allusions to vivifying actualization and vivid narration are, however, only reminiscences that fall back on something from beyond their coincidence, from the form of life and its internal process. Schlegel can and must, therefore, immediately develop such a formation of life and the procedural logic of emergence. First of all, the form of the formless novel requires the model of given eidetic forms according to whose model the novel crystallizes itself. Schlegels untiring attempts to discover in Wilhelm Meister archetypical simple forms (idyll, fairy tale, novella) serve this project. On the other hand, the novel can only be form if it becomes form, i.e., when it follows a logic of formation and emergence that no longer relies on the Platonism of archetypes or simple forms. Thus nearly every passage in which Schlegel speaks of the art of life is marked by the biological concept of developmental formation (Bildung). A form thus comes about that consists or rather manifests itself in its constant self-differentiation from non-form. In Schlegels art of life, the form of life turns out to be the result of its being differentiated from what it is not. Thus, however, a paradox ensues: every instance of differentiating formed from formless life brings about new life that again falls outside of the limits of form. In his theory of the novel, Schlegel articulates this
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fact through the motif of the stranger (the stranger in fact in the double sense of the person and the thing that is unknown or foreign). Schlegel first touches upon this motif in Goethe when he compares the situation of the reader leafing through certain passages of Wilhelm Meister with a specific situation narrated in the novel. The passage in question occurs in book II of Goethes novel when Wilhelm and his new acquaintances, for their own entertainment, set out on a boat ride as a group of commedia dellarte figures. While they thus improvise theater in life, an unknown character happens to join them, as if another an unknown and foreign actor entering the scene.
The spirit [of the reader] feels delicately moved throughout by the lively narration. . .Without quite knowing who they are, he nevertheless accepts these people [the characters in the novel] as his acquaintances before he can truly know or even wonder how he became acquainted with them. He is in the same position as the acting company on their entertaining river journey with the stranger. He believes that he must have seen them somewhere before because they look like humans. . .29

From this moment on Schlegel is holding all the cards in his hand or at least up his sleeve so as to play the game of life and its form as a play of inclusion and exclusion. This stranger, who becomes a figure of the legibility of the novel as the art of life, is, if we wish to push the point, the main character of Wilhelm Meister. What is more, he is the novels principle concern. From the stranger who addresses Wilhelm on the street beneath Marianes window at the end of the first book, to the stranger on the boat trip, to the ghost of Hamlets father and the stranger who plays him, all the way to the secret institution of the Society of the Tower itself, the stranger and strangeness appear in every moment in which the novel seems to reach a conclusion of its form and to become a self-contained whole. The stranger, who is called the stranger with so much justification,30 as Schlegel notes, is the moment within the text that simultaneously stands outside the text. He, or it, is an element that receives meaning in the texts network of meaningful relations exactly by the fact that he, or it, is not part of them. Instead of Blankenburgs elementary practices in the two kinds of poetical figuration of evidentia, Schlegels operation of form, the play of inclusion and exclusion makes its appearance in the theory and the practice of the novel as one identical concept. Even if operating with form seems to belong to the readers consciousness and thus to constitute an element of mere interiority, its power and impact can be seen as still more vehement or even violent than Blankenburgs practices of understanding. Every moment of closure and opening of form is from now on one of life itself. Thus Schlegel writes emphatically of the stranger who is called the stranger with so much justification that he becomes in Wilhelm Meister the measurement of the degree. . .to which perhaps. . .life will be an art.31 This is to say that, according to its theory, the novel from now on can have form only when it is the form of life. In the context of the operation of form, it is, therefore, no longer necessarily art that is at issue. In talking about what gives form to life, we are no longer confronted with the work of art alone but with life that, for its own sake, is in demand of that kind of form which the work of art has to offer. This reversal of perspectives represents the state of discussion that is reached in the theory of the novel with the one identical concept of form and formation. This however is to say that the theory of the novel implies the inevitable possibility of a turn from aesthetics to ethics.

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III. Luk cs and the paradox of the novels life a


Perhaps it was Georg Luk cs who gave the most pointed expression to this operation of a form and its implication for a concept of life. In the German tradition, this operation had first developed in the theory of the novel between Blankenburgs readings of Fielding and Wieland and the turn Schlegel had given it with regard to Goethes Wilhelm Meister. In fact, Luk cs a had planned to compose a book on Schlegel. Art always says And yet to life, Luk cs a writes in the Theory of the Novel. The creation of forms is the most profound confirmation of the existence of a dissonance. But in all other genres even. . .in the epic this affirmation of a dissonance precedes the act of form-giving, whereas in the novel it is the form itself.32 According to this concept, all form is imposed on life. Life is what in itself has no form; it is what Luk cs chose to call dissonance. This idea comparable with Stefan Georges notion a of the empire, Georg Simmels concept of social differentiation, or even with Carl Schmitts idea of the institution is the basic principle of a fundamental aesthetics of imposed and inorganic form that became a central theme for a certain strand of classical modernism in Germany.33 Luk cs had developed this fundamental aesthetics of form, which was to become a the standard theory of form in the novel, however in the context of the earlier stages of Soul and Form. When he actually turned to the Theory of the Novel he attempted to interpret the fundamental aesthetics of form within the tripartite schema of a Schillerian philosophy of history that leads from naive idyll through dissonance to regained and self-conscious harmony. At first sight, the radical theory of imposed form seems to be in an outright conflict with such a philosophical narrative of losing and regaining harmony. If we insert the theorem of imposed form in the speculation of Luk cs dialectical history as he himself did with a the sentence quoted above from the Theory of the Novel the stage of dissonance and lack of harmony, which was the transitory middle phase in Schillers concept of history, would turn into center position, the stage at which the true relation of life and form manifests itself. The internal problems of the Theory of the Novel have often been noticed and described by readers.34 They can be addressed in a satisfying and interesting way, if the theory of the genre, as based on the dialectical philosophy of history, is recognized and acknowledged in its strife with the non-dialectical theorem of imposed form. For doing so, we have to apply a certain remodeling to the Romantic, Schillerian philosophy of history which Luk cs a otherwise seems to embrace. The result of that experiment will then enable us to finally understand that the theory of the novel did find its standard formulation in Luk cs work for a good reasons. In the passages which address the philosophy of history of the genre, Luk cs a sometimes seems to outright contradict Schiller and Schlegel. If in the epics and the other classical genres of poetry, types of form are given as Ur-forms for reconciling the dissonance of life, then, on the other hand, Schlegels natural history of poetical genres and forms no longer coincides with the fundamental relationship between form and life. As exemplary as the Ur-forms may be in accordance with Schlegel, they obstruct by that very fact the true relation of life and form. Exactly because the modern novel has fallen from the state of preconceived reconciliation that is built in the classical genres, it is now the true expression of life being in need of form and form being imposed on life. The literary form of the novel, even if a deficient form in poetical terms, is for that very reason the political and sociological form and, finally, the form of life katexochen. This however, as de Man noticed in his essay on the Theory of the Novel, does not mean to say that the novel in which the secondary dissonance of the art form coincides with the primary dissonance of life should have the last and decisive word according to Luk cs.35 a

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The consonance of soul and world as manifested in antiquity holds to its exemplary status, even if, in the classical forms, it was due to a certain disgust and even denial of lifes intrinsic dissonance. But dissonance as manifested in modernity is not the Fall of Man either. Being the truth about life, dissonance can and must be attested through the decision of imposing form. What must be affirmed is the very fact that form is not immanent to life. There was a name for Luk cs and his generation that would stand for conceiving of an epic appropriate a for modernity, an epic that could take up the challenge of the novel. This was the name of Dostoevsky. We should not forget at this point that as Blankenburg dedicated his Essay to Wielands Agathon and Schlegel developed his theory of the novel through a reading of Goethes Wilhelm Meister, Luk cs had planned the Theory of the Novel as prefacing a study a on Dostoevsky. The project of this even larger study looms like a monstrous prophecy in the last section of the Theory of the Novel. In sharp contrast to ancient epics, Dostoevsky was to represent a rebirth of epics within the novel. This seems to mean that the dissonance of life and form was to become apparent in his work the same way it was in the modern novel. But, at the same time, with Dostoevsky, the novels gesture of imposing form on life was meant to transcend the realm of literature. By doing so, Dostoevsky could be seen as confirming the dissonance of life and, at the same time, mastering it. In Dostoevskys epic-novel, thus, the soul would have been no longer at home in the world mediated by poetical form as had been the case in Homer. On the contrary, the soul would have imposed form on the world in an act of ethical self-empowerment and by its own instigation and legitimacy. This would have been a possible solution, even if it is a monstrous one, for confirming and mastering the dissonance of life once and for all without having new strangers and new strangeness emerge with every attempt of closing form aesthetically. As his letters to Leo Popper show, it had been clear to Luk cs that by adopting a such a concept he was no longer dealing with aesthetic form, a form which is foreign to life, but with life becoming form or a self-restriction of life within life. The foreignness of form was thus an element of life itself. Dostoevsky represented if representation still applies in this case a dissolution of art and the expansion of its formal procedure in the political and ethical domains of life.36 Luk cs had wanted to dedicate the theory of the novels poetical dissolution and ethical a realization to the youth going to war in 1914. He did however not compose his book on Dostoevsky as much as Karl Mannheim did not complete a similar project.37 As for Luk cs, a he decided to pursue another path anyway.

NOTES 1. The locus classicus of the discussion on form and life is Wilhelm Diltheys interpretation of biography in terms of Hegelian objective spirit; see Wilhelm Dilthey, Introduction to the Human Sciences, ed. and introduction by Rudolph Makkreel and Frithjof Rodi (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989), Book 1, Ch. 8, 8087. For the vast literature on the implication of biography for the form of the novel the following studies are exemplary in the present context: Clemens Lugowski, Form, Individuality and the Novel [1932] (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1990); J. Paul Hunter, The Reluctant Pilgrim. Defoes Emblematic Method and the Quest for Form in Robinson Crusoe (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1966); Gerhart von Graevenitz, Die Setzung des Subjekts. Untersuchungen zur Romantheorie (T bingen: Niemeyer, u 1973); John J. Richetti, Defoes Narratives. Situations and Structures (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975); Franco Moretti, The Way of the World. The Bildungsroman in European Culture [1987] (London: Verso, 2000); Friedrich Kittler: Uber die Sozialisation Wilhelm Meisters. Dichtung als Sozialisationsspiel, ed. Gerhard Kaiser and Friedrich Kittler (G ttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1978), 13124; David E. o Wellbery, Die Enden des Menschen. Anthropologie und Einbildungskraft im Bildungsroman: Wieland, Goethe, Novalis, Das Ende, ed. Karlheinz Stierle (M nchen: Fink, 1996), 600639. u

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2. Literature and knowledge is meant to address first of all the larger debate on epistemological implications of narrative forms. Of primary relevance in this context are: Hayden White, The Content of Form: Narrative Discourse and Historical Representations (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987); Franco Moretti, Signs Taken for Wonders. Essays in the Sociology of Literary Forms (Lindon, New York: Verso, 1988); Jacques Ranci` re, Les mots de lhistoire. Essai de po tique du savoir (Paris: Ed. du e e Seuil, 1992); Joseph Vogl, ed., Poetologien des Wissens um 1800 (M nchen: Fink, 1999). Michel Foucault u even had outlined an ontology of literature following Maurice Blanchots lead. See, Foucault, Le langage ` a linfini (1963), Dits et Ecrits, Vol. 1 (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1994), 250261. The project pursued in this paper is to ask not only for narrative forms as corresponding to epistemological problems, but also and at the same time for the epistemology implied in literary form and critical discourse. Whereas most of the studies concentrate on the first half of the project, Foucault was one of the few to pay attention to the second half. 3. Ich meine, die Form sei ein biologisches Bed rfnis, Georg Luk cs, Briefwechsel 19021907, u a ed. Eva Kar di and Eva Fekete (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1982), 134. Luk cs called this formula his apodictic a a declaration of form (ibid.). Leo Poppers corresponding words were: Form may be your fiction; you have to hold onto it like to the freedom of will (ibid., 132). See, Agnes Heller and Ferenc Feh r, ed., Die Seele e und das Leben. Studien zum fr hen Luk cs (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1971). u a 4. Instances of correspondence and even co-development between concepts of life (in life sciences) and narrative (or other literary) forms have become a much debated topic; for the German context see, Helmut M ller-Sievers, Self-Generation. Biology, Philosophy, and Literature Around 1800 (Stanford: Stanu ford University Press, 1997); Christian Begemann and David E. Wellbery, ed., Kunst Zeugung Geburt. Theorien und Metaphern asthetischer Produktion in der Neuzeit (Freiburg: Rombach, 2002); Jocelyn Holland, German Romanticism and Science: the Procreative Poetics of Goethe, Novalis and Ritter (New York: Routledge, 2009). 5. The scope of works meant by the modern novel may best be indicated through three authoritative studies on the subject: Ian P. Watt, The Rise of the Novel (Berkeley: Berkeley University Press, 1957); Wolfgang Kayser, Entstehung und Krise des modernen Romans (Stuttgart 4: Metzler, 1963); Moretti, The Way of the World. 6. The modern novel in this understanding is not another genre in the vein of traditional poetical forms as, e.g., tragedy, comedy, sonnet or epigram are, nor is it even a genre in the sense of the triad epic drama poetry as developed around 1800. What is at stake is rather literatures mode of being than genre. For the difference between poetical genres and the modern triad see, Peter Szondi, Poetik und Geschichtsphilosophie (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1974); for the further difference between the triad of genres and the status of literature see Szondis differentiation of tragedy and the tragic; Szondi, An Essay on the Tragic, trans. Paul Fleming (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2002). 7. The term form of life is chosen with respect to Giorgio Agamben, Lebens-Form, Gemeinschaften, ed. Joseph Vogl (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1994), 251257. As Eva Geulen shows, forma di vita in Agamben is meant to erase the distinction between a juridico-political notion of life (bios) and the biopolitical-creational notion of life(zo ), an erasure which can either be indicative of the deficiency or e a messianic promise; see, Geulen, Form-of-Life, Forma-di-vita. Distinction in Agamben, Literatur als u Philosophie Philosophie als Literatur, eds. Eva Horn, Bettine Menke, and Christoph Menke (M nchen: Fink, 2006), 363374. For aesthetic and, in particular, novelistic associations to forma di vita see Agamben on Kafka and Musil. 8. Friedrich Schlegel, Dialogue on Poetry, Schlegel: Dialogue on Poetry and Literary Aphorisms, tr., introduced, and annotated by Ernst Behler, Roman Struc (London: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1968), 51117; see here, 102. 9. For the natural history of poetry see, Friedrich Schlegel, On the Study of Greek Poetry, trans. and introduction by Stuart Barnett (Albany: SUNY Press, 2001), 47. 10. Es mag vielen ein sehr dreuster und milicher Einfall zu seyn scheinen, da ich eine Art von Theorie f r die Romanen schreiben will, Friedrich von Blankenburg, Versuch uber den Roman [1774] u (Reprint Stuttgart: Metzler, 1965), V. 11. Johann Georg Sulzer, Allgemeine Theorie der Sch nen K nste (Biel: Heilmannische Bucho u handlung, 17711774); the volumes containing Blankenburgs additions appeared in 17961798. Some similar titles are: Friedrich Justus Riehl, Theorie der sch nen K nste und Wissenschaften (Jena: Cuno, o u 1767); Johann Joachim Eschenburg, Entwurf einer Theorie und Literatur der sch nen Wissenschaften o (Berlin: Nicolai, 1783); Johann August Eberhard, Theorie der sch nen Wissenschaften (Halle: Verlag der o Waisenhaus-Buchhandlung, 1783); Philipp Gaeng, Asthetik oder allgemeine Theorie der sch nen K nste o u und Wissenschaften (Lemgo: Meyerschen Buchhandlung 1787).

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12. Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten, Asthetik, trans. and ed. Dagmar Mirbach (Hamburg: Meiner, 2007), vol. 1, 11. 13. Blankenburg, Versuch uber den Roman, e.g., 146,162. Translations from Versuch are mine. 14. For evidentia and evidence in eighteenth century philosophy, science and literature see R diger u Campe, Improbable Probability: On Evidence in the Eighteenth Century, Germanic Review 78 (2001): 143161; and: Epoche der Evidenz. Knoten in einem terminologischen Netzwerk zwischen Descartes und Kant, Intellektuelle Anschauung, eds. Sibylle Peters and Martin J rg Sch fer (Bielefeld: transcript 2006), o a 2543. 15. We may note that Wieland was not only the author of the novel Agathon but also the first to translate Shakespeares works into German. 16. This for instance is Blankenburgs commentary on King Lears madness: My wits begin to run, Lear answers and he lapses at once into an almost jocular tone, which however does not outlast the next few words. . .I would like to compare this laugh, or rather this jest, with the seas calm immediately before a tempest. . .It seems to me that the joke is of a nearly mechanical nature, and unfolds in such a way that the soul, strung to the highest degree of tension, can no longer support itself at this height, so that, even against its will, it must founder and sink and is now too weak to recall its own emotional state, and, if I may say so, in the fall to its annihilation, utters words and sounds, which, though they have some meaning, are no longer coherent with his own and proper condition Come on, my boy. How dost my boy? Art cold? / Im cold myself. . ., etc. (Blankenburg, Versuch, 120f.) The point here is to appreciate the fabric of the critical discourse. Its ability of rephrasing literature amounts to the emergence of a quasi-literary discourse in its own right which then seems to be indicative of the res of the novel. 17. Blankenburg, Versuch, 278. 18. Ibid., 273. 19. Ibid., 293. 20. Ibid., 292. 21. Paul Ricur, La m taphore vive (Paris: Ed. du Seuil, 1975). e 22. For this example see Aristotle, The Art of Rhetoric, tr. John Henry Freese (London: Heinemann, New York: Putnams Sons, 1926), Book 3, ch. 10, 1411a26ff. 23. Aristotle, Metaphysics, trans., ed., and introduction by Hugh Lawson-Tancred (London, New York: Penguin Books, 2004); Book 12, ch. 7, in particular 1072b141073a13. 24. See Quintilian, Institutio oratoria, tr. H.E. Butler (London: Heinemann, New York: Putnams Sons, 19201922), VI, 2, 32; VIII, 3, 61, and IX, 2, 40. For the argument in some more detail see R diger u Campe, Aktualit t des Bildes. Die Zeit rhetorischer Figuration, Figur und Figuration, eds. Gottfried a B hm, Gabriele Brandstetter, and Achatz von M ller (M nchen: Fink, 2007), 163182. o u u 25. omnis eloquentia circa opera vitae est, ad se refert quisque quae audit et id facillime accipiunt animi, quod agnoscunt, Quintilia, Institutio oratoria, VIII, 3, 71. 26. For the history of the differentiation of and the confusion in humanistic editions and commentaries between energeia und enargeia see, Heinrich F. Plett, Der affektrhetorische Wirkungsbegriff in der rhetorischpoetischen Theorie der Englischen Renaissance (Bonn: Bouvier 1970), 239241. 27. Schlegel, Uber Goethes Meister, Schlegel, Kritische Schlegel Ausgabe, eds. Ernst Behler and Paderborn (M nchen: Fink, 1979): Series I, Vol. 2, 126146, 126ff. Translations from Schlegels review on u Goethe are mine. See, Winfried Menninghaus, Unendliche Verdopplung: die fr hromantische Grundlegung u der Kunsttheorie im Begriff absoluter Selbstreflexion (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1987). 28. Schlegel, Uber Goethes Meister, Schlegel, Kritische Schlegel Ausgabe, 126. 29. Ibid., 126f. 30. Ibid., 127. 31. Ibid., 128. 32. Georg Luk cs, Die Theorie des Romans. Ein geschichtsphilosophischer Versuch uber die Fora men der groen Epik (Neuwied und Berlin: Luchterhand, 1971), 62. (Translation: Lukacs. The Theory of the Novel, a Historico-Philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature, trans. Anna Bostock (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1971.)) 33. See Uwe Hebekus, Ingo St ckmann, ed. Die Souver nit t der Literatur. Zum Totalit ren der o a a a klassischen Moderne 19001933 (M nchen: Fink, 2008), Preface. u 34. For a historical account of ideas in The Theory of the Novel see, Andreas Hoeschen: Das Dostojewski-Projekt. Luk cs neukantianisches Fr hwerk in seinem ideengeschichtlichen Kontext a u (T bingen: Niemeyer, 1999). u 35. Paul de Man, Georg Luk cs Theory of the Novel, Blindness and Insight (New York: Oxford a University Press, 1971), 5159.

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36. Luk cs called the supremacy of soul and ethics which he connected to Dostoevsky the 2nd a ethics. First ethics meant for Luk cs obligations with respect to things and artifacts (Gebilde), the a second ethics were imperatives of the soul (imperatives of form and self-formation we may add): Georg Luk cs, Dostojewski. Notizen und Entw rfe, ed. J.C. Nyri (Budapest: Akad miai Kiad , 1985), 158177. a u e o 37. See a note by Mannheim to Luk cs from 1912, in Luk cs, Briefwechsel, 274, 285. a a

Rudiger Campe is Professor and Chair of German at Yale, working on rhetoric and aesthetics, literature and science, as well as baroque theater and the modern novel. He received the Aby-Warburg Prize in 2003 for his book on probability in literature and science (Spiel der Wahrscheinlichkeit, to appear as Playing the Game of Probability. From Pascal to Kleist from Stanford University Press).

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