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« Happy birthday to you, Franz Schubert (January 31, 1797) | Main | On Robert Lowell’s “Children of Light” [by Jeffrey Meyers] »

January 31, 2020

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Actually, Don Quixote is arguably as postmodern in spirit as Borges's Pierre Menard. A somewhat suppressed fact is that the original edition of Cervantes's book was presented as a "found" manuscript, in Arabic, translated into Spanish by a fake Iberian-Arab translator. Cervantes took no credit as author. He was the conduit, the caretaker. Today, such a transgression would have gotten Cervantes cancelled from the AWP and the Poetry Project. But it was an avant-postmoderne gesture, nevertheless, hundreds of years before Barthes's Death of the Author. Same with Kierkegaard: He wrote most of his philosophy under various heteronyms, not as Soren Kierkegaard, and this authorial displacement was for him as essential to the production of his work as it was for Pessoa, the greatest postmodern artist of the 20th century, even though FP died in the 30s. So it is interesting, as I have said elsewhere, including somewhere at John Tranter's great Jacket Magazine, where it so happens I published frequently: The Western fictional tradition originates with a grand authorial hoax. And so does the whole tradition of Western Existentialist philosophy! Go figure. Long live the late Jacket Magazine, the masterpiece of editorial and typographic postmodernism.

Thanks for this very thoughtful and thought-provoking comment. -- DL

I had meant to say, also, that Either/Or is not "authored" by Soren Kierkegaard. It is, in fact, similar in spirit to the original presentation of Don Quixote: The Editor/Compiler is Victor Eremita, a scholar who discovers the manuscripts in an antique desk of some kind. The "writers" of the manuscript sections are three authors who had adopted pseudonyms: "A", "B", and "Johannes." Kierkegaard was nowhere to be found in the original printing of the book. Postmodernism in philosophy. Without which "hoaxness," in a very real way, we do not have the work of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, et. al. It is interesting.

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