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History, Metaphors, FablesA Hans Blumenberg Reader$
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Hans Blumenberg

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501732829

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501732829.001.0001

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The Concept of Reality and the Possibility of the Novel

The Concept of Reality and the Possibility of the Novel


(p.499) 20 The Concept of Reality and the Possibility of the Novel
History, Metaphors, Fables

Hans Blumenberg

Cornell University Press

This chapter describes Hans Blumenberg's theorization of the novel as a genuinely modern genre in “The Concept of Reality and the Possibility of the Novel” (1964). Art claims as its subject matter the formal proof of reality and not the material content that presents itself with this proof. Without doubt, the nonpossible would represent the fulfillment of this claim — namely, the infinite context, which alone could be counted as the normal equivalent to the open-endedness of physical experience. This is the starting point from which modern literature — and the aesthetics appropriate to it — proceeded toward the novel as the most comprehensively “realistic” genre, representing a context which, though finite in itself, presumes and indicates infinity. The potential infinity of the novel represents its ideality, arising out of the concept of reality, as well as the aesthetic irritation inevitable in view of the fact that its task of representing an infinite context can be fulfilled only by aesthetically binding principles of form.

Keywords:   Hans Blumenberg, novel, modern genre, reality, art, modern literature, aesthetics, realistic genre

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