Heinrich von Kleist
This chapter details Alexander Kluge's 1985 acceptance speech on the occasion of receiving the Kleist Prize, which had been revived after a half-century hiatus. Kluge claims that if there is anyone in the German literary tradition who insists on the importance of difference then it is Heinrich von Kleist. He then recounts the work of the writer Robert Musil, who is among the award's many recipients. He also discusses the seam between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a seam where especially open forms developed. These open forms can be found not only in Kleist's but also Friedrich Hölderlin's work. Kluge claims that “at this seam spanning more than three decades bridging these two antagonistic centuries, three new developments arise while individual forces struggle against one another: popular war, industrialization, and the codification of a new tenderness.” He says “it is important to recognize the changed guises these three elementary processes have assumed, processes that begin in earnest in the early nineteenth century but whose roots go back to the eighteenth century.” Ultimately, Kluge is afraid of the incompetence of new media as well as its destructive power to fill people's heads. In the age of new media, Kluge considers writers as the guardians of difference.
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