Theogony Ab Ovo: Carl Schmitt's Early Literary Writings
Lambrow, Alexander James
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CitationLambrow, Alexander James. 2019. Theogony Ab Ovo: Carl Schmitt's Early Literary Writings. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation examines the literary prose of the German jurist and political theorist Carl Schmitt. It explores the ways in which a concern for literature and, more specifically, for fiction resides at the origin of his seminal contributions to twentieth-century jurisprudence and political thought. In the context of the literary prose that Schmitt composed in the earliest phase of his legal career, roughly 1911 to 1922, this dissertation investigates not only how this literary work compliments and problematizes Schmitt’s larger corpus but how the German jurist understood literary fiction to lend itself to a political reading.
The central commitment of Schmitt’s literary engagement resides in his insistence that the aesthetic sphere is neither self-contained nor politically neutral. Instead, Schmitt perceived of the aesthetic object as an emanation from the political conditions in which it was produced. Accordingly, his interest in literature revolves around how literary fiction takes part in the construction of the subject of political legitimacy and takes part of the decision on political exceptions and exclusions. His own literary writings satirize the universalist pretenses of the German literary tradition and emphasize, through an ironic sleight of hand, the obliviousness of the literary subjects born of the land of poets and thinkers.
Ultimately, at issue in this literary work is the political mythology or, as Schmitt had it, the political theology appropriate for the governance of states in modernity. Rather than endorsing the self-conceiving subject of humanism, he insisted that the mythic figure central to the legitimacy of modern state, always a fiction, can never be generated “ab ovo.” He suggested instead that this mythic fiction must extend beyond the purview of secular humanism and bear on the theological origins of our self-understanding.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42106936
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