Dialogue on the Threshold

Heidegger and Trakl

By Ian Alexander Moore

Subjects: Continental Philosophy, Poetry, Literary Criticism, Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438490670, 420 pages, November 2022
Paperback : 9781438490663, 420 pages, May 2023

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Table of contents

List of Images
Note on Translations

Chapter 1: “The Poet of Our Generation”: Heidegger Reads Trakl
1. Discovering the Poet (Thanks to a Journal for the Avant-Garde)
2. Lecturing at a Luxury Resort
3. Speaking of Language
4. Celebrating Trakl, Saving the West
5. Post eventum
6. Annotating the Trakl Bible

Chapter 2: Language of Bread and Wine
1. Gesture, the Inexpressible, and the Speaking of the Unspoken
2. Language of Earth and Sky
3. Digression on Christianity
4. Language of Body and Blood

Chapter 3: For the Love of Detachment
1. The Problem of Polysemy
2. Heidegger’s Placement of Detachment
3. Abgeschiedenheit in (Our?) Middle High German
4. Heidegger’s Early Acquaintance with Detachment
5. Deconstructing Detachment
6. Pour l’amour de l’Abgeschiedenheit

Chapter 4: Pain Is Being Itself
1. Heidegger’s On Pain
2. Ernst Jünger: On or beyond Pain?
3. Via doloris heideggeriana
4. Zum Schmerz selbst!
5. The Gentle Gathering of Pain
6. Algos: An Etymological Excursus
7. In the Name of Schmerz
8. “ein gewaltiger Schmerz”: Trakl’s “Grodek”

Chapter 5: Poetic Colors of the Holy: Trakl with Pindar
1. Chrusology, Ontology, Hierology
2. Sacré bleu
3. A Heideggerian Farbenlehre?
4. (Un)holy Madness: Trakl with Hölderlin and Celan

Chapter 6: Geschlecht
1. “A Grand Discourse on Sexual Difference”
2. The Wild Blue Game
3. Humanimalit

Chapter 7: Spirit in Tatters
1. The Promise
2. The Promise, Painfully Broken
3. “Grodek” Redux


Appendix 1: Heidegger’s Trakl Marginalia
1. Background
2. Marginalia in the Zurich Edition
3. Marginalia to “Into an Old Family Album”

Appendix 2: Heidegger’s Occasional References to Trakl

Appendix 3: References to Trakl’s Works in “Language in the Poem”

Appendix 4: Selected Poems by Trakl
Abendländisches Lied / Song of the Occident
An den Knaben Elis / To the Boy Elis
An Novalis / To Novalis
Das Herz / The Heart
De profundis / Out of the Depths
Der Tau des Frühlings / The Dew of Spring
Frühling der Seele / Springtime of the Soul
Geistliche Dämmerung / Spiritual Twilight
Gesang des Abgeschiedenen / Song of the Departed One
Grodek / Gródek
Herbstseele / Autumn Soul
Hölderlin / Hölderlin
Im Winter (Ein Winterabend) / In Winter (A Winter Evening)
In ein altes Stammbuch / Into an Old Family Album
Karl Kraus / Karl Kraus
Klage / Lamentation
Passion / The Passion
Nachtergebung / Surrender to the Night

Works Cited

A reconstruction and critical interpretation of Heidegger's remarkable relationship to the poet Georg Trakl.


Winner of the 2023 Symposium Book Award presented by Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy

In the early 1950s, German philosopher Martin Heidegger proclaimed the Austrian expressionist Georg Trakl to be the poet of his generation and of the hidden Occident. Trakl, a guilt-ridden lyricist who died of a cocaine overdose in the early days of World War I, thus became for Heidegger a redemptive successor to Hölderlin. Drawing on Derrida's Geschlecht series and substantial archival research, Dialogue on the Threshold explores the productive and problematic tensions that pervade Heidegger's reading of Trakl and reflects more broadly on the thresholds that separate philosophy from poetry, gathering from dispersion, the same from the other, and the native from the foreigner. Ian Alexander Moore examines why Heidegger was reluctant to follow Trakl's invitation to cross these thresholds, even though his encounter with the poet did compel him to take up, in astounding ways, many underrepresented topics in his philosophical corpus such as sexual difference, pain, animality, and Christianity. A contribution not just to Heidegger and Trakl studies but also, more modestly, to the old quarrel between philosophy and poetry, Dialogue on the Threshold concludes with new translations of eighteen poems by Trakl.

Ian Alexander Moore is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University and a faculty member at St. John's College. He is the author of Eckhart, Heidegger, and the Imperative of Releasement, also published by SUNY Press.


"One thing will be apparent to any reader of Ian Alexander Moore's Dialogue on the Threshold: this is a singularly impressive work of scholarship … Dialogue on the Threshold, in short, is exemplary of what it means to inherit Heidegger critically without either cheap polemic or unconvincing apologetics." — Research in Phenomenology

"This is an extremely impressive book. Full of original insights and meticulous scholarship, as well as new primary source material that is not available elsewhere, Dialogue on the Threshold establishes Moore among the leading Heidegger scholars of his generation." — Robert Bernasconi, Pennsylvania State University