Of Poetry and the Experience of Language after Heidegger, Hölderlin, and Blanchot

By William S. Allen

Subjects: Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791471524, 254 pages, June 2008
Hardcover : 9780791471517, 254 pages, July 2007

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Table of contents

Part One: The Mark of a Poem
1. Repeat: The Experience of Poetic Language

The Turning of Logos
Saying the Same
The Limit of Writing
Again, Anew

2. Hiding: Figures of Cryptophilia in the Work of Art

Earth and Phusis
Draw-ing and Polemos
Poetry and Logos
Thesis: Stellen: Peras

3. Beyond: The Limits of the Word in Heidegger and Blanchot

The Reading of the Word
The Writing of the Word
The Position of the Word

Part Two: The Repetition of Language

4. Suspending: The Translation of Tragedy in Hölderlin’s Essays

The Chiasmic Ground of Empedocles
The Caesura of Oedipus
The Eccentricity of Antigone
The Rhythm of Dysmoron

5. A Void: Writing and the Essence of Language

Bearing Out
The Pain of Language
Into the Space of Renunciation
In Palimpsest

6. Fragmenting: L’iter-rature of Relation

“Without return”
. . .
“Never repeat”


Examines poetic language in the work of Heidegger, Hölderlin, and Blanchot.


What is the nature of poetic language when its experience involves an encounter with finitude; with failure, loss, and absence? For Martin Heidegger this experience is central to any thinking that would seek to articulate the meaning of being, but for Friedrich Hölderlin and Maurice Blanchot it is a mark of the tragic and unanswerable demands of poetic language. In Ellipsis, a rigorous, original study on the language of poetry, the language of philosophy, and the limits of the word, William S. Allen offers the first in-depth examination of the development of Heidegger's thinking of poetic language—which remains his most radical and yet most misunderstood work—that carefully balances it with the impossible demands of this experience of finitude, an experience of which Hölderlin and Blanchot have provided the most searching examinations. In bringing language up against its limits, Allen shows that poetic language not only exposes thinking to its abyssal grounds, but also indicates how the limits of our existence come themselves, traumatically, impossibly, to speak.

William S. Allen is an independent scholar who received his PhD from the University of Warwick, England.


"This is a very serious work of thought that makes a valuable contribution to current discussions about language in the writings of Heidegger and Hölderlin. There are passages that are memorable not only for their insightfulness, but also because in an extremely condensed formulation, a genuinely original intuition is articulated with clarity and precision. It is a virtuoso performance. " — David Michael Kleinberg-Levin, author of Gestures of Ethical Life: Reading Hölderlin's Question of Measure After Heidegger