Of an Alien Homecoming

Reading Heidegger's "Hölderlin"

By Charles Bambach

Subjects: Philosophy, Holocaust Studies, Literature, History, Cultural Studies
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438488134, 419 pages, July 2022
Paperback : 9781438488127, 419 pages, January 2023

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Table of contents


I. Hölderlin as a "Transition"
II. Philosophical "Andenken": Hölderlin as the Voice of the Other Beginning
III. Who is Heidegger's Hölderlin?
IV. Language, "Ethos," and the Ethicality of Being

1. Hölderlin's Hymns "Germania" and "The Rhine"
I. "Hölderlin" and the Great War
II. Norbert von Hellingrath and the Hölderlin Myth
III. Heidegger and the "Secret" Germania
IV. Hölderlin without History
V. "The Rhine": Heidegger and Originary Springing Forth
VI. "Physis" as "Poiesis": Beyng as Poetic Event
VII. The Mystery of "das Reinentsprungene" and the Vocation of the Poet
VIII. The Beyng of the Demigods

2. Heidegger's "Remembrance" Lectures
I. Hölderlin and "The National"
II. A Metapolitics of the Volk
III. Staging the "Remembrance" Lectures: The Vestibule
IV. The Greeting of the Wind
V. Jews, Greeks, and the Occlusion of the First Beginning
VI. The Time of the Festival and the Graeco-German Beginning
VII. Festival, Equinoctial Time, and the Balance of Equilibrium
VIII. Heidegger's Destinal Politics of a German National Mission
IX. The Passage to the Foreign and the Journey Homeward

3. Heidegger's "Ister" Lectures: Ethical Dwelling in the (Foreign) Homeland
I. "Hölderlin" as the Name for an Other Beginning of Thinking
II. Dwelling in the Intimacy of Truth: Oppositional Harmony and the Böhlendorff Logic
III. Translation and the Uncanny Essence of Human Being
IV. Tragedy and the Definition of the Human Being as a "Katastrophe"
V. The Language of Contradiction: Oxymoron and Tragic Manifestation
VI. Poet and River as Demi-Gods
VII. "At home is spirit not at the beginning"
VIII. Of Time and the River: Naming, Reversal, and Historical Dwelling
IX. German Hospitality?

4. Historical Interlude: Heidegger in 1945–1946
I. Heidegger's "Kahlschlag": The Poverty of Thinking
II. Heidegger's Revenge: War-Guilt, Retribution, and the Politics of Ressentiment
III. Hölderlin, the West, and Destiny

5. Heidegger in Dialogue with Hölderlin: "The Western Conversation"
I. Heidegger's "Conversation" with Hölderlin
II. The Schwung from the First to the Other Beginning
III. The Opening of "The Western Conversation"
IV. The Ister as Fateful Site of an Ordeal
V. Hölderlin, Destiny, and the German Bequest
VI. Poetic Geography and Destinal History: The German Danube
VII. The Bread and Wine Fragment and German Destiny


The first book-length study in English of the Heidegger-Hölderlin relation, addressing the tension between Heidegger's political commitments during National Socialism and Hölderlin's ideal of poetic dwelling.


Few themes resonate as powerfully in Heidegger as those connected to homecoming, homeland, and Heimat. This emphasis plays out most powerfully in Heidegger's reading of Hölderlin and his turn towards language, art, and poetizing as a way of thinking through the poet's relevance in the epoch of homelessness and the abandonment of the gods. As the first book-length study in English of the Heidegger-Hölderlin relation, Of an Alien Homecoming addresses the tension within Heidegger's work between his disastrous political commitments during the era of National Socialism and his attempts to open a path to a German future nurtured on Hölderlin's ideal of poetic dwelling. Charles Bambach reads this work on Hölderlin from 1934–1948 in conversation with the Black Notebooks and Heidegger's metapolitics, even as he uncovers an ethical dimension within Heidegger that pervades his reading of poetry. Throughout all of these various stages on Heidegger's thought path, Hölderlin remains the poet who poetizes the possibility of finding our lost home amidst the homelessness brought about in the epoch of technological thinking.

Charles Bambach is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Dallas. He is author of Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice: Hölderlin-Heidegger-Celan, also published by SUNY Press.


"Of an Alien Homecoming is a landmark achievement and a unique insight into the still-hidden essence of European modernity." — CHOICE

"This is the definitive study of Heidegger and Hölderlin in any language. It goes far beyond its competitors in its reconstruction and evaluation of the historical-political background to Heidegger's engagement with Hölderlin, as well as in its thorough knowledge of the entirety of Heidegger's formidable corpus." — Ian Moore, Loyola Marymount University/St. John's College

"A much-needed study that will become indispensable reading for all those wanting to continue the conversation about the importance (including the pitfalls) of Heidegger's 'Hölderlin.'" — Krzysztof Ziarek, University at Buffalo, State University of New York