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Delayed Origins, Initial Inhibitions: The Beginnings of Fatherlandish Song and the Task of Answering the Mother in Hölderlin’s 'Am Quell der Donau'


de Roche, Charles (2023). Delayed Origins, Initial Inhibitions: The Beginnings of Fatherlandish Song and the Task of Answering the Mother in Hölderlin’s 'Am Quell der Donau'. Parallax, 28(3):317-328.

Abstract

The present essay represents an attempt to elucidate certain aspects of Friedrich Hölderlin’s early ‘fatherlandish songs’, centred around the fragmentary hymn Am Quell der Donau from 1801, in the perspective of psychoanalytic theory. I am referring to the theory of a ‘motherly unconscious’, prolonging the psychic life of the mother in the speaking subject, in the version of the Franco-Hungarian psychoanalyst Nicolas Abraham. Establishing a fundamental relation between the process of language acquisition and the psychic relation between mother and child, this theory can be read as a conceptual elaboration of the vernacular term ‘mother tongue’. As I shall argue below, a similar problematic can be found to underlie the conception and elaboration of the texts intended by Hölderlin to launch the cycle of poems named ‘fatherlandish songs’ (Vaterländische Gesänge). I suggest a psychoanalytic reading of these texts centring around the mythologico-genealogical figures of the divine Father celebrated in the title of the projected cycle on the one hand, Mother Earth or Mother Asia as the addressee of its initial texts on the other. While attention to these figures and their relation is quite established in Hölderlin research, my focus shall be more specifically on the problematic of the speaking subject’s claim to an original, initial, foundational speech in relation to the inevitable anteriority of the parental instances evoked within the mythologic content of this speech.Footnote1 The question guiding the reflections of this essay, devoted in the first part to a discussion of Abraham’s theory and in the second to a reading of the Hölderlin texts in question, can therefore be put as follows: what is the relation between the poetic task of beginning to sing an original song and the related task of addressing and answering the Mother?

Abstract

The present essay represents an attempt to elucidate certain aspects of Friedrich Hölderlin’s early ‘fatherlandish songs’, centred around the fragmentary hymn Am Quell der Donau from 1801, in the perspective of psychoanalytic theory. I am referring to the theory of a ‘motherly unconscious’, prolonging the psychic life of the mother in the speaking subject, in the version of the Franco-Hungarian psychoanalyst Nicolas Abraham. Establishing a fundamental relation between the process of language acquisition and the psychic relation between mother and child, this theory can be read as a conceptual elaboration of the vernacular term ‘mother tongue’. As I shall argue below, a similar problematic can be found to underlie the conception and elaboration of the texts intended by Hölderlin to launch the cycle of poems named ‘fatherlandish songs’ (Vaterländische Gesänge). I suggest a psychoanalytic reading of these texts centring around the mythologico-genealogical figures of the divine Father celebrated in the title of the projected cycle on the one hand, Mother Earth or Mother Asia as the addressee of its initial texts on the other. While attention to these figures and their relation is quite established in Hölderlin research, my focus shall be more specifically on the problematic of the speaking subject’s claim to an original, initial, foundational speech in relation to the inevitable anteriority of the parental instances evoked within the mythologic content of this speech.Footnote1 The question guiding the reflections of this essay, devoted in the first part to a discussion of Abraham’s theory and in the second to a reading of the Hölderlin texts in question, can therefore be put as follows: what is the relation between the poetic task of beginning to sing an original song and the related task of addressing and answering the Mother?

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Romance Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:460 Spanish & Portuguese languages
410 Linguistics
450 Italian, Romanian & related languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism
440 French & related languages
470 Latin & Italic languages
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Cultural Studies
Social Sciences & Humanities > Visual Arts and Performing Arts
Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Social Sciences & Humanities > Literature and Literary Theory
Language:English
Date:23 August 2023
Deposited On:29 Jan 2024 15:01
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 01:38
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:1353-4645
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/13534645.2023.2198750