The spirit of matter in Büchner

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In her article "The Spirit of Matter in Büchner" Barbara Natalie Nagel investigates different vectors of Georg Büchner's materialism: historical, philosophical, ethical, hysiological. The analysis of what Büchner presents to be a necessary link between physiology and revolution aims to show how Büchner has a tendency first to entangle two relatively static, binary oppositions - literal/figurative and material/spiritual - in order then to play them against one another. Büchner thus uses the dynamics of literalization to evoke necessity: for example, if the revolution is conceived of in physiological terms, then the will either has to become physiological or biology has to become spiritual. With this, Büchner achieves a literary parody of materialism that points to alternative forms of materialism, such as Benjamin's "anthropological materialism" or Gnostic materialism, neither of which are purely material or purely ideal. Rather, Büchner's literary parody of materialism approaches what one might call "materiality without matter.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16
Number of pages1
JournalCLCWeb - Comparative Literature and Culture
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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