By Paul de Man

'Through intricate and chic shut readings of poems by way of Rilke, Proust's Remembrance, Nietzsche's philosophical writings and the main works of Rousseau, de guy concludes that each one writing issues itself with its personal job as language, and language, he says is often unreliable, slippery, impossible....Literary narrative, since it needs to depend upon language, tells the tale of its personal lack of ability to inform a story....De guy demonstrates, fantastically and convincingly, that language turns again on itself, that rhetoric is untrustworthy.' Julia Epstein, Washington publish publication global

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Additional resources for Allegories of Reading: Figurative Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke and Proust

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The large affirmations of the Elegies, gnomic as they are, bear witness to this assertion, all the more so since they promise a salva­ tion that could take place here and now: "Hiersein ist herrlich" ("To be here is glorious" [Seventh Elegy]); "Hier ist des Siiglichen Zeit, hier seine Heimat" ("Here is the time for the Tellable, here is its home" [Ninth Elegy]); "Supernumerous existence / wells up in my heart" (idem). This emphatic here designates the poetic text itself and thus affirms that it escapes the fragmentation of number and of time.

The Book oj Images is not less "phonocentric" than The Book oJHours-far from it, since now the imperatives of euphony govern not only the choice of words but the choice of figures as well . The linguistic strategy of this still relatively early poem (which has several equivalences among the other texts that make up The Book oj Images) will dominate the work until the end . The determining figure of Rilke's poetry is that of chiasmus, the crossing that reverses the attributes of words and of things .

The reversal is possible only because the sculpture is broken and fragmentary; if the statue had actually represented the eye of Apollo , the chiasmus could not have come about . The absent eye allows for an imaginary vision to come into being, and it makes the eyeless sculpture into an Argus eye capable of engendering, by itself, all the dimensions of space. We always re-encounter versions of the same negative moment : the hol­ low of the violin , the irreality of the mirrored image , the darkness of a sundial at night, the falling ball, the missing eye.

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