The philosophy of seduction in modernist prose. A comparative study of Polish and German authors.
This dissertation undertakes a comparative analysis of classic Polish and German modernist texts. These include selected works by Broch, Gombrowicz, Kafka, Musil, Schulz and Witkiewicz. Having lived and written in Central Europe, their literary sensibilities show traces of similar historical and social experiences. This sensibility can be expressed in terms of a shared cultural imagination. Three issues constitute the core of this cultural imagination: subjectivity, one’s perception of time and space, and the image of the other. The concept of seduction encompasses these issues.
The category of seduction, which is well-established in the history of philosophy and aesthetics, is present in various dimensions of these works. It functions as literary motif and as poetological principle, for example. It also represents a pronounced anthropological aspect of the texts, creating a confusion in the epistemological sovereignty of the individual and presenting an ironic challenge to the Socratic-Cartesian or Enlightenment understanding of the subject. What results is a new valuation of the precognitive and the associated notions of sensuality, corporeality and imagination.
This project argues that the heuristic concept of seduction can offer a category of interpretation capable of accentuating a phenomenon central to modernism, namely the subject’s confrontation with a reality experienced as heterogenous and which is no longer grounded in the certainty of traditional metaphysical assumptions. This mercurial reality does not offer itself up to analysis by a distanced observing subject. It does not simply exist, it is in a constant state of becoming, agitated and seduced…