Robert Savage. Hölderlin after the Catastrophe: Heidegger – Adorno – Brecht. Rochester NY: Camden House, 2009 [Book review]
journal contributionposted on 2017-05-22, 04:26 authored by David Blencowe
The Nazi inheritance of the greats of German literature has many disturbing implications. Probably the most troubling is the question of cultural culpability. What exactly does it mean when the Nazis claim to see their ideas embodied in classic works? How far can this be dismissed as wilful misappropriation, or how much credence should we give the suspicion that somehow the author sanctions such an interpretation, that there is something fascist latent within the work to begin with?
Hölderlin did not escape the ignominy of Nazi adulation. However, as Robert Savage notes in his authoritative study Hölderlin after the Catastrophe: Heidegger – Adorno – Brecht, there was a whitewash of the poet's wartime record by the mainstream scholarship after the conflict. The nationalist misuse of Hölderlin was considered to be an external imposition, thus freeing him of any responsibility, and allowing for the work of interpretation to continue "as if nothing had happened."