Poetry as a Way of Life: Aesthetics and Askesis in the German Eighteenth Century

Gabriel Trop


Northwestern University Press

What would it mean to make a work of art the focal point of one’s life practice? Poetry as a Way of Life goes back to the origins of aesthetics as a philosophical discipline in the early eighteenth century in order to uncover an understanding of the work of art as an exercise of the self. Engaging in close readings of works by both canonical and less well-known eighteenth-century German poets such as Friedrich Holderlin, Novalis, Friedrich von Hagedorn, and Johann Wilhelm Ludwig Gleim, the author illustrates the ways in which these authors tap into the potential of poetic form to redefine the limits of human perception and generate alternative ways of being in the world.