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date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

For Hardenberg, the poets are surely ‘unacknowledged legislators of the world’, as Shelley would have it; and still more, they are the makers of the legitimacy that grounds legislation, that grounds the very existence of the state. In Heinrich von Afterdingen, legitimacy is a product of the poets’ manipulation of spectacle, convention, sign. It is a fiction that becomes a working fiction, a fiction actualized and institutionalized in the reality of the state. Hardenberg’s tale is no escape from political realities, as some claim of the Romantics, but a lesson in how political reality is made. Fiction makes the real, or, as Hardenberg noted at the time, not sentimentally: ‘The more poetic, the more true’ (III. 647). In politics, as in all else, this is the final word in Hardenberg’s Romanticism.

Keywords: Poetry, politics, fiction, signs, labour, biography, Germany, Novalis.

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