The Fragment: The Fragmentary Exigency



Lacoue-Labarthe and Nancy here consider the Romantics’ conception of the relationship between philosophy and literature by looking at the exemplary case of their conception of the fragment. They begin their contribution with some general remarks about how the Romantics conceived the relationship between philosophy and literature, in which they in particular emphasize that the Romantics’ conception of this relationship was neither reductive nor exclusive in spirit. They then turn to the Romantic fragment itself. They explain the historical background of this genre, especially in the work of Nicolas Chamfort. They also carefully distinguish it from various other sorts of “fragment” that are to be found either in the Romantics themselves or in other sources and with which it can easily be confused—for example, the Romantics’ own rough notes and sketches of projects or the “fragments” of lost works of the ancients. In contrast with these, the Romantic fragment is characterized by being deliberate rather than accidental, standing in a certain ambiguous relation to systematicity, representing incompletability in a complete way, being essentially plural (part of a collection of fragments), and being essentially a collective achievement (a product of “symphilosophy” or “sympoetry”).

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marc Bloch UniversityStrasbourgFrance

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