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Two types of discourse in Hölderlin's madness

Roman Jakobson, Grete Lübbe-Grothues

pp. 115-136

Hölderlin, who had already suffered schizophrenic attacks, became ill in 1802, i.e., in his thirty-second year — according to medical opinion, "with an acute schizophrenic psychosis."<sup>1</sup> Schelling described him in a letter to Hegel of July 11, 1803 as "with his mind completely shattered" and, although 'still to a certain degree capable" of a few more literary works, "otherwise in a state of total oblivion."<sup>2</sup> In August 1806, Hölderlin's mother received a letter from his close friend, Isaak Sinclair, reporting that it was no longer possible that "my unhappy friend, whose madness has reached an advanced stage, remain any longer … in Homburg" and "that his continued freedom could even become dangerous to the public."<sup>3</sup> After a few agonizing months in a Tübingen asylum, the ill man, in keeping with his poetic premonition, remained for an entire "Hälfte des Lebens' [Half of One's life] "Weh mir, wo nehm ich, wenn // Es Winter ist, die Blumen"[Alas, where shall I find, when // It is winter, the flowers]<sup>4</sup> in the house of a Tübingen carpenter, Ernst Zimmer, "given lodgings and care" until the end of his life [1843 — Trans.]. According to the reminiscences of the pastor Max Effert (published in 1849), "the unhappy poet Hölderlin," the inhabitant of the little tower room in the carpenter's house near the old animal pen, "wandered … to and fro" "until a few years ago, out of his mind, engaged in an eternally confused conversation with himself."<sup>5</sup>


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Translation of
(1976) "Ein Blick auf Die Aussicht von Hölderlin", in: Jakobson Roman, Hölderlin, Klee, Brecht, Frankfurt am Main, Suhrkamp, pp.27-96.

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Cognitive constraints on communication: representations and processes

Lucia Vaina, Jaakko Hintikka 1984 - Dordrecht, Springer