Saturday, June 26, 2010

Buchner's alternative to history

The point is that to make imagination speak like this in the face of despair about life is to perform an action that is as much a part of life as any other, and is therefore, in the most paradoxical-seeming way, an act of faith. More than that, Buchner's alternative to history - which is what imaginative art might be thought of - constitutes his triumph over the very forces that on the level of sheer physical experience cause him to despair. In writing his plays, Buchner added to life a new fact which is both a recognition of disaster and a cure for thinking it all there is. Like the classic writers of tragedy, he leaves us not in despair but in possession of a means for confronting what would otherwise have killed us behind our backs. - Richard Gilman

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