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“The Life of Community”: Gustav Landauer Reads Friedrich Hölderlin

April 3 @ 7:00 pm

On 13 March 1916, at the height of the First World War, the German-Jewish writer, philosopher, and anarchist activist, Gustav Landauer, gave a lecture at the Berlin Women’s Club of 1900 bearing the indistinct title “Friedrich Hölderlin in his Poems”. The lecture – which focuses on Hölderlin’s hymn “The Rhine” (1802), and which forms part of a cycle on the theme of “Celestial and Terrestrial Love in the Poetry of Goethe and the Romantics” – is remarkable for its characteristic double movement: on the one hand, its effort to derive from Hölderlin the resources for a resolute rejection of German militarism; on the other hand, its attempt to outline a mode of community beyond the modern nation state, which Landauer describes emphatically as a “community of love”. In this talk, I propose that the ‘community’ in question, here, exceeds the text’s stated intentions, thus inviting a renewed reflection on what is common in community, or, put differently, what it might mean to think a non-coercive form of sociality in the medium of poetry – with Hölderlin and Landauer, and, indeed, beyond them.


April 3
7:00 pm