This volume collects and translates Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe’s studies of Heidegger, written and revised between 1990 and 2002. All deal with Heidegger’s relation to politics, specifically through Heidegger’s interpretations of the poetry of Hölderlin. Lacoue-Labarthe argues that it is through Hölderlin that Heidegger expresses most explicitly his ideas on politics, his nationalism, and the importance of myth in his thinking, all of which point to substantial affinities with National Socialism.
Lacoue-Labarthe not only examines the intellectual background--including Romanticism and "German ideology"--of Heidegger's uses and abuses of poetry, he also attempts to reestablish the vexed relationship between poetry and philosophy outside the bounds of the Heideggerian reading. He turns to Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, as well as Paul Celan, arguing for the necessity of poetry as an engagement with history. While Heidegger's readings of Hölderlin attempt to appropriate poetry for mythic and political ends, Lacoue-Labarthe insists that poetry and thought can, and must, converge in another way. Jeff Fort provides a precise translation capturing the spirit and clarity of Lacoue-Labarthe’s writing, as well as an introduction clearly situating the debates addressed in these essays.