Summary and Keywords
Phenomenological literary theory has its roots in Edmund Husserl’s studies of the directional acts of consciousness in the first half of the 20th century and Roman Ingarden’s The Literary Work of Art and The Cognition of the Literary Work of Art, arguing that literary works can come into existence only in the act of reading. Under the influence of Martin Heidegger, phenomenology absorbed hermeneutic insights from Dilthey, Gadamer, and Ricoeur, as well as existentialist features, foremost from Jean-Paul Sartre, with Merleau-Ponty contributing a corporeal accent by reiterating Husserl’s distinction between the biophysical body (Körper) and the animate body (Leib). George Poulet of the Geneva school and the early Yale critics added an author-oriented form of literary criticism, while Ingarden’s work was taken up by the Konstanz school theorists Wolfgang Iser and Hans Robert Jauss, the latter challenging ontological approaches by a historically anchored form of reception aesthetics. In the United States, the idea of phenomenology in literature has been prominently pursued by Maurice Natanson. At the same time, phenomenological literary theory is undergoing a revival in the wake of the neo-phenomenology of Hermann Schmitz, notably in such writings as Rita Felski’s Uses of Literature.
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