Edgar Salin and Social Theory in the Circle around Stefan George.

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Trying to extract political messages from poetry when political statements are not immediately self-evident can lead one quickly to speculative and even contradictory results. The temptation for critics to seize the oppottunity to imprint their own agendas onto a poetic oeuvre can be nearly irresistible. Thus Armin Mohler claimed to be able to categorize Stefan George and his group within the field of the Conservative Revolution, the anti-democratic intellectuals of the interwar period, thereby projecting his own political allegiances onto George and the very diverse group of thinkers around him. In contrast, in his radio speech on poetry and society, Theodor Adorno famously read one of George’s poems as signaling an emancipatory condition for an undivided humanity, “the voice of human beings between whom the barriers have fallen,” hardly a conservative position. Both readings imply a revolutionary George, but the different revolutionary agendas of right and left, Mohler and Adorno, could not be further apart. The distance between them marks the difference between the two readers, but it also leaves the challenge of describing the political location (or locations) of the George group unresolved.
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