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The Elusive «I» in the Novel

Hippel, Sterne, Diderot, Kant


Hamilton Beck

Hippel, author of Die Lebensläufe nach aufsteigender Linie (1778-1781), has been widely recognized as one of the best German authors to write in the manner of Laurence Sterne. This study places Hippel in the context of the theory of the novel and historiography in the eighteenth century. It re-examines the relationship between Hippel and Sterne (as well as Diderot), with emphasis on the contrast in the authors' use of narrators and documents. Hippel's indebtedness to Kant is well known, but here his borrowing from Kant's lecture notes is discussed in detail and its relevance to Hippel's theory of the novel shown.
Contents: Hippel's theory of narration and use of documents in his novel Die Lebensläufe nach aufsteigender Linie is discussed in the context of Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Diderot's Jacques le fataliste, and Kant's lectures.