This essay on the German poet Stefan George and his poetry book The Star of the Covenant (1914) is part of a broader study of literary models of an ethics of the self in the context of governmental practices. For George and his circle of followers, the particular lines of this context can be seen to emerge in a fusion of sociology and aestheticism at the fin de siècle, a fusion which George, who in his eighth book of poetry takes on the role of a lawgiving authority, tries to transmute in order to regain an ethical and a governmental function for literature. A critical reading ofThe Star of the Covenant, however, will have to examine whether George's attempt to achieve a return to ethics also implies a return to the self.
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© 2004 by the Porter Institute for Poetics and Semiotics