Structures of Appearing: Allegory and the Work of Literature

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Taking a phenomenological approach to allegory, Structures of Appearing seeks to revise the history of aesthetics, identifying it is an ideology that has long subjugated art to philosophical criteria of judgment. Rather than being a mere signifying device, allegory is the structure by which something appears that cannot otherwise appear. It thus supports the appearance and necessary experience of philosophical ideas that are otherwise impossible to present or represent. Allegory is as central to philosophy as it is to literature. Following suggestions by Walter Benjamin, Machosky argues that allegory itself must appear allegorically and thus cannot be forced into a logos-centric metaphysical system. She builds on the work of Maurice Blanchot and Emmanuel Levinas to argue that the allegorical image is not a likeness to anything, not a subjective reflection, but an absolute otherness that becomes accessible by virtue of its unique structure. Allegory thus makes possible not merely the textual work of literature but the work that literature is. Machosky develops this insight in readings of Prudentius, Dante, Spenser, Hegel, Goethe, and Kafka.