The Lily's Tongue

Figure and Authority in Kierkegaard's Lily Discourses

Frances Maughan-Brown
eISBN-13: 9781438476353

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How do texts speak with authority? That is the question at the heart of Kierkegaard's theory and practice of "indirect communication." None of Kierkegaard's texts respond to this question more concisely and powerfully than the four discourses he wrote about the lily in the Gospel. The Lily's Tongue is a nuanced, sustained reading of these Lily Discourses. Kierkegaard takes the lilies as authoritative, rather than merely "figural" or "metaphorical." This book is a careful exploration of what Kierkegaard means by this authority.

Frances Maughan-Brown demonstrates how Kierkegaard argues that the key is in the act of reading itself—no text can have authority unless the reader grants it that authority because no text can entirely avoid figural language. Texts don't speak directly; their tongue is always the lily's tongue. What is revealed in the Lily Discourses is a groundbreaking theory of figure, which requires a renewed reading of Kierkegaard's major pseudonymous works.

ISBNs 9781438476339, 1438476353, 9781438476353
Language English
Number of Pages 220