Monday, February 4, 2008

Lord Chandos Letter

In Lord Chandos letter, Hofmannsthal gives an account of how language has ceased to give meaning and description to the truth. He seems to believe that he can no longer write because language is an instrument of dishonesty, it has lost its ability to describe the real and true. He is no longer able to be an impartial “user” of language, if he tries to describe the truth, it will become a lie when he puts it into words. This inability to use his words is driving him crazy. He worries that language will not convey his true meaning; everything is will be a misrepresentation. Everything he has already written will become false. I, too, believe that Lord Chandos is really Hofmannsthal in disguise. He is lamenting his own lack of ability to communicate his thoughts effectively to others. There is no new way to express truth through language because mere language cannot express the complexities of innermost emotions. He is experiencing a deep crisis, one that does not have an easy way out. It is a crisis of his faith in his own talent and ability as a poet and writer. I suspect that Ulrich would agree with him. They would be very likely to have an interesting discussion about language, its meaning of language, as well as its past, present, and future incarnations.

1 comment:

Dane Weitmann said...

I fully agree with you that Hofmannsthal portrays himself as Lord Chandos. We heard of how Hofmannsthal lost his talent for writing poet when he was young and became more of a writer instead because of it. There is definitely a question of what to do once you are no longer able to do what your passion is and can no longer speak the truth.