Dieter Burdorf

The I and the Others. Articulations of Personality and Communication Structures in the Lyric


Full-length article in: JLT 11/1 (2017), 22–31.

The paper discusses articulations of personality and communication structures in the lyric: who is speaking in a poem? What is the status of the person who speaks, or the one who is spoken about? Is it the author himself who is speaking, or is it someone else – an autonomous being, completely different and detached from the subject developed in the text? Who is addressed in and by a poem? It is made clear that conventional concepts of Stimmung (mood), Erlebnis (experience), and lyrisches Ich (the ›lyric I‹) should be set aside and the nature of lyric communication should be redetermined. For this purpose, a precise examination of the specific use of personal pronouns in poems is necessary, especially of the pronouns ›I‹, ›you‹ and ›we‹. The indistinct ›lyric I‹ should be substituted by the term ›articulated I‹. The poetic text as a whole is being structured by a superordinate entity, the Textsubjekt (›textual subject‹). Every speaking entity in a poem has a counterpart being addressed by it. Analyzing communication structures in poetry thus means first of all looking for an addressee who is constituted by the text. Only in a second step should we figure out if the address refers to the intended reader.


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Abstract of: Dieter Burdorf, The I and the Others. Articulations of Personality and Communication Structures in the Lyric.

In: JLTonline (16.03.2017)

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