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This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

Heidegger: Poetry and Silence David Levy

Martin Heidegger: Basic Writings, edited and introduced by David Farrell Krell (Routledge & Kegan Paul). £7.50, paperback £4.50. Walter Biemel: Martin Heidegger: An Illustrated Study (Routledge & Kegan Paul) £5.75.

WHEN Martin Heidegger died on 26 May 1976 he left behind him an equivocal reputation. He was the best known and probably the most influential German philosopher of his generation, but while some regarded him as a pioneer who had taken the quest for the truth of Being further than anyone before, others dismissed him as a wordy mystagogue trapped in the toils of a language he had tortured out of all recognizable meaning. For English readers there was the additional problem that in spite of the magnificent work of John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson, whose translation of Being and Time appeared in 1962, and a number of other, mostly American, scholars, some people argued that, whatever its worth, Heidegger's work was essentially untranslatable. The last position is of course unanswerable, for however much translations of Heidegger seem to make sense of his thought there will always be plenty to point out further real or imagined meanings in such difficult original texts. For myself, I can only avow that David Krell's selection of "basic writings" does make sense in terms of what we know of what Heidegger, and such students as Walter Biemel, considered his life-work to be.

Heidegger's was a life centred on a single quest, to explore the meaning of Being. Whatever one ...


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