Barbara Chitussi

Jean Starobinski and the Knowability of the Mask

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Mask; Jean Starobinski; Karoly Kerényi; Furio Jesi; Personality.

Aim of this paper is to analyse, from a philosophical point of view, the concept of mask and the problem of political suggestion of masks in some of the earlier essays of Jean Starobinski. Ideated during the World War II and written between 1946 and 1947, these texts were conceived as attempts to respond to the dramatic challenges and questions of history by exposing the deep analogy of fascist ideologies and magical religious ceremonies in the so-called primitive societies. This earlier part of Jean Starobinski's works is not well known. Nevertheless, this part is not minor and - as this paper aims to show - is closely consistent with both "L'invention de la liberté" and the famous essays on Enlightenment thinkers and writers as believers in sincerity, enemies of masks and camouflages. In these last essays, the great literary critic and historian of ideas refers to the theme mask-myth-politics only indirectly and in a piecemeal manner. The second part of this paper examines Starobinski's concepts of true and false mask from the point of view of Furio Jesi's theory of «unknowability».

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