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The Relevance of the Irrelevant: Wisdom and/of Contingency

Thomas Claviez

Abstract

The anecdote has, for quite some time, enjoyed a rather singular position within literary studies. When perusing the growing corpus of academic essays and books on the subject of the anecdote, one cannot fail to notice that hardly a single contribution exists that does not refer, one way or another, ex- or implicitly, to the thoroughly contingent nature of this phenomenon. In what follows, I will put this quality at the center of my investigation in order to inquire into the anecdote’s epistemico-ontological status. And I will do so by reading it in connection with Walter Benjamin’s famous essay on “The Storyteller,” as this text provides us with a context that allows us to put its status - as something “irrelevantly relevant” - into perspective.

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