During the twentieth century hermeneutics as an art or science of interpretation took on new vigour and became increasingly more autonomous compared to the ancillary position it had held in the past regarding theology, law and philology. Actually, in the late nineteenth century with Schleiermacher, hermeneutics had already started to fill a space of understanding outside the bounds of text interpretation and was coming to be seen as a general theory of interpretation concerning all aspects of spiritual life, subsequently acquiring with Dilthey a new centrality for the human sciences. In short, the sphere of action of hermeneutics expanded until it had almost joined that of philosophy. It is thanks to Heidegger, and then to Gadamer, Ricoeur, Pareyson and Betti, to mention only some of its greatest exponents, that twentieth-century hermeneutics has been able to develop key concepts such as the hermeneutic circle, the hermeneutic arc, the dialectical relationship between explanation and understanding, the history of effects, the fusion of horizons, the interpreter and interpretant etc. Many of the names mentioned above elaborated these concepts in a dialogue with literary texts to the point that hermeneutics took on specific connotations in its application to literature, thereby contributing to the establishment of an actual axis of application with an extremely strong element of autonomy: literary hermeneutics.
It was Peter Szondi who then provided vital input into the development of literary hermeneutics seen as "a science of interpretation which, while not wishing to disregard philology, nevertheless wants to move in the direction of aesthetics. It must therefore be based on the concept of the art of our own time, and for this reason will be historically conditioned and deprived of universal and supra-temporal validity ". Szondi’s proposal, in the panorama of literary sciences, is embedded in a need to break with a positivistic attitude and open up to marginalized literary traditions. Against all universalistic and self-reflexive pretensions, literary hermeneutics is proposed as a methodical hermeneutics that puts the text at its centre thereby calling into question concepts such as the hermeneutic circle. The interpretation is only possible thanks to regional hermeneutics, which are to be rigorously validated thanks to the centrality of the object of application, i.e. the literary text, and thereby taking on the structure of true material hermeneutics. Jauss and Iser move in a similar direction. They recovered the relationship between aesthetic experience and literary hermeneutics proposed by Szondi, describing it according to "an aesthetic of reception" aimed at clarifying the effect and meaning of a text for a contemporary reader and rebuilding the historical process within which it emerged according to interpretative paradigms of multiple readings which create a fusion of the horizon of experience and the horizon of expectation, the history of effects and reception.
But what about the future of literary hermeneutics? What is its relationship with philosophical hermeneutics? Does it stand out for its “material” demand for textual concreteness, or does it draw on general philosophical theory for its interpretative application? What are the current developments in literary hermeneutics? And what is the function of literature in the elaboration of a philosophical hermeneutics? What are the features of Bollack’s “critical hermeneutics”, which are the continuation and transformation of Szondi’s literary hermeneutics in the direction of text intelligence?
The topics that may be presented will take into consideration:
- Literary hermeneutics today: new paradigms and new proposals
- Between literary hermeneutics and philosophical hermeneutics: dialogues and differences
- Text applications of hermeneutical models
- Text intelligence: new interpretations and new critical paradigms
- Literary hermeneutics and critical hermeneutics: philology and cultural sciences
- For a new theory of reception between text and context
Other proposals for study on the subject put forward by those intending to collaborate in the publication will be scrupulously examined by the Scientific Committee, in order to widen the field of exploration undertaken in this issue of the Journal. Proposals for contributions will be accepted in Italian, English and French.
To this end, the Editorial Board propose the following deadlines, with an essential preliminary step being the sending, to email@example.com of an abstract (min. 10/max. 20 lines) and a short curriculum vitae of the proposer, by and absolutely no later than 3rd October 2016. Authors will receive confirmation from the Editorial Board of acceptance of their contributions by 24th October 2016. Contributions shall be delivered on 6th February 2016. All contributions will be subject to a double blind peer review. The issue, edited by Prof. Maria Tilde Bettetini and Dr Renato Boccali, will be published in June 2017.