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FlirtationsRhetoric and Aesthetics This Side of Seduction$
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Daniel Hoffman-Schwartz, Barbara Natalie Nagel, and Lauren Shizuko Stone

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780823264896

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823264896.001.0001

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The “Irreducibly Doubled Stroke”

The “Irreducibly Doubled Stroke”

Flirtation, Felicity, and Sincerity

(p.74) The “Irreducibly Doubled Stroke”

Lauren Shizuko Stone

Fordham University Press

This chapter presents a response to Elisabeth Strowick’s contribution, “Life Is a Flirtation: Thomas Mann’s Felix Krull.” It suggests that in Strowick’s assessment of the title figure in Mann’s novel, she addresses the inextricable ties among the identity (of a con man), language (in this instance writing), and the flirtatious attitude (as an aesthetic and epistemological structure); she also points us toward a so-called philosophical core of flirtation: the unexpected necessity of sincerity in the ordinary language sense. The chapter examines this particular question of how Felix is constituted as Armand through language and how this con man’s language means—where his “effective disavow[al]” situates him at the intersection of the insincere (in playfully and only temporarily adopting the identity of another) and the sincere (as the success of any con certainly depends on it being taken seriously). This tension is precisely what underpins flirtation; it is a kind of serious play or playful seriousness.

Keywords:   flirtation, Thomas Mann, Felix Krull, Elisabeth Strowick, sincerity, language, identity, con man

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