This article interrogates the tension between the written word and the world of the ineffable in three brief and enigmatic visions of horses in the works of Heinrich von Kleist, Franz Kafka, and Cormac McCarthy. Examining these authors' engagement with and overcoming of a kind of Sprachkrise, or language crisis, the study establishes each text as an exemplary encounter with the sublime at a given historical moment: Kleist's Romanticism, Kafka's modernism, and McCarthy's ambivalent postmodernism. Tracing the heritage of Kleist's Romantic nostalgia into Kafka's America obsession and McCarthy's ecopastoral visions of the American landscape will give insight into how these authors each endeavor to expose and to explode the limits of language—indeed, the very limits of the human—so that the necessity of saying might transcend itself and be transformed into an ethically productive ecstasy of being.

You do not currently have access to this content.