In literary studies, there is a remarkable gap between the precision and care with which important background facts, such as biographical data or text philological details, are accumulated, and the high degree of subjectivity and arbitrariness of any statement which goes beyond these facts. If literary studies are ever to become a scientific enterprise, they must systematically address what one might call the ›literaturwissenschaftliche Gretchenfrage‹: Which scientific arguments demonstrate that a text is an important piece of art? To this end, esthetical judgements should be analysed as relations between properties of texts and persons, and empirical tests should be run which allow to determine these relations. This idea, inspired by a meeting with Helmut Kreuzer in 1966, is elaborated and illustrated with a few examples.
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