THE PROBLEM OF THE INTERPRETATION OF HAMANN Johann Georg Hamann is an intriguing but poorly known figure in the contemporary intellectual world. Yet this is the man whom Kierkegaard saluted as "Emperor!", whose writings were to have been arranged for publication by none other than Goethe himself, and whom Dilthey numbered among the primordial figures in the rise of modern historical consciousness. There are reasons for the persistence of this general ignorance. Hamann is deep. And, in addition, there is his forbidding style. The readers of Kierkegaard and Dilthey, two other giants who them selves achieved late recognition, have not had to face this kind of imposing obstacle. Not only does Hamann expect his readers to handle themselves in deep water, but to intuit their way between his ideas which bob up like islands with no visible connection between them. Like Kierkegaard too, Hamann has had his troubles with the public. He himself referred to the hope that he would be understood by a "better posterity". In fact only the last few years have seen the printing of some of his more controversial writings, in particular his theories on the nature of human sexuality.