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Apocalyptic Writing, Trauma and Community in IMRE Kertesz's Fateless

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This article explores philosophical themes in Imre Kertesz's novel Fateless. More specifically, it offers a reading of Fateless from a perspective of trauma theory and of the idioms of an apocalyptic coming in order to demonstrate that at the heart of this literary text there is a question of the subject's (im)possibility of community with another in the wake of a catastrophic occurrence. There are many figurations of community in the text, which testify to a collective and interpellative violence of the subject, and which are inscribed into a patriarchal organization of society. The world of the main protagonist, a Hungarian-Jewish adolescent Gyuri, is one that cannot exist without the paternal figure. In the wake of the father's departure for the camp, which for the boy gains a psychic significance of the scene of traumatic erasure, the book abounds with substitutive figures of paternal authority. However, there is also a radically different, subterranean communal theme in the book: it is a figure of a non-productive and non-accumulative community that the main protagonist experiences as an ethical demand of another's unjust and premature dying. This community is both unachievable and hyperbolic, and as such implicates the subject ethically and politically. After interpreting the various figurations of community in Fateless, this article concludes with reflections on love of another and on catastrophic writing.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Centre for Citizenship and Public Policy University of Western Sydney College of Arts, NSW 1797, Australia

Publication date: December 1, 2010

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