"Degenerate" hope : philosophic and literary responses to antisemitism and the Holocaust / Laura K. Stahman.
This study brings the writings of the German Jewish dialogic philosophers Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber and the French Jewish thinker Emmanuel Levinas together in order to analyze a selection of literary texts by Franz Kafka, Paul Celan, and Ilse Aichinger. I view the literary and philosophic texts as documents that articulate responses to notions of identity, nationalism, xenophobia, trauma, and the violence inherent in Fascist thinking, and I situate the various discourses in a historic/philosophic framework that illuminates the metaphoric residue of which and around which the texts are constructed. The mode of critique that Levinas's method of textual solicitation suggests reinscribes poetic texts with an ethical gesture that lies beneath the text. In attempting to trace this gesture, certain “art works” take on new exegetic urgency. I explore all of the texts examined under the chiffre of “hope.” All of the writers in this study maintain that the human condition retains some utopic desire that allows for (and even demands) a confrontation with “hope.” What this hope may be remains undefined, but it is the thread the runs throughout all the texts I explore. I trace this hope in the Hebraic notion of justice.
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