Defining Lawrence’s “expository writings not as laboratory reports on experiments successfully concluded but as signposts to a road” traveled in his art, H. M. Daleski notes that these “theories were consistently modified by the artistic experience, which in turn led to further formulations.” Indeed, these continually revised and modified formulations of theories about almost everything constituted what Lawrence called “thought adventures”; in themselves they were signs of a yearning toward wholeness-in-duality that that can account for this writer’s special charisma. For Lawrence was not just a novelist, a poet, and a critic; he was also, in our current rather inadequate terminology, a public intellectual.
To be “on the road” with D. H. Lawrence is to be engaged in an extraordinary thought adventure, accompanied by an unfailingly engaged and engaging commentator whose intellectual wholeness-in-duality was of a sort we rarely encounter on the contemporary literary scene. In developing this point, the article also argues that Lawrence’s great intellectual and creative adventure, though acutely modern, was also astutely anti-modernist. Although his early work was championed by such modernist luminaries as Ezra Pound and Ford Maddox Ford, by the end of his career he had become virtually the polar opposite of the quintessential modernist T. S. Eliot. Not coincidentally, perhaps, by the end of his career this thought adventurer addressed his ideas not just to an exclusively high cultural audience of the “fit though few” but to the masses among whom he could be, as he put it, “in the thick of the scrimmage.”
What links Walter Benjamin and Karl Kraus is a fascination with the dregs of public discourse, its “by-products” or “waste products,” but these to be understood as the negative pole of an exalted ideal of language, though conceived differently by each one. Benjamin was an avid reader of Die Fackel, a polemical gazette focused on Viennese journalism that Kraus published from 1899 to 1936. Benjamin’s 1931 essay on Kraus is one of his most densely woven, recondite productions, filled with formulations that reach back to Benjamin’s 1916 text “On Language as Such and on the Language of Man.” There, the act of naming designates the dimension of divine creative power in pre-Babelic language. In Kraus’s practice of citation Benjamin found traces of such a primordial capacity of language, a thetic power akin to divine naming. Citing in this sense involves not only the retrieval of a text or a concept, but intervention into the temporal process, the activation of a past in the present: citing as inciting. For Kraus, Benjamin wrote, “justice and language remain founded in each other,” making it clear that while justice in a legal sense (Recht) was often invoked in Kraus’s critique of journalism, what was fundamentally at stake was a reverence for “the image of divine justice [Gerechtigkeit] in language.”
This article provides a brief historical overview of the changing perspectives in trauma studies, the field that has spawned an academic interest in the nature and impact of traumatic experiences. The latest insights of psychotherapists, historians, and cultural and literary critics such as Dori Laub, Bessel van der Kolk, Dominick LaCapra, Saul Friendlander, and Cathy Caruth about witnessing, testimony, representation, and working-through traumatic experiences are used as a frame of reference for the analysis of two novels by the Jewish American novelist Daniel Stern, whose work has somehow failed to achieve canonical status. Stern’s two early Holocaust novels, Who Shall Live, Who Shall Die (1963) and After the War (1967), it is argued, are remarkable, not only for their understanding of the psychological effects of trauma, but also for their use of narrative strategies to mitigate and contain the traumas that dwell at the core of these novels.
The figure of the butler, the protagonist of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novel is a subtle illustration of the ability of human consciousness to deceive itself in what Sartre called “bad faith.” The self-deception is enhanced by being legitimized in the framework of a professional ethics. This ethics of the “dignity” of a job perfectly well accomplished, which is presented as nothing but blind obedience, not only leads to the character’s failure in his life but, more dangerously, to his serving as an instrument of evil action. Indirect commentary on latter aspect of the novel can be sought in Sartre’s analysis of “bad faith” and Marx’s of the alienated consciousness but also in the experiments in social psychology conducted by Stanley Milgram which point to the mechanisms by which ordinary people can become agents of mass destruction.
The article considers some of the ways in which Seamus Deane’s novel maps political, sectarian, and folkloric borders onto the Catholic tradition of textual exegesis. In particular, the essay argues that Reading in the Dark treats Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises as a productive site where both political and community identity are reconfigured through direct contact with literary-theoretical concerns.