Apocalyptic Futures: Marked Bodies and the Violence of the Text in Kafka, Conrad, and Coetzee
The primary argument that Russell Samolsky makes in this book is that certain modern literary texts have apocalyptic futures. His contention, however, is not, as many eminent thinkers have claimed, that great writers have clairvoyant powers; rather he examines the ways in which a text might be written so as to incorporate an apocalyptic event into the orbit of its future reception. He is thus concerned with the way in which apocalyptic works might be said to solicit their future receptions. In analyzing this dialectic between an apocalyptic book and a future catastrophic event, Apocalyptic Futures also sets out to articulate a new theory and textual practice of the relation between literary reception and embodiment. Deploying the double register of marksto display the means by which a text both codes as well as targets mutilated bodies, his specific focus is on the way in which these bodies are incorporated into the field of texts by Franz Kafka, Joseph Conrad and J.M. Coetzee. Situating In the Penal Colonyin relation to the Holocaust, Heart of Darkness to the Rwandan genocide and Waiting for the Barbarians to the revelations of torture in apartheid South Africa and contemporary Iraq, he argues for the ethical and political importance of reading these literary works' apocalyptic futuresnow in our own urgent and perilous situation. To this end, he draws on contemporary messianic discourse to establish the ethical and political resistance of the marked body to its apocalyptic incorporation. In this regard, what is finally at stake in his analysis is his hope of finding the possibility of a hidden countervailing redemptive force at work in these and other texts.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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