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This is the first book-length study of how three important European thinkers-Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot-use the Binding of Isaac to illuminate the sacrificial situation of the literary writer. Danta shows that literature plays a vital and heretical role in these three writers' highly idiosyncratic accounts of the Akedah. His claim is twofold: firstly, that all three authors choose to respond to the Genesis narrative by manifesting literature; and, secondly, that each heretically endows literature-or fiction-with the power to suspend the sacrifice. Abraham's near-sacrifice of Isaac is traditionally read as the story of faith in action. But what does it mean to play the game of not-quite-belief with the story of religious faith? By examining the literary and heretical treatments of Isaac's sacrifice in the work of Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot, this book develops an original account of literature as a form of sacrificial thinking. For each, writing acts, like God's sacrificial demand of Abraham, to suspend the writer's usual relation to his daily and earthly responsibilities.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments / 1. Testing the Tested / 2. The Melancholic Imagination: Kierkegaard's Abraham / 3. Sarah's Laughter: Kafka's Abraham / 4. "The absolutely dark moment of the plot": Blanchot's Abraham / 5. Coda: Agnes and the Merman / Works Cited / Index

Promotional Information

Shows how Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot develop heretical accounts of the sacrifice of Isaac in order to illuminate the sacrificial situation of the literary writer.

Promotional Information

Shows how Kierkegaard, Kafka and Blanchot develop heretical accounts of the sacrifice of Isaac in order to illuminate the sacrificial situation of the literary writer.

About the Author

Chris Danta is Senior Lecturer in English in the School of English, Media and Performing Arts at the University of New South Wales. He has published essays in New Literary History, Textual Practice, Modernism/Modernity, Sub-Stance and Literature and Theology.

Reviews

"With exemplary precision Literature Suspends Death demonstrates how the enigmatic account of the 'binding of Isaac' in Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling spurs a series of radical reflections on the interconnection among narrative, sacrifice, and mortality. Danta identifies a blind-spot in Kierkegaard's work that Kafka and Blanchot do not so much illuminate as make into the ethical content of literature." -- Peter Fenves, Joan and Sarepta Harrison Professor of Literature, and Professor of German, Comparative Literary Studies, and Jewish Studies, Northwestern University, USA "Abraham haunts the Western religious imagination and its many embodiments in literature. Chris Danta is an acute and eloquent witness to this haunting. His remarkable study, Literature Suspends Death, is a 'must read' book for anyone interested in religion and literature." -- Kevin Hart, Edwin B Kyle Prof of Christian Studies & Chair, Department of Religious Studies, The University of Virginia, USA "Chris Danta brings to bear his remarkably alert and thoughtfully deployed reading skills on the story of Abraham and Isaac as refashioned by Kierkegaard, Kafka, and Blanchot. While riveting attention on the exchange that narrative negotiates, Scheherazade-like, with the lethal knife, he sustains with patient, passionate argument the assertion, set here in epigraph, that literature is indeed 'the foe of death.' Reading this book is an absorbing experience." -- Peggy Kamuf, Marion Frances Chevalier Professor of French and Comparative Literature, Director, Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture Doctoral Program, University of Southern California, USA "The logic of sacrifice is among one of the most powerfully overdetermined topoi in Western literature, philosophy, and religion, bearing powerfully on issues of cultural significance and value, human loss and suffering, flesh and text, authority and resistance, secrecy and communicability, the possibility and impossibility of justice, the aporetics of decision-making, and much else besides. In this book, Chris Danta goes to the core of one of the Western tradition's most revealing stories of sacrifice, the story of Abraham and Isaac, and studies in closely argued and wide-ranging detail its treatment in the literary and other works of Kierkegaard, Kafka, and Blanchot, engaging too with an impressive quantity of philosophical and other sources, from commentaries on the Bible and on the Talmud to the work of Derrida. The result is a subtle, incisive, and original account of literature's complex displacement and reworking of the logic of sacrifice." -- Leslie Hill, Professor of French, University of Warwick, UK Literature Suspends Death shows convincinglythat the combined perspective of Kafka and Blanchot offers a valuable alternative to Kierkegaard's focus on Abraham's willingness to sacrifice Isaac. -- Radical Philosophy

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