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The Novel and the Nation: The Case of David Grossman’s See Under: Love
Ghent University, Belgien.
2012 (English)In: Neophilologus, ISSN 0028-2677, E-ISSN 1572-8668, Vol. 96, no 1, 1-15 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

While Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities is a crucial reference point in studies of the relations between the novel genre and the nation, it is often forgotten that he locates the link between the two in a particular “apprehension of time”. The first part of this article returns to Anderson’s thesis in order to show that, as different tendencies in contemporary literary studies have recognized, the critical potential of the novel genre lies in its ability to construct a different apprehension of time. The second part of the article applies this insight to the case of David Grossman’s See Under: Love (1986). While Grossman’s novel is routinely recognized as a major intervention in Israel’s national imaginary, and especially in the way the nation related to the Holocaust, this reading underlines that such an intervention is made possible by its reorganization of the ‘timing’ of the nation. A close reading of the novel reveals that it stages and dismisses two different ‘timings’ of the nation, while it constructs a different temporality that affirms rather than dismisses or trivializes the paradoxical simultaneity of the past and the present. This operation is related to the tradition of so-called “secular messianism”, which was famously instantiated in the work of Walter Benjamin. As Anderson’s thesis on the link between novel and nation is itself explicitly indebted to this aspect of Benjamin’s work, this reading of Grossman’s novel demonstrates the continuing relevance of Anderson’s thesis for an understanding of the novel genre’s critical potential.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 96, no 1, 1-15 p.
Keyword [en]
Benedict Anderson, Walter Benjamin, David Grossman, Messianism, Nation, Novel
National Category
Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-83354DOI: 10.1007/s11061-011-9266-0OAI: diva2:575362
Available from: 2012-12-10 Created: 2012-12-10 Last updated: 2016-09-08Bibliographically approved

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Vermeulen, Pieter
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