Journal Article

The Reprieve: Weak Messianism and the Event in Primo Levi’s <i>Moments of Reprieve</i>

Em McAvan

in Literature and Theology

Volume 25, issue 2, pages 172-184
Published in print June 2011 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online November 2010 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frq044
The Reprieve: Weak Messianism and the Event in Primo Levi’s Moments of Reprieve

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In this article, I analyse Primo Levi’s work on Auschwitz, in particular his Moments of Reprieve. Against the overdetermined inhuman economy of the camp, I find that ‘the reprieve’ is what philosopher John D. Caputo has described as an Event, a stirring prompted by a call from alterity. Because it does not redeem or provide salvation, the reprieve is a weak form of messianism, suspending but not cancelling the camp. Because every other Other remains ultimately incomprehensible, I argue that even in the most repressive of the circumstances there remains the possibility of the reprieve.

Journal Article.  5903 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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