Alas a Dirty Third: The Logic of Death

John Limon

in Death's Following

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780823242795
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823242832 | DOI:
Alas a Dirty Third: The Logic of Death

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This chapter takes up a Jewish joke about dirt on the forehead of house-breakers, a logical exemplum about dirt on the foreheads of logic students, and T.S. Eliot's “Ash Wednesday.” In each case, the unseen mark of death must be inferred from the dirty foreheads of others. The structure of inference-one person must read death from the dirtiness of two others-is also manifest in Kafka's The Trial, which makes adult commonness the essence of death, and Pinter's The Birthday Party, which make dirtiness visible as the inferred sign of adulthood.

Keywords: Dirtiness; Jewish jokes; Ash Wednesday; Logic; T.S. Eliot; Kafka; Harold Pinter

Chapter.  8521 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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