Have You Reread Levinas Lately? Transformations of the Face in Post-Holocaust Fiction

  • Norman Ravvin


Not unlike handsome cities razed to rubble by war, our contemporary intellectual traditions undergo repeated attack and burial. Schools of thought spread their influence to a variety of fields and then are dismissed as outmoded; prophets are uncovered then deposed; even particularly charged words — once on everyone’s lips and in book-title after book-title — are condemned to a long afterlife as journalistic clichés. In the context of this seemingly unflagging embrace of abandonment and change, consider the name, the work, the face of Emmanuel Levinas. As I write, and possibly still as you read, Levinas is a kind of prophet. Through his interrogation of the Western philosophical tradition he has become the source of one of the key paradigm shifts of postmodern culture: a return to ethics, a remaking of our tradition in the direction of the other. In his words, the ‘being of animals is a struggle for life. A struggle for life without ethics. It is a question of might …. However, with the appearance of the human — and this is my entire philosophy — there is something more important than my life, and that is the life of the other.’1


Human Face Ethical Relationship Fundamental Image Western Philosophical Tradition Grave Image 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Ravvin

There are no affiliations available

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