. 7). What is the justice of the ethicaldemand Hill puts upon his work?
Night and fog it ís then, comrades ( SpSp 88)
In the seventh section of The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy Hill quotes his protagonist: ‘Péguy said / “why do I write of war? | Simply because / I have not been there”’ ( CP p. 192). There is a voice in The Triumph of Love which sees the prominence of the two world wars, the Shoah, and other extremities in Hill’s poetry as ‘obsession’: ‘This is quite dreadful – he’s become obsessed
‘Churchill’s Funeral’ and ‘De Jure Belli ac Pacis’ (Canaan, 1996)
task, every detail of the weights, rhythms, contexts and histories of the words in which the poet’s subject consist can be registered. The ethicaldemand upon the poem is to use the leisure of this attention to be part of the exploration Rose speaks of, and it is this that gives it the quality of an act. Nevertheless, memorial must seem, although the most compelled, still the most impotent of poetic acts: ‘What shall the poet say, / what words inscribe upon your monument?’ cries Hecuba in Euripides’ Trojan Women . Discussing Hecuba’s lament, Martha Nussbaum dwells
, unkillable sense of what is due, of the importance of making a proper account of the uncounted. Such pains of omission and commission, and the ethicaldemand, mean that this is never a dream: ce n’est pas drôle .
But ‘the incorrigible nature of judgement’ can be experienced as consuming the self and the world with its implacability. In the sequence LVII, LVIII and LIX, Hill revolts against its implications:
Reading Dante in a mood of angry dislike for my fellow sufferers and for myself that I dislike them
Jeannette Baxter, Valerie Henitiuk, and Ben Hutchinson
’s narratives at times display an oedipal complex, suggests
Herren, it is ‘Oedipus Rex refracted through Kaf ka and Beckett’: by the end of The
Emigrants, the narrator ‘effectively chooses to blind himself rather than face the full
implications of his family crisis head on’. Yet the reader is meant to see beyond the
narrator’s ‘averted gaze’, and thus to reach the very conclusions that the narrator
seeks to avoid.
The various intellectual and ethicaldemands that the Sebaldian text makes on
the reader inform the closing essay in this volume, Russell J. A. Kilbourn
Space, limitation and the perception of female selfhood in Samuel
unable to resolve
the struggles in her own consciousness and still fears that Mr B.
will dishonour her causes his outbreak of anger that terminates the
pastoral scene – harmony is still at a distance, although the peak
of despair lies behind her. Since Pamela cannot be his wife for
reasons of class and will not be his mistress she must suffer the
pains of unrequited love and spatial separation from Mr B. While
she tries to unify her inner self which resembles a battlefield of
conflicting rules, ethicaldemands and inclinations, she once more
moves spatially away by
empathic affiliation with him.
It should not be surprising that the author’s face would be
a locus of intersubjective affinity for those who claim to have a
transhistorical empathic encounter with him. Many who work
on the intersubjective experience of encountering the face cite
Emmanuel Levinas’s quasi-theological account in Totality and
Infinity of the ethicaldemand made by the face of the Other and
its ineluctable alterity, which compels a response that transcends
Chaucer as Catholic
childand Chaucer’s face
one’s own subjectivity.19 But