New Article: Alphandri, The Ethics of Lévinas and Kristeva in To the End of the Land

Alphandri, Idit. “The Ethics of Lévinas’s Temimut and Kristeva’s Abjection in To the End of the Land by David Grossman.” CR: The New Centennial Review 14.3 (2014): 183-217.





Through his novel, Grossman conveys to his readers, on both a conscious and an unconscious level, that he feels himself to be inhabited by a temimut that also implies abjection. In his essay “Writing in the Dark,” written in the aftermath of the death of his son, Grossman clearly states that the disaster is alienating. On July 9, 2008, Tel Aviv University hosted a one-day conference devoted to Grossman’s oeuvre. In his closing remarks that day Grossman compared the novel To the End of the Land to his personal tragedy. He spoke about the fact that after the “Shiva” (the seven days of mourning) he felt compelled to continue writing because, as he explained, through the act of writing he is uplifted from the state of the victim of an arbitrary death and transformed into a free man. “For as long as you are writing you are not a victim,” Grossman stressed. As I understand him, what Grossman is saying here is this: for as long as he signifies a different outlook or a relation of difference toward the irresponsibility that war introduces to a culture—despite the personal catastrophe that he has suffered—Grossman maintains temimut in his life as an Israeli and does not surrender to the death drive that permeates political activity in Israel. Hence, in “Writing in the Dark” Grossman asserts, “What remain are the clichés we use for describing our enemy and ourselves; the clichés that are, ultimately, a collection of superstitions and crude generalizations, in which we capture ourselves and entrap our enemy.” Grossman compares himself to Don Quixote, in that he seeks to create speech-acts that defy the regular deprivation of the freedom of creating one’s own speech. He aspires to perform speech-acts that host creativity, not alienation.

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