Partial Answers - Homepage Journal of Literature and The History of Ideas The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

 Volume 16/1: includes forum "Victorian Women Traveling"
 January 2018

 Volume 15/2
 June 2017

 Volume 15/1: includes forum "Audionarratology"
 January 2017

 Volume 14/2: includes forum "Modern Jewish Spaces"
 June 2016

 Volume 14/1: includes forum "Saul Bellow as a Novelist of Ideas"
 January 2016

 Volume 13/2: includes forum "Comics and the Canon"
 June 2015

 Volume 13/1: includes forum "TheGhetto as a Victorian Text"
 January 2015

 Volume 12/2: includes forum "The Novel and Theories of Love"
 June 2014

 Volume 12/1
 January 2014

 Volume 11/2: includes forum "Translating Philip Roth"
 June 2013

 Volume 11/1
 January 2013

 Volume 10/2: includes forum
 June 2012

 Volume 10/1: includes forum "Fernando Pessoa and the Issue of Heteronymy
 January 2012

 Volume 9/2: Dickens: Uneasy Pleasures
 June 2011

 Volume 9/1
 January 2011

 Volume 8/2: British Women Writers
 June 2010

 Volume 8/1 includes forum "The Ethics of Temporality"
 January 2010

 Volume 7/2: Eyewitness Narratives
 June 2009

 Volume 7/1
 January 2009

 Volume 6/2: Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling
 June 2008

 Volume 6/1
 January 2008

 Volume 5/2
 June 2007

 Volume 5/1
 January 2007

 Volume 4/2: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
 June 2006

 Volume 4/1
 January 2006

 Volume 3/2
 June 2005

 Volume 3/1
 January 2005

 Volume 2/2
 June 2004

 Volume 2/1
 January 2004

 Volume 1/2
 June 2003

 Volume 1/1
 January 2003

 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

 Sounding Postmodernity
 Jarmila Mildorf

 Narrativity and Sound in German Radio Play Adaptations of Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy
 Till Kinzel

 Non-Sovereign Voices in Friederike Mayröcker’s Aural Texts
 Inge Arteel

 Singing Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow
 Anahita Rouyan

 Being Silent, Doing Nothing
 Agatha Frischmuth

 Musical Macrostructures in The Gold Bug Variations and Orfeo by Richard Powers; or, Toward a Media-Conscious Audionarratology
 A. Elisabeth Reichel

 New Modes of Listening
 Emily Petermann

 Narrating Sounds
 Jarmila Mildorf and Till Kinzel

Get Adobe Reader

Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 3, Number 1 (January 2005) : 81-99
Conrad, Freud and Derrida on Pompeii
A Paradigm of Disappearance
Yael Levin
Rubric A: Topoi



The volcanic eruption that occurred in Pompeii almost two millennia ago and the city’s more recent excavation have fuelled the literary imaginations of many great thinkers. This paper examines the evolutions of the motif in the Twentieth Century, through the inter and intratextual meeting of Joseph Conrad’s The Arrow of Gold, Sigmund Freud’s “Jensen’s Gradiva and Other Stories” and Jacques Derrida’s Archive Fever. The treatment of the Pompeiian motif in these texts suggests that the themes of mourning and loss that inevitably color the tragic event are coupled by themes of desire, longing and hope. The latter are incited precisely where loss has been fixed, and the lost object can no longer be resurrected or found. For Conrad, the Pompeiian image signals a recurring theme of unrequited yearning or impossible love. Consummation is deferred or impeded, eliciting both the protagonist’s and the reader’s desire. Freud describes the manner in which the motif of Pompeii is emblematic of his notion of repression, where the latent exerts its power over the manifest. However, where Conrad delights in delay, Freud expounds the psychoanalytic drive to unmask and recover. In Derrida’s reading, the Pompeiian motif is likened to the figure of the archive which is not only responsible for the preservation of memory, but is also a dynamic force that forms its content as it comes into being. In opposition to Freud, the emphasis is placed not on the past but on the future, on the singular experience of the promise. Although this recalls Conrad’s temporality of deferral, here the promise is not ironized by an underlying impossibility but rather suffused with hope. The juxtaposition of the three writers thus testifies to the paradoxical fusion that lies at the heart of the ancient site. At once past and present, the image of Pompeii endures in the imagination as an object of desire, a figure that can never be possessed.


 All Rights Reserved to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem- Partial Answers © 2004. Powered By Priza

The Johns Hopkins University Press