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Traces of WarInterpreting Ethics and Trauma in Twentieth-Century French Writing$
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Colin Davis

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786940421

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781786940421.001.0001

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Althusser and Levinas

(p.134) Chapter Seven Afterlives
Traces of War

Colin Davis

Liverpool University Press

This chapter considers the influence of the war on the works of Althusser and Levinas. Althusser’s period as a POW prepared the way for his conversion to Communism and his becoming the foremost Marxist thinker of his generation; and in his life and writing, the issue of incarceration dramatically re-emerged when he killed his wife, Hélène. Levinas was a naturalized Frenchman, originally from a Jewish family in Lithuania, when war broke out. His experiences as a POW consolidated his distancing from the phenomenology of Husserl and Heidegger and laid the way for his position as a highly influential ethical thinker whose work was particularly important for the ethical turn of poststructuralism.

Keywords:   Althusser, Levinas, ethics, prisoner of war, marxism

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