The Ontology of Death: The Philosophy of the Death Penalty in Literature (Hardcover)

The Ontology of Death: The Philosophy of the Death Penalty in Literature By Aaron Aquilina Cover Image
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Through examination of the death penalty in literature, Aaron Aquilina contests Heidegger's concept of 'being-towards-death' and proposes a new understanding of the political and philosophical subject.

Dickens, Nabokov, Hugo, Sophocles and many others explore capital punishment in their works, from Antigone to Invitation to a Beheading. Using these varied case studies, Aquilina demonstrates how they all highlight two aspects of the experience. First, they uncover a particular state of being, or more precisely non-being, that comes with a death sentence, and, second, they reveal how this state exists beyond death row, as sovereignty and alterity are by no means confined to a prison cell.

In contrast to Heidegger's being-towards-death, which individualizes the subject - only I can die my own death, supposedly - this book argues that, when condemned to death, the self and death collide, putting under erasure the category of subjectivity itself. Be it death row or not, when the supposed futurity of death is brought into the here and now, we encounter what Aquilina calls 'relational death'. Living on with death severs the subject's relation to itself, the other and political sociality as a whole, rendering the human less a named and recognizable 'being' than an anonymous 'living corpse', a human thing.

In a sustained engagement with Blanchot, Levinas, Hegel, Agamben and Derrida, The Ontology of Death articulates a new theory of the subject, beyond political subjectivity defined by sovereignty and beyond the Heideggerian notion of ontological selfhood.

About the Author

Aaron Aquilina is a Resident Academic in the Department of English at the University of Malta, Malta. His work has been published in numerous journals, including Parallax, Textual Practice and Word and Text, in edited collections such as The Essay at the Limits, and he is the Founding General Editor of 'antae', an open-access, refereed, and international online journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9781350339484
ISBN-10: 1350339482
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Publication Date: May 18th, 2023
Pages: 240
Language: English