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Spring 2024


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Absentees reviewed in the TLS
When the Undead Return

In a recent review in the Times Literary Supplement, Ruth Scurr discusses how literature represents the disappearance of men and women in Daniel Heller-Roazen’s Absentees: On Variously Missing Persons. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full review. An excerpt appears below:

“In Absentees: On Variously Missing Persons, Daniel Heller-Roazen, Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University, explores the marking of absence in a wide range of historical, literary and mythological contexts. He begins with legal frameworks, ancient and modern, that attempt to impose order on the chaos and uncertainty created by a person who disappears. The simple placeholding ‘A’ of the school register is still the starting point for acknowledging absence, but legal systems also provide elaborate technical definitions of what it means to be an absentee. Heller-Roazen quotes the Louisiana Law Review of 1990: ‘For the law, one who is absent is not at his legal domicile, but he is not just away from home. He has left no clue as to his whereabouts and it is impossible to ascertain whether he is alive or dead’. Men are almost always the assumed subjects of these legal codes, constructed on the age-old assumption that men go missing while women remain at home.”