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Ruins; or the Being of Time as History in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day

Abstract : In 1926–27, in his work Being and Time (Sein und Zeit), Martin Heidegger sought to ‘destroy’ the metaphysics of presence. To destroy, which meant to solicit, to shake, to destabilize, to bring out the ruins and remains inherent in presence, was for Heidegger, if not to surpass metaphysics and its privilege of presence, to attest another mode of thinking time and history. This other way of thinking was to think Being (Sein), the holding-together of life (Zusammenhang des Lebens), and community, according to an ‘always already’ and ‘always not yet’. The ‘destruction of presence’ sought precisely to show that the rationalistic imposition of presence was disastrous. In his as yet unpublished course from 1964, entitled ‘Heidegger: la question de l’Être et l’histoire’, Jacques Derrida interrogates at length Heidegger’s project, writing for example that ‘Sein und Zeit commence donc à ébranler, à solliciter l’époque qui dissimule l’histoire de l’être sous l’histoire de l’étantité determine comme présentité/ Being and Time begins, therefore, to shake, to unsettle, the epoch that dissimulates the history of Being beneath the history of beingness determined as present-ness’. Derrida, in this course and henceforth with ever-greater acuity and force, laid out what this other way of thinking might be, and it acknowledges and welcomes the place of the ruin, the remainder, well-nigh converting it into a sustainable resource, in the name of thinking otherwise what life and community are, despite the hegemony of a metaphysics of presence. I would like to take the de(con)struction of presence—not at all a ruin-causing event in twentieth-century thought, on the contrary—as a point of departure for reading a novel devoted to the remanence of ruins in London, Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day (1949). Commanded by a representation of the Blitz, and by a representation of London as a presence whose modality is the past of the future, this novel is a striking example of a ‘deconstruction of present exhaustion and of past master discourses’.
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Dutoit Ruins Elizabeth Bowen H...
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Thomas Dutoit. Ruins; or the Being of Time as History in Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day. Etudes britanniques contemporaines - Revue de la Société dʼétudes anglaises contemporaines, Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée, 2012, Ruins. Colloque de la SEAC, Londres, novembre 2011, 43, pp.73-94. ⟨10.4000/ebc.1322⟩. ⟨hal-01127707⟩



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