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THE COST OF BEING ETHICAL: Fiction, Violence, and Altericide

THE COST OF BEING ETHICAL: Fiction, Violence, and Altericide Page 241 THE COST OF BEING ETHICAL Fiction, Violence, and Altericide Colin Murder is commonplace in all forms of fiction, so that to tell and listen to stories is to have a taste of what it is like to kill. Oedipus’s story is parricidal before it is incestuous. You meet a man at a crossroads and you kill him. Nothing could be simpler. In his novel L’Etranger, Albert Camus updates the scenario for the era of decolonization. At the center of the novel is the apparently senseless murder of an Arab on a beach in Algeria. But the murder is not so hard to explain. In an atmosphere of fear, resentment, and simmering violence, a white man confronts an Arab and takes his life. There may be no particular reason to kill him, but neither can Meursault, the murderer, think of any good reason not to kill him. Murder, here and elsewhere, is not just one fictional theme among others; rather, fiction is deeply enmeshed with a view of humankind as murderous or, as I have put it elsewhere, altericidal.1 Killing others is one of the basic things that human beings do, and fiction gives us a glimpse http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Common Knowledge Duke University Press

THE COST OF BEING ETHICAL: Fiction, Violence, and Altericide

Common Knowledge , Volume 9 (2) – Apr 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by Duke University Press
ISSN
0961-754X
eISSN
1538-4578
DOI
10.1215/0961754X-9-2-241
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Page 241 THE COST OF BEING ETHICAL Fiction, Violence, and Altericide Colin Murder is commonplace in all forms of fiction, so that to tell and listen to stories is to have a taste of what it is like to kill. Oedipus’s story is parricidal before it is incestuous. You meet a man at a crossroads and you kill him. Nothing could be simpler. In his novel L’Etranger, Albert Camus updates the scenario for the era of decolonization. At the center of the novel is the apparently senseless murder of an Arab on a beach in Algeria. But the murder is not so hard to explain. In an atmosphere of fear, resentment, and simmering violence, a white man confronts an Arab and takes his life. There may be no particular reason to kill him, but neither can Meursault, the murderer, think of any good reason not to kill him. Murder, here and elsewhere, is not just one fictional theme among others; rather, fiction is deeply enmeshed with a view of humankind as murderous or, as I have put it elsewhere, altericidal.1 Killing others is one of the basic things that human beings do, and fiction gives us a glimpse

Journal

Common KnowledgeDuke University Press

Published: Apr 1, 2003

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