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11/08/2021 | Publication

Witthaus, Jan-Henrik & Oster, Angela (2021) "Pandemic and Literature."

Jan-Henrik Witthaus has published a volume of essays with Angela Oster at Mandelbaum in Vienna.

The whole world is talking about Corona. Literature has always written about pandemics. Boccaccio's and Manzoni's descriptions of plague in the Decameron and The Betrothed are part of Europe's collective memory, and so they have been recommended as lockdown reading. In a collection of essays, these and other texts are re-read in light of the current Covid 19 crisis. It turns out that these narrative texts are astonishingly topical, as one currently recognizes, thanks to Manzoni, Heine, and co. a ghostly return of long-familiar patterns of reaction. However, it also becomes apparent that texts such as Camus' The Plague invite a deeper philosophical contemplation that subverts the current European crisis discourse. As an indispensable time-lapse of crises, narrative literature shows us what is truly necessary for survival: creativity. And the current Corona debates in Italy or France - for which further essays are available - testify to reflections of a social or ideological nature that hint at a horizon beyond mere hypnosis by news and incidences.