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The Limits of Empathy and Compassion in Delphine de Vigan’s No et moi and Les Heures souterraines

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Kathryn Robson


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This article explores the limits and possibilities of reading empathy and compassion as portrayed in two French novels, No et moi (2007) and Les Heures souterraines (2011), by the prize-winning author, Delphine de Vigan. I analyse how contemporary theory deploys figures of space and location to contrast empathy (defined as other-oriented) with compassion (defined as self-oriented), yet the distance between these collapses when the former is shown to be near-impossible. Rather than equate empathy with shared affect/position (imagining oneself in the other’s place) I relocate it within displaced, disrupted relations mirrored within the reading encounter itself.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Robson K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Modern Language Review

Year: 2015

Volume: 110

Issue: 3

Pages: 677-693

Print publication date: 01/07/2015

Online publication date: 31/07/2015

Acceptance date: 15/08/2014

ISSN (print): 0026-7937

ISSN (electronic): 2222-4319


DOI: 10.5699/modelangrevi.110.3.0677


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