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Extra info for The Works of Claudio Magris: Temporary Homes, Mobile Identities, European Borders

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0004 Households of the Self  still believing in a possible totality and stability enclosed within the walls of the Home, and allegedly finding an illusory serenity and sheltered happiness in a home with a small “h,” “our house” (25), now asleep in the comforting habitual site of their past life together, hence also a surrogate for the communion that he could have reestablished with his woman if they had been reunited. Significantly, however, although this palliative domesticity seems soothing to him, we know through the woman’s reflections—which convey the narrator’s critical consciousness—that Orpheus is forced, against his will, to lay down his lyre before being able to reveal what nobody knows.

Just as individual identity implies renewing our origins accepting to lose our childhood abode (Utopia 69), homeland cannot be held and owned as our own exclusive property. Love of home, be it a city, a region, or a nation, cannot be demonstrated, for Magris, through a barbaric celebration of turf and blood (69), but, rather, through the experience of loss. As identity for Magris is tantamount to uncertainty, and biographies are always imperfect, any site of collective belonging, be it home, the mythical regional community of Heimat, or a national or transnational homeland, has to be inevitably porous, open, unstable.

The considerations emerging from You Will Therefore Understand on home, death, and the impossibility of communication that confines each individual to the space of a personal enclave enrich the topos of the temporary home with Heideggerian elements, of which Magris’s theatrical monologue may be said to offer a critical revision. The inexorable separation between Eurydice and Orpheus seems to decree the “non-relational, certain and as such indefinite” (Heidegger Being 303) nature of death, which, according to Heidegger, by breaking down the possibility of representation, consolidates the analogy between “mineness and existence” (284).

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