Po-ethics of Destruction: Temporalities of Trauma in Vonnegut and Lindqvist
“Time is out of joint.” In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, time is out of joint, because the memory of a violent death refuses to be forgotten: it keeps on returning, reminding, haunting us.
An essential dimension constitutive of psychological trauma is the breaking up of the unifying thread of temporality, the sense of being-in-time. Descriptions of traumatic symptoms often stress the contingent, chaotic, and repetitive way that involuntary memories keep on returning as flashbacks, nightmares, and paranoid obsessions. Trauma forces its victims to act out their painful experiences, again and again, paralyzing their will to make future plans and active decisions.
What connects Kurt Vonnegut’s partly autobiographical, partly fictive novelSlaughterhouse-five (1969), and Sven Lindqvist’s historiographical essay Nu dog du: Bombernas århundrade (1999), translated to English as A History of Bombing, with one another is not only the traumatic memory of bombings – especially the fate of Dresden – but also that in both texts time is out of joint. Time – and place, since time in the novel is a spatial construction – is no longer seen as a single linear history, where one thing leads to another, but as a chaotic network of textual fragments that do not form a coherent whole. They are both traumatic texts, not only because they tell about traumatic events, but because they act out traumatic temporality in their own textual form.
But can they – or can the reader – work through their trauma? This will be our question today.
Dresden and the Layers of Propaganda
Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-five is one of the world’s better known and celebrated anti-war novels. The narrator of the book – the narrator who says that he is the author of the book, Kurt Vonnegut, and can be described thus as an “autobiographical narrator in charge of fiction” – is, however, not so sure about the effectiveness of anti-war books. When the movie-maker Harrison Star asks him: “’Why don’t you write an anti-glacierbook instead?’”, the narrator comments: “What he meant, of course, was that there would always be wars, which they were as easy to stop as glaciers. I believe that, too.” (SF, 3)
Vonnegut himself was a prisoner of war in Dresden that was then often called the most beautiful of German cities when the allies committed the infamous air raid on the 13th of February, 1945, just three months before the end of the war. Almost by a miracle, he and his comrades survived the bombing and firestorm that demolished most of the city and an untold number of its residents. In the first chapter of the book, Vonnegut tells something – very briefly – about his own memories of the event and how difficult it was to write a book about them. In the following chapters, he leads his fictive protagonist Billy Pilgrim to Germany and explains – very briefly – how Billy and his comrades survived.
Sven Lindqvist also provides a brief description of the story of Dresden in his A History of Bombings. The exceptional form of the book has already made A History of Bombingsone of the few classics of postmodern historiography.
In Lindqvist’s account, the bombing of Dresden was only one event in the long history of human mass destruction. The big story behind the book is – as in most of his works from the 1960s fine travel essay Myten om Wu Tao-tzu – the history of Western racism. Without 19th-century colonialism and racism, neither the Holocaust nor area bombings would have been possible, argues Lindqvist. His background as a literary scholar helps him also to show how the idea of mass destruction became, little by little, thinkable and even acceptable in the popular fiction that preceded the atrocities of WWII, and how fantasies of mass destruction are still alive and well in our cultural imagination.
The bombing of Dresden has been used – and is still used – as a vehicle for propaganda. The first estimations given by the Dresden authorities right after the attacks spoke of about 35,000 victims. However, the attack soon became a tool for Nazi propaganda, and Goebbels spoke of about “200,000” victims. Later the fate of Dresden has been used both in left- and right-wing propaganda against the liberal West, and high figures are often cited without any source criticism. Neo-Nazi groups have called the event “Bombenholocaust,” clearly in order to downplay or distract from the significance of the Jewish Holocaust, and some extreme right-wing sources in Internet have even spoke about “500,000” victims, without the slightest attempt to tie that estimation to any source whatsoever, and claimed that “more people died than in Hiroshima and Nagasaki put together.” The event has begun to lead a life of its own, cut off from any historical reality.
Lately also some figures and details that Vonnegut and Lindqvist quote in their books have been contested. Vonnegut refers, unfortunately enough, to David Irving’s once successful book on Dresden and probably adopts from him the figure of 135,000 victims. In 1963 when the book was published, Irving was not the persona non grata that he is today – an extreme right wing Holocaust denier – but one scholar among others; as it turns out, also this early book is, in many ways, unreliable. Lindqvist does not mentionIrving, but the most important sources for him, Bergander and Alexander McKee, were in their own estimations probably still influenced by Irving. Referring to them, Lindqvist gives the figure of 100,000 casualties, but adds that it is impossible to tell the exact figure because so many bodies were not possible to identify or even discern from each other. The task of accomplishing a body count was difficult also because there was a profusion of refugees in town who were not in official records.
The estimation of casualties that Fredrick Taylor gives in his recent book Dresden is much lower than those of Vonnegut or Lindqvist: between 25,000 and 40,000. The raid on Dresden was perhaps not “worse than Hiroshima” as Vonnegut still states, but differences in figures do not change the overall picture of the event as a mass slaughter that went far beyond human imagination and reasonable estimates.
Taylor’s book has also raised much controversy. In Britain, it has been used in order to whitewash the RAF or to claim that the raid cannot be counted as a war crime because, asTaylor shows, there was also an important, small-scale military production in the city. However, as for example Lindqvist convincingly shows by numerous quotations from the files of British official records, the purpose of massive British area bombings, led by Arthur Harris, was for the destruction of whole neighbourhoods and in such a manner as to generate terror and demoralisation on German home front, not for the purpose of making “surgical” attacks to clearly defined military targets. (American bombers in WWII were, in Europe, much more clearly concentrating on military targets. In Japan, they too used massive area bombings.) The plan clearly failed: the home front inGermany was not demoralized, rather the contrary. The military production was only slightly disturbed, and the transportations to the death camps continued – in fact, the allies did not even try to stop them with their superior air force. It is now clear (as it was, in fact, already clear in 1944 to many British citizens and officers who opposed Harris’s strategy of mass destruction) that the victims of Dresden died in vain. And there can be no question in the light of international law at the time that the British area bombings can, indeed, be counted as war crimes – just as the Luftwaffe’s atrocious bombings in Eastern Europe, or the US nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It is also clear that none of these war crimes can be compared in any way to the Jewish Holocaust. To remember the victims of those bombings can in no way be used to “balance” the crimes of the Nazi regime – Dresden was not “another Holocaust.” It is true, that in both cases the events were carefully planned in offices, far away from the actual scene of the crime; in both cases, huge piles of civilian corpses were found asphyxiated or burned to ashes. However, as Lindqvist points out, the differences are also crucial, and cannot be limited to the mere number of victims: responsibility for starting the war was completely on the German side, the bombings would have been stopped (and were stopped) immediately after the surrender, and the Allies did not have any racist intentions to murder a whole race of human beings to the last individual. And not all the inhabitants in Dresden were innocent: the support for Hitler and his racist politics was high, and the town certainly made its own share in war efforts. As a nation, Germanycertainly was not the victim.
No doubt, it is this guilt that partly explains why the German literature and public opinion has been so silent on the memory of area bombings, in spite of their deeply traumatic impact. As W. G. Sebald formulates it, “a nation which had murdered and worked to death millions of people in its camps could hardly call on the victorious powers to explain the military and political logic that dictated the destruction of the German cities.”
As long as we keep this in mind, the memory of area bombings still merits our attention – at least as long as civilians continue to die in terror bombings around the world. And for a single victim it really does not matter if his or her death is caused by a suicide bomber or the Israeli air force. One act of terror never justifies another.
“Listen: Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time” (SF, 20). This is how Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhous-five famously begins – or, to be exact, how its fictive story begins in the Chapter 2.
Billy Pilgrim is a pilgrim who does not show progress along his path. Aliens from the planet Tralfamadore have kidnapped him to their planet, where people can travel freely in time. So Billy, too, against his own will, travels back and forth in time, from Earth to planet Tralfamadore, from the memories of war and Dresden to his post-war life, from his birth in the ‘20s to his death in 1974. As the narrator explains: “Billy is spastic in time, has no control over where he is going next, and the trips aren’t necessarily fun. He is in a constant state of stage fright, he says, because he never knows what part his life he is going to have to act in next.”
Billy has to literally “act out” his past experiences, over and over again. However, it is not only Billy Pilgrim who is unstuck in time – the narrator also travels back and forth in time. Already in the first, openly autobiographical chapter, where Vonnegut discusses the birth process of the book, the order of narrated events is quite random, moving from one memory to another. His attempts to build a traditional chronologically structured narrative with a beginning, a middle, and an end do not seem to succeed. He also tells how he sometimes tries to connect with some of his friends from the past: “I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone. I get drunk . . . and then . . . I ask the telephone operators to connect me with this friend or that one, from whom I have not heard in years” (SF, 3-4).
In Sven Lindqvist’s A History of Bombing, too, the reader becomes “unstuck in time.” She must jump back and forth, both in the book and in time. This is how Lindqvist describes his book:
This book is a labyrinth with 22 entrances and no exit. Each entrance leads to a story or causal line that you can follow by moving always to the number indicated by the arrow. So move after the first chapter of the first story to number 166 and continue forward, until an arrow at the end of chapter 173 tells you to go back to the beginning of story number 2. (NDD, “Förord”)
The book has 400 chapters (or rather fragments). In the book, they follow each other in chronological order – there is a timeline, printed in grey in the margin, running from page to page, from the year 762 to 1999. However, if the reader follows the author’s advice, she will read the 22 stories, indicated by 22 “entrances” in the beginning of the book, by following the arrows at the end of the chapters, thereby reading the book in 22 “stories” that temporally overlap each other. Singular stories usually move chronologically forward, but sometimes they, too, move back in time in order to explain things.
As in Vonnegut, there is also a strong autobiographical dimension that characterizes the book. The original Swedish title of the book, Nu dog du: Bombernas århundrade, can be translated as “Now You Died – The Century of Bombs.” The sentence “now you died” (or “bang, you’re dead!”) refers to the author’s own childhood memories, where he played war games with other kids. “I cannot recall a single piss in my childhood, whether outside or at home in the outhouse, when I didn’t choose a target and bomb it. At five years of age I was already a seasoned bombardier” (NDD, §1). Even though Swedenwas never attacked in World War II, the fear of air bombings was constant in his childhood, and just after the war he travelled through the destroyed Germany. As Patrick Wright has written, autobiography helps Lindqvist “to establish a human scale against which to measure these catastrophic events” and “allows him to see through the strategic justifications, the spookily abstracted calculations of the technologists, to the person quaking on the ground beneath the planes.”
To suggest that Billy’s time travels are caused by post-traumatic stress disorder – or that the narration moves between different time levels because Kurt Vonnegut suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder – would be, of course, an extremely reductive way to readSlaughterhouse-five, and would not do justice to Vonnegut’s art. The text gives several alternative explanations for Billy’s time travels: perhaps his brain was damaged in a post-war plane accident, perhaps he was affected by Kilgore Trout’s science fiction novels, or perhaps Tralfamadoreans disturbed his sense of time as they kidnapped him to their planet through a time warp.
And one can always argue that there is also a positive aspect in being “unstuck in time.” Billy Pilgrim seems at times to resemble a Buddha-like figure, dead to the world – so it goes – and ready to accept the non-humanist, Tralfamadorean view of time where all moments are simultaneously present.
Still, some of Billy’s other difficulties after the war could perhaps also be interpreted as symptoms of trauma. His actual memories of the bombing itself are weak – as were those of Vonnegut himself, according to the first chapter – as if his mind had repressed them as too painful to handle. However, after the war Billy spends some time in a mental hospital. He hides his head under a blanket, and doctors agree that he is going grazy. As the narrator notes, they “didn’t think it had anything to do with the war” – instead, as good Freudians, they searched for answers in his childhood experiences. On his eighteenth wedding anniversary, Billy is suddenly overwhelmed emotionally from the sight of a “barbershop quartet” that was invited to perform some songs for the occasion. After a while, without time travelling, he understands why: the four men reminded him of the four guards that accompanied the American prisoners of war on the very night thatDresden was bombed. And in 1967, the narrator explains that “every so often, for no apparent reason, Billy Pilgrim would find himself weeping. Nobody had ever caught Billy doing it. Only the doctor knew. It was an extremely quiet thing Billy did, and not very moist” (SF, 53).
Telegraphic schizophrenic histories
Lindqvist’s A History of Bombing is a serious historical study, heavily notated, convincingly argued. Several historical journals have reviewed it – sometimes without any mention of its literary form, by the way – and have given it very positive feedback in terms of its scholarly accuracy.
Why has Lindqvist, then, decided to offer his study as an interactive, ergotic play instead of a traditional, linear text? Why this textual labyrinth?
First of all, the solution reveals the existence of two different logics within historiography: a linear logic that tries to construct a valid chronology for the events, and a thematic logic that seeks for relevance and meaning of events. A historical study cannot be just a list of events; it must explain, interpret, and search for similarities and differences, and therefore it must sometimes link together events that have taken place at different times, moving back and forth in time. To construct the book as a series of temporally overlapping, thematic essays is, in fact, often a preferred solution in historiography.
One can also see the structure of A History of Bombing as an effort to achieve a more truthful representation of historical processes. As every history writer knows, in global, long-term trends – as the history of bombing certainly has been – there are always more events and potential storylines than one could ever fit into a traditional chronological account. Historical processes are not always straightforward lines, but rather complicated networks where several different forces are in play, sometimes independently, sometimes crossing each other, sometimes acting together. In order to reveal some kind of causal lines from all the events, one usually must choose – and leave other lines aside. By creating several alternative story lines, Lindqvist has described several more or less independent causal lines that have all had an affect on the history of bombing in some way. Lindqvist has thus created a text that is more loyal to the original structure of the historical process than the traditional linear text can ever be. Or, if you prefer, more loyal to the “modernist events” that Hayden White has described, events that “do not lend themselves to explanation in terms of the categories underwritten by traditional humanistic historiography.”
However, there is also an aesthetic and ethical dimension in his textual labyrinth. As Lindqvist himself says:
Wherever you are, you are surrounded by events and ideas of the same epoch that, however, belong to another story. This is how it is meant to be. In that way the story stands out as it is – as one of the many possible paths in the chaos of history. // Welcome to the labyrinth! Follow the arrows, and construct this horrible puzzle, and when you have seen my century, build your own. (NDD, “Förord”)
History is seen as a “labyrinth” or “chaos,” and the duty of the historian is to display his or her story as “one of the many possible paths in the chaos of history.” The figure of the “labyrinth” connects the book directly to myths and literary history, from Theseus and Minotaure to Kafka and Borges. There is a monster in the middle of the labyrinth, although no one has ever survived to tell what it is really like. The labyrinth represents the unrepresentable form of traumatic experience as such, where the unifying thread of temporal and spatial existence has been broken, where we find ourselves on the same paths again and again, and where the centre is missing – or if not missing, then at least no one has really encountered it and came back to tell about it. As such, this kind of textual labyrinth may well be one of those modernist stylistic innovations that, to quote Hayden White again, “clear the way for that process of mourning which alone can relieve the burden of history and make a more if not totally realistic perception of current problems possible.”
Or then, in fact, A History of Bombing can be described as coming close to the ideal of the “telegraphic schizophrenic” narratives of the planet Tralfamadore in Vonnegut’sSlaughterhouse-five:
[…] each clump of symbols is a brief, urgent message – describing a situation, a scene. We Tralfamadorians read them all at once, not one after the other. There isn’t any particular relationship between all the messages, except that the author has chosen them carefully, so that, when seen all at once, they produce an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep. (SF, 76)
Breaking the Cycle of Global Violence
In the first chapter of Slaughterhouse-five, the narrator recalls the tale of Sodom andGomorrah. When God decided to destroy the cities, He told Lot and his family to flee and not to look back. However, Lot’s wife disobeyed, turned back, and was turned into a pillar of salt. The novel itself, says the narrator, “is a failure, and had to be, since it was written by a pillar of salt” (SF, 19).
Fragment 399 in A History of Bombing, the last fragment of the last story, has a frightening conclusion: “Global violence is the hard core of our existence.” It also has an arrow after it, leading to the first fragment, to the very beginning of the book – so the stories form a loop, allowing no exit for the reader, no escape from the labyrinth. It is, literally, a book without an end. If the reader follows the author’s instructions faithfully, he will share the fate of Billy Pilgrim: he will be doomed to return to the same events, again and again, for eternity.
Are both books written by pillars of salt? Are both of them only endless labyrinths of fragments with no exit, with no positive political solution? We may say that they both create “an image of life that is beautiful and surprising and deep,” but does that elegiac beauty only leave us weeping? Or can the process of mourning really “relieve the burden of history,” as White hopes?
As many therapists and theoretians have reminded us (we can mention, for example, Dominique LaCapra), in order to live at least a relatively normal and active life, it is not enough to “act out” the trauma – one has to find a way to “work through” it. In other words, what trauma therapy tries to achieve is a shift from the circular, repetitive, out-of-joint time into a linear, causal and logical time, where we can “work through” our painful experiences and integrate them into more or less coherent narratives, into our own personal life story as well as into world history as a whole. We should find a way to movethrough our sorrows, leave them behind, and constitute a new temporal order where the past really belongs to the past and does not return to disturb our everyday life and the plans we make for our future.
However, traumas that have been caused by mass destruction and violent death of our fellow human beings actively resist all our attempts to “work through” them. As Robert Eaglestone has suggested, this resistance is not only a psychological obsession to “act out” the past experience or an inability to work through it. It is an ethical imperative to remember those who are no longer here with us. We, the living, are not the ultimate victims – we are the survivors, the ones who have left the ultimate victims behind, the ones who did not do enough to save them, the ones that, like Primo Levi’s put it, “did not encounter Gorgo from face to face.”
So, traumas caused by genocide lead us to a double bind: we know that for our own sake we should work through our trauma, concentrate on the future, build a new life for ourselves and those who are still with us – but at the same time we feel that we betray the memory of the victims, if we do not keep on returning to those memories where they are still alive, again and again. Tears may prevent us from making decisions, but tears are perhaps the last tie that keeps the dead somehow with us.
Is the ethical imperative to remember too strongly embedded in Slaughterhouse-five andA History of Bombing? Do they offer us any way to work through our personal and collective trauma? Or do they just break the temporal and spatial unity and leave us there, in time out of joint, in a chaos of fragments, along paths that lead nowhere?
Both books certainly do contain some more or less determinist views on history – and we know that determinism usually does not encourage political action. The world view of the Tralfamadoreans that Billy Pilgrim adopts represents the extreme form of all determinism: everything has happened, is happening, and will happen exactly as it is meant to be. No one can change the course of history. All was, is, and will be the same.
However, this extreme Tralfamadorean determinism can be read also as a metatextual comment upon the structure of writing itself. When Billy Pilgrim visits an adult book shop, he sees pictures of young girls in magazines, and the narrator comments how, in the pictures, the girls will always remain young, looking pretty and licking lollipops. Pictorial representation, as in fact all representation, turns time into a spatial structure that can be visited over and over again. So, in a way, Billy is right: his life is totally predetermined. He is, after all, a literary character, and all literary characters live in a totally predetermined world. The most famous determinist of world literature, Diderot’s Jacquesle fatalist, had a point: his life was, indeed, written into a large book – that is, into a book written by Denis Diderot.
That Vonnegut is very much conscious about the nature of writing as repetition can be seen from the way he makes various phrases and motives return in the text, time after time. Every time the narrator speaks about death, for example, he adds the famous line “so it goes”; the porn image of a girl and a pony pops up in unexpected situations. Language contains a limited number of elements, figures, motives and themes that keep on returning, thus enforcing the determinist themes of the book.
Is this Tralfamadorean or metafictive determinism the last word? Is the reader really called to share it? In the first, autobiographical chapter, the narrator-Vonnegut admits that he does believe that there will always be wars. Still, he does offer his children advice that seems to contain some elements of hope and political decision, and thus he leaves pure determinism behind: he asks them not to participate in warfare against civilians, and tells them not to support any institution or private company that is supporting such a war or is producing military material. The last advice is, in fact, quite radical, since in the USAmost major companies are somehow involved in military production.
Perhaps we are, as readers, types of unruly “sons” and “daughters” of the text, able to free ourselves from the determinism of previous generations – or from the determinism of the written word, for that matter. It is our task to read and interpret otherwise, to break the cycle of violence.
And, in fact, already the sheer originality and energy of Vonnegut’s short, precise sentences, his fragmentary but still intelligent and clear narration, and the balance between clear-sighted sarcasm and rich, unbound imagination frees the reader from elegiac powerlessness that often governs accounts of traumatic events – and that still, I think, govern the first chapter.
Does warfare and mass destruction belong to human nature? Lindqvist does not give any final answer to this question, although he does note that almost all fantasies of genocides in fiction are written by men for a male audience. This perverted masculinity is, however, not the thing he is most worried about. What makes Lindqvist think that future wars will be inevitable is globalisation: the global dependence on each other is not, as many argue, a way to peace, because in practice this dependence only exposes all economies to the mercy of sudden, chaotic international crises. The heritage of colonialism in the form of new, global markets is still feeding violence, even though contemporary bombs are nowadays more often car bombs, launched by suicide bombers, than napalm bombs or nuclear weapons.
In spite of this pessimistic conclusion, Lindqvist does offer clear, legal solutions, based on the development of international law, in order to stop the practice of bombing civilians in future wars. He recognizes the advancements that international law has achieved so far – although he also shows, time after time, how international law has been ruthlessly violated, and seems to believe in the end that there is no way out of some kind of global violence, whatever forms it may take in the future.
More important still is that, although the labyrinth that Lindqvist builds in A History of Bombing does not offer any false hope for an easy exit, it still offers us many possible storylines, many possible narratives that we can use in order to map the history of where we stand today. Lindqvist does not insist that his century is the right one, but invites the reader to build his or her own century. The bottom line here is that the fragmentary nature of the book actually calls for alternative stories, for surfing from one story to another, for making connections that Lindqvist does not make himself. The author may express some deterministic views, but the reader’s experience is not predetermined.
So, in the end I think that both books not only act out certain features of traumatic temporality, but they also break the cycle of elegiac but paralyzing determinism, and point towards political action. We do not have to share the fate of the pillar of salt: the textual structure of these books activates the reader, encourages him or her to create his or her own story from the fragments – and in that story, there might be, and there must be, a way out of the labyrinth.
 See, for example, Robert D. Stolorow, “Trauma and Temporality.” Psychoanalytic Psychology 20 (2003).
 Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-five or The Children’s Crusade. New York: Delta, 1969; henceforth cited as SF. Sven Lindqvist, Nu dog du: Bombernas århundrade. Stockholm: Bonniers, 1999; henceforth cited as NDD.
 The status of the narrator in Slaughterhouse-five has given rise to some controversy. On the one hand, in the first and last chapters there seems to be a traditional “homodiegetic” autobiographical narrator. In other chapters, the narrator seems to be close to that of an “omniscient,” “heterodiegetic” narrator, whose knowledge has no similar limitations as homodiegetic narrators usually have – although three times the autobiographical “I” does make an intervention. Some commentators have thus claimed that there are two different narrators. Bo Pettersson, however, holds that the book has only one narrator-author, the more or less real Vonnegut himself, an autobiographical narrator who is metafictionally conscious and in full charge of fiction. Bo Pettersson, The World According to Kurt Vonnegut (Åbo: Åbo Akademi University Press, 1994), 233 –280.
 In the last revised edition of his Dresden book, Irving makes new estimations and arrives at “sixty thousand or more; perhaps a hundred thousand,” without really anchoring his new estimate to any solid evidence. David Irving, Apocalypse 1945: The Destruction of Dresden (London: Focal Point, 2005), 242-5.
 Bergander, Götz, Dresden im Luftkrieg. Vorgeschichte-Zerstörung-Folgen (Munich: Wilhelm Heyne Verlag, 1977); Alexander McKee, Dresden 1945: The Devil's Tinderbox (New York: E.P. Dutton, 1984).
 Fredrick Taylor, Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945 (New York: Harper & Collins, 2004).
 W. G. Sebald, On the Natural History of Destruction. Trans. Anthea Bell (New York: Modern Library, 2004), 13–14.
 Translations are mine.
 The book has no pagination, so references are to fragments.
 Patrick Wright, “Dropping their Eggs.” The London Review of Books, 08/23/2001.
 Hayden White, “Modernist Event” in Figural Realism: Studies in the Mimesis Effect (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1999), 71.
 White, ”Modernist Event,” 82.
Kuisma Korhonen is a docent of Comparative Literature and a researcher at the Institute of the Art Research, University of Helsinki. He is the author of Textual Friendship: The Essay as Impossible Encounter (Humanity Books, 2006) and the editor of Tropes for the Past: Hayden White and the History/Literature Debate (Rodopi, 2006).
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