Beyond tragedy: Arendt, Rogat, and the Judges in Jerusalem

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Abstract

Among the aesthetic categories that appears only occasionally in Arendt's reflections on literature and culture is that of tragedy. She thus departs from a significant number of her contemporaries, including Heidegger, for whom the idea of the tragic is of central, even decisive importance. But there is no question that Arendt engages with the epochal character of Greek tragedy in her "trial report," Eichmann in Jerusalem. The reason her engagement has gone largely unrecognized is that it occurs in connection with her appropriation of the theme from a young scholar named Yosal Rogat, who published a pamphlet in 1961 entitled The Eichmann Trial and the Rule of Law. Attentive to Rogat's earlier work, this essay shows that the theory of tragedy developed by Benjamin informs the perplexing conclusion of Arendt's report, where she gives voice to the words she believes the Jerusalem judges should have pronounced with their verdict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCollege Literature
Volume38
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Literature and Literary Theory

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