27.2 | Daniel Listoe

A Double-Negation: Allegory and the Re-inscription of Human Rights

This essay explores the intersection of literary form and appeals for human rights. It focuses on how the form of allegory, or what Walter Benjamin calls the “expression of convention,” highlights the authority of those genres that work to confirm or deny human rights. To this end the essay draws on the writings of the Hungarian Holocaust survivor Imre Kertész, the South African novelist J.M. Coetzee, and the American writer and critic Paul Auster. The essay argues that these authors demonstrate the necessary double negation of rights and human accounts: the representation of those who cannot represent their experience and therein the representation of what they cannot show.