Surely, the archetype of all those who returned home, Homer’s Odysseus, often thought of Ithaca while being away from his homeland. Dreaming of home from abroad can express a yearning for being there and for nostos (homecoming). Odysseus’ return, however, does not constitute a happy reunion with home and family. Instead, it first sparks an act of ruthless violence when Odysseus massacres the usurpers who are trying to take possession of his wife and his throne. Homer’s insight here suggests the recognition that home cannot be thought of or grasped as something that actually exists, because both “home” and the one thinking of it are subject to perpetual change. Twentieth-century thinkers seem to concur and describe “modern man” as incapable of ‘dwelling’ (Martin Heidegger) and as beings who are trapped in a backward-looking gaze (history, memory, home) while relentlessly being hurled to the (unknown) future (Walter Benjamin). In Heimkehr (Homecoming, 2018), renowned and prize-winning Swiss philosopher, dramatist, and writer Thomas Hürlimann introduces Heinrich Übel. This protagonist suffers a series of physical (and mental) displacements. The more he thinks of home and about going home, the more he recognizes that there is no such thing as “home” in the world of life experiences. Hürlimann’s text is a picaresque quasi coming-of-age-novel (Bildungsroman) that is permeated with allusions to Homer, Gottfried Keller, E.T.A. Hoffmann, the Bible, and more. The intertextual elements of the novel serve to “deterritorialize” the concept of “home” in the homeless protagonist’s mind and lead to his realizations that home is a location in the imagination and that literature is the guide to this place. Hürlimann’s novel models a way of “dwelling” in the 21st-century world that can be of interest to all who are “displaced”—voluntarily or not.
|Publication Date||December 31, 2019|
|Published in Issue||Year 2019 Volume: 13 Issue: 2|
Çankaya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences
Çankaya Üniversitesi ISSN 1309-6761 Printed in Ankara