Within the context of the divisive intellectual debate on the cultural legacy of ancient Greece in the development of Europeanness, this essay focuses on three contemporary writers—Magris, Kundera, and Schmitt—who engage with a seminal European humanistic text, Homer's Odyssey, to challenge the cohesiveness of the idea of Europe. The authors' responses to the treatment of exile, return, homeland, and identity in Ulysses' voyage problematize not only the boundary between belonging and not belonging to Europe but also the distinction between center and periphery within the European space. Approaching the European question from borderline areas, Magris, Kundera, and Schmitt elaborate a politics of home transcending fanatic closure and absolute drifting. Their odysseys enact what I call critical nóstoi, ironic homecomings that undermine Husserl's “spiritual telos of European man” but place a wager, nonetheless, on a European cultural and political project founded upon the value of the temporary as both a promoter of mobility and pluralism and a custodian of limits.
Nicoletta Pireddu; European Ulyssiads: Claudio Magris, Milan Kundera, Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. Comparative Literature 1 September 2015; 67 (3): 267–286. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-3137216
Download citation file: