The question explored in this article pertains to the type of exchange specific to human relations we call forgiveness. Hannah Arendt's comments on the subject provide a compelling justification for its necessity: “Without being forgiven, released from the consequences of what we have done, our capacity to act would, as it were, be confined to one single deed from which we could never recover; we would remain the victims of its consequences forever, not unlike the sorcerer's apprentice who lacks the magic formula to break the spell.” Yet, precisely the imperative nature of forgiveness may be a source of epistemic conundrums. To elaborate this point, the author begins with a reference to a striking key episode at the heart of the South Korean film Miryang [Secret Sunshine] (2007), which stages forgiveness in the context of Christian evangelism. The article goes on to argue, through a discussion of the writings of Derrida and Auerbach, among others, that the connotations of forgiveness extend considerably beyond a strictly religious dimension, going so far as to bear on contemporary theoretical questions about translation and the secularization of representation.

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