Eros and Ethics in Martin A. Hansen’s Novel The Liar


  • Jørgen Veisland



erotic triangles, repetition, dualism, writing as ethics, sunyata


Seduction plays a dual role in Martin A. Hansen’s novel The Liar. Johannes Vig, the narrator/protagonist is prone to repeat a pattern of triangular erotic relationships while at the same time engaging in literary seduction. He hides and reveals the truth through a rhetoric of fiction that carries Kierkegaardian overtones. Johannes who is both teacher and preacher on an island off the mainland at some points approximates the Kierkegaardian category of the demonic, being afraid of opening up. Johannes is suffering from a Freudian compulsion to repeat threatening to bar him from the ethical metamorphosis that would absolve him. The repetitiveness of his sexuality paradoxically spurs on a search for truth and ethics as Johannes distances himself from the past in an attempt to transcend the barriers of dualism implicit in the past-present dichotomy. Fictional seduction and rhetorical persuasion become ways of approximating the truth. Yet fiction is abandoned in the end in favour of a different form of writing as Johannes realizes that a new writing project is necessary whereby ethics becomes understood as selflessness. This insight paves the way for the recognition of nature as flux and the recognition of truth as something that cannot be pinned down since it is fundamentally unsubstantial, in the Buddhist sense of sunyata.


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