Ethics and the Tyranny of Narrative

Authored by: Clive Baldwin

The Routledge International Handbook on Narrative and Life History

Print publication date:  October  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138784291
eBook ISBN: 9781315768199
Adobe ISBN: 9781317665717


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In 1828 a young man, Kaspar Hauser, was left standing in the Unschlitt Square of Nürnburg, with an unsigned letter addressed to Cavalry Captain Wessenig in hand:

I am sending you a boy, Captain, who wishes to become a soldier and serve his king faithfully. The boy was brought to me in 1815; one winter night he was suddenly found lying at my door. I have children myself, am poor, I can hardly make both ends meet; he’s a foundling and I have not been able to ascertain his mother. I have never let him stir out of the house, no one knows about him; he does not know the name of my house, nor does he know the village. You may ask him but he won’t be able to tell you for he’s not yet able to talk decently. If he had parents – which he hasn’t – he might have entered a decent calling; you need only show him anything and he will be able to do it at once. I took him out of the house in the middle of the night and he has no money about him, so if you do not want to keep him you will have to kill him and hang him up the chimney.

(Wasserman, 1985, p. 36)

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