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The Rhetoric of SufferingReading the Book of Job in the Eighteenth Century$
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Jonathan Lamb

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198182641

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198182641.001.0001

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Job and the Practice of Writing

Job and the Practice of Writing

(p.27) 2 Job and the Practice of Writing
The Rhetoric of Suffering

Jonathan Lamb

Oxford University Press

The stories of Sitis and Martha exhibit the arrogance of systems of doctrine and interpretation towards the emergencies faced by individuals. The system wants to display private distress as a public example and an accountable event; the individual prefers to regard distress as a shock, unexpectable and therefore beyond the scope of prescription, exemplification, and consolation. These women propose alternative methods of making sudden pain tolerable that depend on practical adaptations of Job's story suitable to complaints made in the first person singular. This chapter argues that such adaptations ignore or undermine the universality of official consolation by developing a relation of the complaining voice to a redeeming voice capable of doing justice to the particulars of the case. They make no gestures towards the fulfilment of norms or law; they accumulate the circumstances of a private and personal grief in an effort of practical vocality determined by self-reference and the unfolding of tautologies. The successful relation of voice to voice and ‘I’ to ‘I’ depends not upon a recovery of innocence and identity but on a redoubled writing, a superscript or a writing upon writing.

Keywords:   Book of Job, self-reference, Martha, Sitis

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