This chapter starts from the idea of literary communities as constituted by individuals, things, and events contributing to the formation of a certain shared “commonsense.” Weaving together readings of Flaubert, Virginia Woolf, James Agee, and W. G. Sebald, the essay shows how the power of a certain type of literature, able to break with the constraints of mimetic representation, lies in its ability to undermine consensus and established hierarchies through the creation of new distributions of the sensible. This is accomplished by resorting to the anonymity of impersonal events, to the characters’ processes of disidentification, and by defying the logic of causal necessity of the traditional plot, thus laying bare the sheer contingency underwriting the constitution of individual subjectivities as well as that of the political order.
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