The Letter of Violence: Essays on Narrative, Ethics, and Politics

Paperback (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $13.05
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 65%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (11) from $13.05   
  • New (4) from $35.13   
  • Used (7) from $13.05   


This book traces the theory of violence from nineteenth-century symmetrical warfare through today's warfare of electronics and unbalanced numbers. Surveying such luminaries as Walter Benjamin, Frantz Fanon, Hannah Arendt, Paul Virilio, and Jacques Derrida, Avelar also offers a discussion of theories of torture and confession, the work of Roman Polanski and Borges, and a meditation on the rise of the novel in Colombia.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Excellent, ground-breaking ... The topic of The Letter of Violence is a timely one, and one to which Avelar does justice."--George Yudice, Director, Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, New York University

"The Letter of Violence addresses crucially important topics - violence, torture,truth and war - as they are scrutinized in contemporary political theory,philosophy, ethics and literature. Drawing on recent Latin American history and literature, Avelar goes beyond the regional scenario to explore the links between rhetorical,literary, political and juridical instances of violence. Rejecting functional or cause-and-effect explanations, he debates issues raised by Derrida, Virilio,Scarry, Nussbaum, and Benjamin, among others. The breadth of vision make the book essential reading for our time."--Jean Franco, Columbia University

"This new book by Idelber Avelar offers a timely reflection on the representation of violence by modern social thinkers. With powerful readings of political and cultural theorists extending from Marx and Arendt to Benjamin and Derrida, Avelar urges us to consider both the ethical questions behind the discourse on violence and the role of high culture in the portrayal of human suffering. Literature becomes an important source of ethical and critical theory as Avelar draws upon Borges as well as a wide range of Colombian writers in order to point to the linkages between symbolic instances of violence and violence perpetrated by the law. As a whole, The Letter of Violence forces us to grapple with the complicity, once noted by Benjamin, between civilization and barbarism and the degree to which violence underlies our assumptions about modernity and social justice."--Francine Masiello, University of California at Berkeley

"The essays collected in this book are most timely. Idelber Avelar discusses the ethical questions raised by war, violence and torture, and specifically the profound links between language and violence. With novel freshness, the author has also confronted those themes in 19th century Colombian novels. The point of departure is a consideration of philosophical and historical reflections by von Clausewitz, Walter Benjamin, Derrida, Frantz Fanon, Hannah Arendt, Foucault and Paul Virilio. Alvelar draws the attention of the reader to the urgent relevance of such debates to the history of modern Latin America. This thought provoking book deserves to be widely read."--Arcadio Díaz Quiñones, Princeton University

Read More Show Less

Product Details

Meet the Author

Idelber Avelar is Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Tulane University. He is author of The Untimely Present: Postdictatorial Latin American Fiction and the Task of Mourning, winner of the Katherine Singer Kovacs prize.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction: 20th Century Thinking on Violence
• Specters of Walter Benjamin: Mourning, Labor, and Violence in Jacques Derrida
• Torture, Confession, and the History of Truth: From Plato to Pinochet
• Ethics Across Neocolonial Borders: Jorge Luis Borges and the International Division of Intellectual Labor
• Transculturation and Civil War: The Origins of the Novel in Colombia
• Afterword: On Violence, Law, and Justice

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)