Imprecation Invoking a “Never Having Been”

In the case of the “imprecation invoking a ‘never having been’” it is not one’s own existence which is a cause of antipathy but that of another person. On closer consideration, however – and contrary to the intention of the imprecator – a curse invoking the “never having been” of another individual proves to be the very contrary of a curse. Whoever wishes that some other person might never have existed wishes, in fact, nothing negative for this latter; rather they wish only for some course of history alternative to the actual one, a course of history from which the person in question would be, as an entity susceptible of being affected both for good and for bad, simply absent.

Dickens, Charles (1812–1870)

„I wish the blessed old creetur had never been born.” (Dickens, Barnaby Rudge)

Eliot, George (1819–1889)

„There was a half-formed wish in both their minds – even in the mother’s – that Harold Transome had never been born.” (George Eliot, Felix Holt, the Radical)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.