Exile as Abjection:
a Theme of Modernity
In Roman times, exile was regarded as a particularly horrible punishment because a person exiled was cast out of his community and deprived of the benefits of home and hearth. In modern times, exile has been removed from the legal codes of most advanced nations. Instead, expulsion from the community tends to take the form of abjection (a casting down) of the subject, a punishment which not only deprives him of home and hearth but of his identity as well. The theme is treated with reference to the Christian idea of exile as the normal condition of humanity and to the work of two postmodernist writers, W.G. Sebald (Austerlitz) and J. M. Coetzee (Disgrace).