The Consolation of Everyday Things

Heather Walton


This article begins by outlining some of the ways in which objects have been understood to have consolatory functions in Western culture. It then explores how a recent shift in thinking about things is emerging both within academic discourse and in popular works of creative none-fiction such as Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking and Edmund de Waala’s The Hare with the Amber Eyes. This new materialist thinking offers the potential to challenge accepted understandings of the consola- tion to be found in human/thing relations. This potential is explored with particular reference to Etty Hillesum’s war-time journals which place the consolation of things in a challenging and creative theological frame.

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