Towards a Levinasian aesthetic : the tension between implication and transcendence in selected fiction by J.M. Coetzee.

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dc.contributor.advisor Prof. Rory Ryan en_US
dc.contributor.author Marais, Michael John
dc.date.accessioned 2012-08-22T09:43:38Z
dc.date.available 2012-08-22T09:43:38Z
dc.date.issued 2012-08-22
dc.date.submitted 1997
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/6424
dc.description D.Litt. et Phil. en_US
dc.description.abstract This study explores the tension between politics and ethics in selected novels by J.M Coetzee. It contends that, in this writer's fiction, ethics is conceived of in Levinasian terms as a relation of responsibility for the other which is grounded in an acknowledgement of the other's radical difference to the same. The thesis examines Coetzee's self-reflexive investigation of the problem for novelistic representation posed by this conception of ethics. In order to contextualise this examination, the first chapter of the study establishes that the form and medium of the novel install a relation of correlation between same and other, and that the novel-as-genre therefore routinely forecloses on, rather than maintains a relation of difference to, alterity. Chapter One also traces the various strategies through which Coetzee's novels attempt not only to prevent the medium and form of the novel-as-genre from reducing the other to an object and thereby violating it, but also to impart a sense of that which inevitably exceeds, and so transcends, this genre's representational protocols. By means of such strategies of excession, the study contends, Coetzee's texts endeavour to inscribe a responsible relation to the other. The four remaining chapters of the thesis trace Coetzee's installation of strategies of excession, and therefore of an ethical aesthetic, in Dusklands, Life and Times of Michael K, Foe, Age of Iron and The Master of Petersburg. They also consider these novels' self-conscious articulation of the ethical implications of such strategies. Chapter Four and Chapter Five pay special attention to the inscription in Coetzee's later fiction of a debate on the possible effect on the reader of the individual text's ethical relation to the other. In this regard, the thesis argues that the ultimate purpose of Coetzee's attempt to respond responsibly to alterity in his writing is to enable the other to approach the reader in the course of the literary encounter. It thereby demonstrates that Coetzee's concern with ethics is deeply political: in attempting to contrive an ethical relation between the reader and the other, the individual text seeks to secure a mediation of the political by the ethical. en_US
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject Ethics in literature en_US
dc.subject Aesthetics in literature en_US
dc.subject Politics in literature en_US
dc.subject Coetzee, J.M., 1940- - Criticism and interpretation en_US
dc.title Towards a Levinasian aesthetic : the tension between implication and transcendence in selected fiction by J.M. Coetzee. en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US

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