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Deconstructing the name : three theological paradoxes of language in literary discourse

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posted on 15.12.2014, 10:37 by Amir Ali. Nojoumian
This thesis is an examination of language in general and literary language in particular through a close reading of some key texts by Jacques Derrida and Walter Benjamin. Based on a comparative study of deconstruction and theological discourse, it identifies three paradoxes in literary language and argues that this can deeply affect the act of literary reading. The thesis is divided into three sections. Each section deals with a particular paradox and stages a theoretical discussion of the relation between two oppositional forces and ends with a reading of a literary text.;Part I is a study of the relation between the notions of singularity (originality) and generality (multiplicity). I contend that these two poles are not oppositional in a literary text. While the translated text always bears the singular mark(s) of the original text within it, the singularity of the text demands further translations. I read Jorge Luis Borges's "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote" and argue that singularity and multiplicity interconnect in this text.;Part II examines the representational aspect of language against the self-referential (immanent) one. It then explains how referentiality takes the meaning effects of the text to both the edges and the centre. I look at these points in relation to Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 in which I suggest a labyrinthine structure illustrates this 'tug of war'.;Part II focuses on the notion of negation in language and its relation to Derrida's thought. I explain how in theological discourse, language is perceived as both negative and affirmative and later explain the curious relationship between deconstruction and negative theology. I also examine Samuel Beckett's The Unnameable to argue how the notion of 'silence' as the negative side of language cohabits with the literary text.;Finally, I ask to what extent literary discourse - through deconstructing the oppositions of singularity/multiplicity, representation/immanence, negation/affirmation - can take language to the limits of its metaphysical existence.


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University of Leicester

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