van Bever Donker, Vincent

Recognition and Ethics in World Literature


Religion, Violence, and the Human



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Recognition and Ethics in World Literature is a critical comparative study of contemporary world literature, focused on the importance of the ethical turn (or return) in literary theory. It considers the shape and development of the ethical engagement of the novels of Amitav Ghosh, Chimamanda Adichie, Caryl Phillips, Kazuo Ishiguro, Zadie Smith, and JM Coetzee, exploring the overlaps and divergences between Levinasian/Derridean and Aristotelian ethics as they are brought to bear on literature. The characters' recognitions and emotional responses in these texts are integral to the unfolding of their ethical concerns, and the ethics thus explored is often marked by the complexity and impurity characteristic of the tragic. A view of recognition is advanced that shifts it from the more usual political understanding in the field towards seeing it as a formal device used to unfold an ethical knowledge peculiar to fictional narrative, and particularly suitable for the concerns of world literature authors in its interconnection of the universal and the particular-a binary that has been crucial in postcolonialism and remains important for the wider field of world literature. The analysis unfolds with a focus on three broad ethical themes-religion, the memory of violence, and the human-eliciting the novelists' contributions to these debates through the investigation of the functioning of moments of recognition in their novels.

280 Seiten, Paperback. 2016
ISBN 978-3-8382-0847-3



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"Insightful … makes a vital contribution to a theoretical debate that urgently requires to be kept alive in our turbulent times.
This is an important book that places the ethical in a critical relation to World Literature."
Premesh Lalu, Professor, Director, Centre for Humanities Research, Faculty of Arts, University of the Western Cape


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