The Incarnation of Language: Joyce, Proust and a Philosophy of the Flesh (Bloomsbury Literary Studies)

The Incarnation of Language: Joyce, Proust and a Philosophy of the Flesh (Bloomsbury Literary Studies)

Michael O'Sullivan

Language: English

Pages: 192

ISBN: 1472512952

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The Incarnation of Language investigates how the notion of incarnation has been employed in phenomenology and how this has influenced literary criticism. It then examines the interest that Joyce and Proust share in the concept of incarnation. By examining the themes of synthesis and embodiment that incarnation connotes for these writers, it offers a new reading of their work departing from critical readings that have privileged notions of radical alterity and difference.

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Husserl in privileging ‘life’ and ‘auto-affection’. Giorgio Agamben has spoken of the dangers, for Derrida, of making ‘presence and origin’ ‘purely insignificant’: In our tradition, a metaphysical concept, which takes as its prime focus a moment of foundation and origin, coexists with a messianic concept, which focuses on a moment of fulfillment. What is essentially messianic and historic is the idea that fulfillment is possible by retrieving and revoking foundation, by coming to terms with it. When

(43); ‘[t]hings and words were to be separated from one another’ (43). For Foucault, it is only literature that can restore this lost ‘living being of language’ (43) and that can find a way back from the Classical Age’s privileging of the ‘signifying function of language’ to the ‘raw being’ of language (44). However, Foucault argues that even though literature has, from the nineteenth century onwards, rejuvenated this lost materiality, or ‘raw being’, language still does not appear as it did in

30), where a recorded moment of revelation is incorporated into the main body of writing. The death of the character that Joyce instigates towards the end of Ulysses and in Finnegans Wake necessitates the relocation of this aesthetic moment.8 The ‘authorized reader’ becomes the mediation for the epiphany. The reader then becomes embroiled in Joyce’s writing of ‘the human body’, or becomes incarnated in the moments of the text. He´le`ne Cixous sees Joyce’s symbols of communion and reconciliation

‘Telemachus’ Stephen remembers his mother: Silently, in a dream she had come to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose brown graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood [. . .] Across the threadbare cuffedge he saw the sea hailed as a great sweet mother by the wellfed voice beside him. The ring of bay and skyline held a dull green mass of liquid. A bowl of white china had stood beside her deathbed holding the green sluggish bile which she had torn up from her rotting liver

one regains through a reading of the new translations. The translation of Proust and the four narrative times, each closely aligned with a species of sign, reveals yet another time; the time that translation elicits as having been lost. The changes any new translation of Proust both produces and requires for its coming to be, are changes already predicted by the narrator. Since the narrator is consistently prospecting a book that has yet to be written, a book that relies upon the metaphoric

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