The otherwise than of J. M. Coetzee and Emmanuel Levinas

Willans, Raymond Francis (2007). The otherwise than of J. M. Coetzee and Emmanuel Levinas MPhil Thesis, School of English, Media Studies, and Art History, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Willans, Raymond Francis
Thesis Title The otherwise than of J. M. Coetzee and Emmanuel Levinas
School, Centre or Institute School of English, Media Studies, and Art History
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2007-11
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Prof Carole Ferrier
Dr Fiona J. Nicoll
Language eng
Subjects 420000 Language and Culture
Formatted abstract

The primary aim of this thesis is to read some novels of J M Coetzee in terms of the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas which puts ethics before ontology.

 

Levinas’s ethics are concerned simply with respecting and being responsible for the alterity of the Other. Another way of saying this is that the Other’s material needs are my spiritual needs. In this philosophy there is no system or methodology which would allow the Other to be reduced to the Same.

 

My reading focuses upon the concepts of Saying, Testimony and Fecundity and highlights the alterity of the Other as central to an understanding of the thought of both Coetzee and Levinas.

 

In the first chapter I examine the use of the Saying and the Said. While there is of course no Saying without a Said, my thesis shows how this Saying opens up a discourse that has within it an ambiguity that not only refuses closure, but also resists hierarchy and does not have an authorial presence. There is no hint of moralizing, of saying how things should be but, rather, an indication of how things are. The Saying is diachronic insofar as it produces time from the relationship with the Other. Time is anachronic in its emergence from the relationship with the Other when it recuperates the past. In Chapter two I show that this is achieved in testimony which specifically redeems the past by mourning those gone before. Chapter three explores how messianicity, which is also anachronic, is seen in fecundity in which the Other to come which comes as an event can come now.

Keyword Coetzee, J. M., 1940- -- Criticism and interpretation
Levinas, Emmanuel, 1906-1995 -- Ethics
Levinas, Emmanuel, 1906-1995 -- Influence

 
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