Rowman and Littlefield International

Alterity and Criticism

Tracing Time in Modern Literature

By (author) William D. Melaney

Publication date:

08 November 2017

Length of book:

238 pages


Rowman & Littlefield International

ISBN-13: 9781786601490

How does the theme of the other–-as person, experience or alternative conceptual scheme—allow us to reassess the role of the self in literary texts? This book employs phenomenology and semiotics to argue that modern literature is strongly concerned with the role of time in the construction of the self.

Alterity and Criticism: Retracing Time in Modern Literature argues that the role of time in canonical literature underlies the experience of alterity and requires a new hermeneutic to clarify how the self emerges in literary texts. Romantic poetry from Goethe to Shelley and the modern prose tradition from Flaubert to Butor constitute different traditions but also indicate, on a textual basis, how alterity performs a crucial role in reading, thus encouraging us to interpret literary texts in terms of the related concerns of self, other and time. The author examines the phenomenology of Emmanuel Lévinas and Wolfgang Iser, as well as the cultural semiotics of Julia Kristeva, to argue that modern literature provides the occasion for a new understanding of the self in time and, in this way, addresses some of the pressing literary problems of our own period.
Melaney intricately connects the dissolution of subject-centered consciousness, interrupted by "alterity" as audaciously expressed in modern literature, to reflections of phenomenology, semiotics, hermeneutics, and psychoanalysis. He highlights broken circuits of reflexivity as key to reading in the mode that in the modern period gives us "literature" – provocatively presented as a creation of criticism.