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Literature, Revolution, Freedom

Studies of Literary Practices and Social Transformation in Edmond Jabès, Marguerite Duras and Wong Bik-WAN



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Literature, Revolution, Freedom by Cheuk-Fung Yeung
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This dissertation, "Literature, Revolution, Freedom: Studies of Literary Practices and Social Transformation in Edmond Jabès, Marguerite Duras and Wong Bik-wan" by Cheuk-fung, Yeung, 楊焯灃, was obtained from The University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong) and is being sold pursuant to Creative Commons: Attribution 3.0 Hong Kong License. The content of this dissertation has not been altered in any way. We have altered the formatting in order to facilitate the ease of printing and reading of the dissertation. All rights not granted by the above license are retained by the author. Abstract: Despite an eventful twentieth century highlighted by the rise and fall of socialism and various rebellions against late capitalism, revolution remains aloof from the discourse of literary criticism, in part due to the fashionable concepts of postmodernism. The thesis attempts to bring the very catchword of revolution back to the critical considerations of literary studies through reading three writers, Edmond Jabes, Marguerite Duras and Wong Bik-wan (黃碧雲), attempting to bring them under the same rubric despite their cultural and geographical differences. They are chosen precisely because they explicitly compare their literary endeavors to revolutionary action and, to a certain extent, remain politically active in their personal life. Locating revolution in the context of modernity and modernism as we also do for their works, the thesis argue that, contrary to the dominant academic receptions, it is still possible to conceptualize literary works as a revolutionary and democratic practice which transcends the limits of representative discourses, despite the stagnant political situation of postmodernity and late advanced capitalism, bringing individuality, autonomy and dissidence back to the constitutive part of our community life. The introductory chapter provides overviews of some of the concepts which lay out the relationship between revolution and modernity, and background information on the writers and their academic receptions. Chapter 2 focuses on the narrative aspects of their works, analyzing how the usually private and self-contained practice of reading -often using family union as its conclusion -is forced opened by a certain textual arrangement of events which acknowledges readers as capable of being the receiving end of a contradictory aesthetic experience that cannot be synthesized into a coherent individual response, as summaries of the texts discussed are offered. Chapter 3 explains the various ways by which the writers attempt to liberate the individual from representativity of a given community such as the nation or an ethnicity, so that the same individual can participate in social life in a more individualistic and democratic manner, in which process the readers are also implicated. Chapter 4 compares the social mechanisms of totalitarianism -a modern political phenomenon-to religion and shows how the texts attempt to break through the system under which subjectivity is accrued to a transcendental Other. Chapter 5 tries to pinpoint the social positions, notably children and youth culture, through which hopes of social transformation with a view of a future different from now can be raised, a principle which then fall back upon the writer or the intellectual him-or herself. The current thesis aims to rethink the modern political tradition of revolution and democracy through conceiving literary writing and reading as possible sites of dissidence as well as affirmation of human freedom. Subjects: Revolutions in literatureDemocracy in literature
Release date NZ
January 27th, 2017
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Country of Publication
United States
colour illustrations
Open Dissertation Press
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