T-Space at The University of Toronto Libraries >
School of Graduate Studies - Theses >
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
|Title: ||Modernist Curiosities: Desire, Knowledge and Literature in Gustave Flaubert's "Bouvard et Pécuchet", Elias Canetti's "Die Blendung" and Jorge Luis Borges's "El Aleph"|
|Authors: ||Pemeja, Paul|
|Advisor: ||Kushner, Eva|
|Department: ||Comparative Literature|
knowledge and literature
epistemology of literature
|Issue Date: ||7-May-2012|
|Abstract: ||In modernity, probably more than ever, “knowledge” has become the object of an intense desire. The tensions underwriting this modern desire for knowledge are inscribed in the very term, curiosity, which is at the centre of this dissertation. A venerable motif, curiosity anchors the specifically modern desire to know within a longstanding philosophical, theological and literary tradition. By the 19th century, “curiosity” is certainly an anachronistic paradigm. Yet, inscribed in curiosity, there are two conflicting dialectics which can be found at the heart of modernity’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge: one the one hand, the dialectic between curiosity as a disenchanting desire to see through into the innermost secrets of things, and curiosity as a “thing”, the product of a fetishist desire arrested on the glittering surface of things. On the other hand, curiosity is beset by the dialectic between the desire for a “totalizing”, meaningful vision and the compulsive drive of an increasingly specialized, meaningless pursuit of knowledge.
This dissertation examines a series of Modernist narratives which expose this double dialectic. The protagonists of Gustave Flaubert’s Bouvard et Pécuchet, Elias Canetti’s Die Blendung and Jorge Luis Borges’ El Aleph are all caricatural, anachronistic, curieux ultimately seeking an “absolute knowledge” that cannot be embodied. The moment it seems to have been attained, it is reified, “objectified” into a fetish, a “curiosity”. Yet, these narratives are not only about curiosity; they are in fact true vortexes of curiosity: that of the protagonists of the narratives as well as that of the authors and the readers themselves. As a result, these narratives also speak to the paradoxical location of literature within culture: literature appears simultaneously as the privileged site of all – ultimately phantasmic – totalizing, meaningful visions of the world, as well as a marginal locus, a monstrous cultural residue.|
|Appears in Collections:||Doctoral|
This item is licensed under a Creative Commons License
Items in T-Space are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.