Figural Language in the Novel

Figural Language in the Novel

Ramón Saldívar
Copyright Date: 1984
Pages: 282
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  • Book Info
    Figural Language in the Novel
    Book Description:

    Novels affirm the power of fiction to portray the horizons of knowledge and to dramatize the ways that the truths of human existence are created and preserved. Professor Saldivar shows that deconstructive readings of novels remind us that we do not apprehend the world directly but through interpretive codes.

    Originally published in 1984.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5677-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Linguistics
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface (pp. xi-2)
  4. ONE Rhetoric and the Figures of Form: Peirce, Nietzsche, and the Novel (pp. 3-24)

    Echoing the sentiments of many literary figures, Gustave Flaubert once wrote that ʺCriticism occupies the lowest place in the literary hierarchy; as regards form, almost always; and as regards ʹmoral value,ʹ incontestably. It comes after rhyming games and acrostics, which at least require a certain inventiveness.ʺ¹ Understandably, Flaubertʹs statement is not one that literary critics have wished to face in the hundred years since it was written. Blunt and forthright as his words are, and without a trace of mitigating irony, Flaubertʹs accusation seems all too uncomfortably close to the mark. And yet, the literary vocation which Flaubert himself did...

  5. TWO In Quest of Authority: Cervantes, Don Quijote, and the Grammar of Proper Language (pp. 25-71)

    The Prologue to Miguel de CervantesʹDon Quijoteis probably one of the most self-conscious and significant moments of creation in all Western literary history. Cervantes there alludes to the controlling principles which will regulate the development not only of his own magnificent text, but also of the genre of the novel itself. And, apart from the Prologue,Don Quijoteoffers us a series of literary discussions, critical commentaries, and philological notes which, despite their random dispersal, converge toward a single topic: that of defining a proper, truthful, and exemplary language for narrative fiction.

    This preoccupation with language reveals, as...

  6. THREE The Rhetoric of Desire: Stendhalʹs Le Rouge et le Noir. (pp. 72-109)

    After Cervantes, and between the comic bourgeois tales of the eighteenth century and the increasingly tragic romances of the nineteenth century, stand the novels of Henri Beyle, the quixotically self-created Baron de Stendhal. It is always surprising to find that, in bridging the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Stendhal stands closer in spirit and temperament to the century of enlightened revolution than to that of industrial development. Steeped as we are in the prejudices of modernism, we find it difficult to allow that a voice bred of the eighteenth century can have spoken so clearly and judiciously about the social and...

  7. FOUR The Apotheosis of Subjectivity: Performative and Constative in Melvilleʹs Moby-Dick (pp. 110-155)

    Although Ishmael explicitly warns readers in the chapter entitled ʺThe Affidavitʺ not to make a ʺhideous and intolerable allegoryʺ of his preceding statements on the implacable fate which seems to drive Captain Ahab toward disaster, the fact is that generations of readers have attempted to readMoby-Dickas allegory. There is nothing particularly wrong in this, for despite Ishmaelʹs stated distrust of allegory, readers find that allegory is the rhetorical form the text itself often assumes. Ishmael too constructs allegories and, as early as in the initial scenes in ʺThe Spouter-Innʺ and ʺThe Chapel,ʺ engages in their interpretation. His very...

  8. FIVE Reading the Letter of the Law: Thomas Hardyʹs Jude the Obscure (pp. 156-181)

    Concern for the nature and response of an authorʹs audience is, in some respects, one of the original tasks of literary criticism. Over the past decade, however, attempts to incorporate rhetorical, linguistic, and cognitive theories into literary criticism have led to the development of a formidable bibliography on the nature of the readerʹs role in the communication network of author, text, and reader. These reader-oriented studies stress, from their various philosophical perspectives, that the reader, as much as any character, contributes to the shaping of the novelʹs fictive world through his interpretive actions, which catalyze the immanent potential of the...

  9. SIX The Flowers of Speech: James Joyceʹs A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses (pp. 182-248)

    Judeʹs misfortunes in seeking a worldly ʺanchoring pointʺ for his transcendental desires are the thematic ruse by which Hardy undoes the myth of a stable and intelligible natural order. And yet, as Hardy realizes, no ʺde-constructionʺ can ever entirely compromise the complexity of the myth or eliminate its usefulness. The very possibility of any personal history seems to be grounded on the belief in lifeʹs narratable consistency. In recognizing that such a belief is a defensive verbal strategy by which the inconsistent world is given fictional order, Hardyʹs final novel leads us to the limits of fictional discourse. From Hardy,...

  10. Afterword (pp. 249-258)

    Having begun by disclaiming strict thematic unity, I close by reiterating the continual relationship between semantic and narrative structures. Students of the novel widely recognize that Cervantes was the initiator of a thematic and formal line of texts which repeat and develop the quixotic attempt to fashion an imaginative world within the confines of present reality.

    Cervantes contributes to the development of the novel a new insight into the manner in which language, as a temporal and phenomenal expression of the ʺgenealogical imperative,ʺ creates authority. But Cervantes does not simply note this fact; he dramatizes it. Language is for Cervantes...

  11. Index (pp. 259-267)
  12. Back Matter (pp. 268-268)


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