The problem of alterity in Joyce's poetics

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis will examine the problem of alterity that presents itself for being in relation to language in James Joyce‘s Dubliners, Stephen Hero, A Portrait of the Artist, Ulysses and Finnegan‟s Wake. I will argue that being in relation to language manifests itself into an ethical problem that can be traced back to the subject‘s search for an origin. Blanchot‘s writings on the limit-experience will be used as a methodological approach to the problem of being in relation to language. The theme of death and dying will be explored in each chapter through the dialectic of negativity. The dialectic of negativity arises from the problem of separation that comes between being and language. As being faces the limit to language, the subject faces the limits to being seen as another negative presence. Thus, once the subject‘s negative thought doubles into the negation of absence, being becomes infinitely estranged by language. Here, the subject‘s experience of separation manifests itself into signs of affliction that resembles a state of dying as being faces absence. Moreover, the dialogic of negativity opens up a dialogue between the subject‘s relation to language and the subject that is questioned within the narrative. Therefore, Blanchot‘s notion of the neuter will be used to explore the critical character of the narrator that questions the subject within the narrative from the exterior God like position, also linked to Blanchot‘s notion of the Outside. The Outside space demands an ethical response from each subject called into question and afflicted with the haunting nature of being a double. This doubling space of alterity will be traced in this thesis in order to reveal a crisis for the subject in the irreducible state for being-in-itself that is locked in the sacred space of literature and present at the final experience of the limit to the Outside.
Date of Award2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorRichard Kirkland (Supervisor) & Hector Kollias (Supervisor)

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