'David as reader' : 2 Samuel 12: 1-15 and the poetics of fatherhood
In this thesis, the concept of the character as reader is explored as a means of revealing the poetics of the text of 2 Samuel. A preliminary examination of David's interpretation of the story of the Amalekite messenger in 2 Sam 1 leads to the conclusion that the polysemy of the Amalekite's utterances is turned against him. David as reader re-writes the Amalekite's utterances. This leads to a theoretical investigation of what it might mean to refer to a character as reader. The concept of mise en abyme suggests that the character's reading may be both a model and an antimodel of the reading strategy revealed by the character. The concept of the 'character as reader' is then investigated using theories of the literary character from Aristotle to Greimas coupled with theories of reading as inference and the linguistic theories of Bakhtin and Austin. These all combine to reinforce the contention that meaning is a dialogic process, dependent on the response of the interlocutor, but in inviting response, provokes the hearer or reader to utter. The character as reader is defined as a signed site of translation, a particular interpretative transformation of perlocutionary force into illocution which is given coherence by a proper name. Character as reader is character as utterer. This definition is then used to look at two stories where David 'interprets' a text, 2 Samuel 12: 1-15 and 2 Sam 14. Here the parodic relationship between these two texts is explored, and the difference in reading stances which are labelled by the name David is pointed out. This parodic relationship foregrounds the fact that both stories share the device of provoking an oath.