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Title: Criticism as poetry in the later writings of Paul de Man.
Author: Towsey, David Jonathan.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3535 849X
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 2001
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In general terms, the aim of this thesis is to demonstrate that Paul de Man's critical, discursive prose - particularly in the later essays - is of sufficient density and complexity that its linguistic operation works against its avowed methodological principles (or exploits certain interesting discrepancies in them) to become itself literary. However, to claim this is also to question the definition and possibility of 'literature', both in applying it as a descriptive term to de Man's writings and to the texts he reads. The first chapter asks the question of what literature is through de Man's theoretical pronouncements, and suggests that the answer may lie within a broadly Kantian philosophical orientation, conditioned by his admission of the need for a metaphysical imperative in critical speculation. The second chapter begins to develop, through a close reading of its operation in language, the notion of de Manian literature as a Bildung-principle: the education by mastery of poetic consciousness against the Being of Nature. In arguing this, it claims that, as the romantic figure of the Beautiful Soul bums with its own vacancy, emptying itself in order to shine more brightly with that which it does not possess, de Man is filled with his natural precursor Coleridge despite his disavowal of him. To avoid the blank invisibility this entails, de Man's poetic meaning must forestall its own fulfilment, a disconvergence brought about by temporally anticipating its own articulations. In the third chapter, some of the consequences of this insight are reformulated through readings of de Man's texts in terms of a Freudian hermeneutics of Nachtraglichkeit, a Schillerian theory of art and a Rousseavian articulation of pleasure and pain. The conclusion suggests that the common, underlying principle of all of these conjunctions - the metaphysical with the transcendental, repletion with negation, and excess with limitation - can be defined as a form of romantic irony, or alternatively, aesthetic monstrosity.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature Literature Mass media Performing arts Philosophy Religion