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Title: Laurence Sterne and an ethics of pleasure.
Author: Kim, Chunghee.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3599 2669
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 1997
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This thesis proposes that an ethics of pleasure informs the destabilising elements of Sterne's texts, delineated through the peculiar energies and vitality in his jesting narrative voice. I demonstrate the Sternean synthesis of two problematic principles, ethics and pleasure, incompatible for the modem mind but complementary for Eighteenth century moralists. Sterne's configuration of ethical pleasure can be differentiated from those of major moral discourses of the seventeenth and eighteenth century: 1) by his distinctive ethical position which enfranchises laughter, gaiety, and mirth which his contemporaries underplay; 2) through a Rabelaisian humour which Bakhtin sees as exemplifying signs of Renaissance folk and peasant culture, so creating a distance from the progressivistic zeal of the Enlightenment; 3) in his conjunction of Fideistic scepticism with Rabelaisian grotesque, which absorbs and transfigures a sense of the plenitude and the inexplicability of nature. The first chapter examines Sterne's incorporation of a "heteroclite" perspective into orthodox latitudinarian theism in his sermons, in the specific forms of his selectiveness in adaptations or borrowings from various divine homilies. The second chapter compares his ethics of pleasure with major contemporaneous moral discourses, focusing on the production of different moral frameworks through differing perceptions of man's place in nature. The third chapter locates Sterne's formulation of text and narrative in a material presence of communion and fellow-feeling among disparate sUbjectivities. The fourth chapter investigates the ethical significance of Sterne's particular use of laughter, in which he tries to re-enact the laughing spirit of Rabelaisian grotesque with partial success, thus suggesting his comic spirit be identified as Romantic grotesque. A fmal chapter concludes with Sterne's attempt to test his ethics through interlocution and engagement with strangers in A Sentimental Journey, charting the pragmatic obstacles to a praxis of love for the concretised being.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: 18c. moralists