Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Ethics and recognition in postcolonial literature : reading Amitav Ghosh, Caryl Phillips, Chimamanda Adichie and Kazuo Ishiguro
Author: van Bever Donker, Vincent
ISNI:       0000 0004 2726 9843
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Please try the link below.
Access from Institution:
This thesis undertakes a critical study of ethics in the postcolonial novel. Focusing on four authors, namely Amitav Ghosh, Chimamanda Adichie, Caryl Phillips, and Kazuo Ishiguro, I conduct a comparative analysis of the ethical engagement offered in a selection of their novels. I argue that the recognitions and related emotional responses of characters are integral to the unfolding of these novels’ ethical concerns. The ethics thus explored are often marked by the complexity and impurity characteristic of the tragic – an impurity which is productively thought together with Jacques Derrida’s understanding of “radical evil”. I arrive at this through deploying an approach to ethics in the postcolonial novel that is largely drawn from the work of Martha Nussbaum, David Scott, and Terence Cave. This approach is attentive to both the particular contexts in which the novels’ ethical concerns unfold, as well as the general ethical questions in relation to which these can be understood. Crucial to this is the concept of anagnorisis, that is, the recognition scene. Functioning as both a structural and a thematic element, it serves as a hinge between the general and the specific ethical considerations in a novel. There are three ethical themes that I consider across the thesis: the ethics of remembrance, the human, and religion. The works of these four authors cluster around these concerns to differing degrees and with differing perspectives. What emerges is that while each engagement is focused on the particular details that the novel represents, the range of perspectives can nevertheless be productively read alongside one another as interventions into these general concerns. Following from this I also conclude that as a suitable, if not privileged, form in which to engage questions of the ethical, the postcolonial novel hosts the ethical difficulty that I name as the tragic, and which is characterised by the term radical evil.
Supervisor: Boehmer, Elleke Sponsor: Commonwealth Scholarship Commission
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Language and Literature ; Ethics (Moral philosophy) ; postcolonial literature ; postcolonial theory ; ethics and literature ; Amitav Ghosh ; Caryl Phillips ; Chimamanda Adichie ; Kazuo Ishiguro ; anagnorisis ; recognition ; ethics