Relations: Ethics and the Modernist Subject in James Joyce's Ulysses, Virginia Woolf's The Waves, and Djuna Barnes's Nightwood

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Peter Lang, 1886 - Literary Criticism - 210 pages
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In Relations, AnnKatrin Jonsson develops a new understanding of ethics and subjectivity within high modernism. The author analyzes Joyce’s Ulysses, Woolf’s The Waves, and Barnes’s Nightwood as narratives that depict a subject turning towards the other and the world, a movement that seriously questions the sovereignty of the subject as cogito, instead opening up for otherness, excess, and indeterminacy.
The author points to convergences between a phenomenological manner of thinking found in modernist literature and the notion of an ethics and an ethical subjectivity, a subject who exists in an inescapable relation with the world. As the novels acknowledge otherness, there is a rebound effect on the narrative, its structure and sty≤ otherness transforms the narrative itself. In this way, Ulysses, The Waves, and Nightwood indicate a desire to escape from a notion of the subject that contains and controls the world and the other.
By indicating ways in which new conceptions of ethics are made possible within modernism, the author also shows that there are, within modernism, both literary and philosophical texts whose understanding and representation of subjectivity already express and establish crucial aspects of the discourse on ‘ethics’ and ‘ethical subjectivity’ that characterize recent continental philosophy and cultural theory.

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Page 126 - So act as to treat humanity, whether in your own person or in that of any other, in every case as an end and never as merely a means only...
Page 364 - A commonwealth is said to be instituted, when a multitude of men do agree, and covenant, every one, with every one, that to whatsoever man, or assembly of men, shall be given by the major part, the right to present the person of them all, that is to say, to be their representative; every one, as well he that voted for it...
Page 363 - And in him consisteth the essence of the commonwealth; which, to define it, is "one person, of whose acts a great multitude by mutual covenants one with another have made themselves every one the author, to the end he may use the strength and means of them all as he shall think expedient, for their peace and common defence.
Page 392 - Every positive law, or every law simply and strictly so called, is set by a sovereign person, or a sovereign body of persons, to a member or members of the independent political society wherein that person or body is sovereign or supreme.
Page 366 - ... where there is no coercive power erected, that is, where there is no commonwealth, there is no propriety, all men having right to all things: therefore where there is no commonwealth, there nothing is unjust. So that the nature of justice consisteth in keeping of valid covenants; but the validity of covenants begins not but with the constitution of a civil power, sufficient to compel men to keep them; and then it is also that propriety begins.
Page 363 - ... confer all their power and strength upon one man, or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills, by plurality of voices, unto one will...
Page 363 - I authorize and give up my right of governing myself, to this man, or to this assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up thy right to him, and authorize all his actions in like manner.
Page 363 - This is more than consent, or concord; it is a real unity of them all, in one and the same person, made by covenant of every man with every man...
Page 343 - The claim or right of the individual to have certain powers secured to him by society, and the counterclaim of society to exercise certain powers over the individual, alike rest on the fact that these powers are necessary to the fulfilment of man's vocation as a moral being, to an effectual self-devotion to the work of developing the perfect character in himself and others.
Page 381 - Sovereignty, being only the exercise of the general will, can never be alienated, and the sovereign, who is only a collective being, can only be represented by himself : the power may be transmitted, but not the will;"1 sovereignty is indivisible, not only in principle, but in object ;2 and so forth.

About the author (1886)

The Author: AnnKatrin Jonsson received her Ph.D. in English from G teborg University, Sweden in 2003. She is an independent scholar and teacher, currently working on a book project on modernism and little magazines. She is the co-editor together with Anna F hraeus of Textual Ethos Studies: or Locating Ethics (2005).

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