An inquiry into the ethics of amatory writing in Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s
Liang, Lavinia Wanyu
Date of Issue2015
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Addressing the Lover’s Discourse as a potentially self-conscious, solipsistic, self-enclosed, and thus, self-legitimised system of speaking, this thesis sets out to envision a nascent ethics informing the writing of the Lover’s Discourse – writing in (as a lover) and about (in non-amorous writing as a critic / scholar invested in) the Lover’s Discourse. The primary texts under study are Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse: Fragments (ALDF), and Luce Irigaray’s Elemental Passions (EP). This thesis will read ALDF as evincing the solipsism of the Lover’s Discourse and the ethical problematic that arises variously. These include the narrative ethics surrounding the Lover's Discourse's narcissistic love of amatory writing itself; its absorption of the ‘reader-Other’ into the self-same of the characters / figures through a projection on and/or identification with the inter-text of the narrative world - this enraptures the reader instead of inviting a Levinasian encounter where the text develops an ethical response in the reader engaging critically with the Lover’s Discourse; writing towards the disappearance of the body in love, which dangerously erases its historicity and the inscriptions of culture on it. In particular, this thesis focuses on the implications for the feminine lover, whose feminist concerns need to be acknowledged alongside writing the Lover's Discourse in an ethical approach. Thus this thesis intervenes in the asocial, ahistorical, and potentially abstract nature of the Lover’s Discourse as evinced in ALDF, and argues that a crucial engagement with the marginalities and localities from which the Lover’s Discourse operates is necessary to escape the unethical solipsism of its writing.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University