Reading the pursuit of literary art as a discourse of love
Doo, Jasmine Alexis
Date of Issue2016
College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
In the attempt to create a work of art, the artist is often so fervently caught up in his/her unique imagination that no one else seems to understand his single-minded obsession. To him, this pursuit is the only one which proves exceptionally gratifying, even as it is simultaneously agonising. Through it all, the artist willingly and continually suffers for his art, believing in its intrinsic value. Oftentimes, this enterprise is seen as the only way by which he knows how to live. And all this, it might be said, can similarly describe the endeavour of love. This sentiment portends the impetus behind this paper’s proposal – to read the pursuit of literary art as a discourse of love. Specifically, it seeks to align the critical and philosophical thoughts of both discourses, and show how, within the domain of literature, the work of the artist can be seen as the gesture of the lover. To situate the argument within the relevant fields of inquiry, this essay refers to Denis Donoghue’s conception of literary art, and trace its parallels with Roland Barthes’ structural analysis of the lover’s discourse and Georges Bataille’s notion of eroticism. And to illustrate in detail the case for the reading of art as love, this essay considers Alessandro Baricco’s Silk and John Banville’s The Sea. While this essay posits that such a reading may be broadly practised across various kinds of literature, it chooses these two particular novels for study as they explicitly demonstrate the use of the trope of the love story to contemplate artistic creation within the textual realm.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University