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ALTERITY IN AMERICAN LITERATURE: THE FACES OF THE OTHER IN MELVILLE’S MOBY-DICK AND BILLY BUDD

This paper discusses the question of the expression of alterity as "faces" in Herman Melville’s two masterpieces, Moby-Dick; or,The Whale and Billy Budd, Sailor. The issue of otherness and the relationships between subjects stands as a major problem in literature, but also in philosophy and ethics, as it also logically entails a questioning about identity and sameness. The analysis uses the concepts of face from the phenomenological point of view of Emmanuel Levinas, but also that of faciality developed by Deleuze and Guattari in A Thousand Plateaus. The difficulty, or even impossibility to reach the Other who stands as pure exteriority in a nonreciprocal relationship leads to a number of communication deadlocks, that language itself cannot solve as the deadly face-to-face in Billy Budd makes it clear. The traditional vision of the western philosophy of representation, based on the Greek model ruled by the idea of the Same and identity must be therefore left and redefined in order to take into account the pure exteriority of the other.

DOI: 10.18413 / 2313-8912-2015-1-3-83-92
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