This 2017 volume features three essays, each focused on the close reading and analysis of key passages from its primary works. The centrality of the specific language employed in these literary texts is brought forth as a tool to scrutinize its themes, motifs, and messages as received by readers.
In “Grammatical Interruptions of the Epistemological in Paul de Man’s ‘Excuses (Confessions),’” Katie Brandt concentrates on the relationship between subject, object, and thing in de Man’s “Excuses (Confessions),” which, even in its very title, alerts the reader to the importance of the parenthetical. The grammatical intervention of the following phrase in the penultimate paragraph, “the only thing worth knowing” (300), not only leads the reader to question the importance of the information contained in the parenthetical, but also the speaker of those particular lines, as well as the ghostly identity of the “thing” and the missing subject who does the “knowing.” This paper explores de Man’s piece and the multiple readings of this one line that shape and alter the implications of the function of language in cognition, literary theory, and Western philosophy.
Saranda Krasniqi from the University of Vienna writes about the importance of dreams in the development of novels in “The motif of dreams in Orwell’s and Kadare’s works.” In George Orwell’s satiric work Animal Farm, the dream mainly functions as a warning, while in the novel 1984, it has several functions such as: a warning, a fantasy but also an escape from a hard reality to fulfill desires which cannot be realized. The phenomenon of dreams has also been handled in Albanian literature of various time periods including the modern one. Ismail Kadare, Fatos Kongoli, and Bashkim Shehu are some of the authors who handle this phenomenon widely in their composition, sometimes as a warning and sometimes as anxiety or hallucination. Unlike the others, Kadare in his novel The Palace of Dreams institutionalizes the dream and glorifies it to a level in which the fate of a country depends on its warning.
Heejung Sim’s “Ethics of Reading: Uncovering the Layers in Lolita and The Dream, and Rethinking Self’s Obligation to the Other” explores Lolita by Vladmir Nabokov and The Dream by Kim Sung Dong, in an attempt to understand how these two texts challenge readers to become more self-aware by promoting a certain critical distance which allows them to distinguish implied author from narrator’s voice. Sim argues that, in both cases, readers, by examining the narrators’ failure of perspective taking that resulted in their oppressive acts of reading and interpreting female characters Lolita and Ban-Ya engaging in a more ethical reading practice, become wary of the narratives’ personal, eloquent, and deeply introspective languages that simplify and singularize objects of desires whether it is for the pursuit of aesthetic bliss or for religious enlightenment.
Thank you to the San Francisco State University students, graduates, and faculty who contributed to the publication of this year’s volume and who continue to proliferate the discipline of Comparative and World Literature.