In his article, "Reading Orientalism and the Crisis of Epistemology in the Novels of Lawrence Durrell," James Gifford argues that Edward Said's Orientalism has had a far reaching impact on the study of literature as well as in Comparative Literature, especially in works which depict the "Eastern Other." However, a question arises in those texts which have completed the philosophical motion from existentialism to epistemological skepticism such as the novels of Lawrence Durrell. For example, in The Avignon Quintet a provisional and even counterfactual form of knowledge becomes central and obvious to the reader. Subsequently, knowledge of the Other becomes deflated, and a poor means of defining. The Other -- all that is not the Self -- becomes universalized as the text reveals that (mis)perceptions of the Other are more of a reflection of the Self than they are a truthful depiction of any absolute reality. Acknowledgment of the artifice of art leads to a surrendering of the artist's power to communicate any body of knowledge. In Monsieur, Durrell's forceful realization of the fiction of his work, and constant dissolution of any knowledge it may be communicating is a potential confounding of the knowledge/power relationship in the East/West or Other/Self dialectic. As these theoretical elements serve an important role in Comparative Literature, a further redefining of them in general would be of value to their use in more specific circumstances.
"Reading Orientalism and the Crisis of Epistemology in the Novels of Lawrence Durrell."
CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture
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