Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
1Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
Hillis Miller, Deconstruction, And the Recovery of Transcendence

Hillis Miller, Deconstruction, And the Recovery of Transcendence

Ratings: (0)|Views: 33|Likes:
Published by attika11

More info:

Published by: attika11 on Jun 21, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

06/21/2012

pdf

text

original

 
The University of Notre Dame
J. Hillis Miller, Deconstruction, and the Recovery of TranscendenceAuthor(s): G. Douglas AtkinsSource:
Notre Dame English Journal,
Vol. 13, No. 1 (Fall, 1980), pp. 51-63Published by:
Stable URL:
Accessed: 24/10/2011 16:29
Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at
.
http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jspJSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.
The University of Notre Dame
is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to
 Notre Dame English Journal.
http://www.jstor.org
 
/. HILLISMILLER,DECONSTRUCTION,AND THERECOVERY OFTRANSCENDENCEG.DouglasAtkins
Followingpublicationof Charles Dickens: TheWorldofHis Novels(1958),TheDisappearanceofGod(1963),and PoetsofReality(1965) ,J.Hillis Millerbecameknown as oneofthemostknowledgeableandarticulatespokesmenforreligionin modernliterature.Theseworks,andothers,notonlytestify powerfullytoMiller's interestas aliterarycriticinreligious questions,buttheyalsoreveal his owndeepreligiousconvic-tions.A member of what wasoriginallyTheSocietyforReligioninHigherEducation,Miller hasfrequentlycontributedto conferencesdealingwiththegrowinginterestinliteratureandreligion,and hisworkhas beenre-printedin collections onreligionin modernliterature.1As heputitina subtleandjudiciousessay"LiteratureandReligion,"writtenfortheModernLanguageAssociationvolumeon RelationsofLiteraryStudy,"thereligiouscommitment of thecritic,orlack ofit,cannotbeconsideredirrelevantto hiswork."2Throughthemid-1960sMiller wrote underthe influenceof theimpor-tant SwisscriticGeorgesPoulet,apractitionerof the"criticismofcon-sciousness."Thiscriticalmethod,whichexplorestheexistentialsituationofauthors treatedandwhich seeks toidentifythecritic'sconsciousnesswith theauthor's,isparticularlynterestedinmetaphysicalandontologicalquestionsandseemedquitecongenialto,if notconstitutiveof,Miller'sownreligiousinclinations.Beginninginthe late1960s,however,asat-testedbyThe FormofVictorianFiction(1968)and therevisionofanessayentitled"GeorgesPoulet's'CriticismofIdentification',"Millercameunderthe influenceof theimportantcontemporaryFrenchphilosopherJacquesDerrida,knownas the fatherof deconstruction.Miller'slastbook,ThomasHardy:Distanceand Desire(1970),andapproximatelytwodozensubsequentessaysonavarietyoftopicsreflecthisadoptionof de-constructivecriticalprocedures.Indeed,owinginlargeparttoMiller'sreputationandinfluence,deconstructivecriticismis therageinAmerica,and islikelytoremain sofor some time.
 
52atkins JournalIndebted toSaussure, Freud, Nietzsche,andHeidegger,deconstructionproceedsfrom arecognitionthatmeaningis a matternot ofidentitybutofdifference;asSaussureargued, meaningarisesfromthedifferentialrela-tionsamongterms.Ifthis isso,Derridapointsout,eachterm mustalwaysalreadycarrya"trace"of theother,for"anyotheralternative,any attempttosave the value offullpresencewouldlead to thepostulationof apointoforiginnot different from itself(anindifferentorigin),thusdestroyingtheessentiallydifferentialqualityoflanguage."3Armedwith the "trace"anddifferance,as hespellsit(toindicatethat theFrench verbdifferermeans both "todiffer" and "todefer"),Derrida deconstructsthe ideaofsimpleoriginandpresence.Onthisview,theoriginisdialogical,beingdividedfromitself,withinitself,and thepresenceof absence(the"trace")means the absenceofpresence,therebeingnosuchthingasthething-in-itself. Deconstructedare suchconceptsasunity, identity,truth,thecenter,thelogos-allthoseprivilegedterms,infact,of what Derridacallslogo-centricmetaphysics.4The Derrideanpositionseemsdiametrically opposedto the "criticism of identification" Millerformerlyembraced.Does Miller's switchfromPoulet to Derridaand to the"traditionofdifference" entail a markedchangeinreligiousoutlook?AcarefulstudyofMiller'scriticism,both before and after thisconversion,shouldallowustopenetratemoredeeplythan has been done beforeinto thefar-reachingimplicationsofdeconstruction,as well as to shedlightonthe criticalodysseyof Millerhimself.On the surfaceatleast,deconstructionappearsadangerousthreattomanyofour mostcherished traditions and institutions.Notsurprisingly,many"outraged"voices have risenagainstitanditspractitioners,includ-ingmanyof the best knownandmostrespectedscholars andcriticsinthiscountry.Their numbersinclude M. H.Abrams,WayneBooth,GeraldGraff,and E. D. Hirsch.These and other commentatorspointto thethreat deconstructionposesto the humanisttradition,manyof themalleg-ingthat nihilism isinherentindeconstruction. Oneof the morerecentattacks ondeconstructionappearsin termsdirectlyrelevant toourcon-cernshere,andsince itpicks up previous chargesIshallconcentrateonit as aspeciallyrelevantsynecdoche.WritinginTheGeorgiaReview,Harold Frommdiscusses thesupposedabsurdityand nihilism of this new movement:"When DerridaspeaksinOfGrammatologyofthe'EndoftheBookand theBeginningofWriting'he has described thepresentsituation.But when theintegrativewholesymbolizedbythe bookturns into theindeterminate andopen-ended'text' of'writing,'we are in aworld withoutvalue."Frommgoeson,"In

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->