By Raymond Tallis
Because the finish of the Sixties, literary concept has been ruled through structuralist and post-structuralist writers claiming to be drawing out the results of the information of Ferdinand de Saussure. even supposing "post-Saussurean" thought has provoked a great deal of hostility, little hostile feedback has been directed at its philosophical underpinnings. This paintings topics the basic rules of Derrida, Lacan, Barthes and their fans to an exam and demonstrates the baselessness of post-Saussurean claims in regards to the family members among language truth and self.
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Extra info for Not Saussure: A Critique of Post-Saussurean Literary Theory
29 I am on call for emergencies in the Literature as Textual Intercourse 45 hospital. The phone rings and I receive this terse, prefabricated message: 'Cardiac arrest, Ward 6A'. My acting upon this message will depend upon my interpreting it within the context of my situation as an on-call medical practitioner. Moreover, it is a piece of discourse that belongs to a highly specialised genre of utterances, to a discursive formation that will have been governed by the history of technology, of our conception of the human body, of duty and salaried labour, as well as by the development of certain institutions such as a National Health Service and by various other discourses that influence, and guarantee, the meaning of statements made within the context of professional medical discourse.
We 27 28 Not Saussure pay disproportionate attention to what is new in a new work. In consequence, we imagine that a genre is undergoing rapid change when in reality the underlying tradition and the basic assumptions are changing only very slowly. Even revolutionary literature has more similarities to than differences from the orthodox or traditional writing that precedes it. The pathbreaking new work puts out only a little from the mainland of the already said, the already written. Real change is inevitably rather gradual because of the 'boxed in' situation of literature.
If genre is a prisonhouse, it is one that the writer can escape only at the price of abandoning literature altogether. Tradition is as potent an influence upon how we read as it is in determining what is written. What seems to be offered to us when we confront a particular work is at least partly determined by the silent presence of other works belonging to the genre to which we assign the one we are actually reading. The wrong 'mental generic set' will prevent us from being able to assimilate or even make sense of it.