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The Ethics of "Writing" Enigma: A Reading of Chretien de Troyes's Conte du Graal and Levinas's Totalite et infini

The Ethics of "Writing" Enigma: A Reading of Chretien de Troyes's Conte du Graal and Levinas's... The Ethics of “Writing” Enigma: A Reading of Chrétien de Troyes’s Conte du Graal and Lévinas’s Totalité et infini HIS ESSAY IS AN UNUSUAL EXERCISE in comparative studies: a comparison of a twelfth-century text, the Conte du Graal (Story of the Grail ) by Chrétien de Troyes, with a twentieth-century text, Emmanuel Lévinas’s Totalité et infini (Totality and Infinity). However, both texts are concerned with enigma and interpretation: they imply that enigma should be interpreted, yet also that interpretation threatens enigma because of a priori assumptions about the object of interpretation. This anxiety plays itself out on the level of the interpretations invited by both Totalité et infini and the Conte du Graal as texts: both forestall modes of reading that undermine their enigma. Insofar as critics have sought to establish a dialogue between modern thought and medieval romance, psychoanalysis has been the popular option; the Conte du Graal with its impotent father figures and “pechié . . . De ta mere” (3531-32; “sin . . . of your mother”) has elicited this type of reading (Méla; Dragonetti).1 Reading the Conte du Graal and Totalité et infini together, though, highlights the fact that both texts return repeatedly to http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Literature Duke University Press

The Ethics of "Writing" Enigma: A Reading of Chretien de Troyes's Conte du Graal and Levinas's Totalite et infini

Comparative Literature , Volume 55 (2) – Jan 1, 2003

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Publisher
Duke University Press
Copyright
Copyright 2003 by University of Oregon
ISSN
0010-4124
eISSN
1945-8517
DOI
10.1215/-55-2-95
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The Ethics of “Writing” Enigma: A Reading of Chrétien de Troyes’s Conte du Graal and Lévinas’s Totalité et infini HIS ESSAY IS AN UNUSUAL EXERCISE in comparative studies: a comparison of a twelfth-century text, the Conte du Graal (Story of the Grail ) by Chrétien de Troyes, with a twentieth-century text, Emmanuel Lévinas’s Totalité et infini (Totality and Infinity). However, both texts are concerned with enigma and interpretation: they imply that enigma should be interpreted, yet also that interpretation threatens enigma because of a priori assumptions about the object of interpretation. This anxiety plays itself out on the level of the interpretations invited by both Totalité et infini and the Conte du Graal as texts: both forestall modes of reading that undermine their enigma. Insofar as critics have sought to establish a dialogue between modern thought and medieval romance, psychoanalysis has been the popular option; the Conte du Graal with its impotent father figures and “pechié . . . De ta mere” (3531-32; “sin . . . of your mother”) has elicited this type of reading (Méla; Dragonetti).1 Reading the Conte du Graal and Totalité et infini together, though, highlights the fact that both texts return repeatedly to

Journal

Comparative LiteratureDuke University Press

Published: Jan 1, 2003

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