Ethos and answerability in the novelized epic: passional readings of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh, David Jones's In Parenthesis, and Chenjerai Hove's Bones
Sibley, Pamela Jean
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This study proposes an approach to a solution for the problem of the perceived ?separatedness? of language from reality which employs the rhetorical concept of ethos, the doctrinal concept of the Chalcedonian definition of the nature of the incarnated Christ, and Mikhail Bakhtin?s notion of ?answerability.? As an alternative to theories of reading and interpretation based on the arbitrariness of linguistic meaning, radical skepticism, and the death of the author, the approach defined in this study emphasizes affirmation of the centrality of the human person and the necessity of close, loving attention as the grounds of both aesthetic vision and ethical action. Developing three exemplary readings of novelized epics including Elizabeth Barrett Browning?s Aurora Leigh, David Jones?s In Parenthesis, and Chenjerai Hove?s Bones, the study demonstrates how loving, careful attention to ethos?the definition of which is expanded to include relationships between language and character in literary works, genres, characters, authors, and teachers?is the prerequisite for answerability in literary relationships. Whether one is primarily interested in authors, characters, genres, canon, readers, or critical reception, attention to ethos illuminates the ways in which responses to literary works are conditioned by and analogous to responses to persons. The complex and irreducible relationships between the ?word? and the ?person? require an individual answerability for which there is no alibi. Ultimately, the ?word? and the ?world? are united in the answerable person, whether that person is an author, a character, a reader, a critic or a teacher.