Knowledge Exceeds History

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"Literature or fiction is not a knowledge, but it is not only a site where knowledge is produced it is also the location of a range of knowledges. In this sense the text always exceeds the history of its reception." Belsey p 432

I picked this quote because I thought it was interesting. As far as knowledge goes within literature, it only makes sense that it "exceeds the history of its reception." When it comes to history within literature, it cannot be the only aspect of it. In many cases, literature and fiction incorporate historical information and background, but usually there is much more in and behind the story.

For example, James Joyce's Dubliners although fictional, has historical significance because it shows life in Dublin and the landscape surrounding them. I have always appreciated this about literature. Especially upon attending university level lit. classes, I have understood why it is so important to understand the historical significance behind a story. There is so much you can miss if you don't understand what each period of literature is about and how it influences the writing of authors, such as Romanticism, Elizabethan, Modern etc.

Go back to Belsey

3 Comments

I agree completely. History plays a huge part in who we are and were we come from that it is only natural for literature to delve into the historical aspect of the times in which it was written. Though there is much more to a poem or a story than the historical or political, both have an influence peppered throughout the work.

Bethany, I agree with both what you said and what Mara said. It makes me think of Azar Nafisi. She is obviously an extremely intelligent and well-read person. What she writes may someday transcend our time, yet at the same time the context that she wrote it under is extremely important. Her time in the United States affected her perception of Iran when she returned there and her life now in the United States is affected by her life and time in Iran. It’s all interrelated. History and context is important, not just for when the author wrote, but also for how we interpret it. In other words, when we read Reading Lolita in Tehran we are going to have a very different take on it than someone from Iran.

I agree with you Bethany, and I also love that several us us picked this quote. It bothered me that he tried to tell us that fiction is not knowledge but we can learn so much from fiction, most authors do a lot of research when they write a book, whether it's a place or a time period that they are writing about.

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This page contains a single entry by published on April 19, 2009 12:49 PM.

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