Stories of Chaos: Reason and Its Displacement in Early Modern English Narrative (Studies in Early Modern Literature)

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9781840146493: Stories of Chaos: Reason and Its Displacement in Early Modern English Narrative (Studies in Early Modern Literature)
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This title re-examines narrative design in "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight", "the Faerie Queene", "King Lear" and "Paradise Lost". Written in a period newly set on finding practical application for available systems of reasoning, these texts confront in their different ways reason's absolute limitation in the face of a Real which it cannot adequately represent to itself or recruit to its own purposes. An influential model for the staging of such a confrontation was the mythic, cosmological narrative of Plato's "Timeaus". In their rewriting of Plato's narrative the English texts deploy but also destablise the ancient conceptual polarization of the "rational" and the "irrational" or "chaotic" rethought in the terms offered by their period's innovatory practices of reasoning. The study establishes the critical importance of telling a story of chaos by comparing the narrative method of its chosen texts with that adopted by Freud and Lacan as a means of reflection on the psychoanalytic encounter with an ultimately chaotic real. This book, interdisciplinary in scope, offers historically grounded, theoretically informed new readings of four major early modern English literary texts.

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