Ethics and Literature
The Ethics of Reading Sahitya
In this chapter, Ghosh theorizes the ethics of sahitya from three aspects. He explains what he means by aesthetics of hunger and then shows how theory and emotion are connected. Ghosh demonstrates the ethics and politics of hunger through a close study of Matthew Arnold’s “The Scholar-Gipsy” and develops his arguments on the philosophy of the other. This poetics of sahit (togetherness) leads to the second section of the chapter, which speaks about the nonhuman matter contributing to the making or materialization of sahitya: the philosophy of matter or thing-force, how the material changes from its state of being a thing (nonhuman) to share in the materiality of sahitya, and how the thingness or “thingification” of sahitya can be related to its ethical status. The third section of the chapter is about the postaesthetic of sahitya. Working through object-oriented ontology, principles of nonconnection, and what Ghosh calls the “becoming aesthetic,” the chapter demonstrates how ethics of literature can also emerge from a pretheoretical state. The phenomenon of the becoming aesthetic is a bargaining power that is supposedly lost on literature in the compulsive duress of interpretation, methodological stridency, and astuteness. The ethics of sahitya can thus be built through the aesthetic, neomaterialist, and postaesthetic principles of hunger.
Literature and Ethics: Truth and Lie in Framley Parsonage
Miller begins with a comparison between what Ghosh means by the “ethics of Sahitya” (the Sanskrit word for literature) and what Miller means by “the ethics of literature.” Ghosh’s key word is hunger, an intrinsic quality of literary works that names “desire, motivation, intention, and dynamicity.” Miller means, in accordance with the meaning of the word ethics in the West, the presence in literary works, in their various dimensions (author, narrator, reader, characters), of the issue of conduct, of how to choose and act rightly. For Miller, each literary work has different presuppositions about the ethics of literature from all other works. He then turns to Anthony Trollope’s Framley Parsonage to investigate how ethical questions arise in that novel and to examine just what happens in his mind, feelings, and body when he reads the novel attentively. He discovers that the series of eleven love scenes between Lucy Robarts and Lord Lufton turns on the question of whether lying to the person you love is ever justified.