This article offers a Deleuzian practice of reading as a form of problematization: constructing or “mapping” an author’s lived problematics to which his or her writing responds as so many solutions. Unlike readings that treat authors as patients whose personal pathological symptoms manifest in their literary works, a Deleuzian reading sees them as physicians of their cultures responding to an intolerable mode of existence, which is indiscernibly both personal and collective. A Deleuzian reading thus explores both the symptoms of pathological social present and new possibilities of life as they receive formal expressions in the literary work and the author’s style. Such practice essentially operates by actively constructing a series of underlying problems and their corresponding formal solutions, a move that, at the same time, establishes immanent criteria for critically evaluating a particular literary response (a solution) to the entrapment of life forces in pathological modes of existence (a problematics). The author discusses how and why a Deleuzian reading is both possible and desirable and takes Israeli author David Grossman’s novel The Book of Intimate Grammar as its primary case. This reading studies the novel through three conceptual problems in literary theory: the author as the site of the creative process, the use of language as an expression of an author’s literary technique, and the conditions for literary enunciation. It also demonstrates the strengths and benefits of Deleuzian readings in extra-Anglophone and extra-Francophone contexts.
Reading for Vital Symptoms: Deleuze, Literary Theory, and the Case of David Grossman
Nir Kedem is assistant professor of cultural studies and chair of the Department of Cultural Studies, Creation, and Production at Sapir Academic College, Israel. He is currently working on his first scholarly monograph, titled A Deleuzian Critique of Queer Thought: Overcoming Sexuality. His recent articles on the schizoanalysis of queer-feminist alliances and on queer translation appeared in the volume Deleuze and the Schizoanalysis of Feminism (edited by Janae Sholtz and Cheri Carr, 2019) and in symplokē.
Nir Kedem; Reading for Vital Symptoms: Deleuze, Literary Theory, and the Case of David Grossman. Poetics Today 1 December 2020; 41 (4): 539–559. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-8720057
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