Original Research

The emergence and transformation of literary space

R. Nethersole
Literator | Vol 16, No 1 | a589 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/lit.v16i1.589 | © 1995 R. Nethersole | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 30 April 1995 | Published: 30 April 1995

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R. Nethersole, Dept. of Comparative Literature, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Abstract

"The main theoretical difficulty inherent in the teaching of literature", Paul deMan (1986:29) observed, “is the delimitation of borderlines that circumscribe the literary field by setting it apart from other modes of discourse”, Dissatisfied with numerous existing notions as regards literature which are oblivious to the fact that literature depends upon a writer, a book, and a reader, this essay explores spatial denominators in its attempt to define the literary domain. It is argued that while story-telling precedes and succeeds literature, the site of the latter is one which emerged only in modernity and is about to be re-territorialized in the present. The republic of letters or the realm where the text functions as possible world is being replaced by the quarry of stories defining the world as text. Thus the modalities of signification have increased, yet the space of literature has been transformed by technological means changing it into the archive, a place of the past rather than a site of present production.

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