Criticism: Deconstruction And Literature - Essay

John P. Muller and William J. Richardson (essay date 1988)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Muller, John P., and William J. Richardson. “The Challenge of Deconstruction.” In The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida, and Psychoanalytic Reading, pp. 159-72. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1988.

[In the following essay, Muller and Richardson present a survey of the critical dialogue between Lacan and Derrida regarding Lacan's interpretation of Poe's “The Purloined Letter,” emphasizing that Derrida's method is to “deconstruct logocentrism.”]

Beyond any question, the most serious challenge to Lacan's reading of “The Purloined Letter” comes from his compatriot Jacques Derrida. The challenge is all the more telling because of Derrida's...

(The entire section is 5576 words.)

Gavriel Ben-Ephraim (essay date summer 1994)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ben-Ephraim, Gavriel. “Making and Breaking Meaning: Deconstruction, Four-Level Allegory, and The Metamorphosis.Midwest Quarterly 35, no. 4 (summer 1994): 450-67.

[In the following essay, Ben-Ephraim demonstrates how Kafka both builds up and deconstructs the traditional pattern of allegory in his The Metamorphosis.]

From Quintilian to Angus Fletcher critics have noted allegory's doubled significance; “twice-told,” but many times understood, allegory invariably means more than it says. To supplement meaning, allegory characteristically enfolds abstract significance in narrative images. These suggestions may be provided by presences...

(The entire section is 5708 words.)

Lance St. John Butler (essay date 1994)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Butler, Lance St. John. “Beckett's Stage of Deconstruction.” In Twentieth-Century European Drama, edited by Brian Docherty, pp. 63-77. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, Butler examines deconstructive elements in several plays by Beckett, suggesting that in them Beckett attempts to “escape … from the tyranny of the signifier.”]

Beckett is the poet of the poststructuralist age. In his plays, as in all his work, we are offered something like a version of the world according to Derrida. Where Beckett has already given up the search for determinable meaning, in the 1940s and 1950s, as a vain pursuit, poststructuralism would...

(The entire section is 5762 words.)

Isobel M. Findlay (essay date September 1995)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Findlay, Isobel M. “‘Word-Perfect But Deed-Demented’: Canon Formation, Deconstruction, and the Challenge of D. H. Lawrence.” Mosaic 28, no. 3 (September 1995): 57-81.

[In the following essay, Findlay considers Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature in light of deconstructionist critical methodology, emphasizing his belief in multiple textual meanings.]

In recent decades changing faculty and student bodies and new methodologies have raised questions about the nature and distribution of power and authority, challenging traditional institutional, disciplinary and discursive protocols. Not surprisingly, the consequent reconstitution of...

(The entire section is 9043 words.)

Shawn St. Jean (essay date spring 1997)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: St. Jean, Shawn. “Social Deconstruction and An American Tragedy.Dreiser Studies 28, no. 1 (spring 1997): 3-24.

[In the following essay, St. Jean explores how a deconstructionist approach to Dreiser's An American Tragedy illuminates his focus on the relativism of truth in the novel.]

Of all major aspects of his work, Theodore Dreiser's social criticism is perhaps the most elusive and has therefore received the least sustained critical attention. It cannot be called obvious at any level, else readers would not be forced to wonder over such basic issues as whether a book like The Financier (1912) is a celebration or an indictment of...

(The entire section is 6682 words.)