Conclusion: Religion, Literature and the Ethics of Reading Narrative

  • David Scott Arnold
Part of the Studies in Literature and Religion book series (SLR)


I trust that the interpretative net I have flung over the preceding discussions has enabled us to see new connections, novel configurations between the text and reader, literature and religion, critical theory and the possible projects of the humanities. I use the word ‘trust’ because there is a very great mischief loosed upon us, one might imagine some in the field declaring deliberately, a very great noise indeed bruited throughout the precincts of religion and literature. The search for a basis of limitation for interpretation (Foucault), the sense of error in any grounding of meaning (Miller), the Barthian assurance of a surplus of signification, the argument advanced by Frank Kermode for the secrecy of a text as its available reserve, its potential for interpretation, the Critical Inquiry tanglings for and against interpretation — all these moves evidence an unnerving range of possible conflicting interpretations, and the way Melville, Joyce and Murdoch write may not lessen the options brought to bear on such discussions. If Chapter 2 has served as the theoretical armature of this study, spinning the skein through which the explicit chapters on the reading of narrative texts are offered, this conclusion is meant to be an act of reception of the foregoing discussions, yielding what for the reader might connect the field of religion and literature and reader-response criticism.


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Copyright information

© David Scott Arnold 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Scott Arnold
    • 1
  1. 1.Oregon State UniversityCorvallisUSA

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