Chapter 1: Spirituality and Moral Action 7
Chapter 1: Spirituality and Moral Action Many readers have sensed a warm and pervasive spirituality in the novels of Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2008. Critics disagree, however, as to the best way to de- scribe that spirituality and to locate it within well-known frameworks of religious experience. In addition, there is debate as to whether this spirituality is the foundation of an ethic that can lead to social or po- litical action. Finally, critics disagree as to whether citizens of nations that have violently colonized others are capable of experiencing this spiritual state or taking moral action grounded in this form of spiritu- ality. Le Clézio has made conscious efforts not to be a political novelist, though his novels contain political implications. It can be argued, however, that Étoile errante, his book about the parallel lives of a Jew- ish Holocaust survivor and a Palestinian refugee, limns a spiritual and moral path out of the ongoing crisis that is PalEstine and Israel. A study of four of Le Clézio’s novels, Ourania, the diptych Onitsha and Étoile errante, as well as Désert, the novel that marked his transition from experimentalist to spiritual and environmental writer, suggests the following answers to the questions implicit in the criticism. Le Clézio’s spirituality can be understood more effectively if it is framed in terms of Karl Jasper’s idea of “the Comprehensive” rather than in frameworks derived from Rudolf Otto, Mircea Eliade, William...
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