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Différance in Signifying Robinson Crusoe

Defoe, Tournier, Coetzee and Deconstructive Re-visions of a Myth

Haiyan Ren

Deconstructive rewritings are re-visions. This monograph engages Robinson Crusoe in tandem with two of its re-visions, Michel Tournier’s Friday and J. M. Coetzee’s Foe, from the perspective of the Enlightenment ideology. Basing the argument upon the assumption that Robinson Crusoe is a myth of the Enlightenment ideology representing the master narrative of the Enlightenment discourse, the book examines how the major ideological themes of the Enlightenment master narrative as manifested through the myth of Robinson Crusoe are rearticulated in Friday and Foe. It dismantles how these two re-visions, through deconstructive freeplay, question and more importantly deconstruct the basic premises and principles, or the concepts that enjoy the full presence of an absolute signified in the myth of Robinson Crusoe. Thus these re-visions not only transform the logocentric repressive structure in Defoe’s text into open-ended and dialogic discourses, they also partly constitute a chain of différance in signifying the myth of Robinson Crusoe. The author desires to generate large-scale understandings from small-scale insights through this research.
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The completion of every book incurs a number of debts of gratitude, which are hardly truly repaid. I would like to acknowledge my debts and my inability to honor every one of them.

This book grows out of my Ph.D. dissertation, finished during my stay at the English Department of Nanjing University. I’d like to express the deepest appreciation to Professor Wang Shouren, my advisor, for his valuable advice and insightful comments.

My heartfelt thanks goes to Professor Marshall Brown at the University of Washington, Professor Jun Liu at the California State University – Los Angeles, and Professor Xiao Minghan at Hunan Normal University, for expressing their interest in my project and for reading through or part of the draft.

A special debt is owed to Monsieur Gérard Delbeque who helped me with the French translation of Michel Tournier’s novel. To Mr. Xiang Wenbo, Ms. Ma Xiaorong, Mr. Huang Tao, Ms. Joyce Tan, and Professor Dan Hansong, my sincere thanks for unfailing confidence and friendship. Indeed, they are always ready to offer their help whenever possible.

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