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Voices of the Self in Daniel Defoe's Fiction

An Alternative Marxist Approach


Johan Zaixin Zhang

The alternative Marxist approach to literary criticism in the present study consists of three «vocal» modes of interpretation: the public voice, the private voice, and the homeless voice of the self. The public voice represents the authorial vision shaped by dominant ideology that covers up the «objective» real, while the private voice corresponds to the authorial conscious or unconscious insertion into radical ideology that turns the «objective» real into the ideological real. However, the homeless voice of the self may obliterate any ties with history and ideology. A representation of the Marxist «particular interest» of the self, the homeless voice echoes in the open space of the text and reaches for the distant real shaped by the reader's interpretive paradigms inside or outside the constraints of the institutional discourse. The alternative Marxist approach values both history and theory in literary criticism, as the interplay between the two may reinforce and supplement each other in their shared interpretive territory of the private voice of the self in the text, although the public voice is more oriented towards history and the homeless voice towards theory. The different voices of the self are exemplified in a critical reading of Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, Captain Singleton, Moll Flanders, and Roxana. Such a study profits from both modern critical theory (reader response, postmodernism, and feminist theory, etc.) and historical insights into Defoe's fiction (religious hermeneutics, theology and medicine, and gender issues in the eighteenth century, etc.)
Contents: Voices of the Split Self - Deterritorializing Cultural Boundaries - Schlegelian Irony and the Chaotic World of Becoming in Moll Flanders - Defoe's «Man-Women» Roxana.