Identity Construction: Narrative Tension in Saul Bellow’s Herzog

  •  Zhengcai Li    
  •  Mingying Xu    


This paper takes narrative ethics as the approach to analyze ethical dimensions of the tensions between self-narrative and other-narrative in Saul Bellow’s Herzog, and indicates that self-narrative represents the protagonist’s appeal of identity construction, other-narrative symbolizes external forces deconstructing his identity, and narrative reconciliation between self-narrative and other-narrative represents possibilities of his identity construction. Representational ethics shows that Herzog’s self-narrative attempts to construct identity through fictionalizing ideal self at the expense of real self, then to consolidate new identities by assimilating the absolute other. However, narrational ethics suggests that other-narrative represents the absolute other’s deconstruction of new identities constructed by Herzog’s subjective intention, and puts all new constructed identities into suspension. Identity reconstruction can be possible only when Herzog faces the gap between real self and ideal self, confronts existence of the absolute other, responds to its ethical call, and actualizes reconciliation between self-narrative and other narrative. Besides, hermeneutic ethics indicates that the reader also has a role to play in Herzog’s process of identity construction due to tensions between self-narrative and other-narrative, which bestows the reader with constantly switched ethical positions and distances from the text, thus makes the reader’s responsibility towards the text an infinite movement.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • Issn(Print): 1925-4768
  • Issn(Onlne): 1925-4776
  • Started: 2011
  • Frequency: quarterly

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