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MADNESS AS A SIGNIFIER: A STUDY OF DORIS LESSING’S BRIEFING FOR A DESCENT INTO HELL

Akujobi, R. MADNESS AS A SIGNIFIER: A STUDY OF DORIS LESSING’S BRIEFING FOR A DESCENT INTO HELL. Working Paper. Unpublished. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Based on Michel Foucault’s idea of the power/knowledge relationship reflecting a sense of cultural criticism of the modern world, this paper investigates the issue of madness as a signifier in Briefing for a Descent into Hell, challenging the status quo of culture from all aspects, socio-political, medical, historical perspectives. How does one define madness or insanity? One can attempt a definition by contrasting the term with the definition which recognizes one who has lost all sense of self and the society or culture that produces the so-called insane. The issue of madness in modern fiction often expresses itself in crisis and transgression of the cultural establishment. In Briefing for a Descent into Hell, Doris Lessing suggests a possible “brave new world” in a madman’s “inner space.” By juxtaposing Charles Watkins’s “real” world and his “dream” world, the author criticizes such cultural institutions as hospitals and universities, the society in which the insane lives, the depravity, the insanity and the violence of the time which makes it almost impossible for one to reason appropriately. The multiple realities in the novel are not just designed for narrative purposes, but to ridicule the absurdity of what the society terms “reality,” In this respect, this study will be examining the representation of “madness” in Briefing for a Descent into Hell as a signifier as well as a cultural malaise.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
Divisions: Faculty of Law, Arts and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Mr Adewole Adewumi
Date Deposited: 20 Jun 2011 23:57
Last Modified: 13 Dec 2011 21:13
URI: http://eprints.covenantuniversity.edu.ng/id/eprint/194

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