Partial Answers - Homepage Journal of Literature and The History of Ideas The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
 Publications

 Volume 16/1: includes forum "Victorian Women Traveling"
 January 2018

 Volume 15/2
 June 2017

 Volume 15/1: includes forum "Audionarratology"
 January 2017

 Volume 14/2: includes forum "Modern Jewish Spaces"
 June 2016

 Volume 14/1: includes forum "Saul Bellow as a Novelist of Ideas"
 January 2016

 Volume 13/2: includes forum "Comics and the Canon"
 June 2015

 Volume 13/1: includes forum "TheGhetto as a Victorian Text"
 January 2015

 Volume 12/2: includes forum "The Novel and Theories of Love"
 June 2014

 Volume 12/1
 January 2014

 Volume 11/2: includes forum "Translating Philip Roth"
 June 2013

 Volume 11/1
 January 2013

 Volume 10/2: includes forum
 June 2012

 Volume 10/1: includes forum "Fernando Pessoa and the Issue of Heteronymy
 January 2012

 Volume 9/2: Dickens: Uneasy Pleasures
 June 2011

 Volume 9/1
 January 2011

 Volume 8/2: British Women Writers
 June 2010

 Volume 8/1 includes forum "The Ethics of Temporality"
 January 2010

 Volume 7/2: Eyewitness Narratives
 June 2009

 Volume 7/1
 January 2009

 Volume 6/2: Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling
 June 2008

 Volume 6/1
 January 2008

 Volume 5/2
 June 2007

 Volume 5/1
 January 2007

 Volume 4/2: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
 June 2006

 Volume 4/1
 January 2006

 Volume 3/2
 June 2005

 Volume 3/1
 January 2005

 Volume 2/2
 June 2004

 Volume 2/1
 January 2004

 Volume 1/2
 June 2003

 Volume 1/1
 January 2003

 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

 Sounding Postmodernity
 Jarmila Mildorf

 Narrativity and Sound in German Radio Play Adaptations of Paul Austerís The New York Trilogy
 Till Kinzel

 Non-Sovereign Voices in Friederike Mayröckerís Aural Texts
 Inge Arteel

 Singing Thomas Pynchonís Gravityís Rainbow
 Anahita Rouyan

 Being Silent, Doing Nothing
 Agatha Frischmuth

 Musical Macrostructures in The Gold Bug Variations and Orfeo by Richard Powers; or, Toward a Media-Conscious Audionarratology
 A. Elisabeth Reichel

 New Modes of Listening
 Emily Petermann

 Narrating Sounds
 Jarmila Mildorf and Till Kinzel

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Updated Up To 18/01/2017
Volume 15, issue 1 (January 2017) : 99-115
Being Silent, Doing Nothing
Silence as a Symbol of Peace in Ivan Goncharovís Oblomov and Ha Jinís Waiting
Agatha Frischmuth
Rubric A: Audionarratology
Rubric B: Twentieth-Century Novel

Abstract

While many pre-modern narratives conventionally feature active protagonists, the transition into modernity has seen an increase in inactivity as a literary motif. The prominent European examples of this trend, such as Thomas Mannís The Magic Mountain, Robert Musilís The Man Without Qualities, or the plays of Samuel Beckett, however, exclude speaking from the list of negated activities, instead depicting voluble characters. This paper proposes that silent inactivity may be an Eastern (and Eastern European) notion, and offers two exemplary readings of this motif in Ivan Goncharovís Oblomov and Ha Jinís Waiting. Drawing from the work of Maurice Merleau-Ponty and Roland Barthes, it argues that silence, despite denoting an absence of signs, is meaningful and hermeneutically versatile. A distinction is made between communicative silence and natural silence, the first of which signifies the absence of speech in an interactive situation whereas the latter signifies verbal silence notwithstanding context and ó importantly ó includes natural soundscapes (as caused by weather, animals or touching objects). Through a number of close readings, natural silence is shown to function as the semantic core of the inactivity motif in that it is a central part of the strategy to attain peace, repose, and contentment. In addition, in both novels the desire for a peaceful way of life dominates the soundscape of romantic relationships. Although the protagonists fall in love with passionate women, they ultimately reject them due to the noise and upheaval they cause. The paper concludes that in connection to the motif of inactivity the notion of silent companionship outweighs that of love (associated with speech). This indicates the existence of culture-specific sound preferences which represent a field of possible future study within audionarratology.


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