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    'What is done and what is declared': origin and ellipsis in the writing of Hilary Mantel

    Pollard, Eileen Joy (2013) 'What is done and what is declared': origin and ellipsis in the writing of Hilary Mantel. Doctoral thesis (PhD), Manchester Metropolitan University.


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    This thesis addresses the scarcity of critical material on Hilary Mantel’s writing in the academy. It questions the suitability of the ‘origin’ paradigm within the criticism that is available, which closes off the excess of Mantel’s texts through attempts to ‘unite’ her corpus. The ambiguity of her writing, and its suspicions, suggest Jacques Derrida’s thought as a pertinent means to read the differences in her work differently. The proximity of Jean-Luc Nancy’s philosophy with Derrida’s thought allows the significance of ellipsis to surface as a liberating catalyst for weaving the implications of Derrida’s thinking through the writing of Mantel. This synthesis constitutes my original contribution to knowledge because Mantel’s corpus has not been closely studied, Derrida’s notion of ellipsis has been eclipsed by philosophy, and the combination of these two ‘invisibilities’ is seminal. The structure of the first four chapters is closely informed by Nancy’s claim for elliptical description of Derrida’s thought. Each approaches an ‘origin’, undermining it through its paradoxical parallels with an aspect of Derridean thinking in order to demonstrate the in-excess of the Mantel text under scrutiny. First, the ‘origin’ behind the criticism is exploded, primarily that of the gothic/historic, via Derrida’s notion of play. Then the ‘gothic’ in Fludd is undermined in terms of space because it cannot be ‘placed’. The bodies in Beyond Black echo Derrida’s revenant, a connection that challenges bodily solidity as ‘arrival’. Finally, the ‘I’ of Giving Up the Ghost is read in terms of khōra, which allows autobiography, or autho-biography, to emerge as a nonplace that receives all properties while in itself possessing nothing. Chapters five and six describe a matrix of inquiry informed by Derrida’s thought, so as to understand the ‘frame’ of silence within Mantel’s work and its implications. The writing of this effacement gestures towards the ‘gift’ of the ex-centric centre, which constitutes the adestination of this thesis.

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