The (Im)possible Gift and Hospitality in The Age of Innocence and Babette’s Feast
|Keywords:||禮物交換;好客;揮霍;牟斯;德希達;gift exchange;hospitality;expenditure,Mauss;Derrida||Issue Date:||2007||Abstract:||null
The (Im)possobile Gift and Hospitality
in The Age of Innocence and Babette’s Feast
By following the theories of Marcel Mauss’s study on gift exchange and Jacques Derrida’s impossible gift, which stresses the non-reciprocity and impossible hospitality, I attempt to present a reading of The Age of Innocence and Babette’s Feast different from previous interpretations. The first chapter will be a basic survey of Mauss’s theories of gift exchange and Derrida’s theories of gift and hospitality. I will summarize Mauss’s exchange theory to see how the three obligations of giving, receiving, and reciprocating function in archaic societies and how the social structure is constituted by these obligations and the behavior of exchange. Inspired by Georges Bataille’s theory of unproductive expenditure, Derrida tries to complicate the issues of gift and hospitality to break Mauss’s circular exchange system, which is structured by the three obligations. Both the Derridean gift and the Derridean hospitality are impossible because they are not bound by the pacts of obligations. The absolute gift should be forgotten by donor and donee while the boundary between host and guest becomes tenuous in the absolute hospitality. I will try to demonstrate how these themes are developed in the three critics’ texts. The second chapter will discuss, through the dining scenes, how the characters of The Age of Innocence, are subject to the obligatory rules of gift and hospitality. And the issues of impossible gift, absolute hospitality, and the other in Babette’s Feast will be developed in the third chapter. Approaching The Age of Innocence and Babette’s Feast through the perspectives of gift, hospitality, and food, I intend not merely to explicate the implicit significance of the characters’ behavior and motives but also to explore the fascinating but ignored dimensions of the two texts.
|Appears in Collections:||外國語文學系|
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