The problem of interpretation of the self in The letters of Abelard and Heloise, Shklovsky's Zoo, or Letters not about love, and the Three Marias' The new Portuguese letters
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
In this thesis, I discuss the problem of interpretation of the self in the epistolary text, The Letters of Abelard and Heloise (1132-35), Shklovsky's Zoo, or Letters Not about Love (1924) and the three Marias' The New Portuguese Letters (1972). Since the desire of knowing the deeper nature of a person is still popular, there are many studies of the self which are expected to reveal the "truth" of human being. The atmosphere of privacy in an epistolary text often incites the reader's desire for the revelation of the writer's self. Yet the three texts I discuss invite as well as defy such an expectation. Although The Letters of Abelard and Heloise is considered as a collection of letters, which leads the reader to expect the "truth", the process of manipulation over a long period of time in the text indicates that the expectation of the "true" self in the text is in vain. In the second chapter, I show how the intertextual nature of the text and the self in Zoo makes it impossible for the reader to define the writer's self. In The New Portuguese Letters, I discuss how the three Marias' attempt of reconstituting a "true" and "original" woman's self creates some contradictions as they question their own perception of the self. Like the Marias' writing, my own writing ends up in an unending paradox. While I write about the problem of interpretation in the epistolary text, my writing cannot avoid some problems either. My writing is also subjected to many modifications which distort the "truth" in it. So, while talking about the problem of interpretation in the epistolary text, my writing is no more than an interpretation of the problem.