Literary Aesthetics and Knowledge in René Girard’s Mimetic Theory

Literature and Aesthetics 17 (1):35-50 (2007)
René Girard’s mimetic theory has significantly influenced the fields of comparative literature and cultural studies, as well as sociological anthropology and philosophy. Nevertheless, I argue that a somewhat different line of interpretation, an interdisciplinary one, has not been sufficiently investigated. This involves an interpretation which focuses on the vicissitudes of the mimetic and “victimage” circle not (or not only) in sociological terms, but by analysing their articulation on the level of knowledge. The sociological and epistemological perspectives do not exclude each other, but can be integrated. The main aim of this paper is to clarify this articulation, and to show that integration between these two perspectives is possible only by bringing into play a real ‘literary aesthetics’. The notion of literary aesthetics needs to be considered in both the common and the etymological sense, as a theory of feeling and of experiencing. In doing so, I firstly cover in brief the main stages of Girard’s thought in the light of this perspective, to then focus on the relationship between literary aesthetics and knowledge. Finally I argue that this picture, if seriously considered, could lead to a mystical outcome, and will discuss the possible alternatives to that outcome.
Keywords Girard  Aesthetics  Knowledge
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