Turning within: passages of interiority in the Confessions, the Inferno, and the Interior Castle
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This study provides an analysis of the narrative construction of interiority in the Confessions, the Inferno, and the Interior Castle. I take as a starting point a cognitive linguistics/evolutionary psychology perspective on 'common sense' or 'folk' dualism where the 'self is construed as divided between two entities --such as a 'soul' and a 'body' that acts in the world-- that have different roles and relate to each other spatially and hierarchically. I contend that this loosely called 'model' resonates with and helps make explicit a basic, shared, similarly spatial pattern of the 'self' described by the three texts. With this pattern in view, the analysis seeks to reveal the particular way in which each of the three texts develops interiority and performs self-understanding. In particular, I show that self-understanding is created through the rich description of the protagonists' interaction with and development within interior spaces and landscapes. This 'productive' development occurs during the narrative 'undoing' of self and the self's language on the way to the divine 'within.' Lastly, I suggest that the interior journeys both perform and overtly offer parallel lessons on reading itself.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--Boston University
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