Tears, humor and "the critical and clinical": Reading the baroque and sympathy in "Clarissa", "Tristram Shandy" and Deleuze
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This dissertation will examine the critical and clinical relationship between Clarissa and Tristram Shandy by reading the thought of Deleuze. In the history of the early Modern English novel, Clarissa and Tristram Shandy are rare masterpieces that pursue the question of infinity to the limit in their original architectonics of subject and space. This study investigates their original modes of the encounter with the unrepresentable sacredness, excess and death, by approaching Clarissa as the art of the Christian baroque and Tristram Shandy as a novel of sympathy, which is strongly informed by the Deleuzian neo-baroque. In its masterful execution of double meanings (teardrops and ruptures) of the tears of a beautiful virgin martyr, Clarissa powerfully manifests the core of the theological eroticism of the Christian baroque and its potential perversion at the moment that the sprit of the baroque is contaminated by the sordid mixture of the excessive moralization and an obscene male gaze. In contrast, Tristram Shandy could be both a critical text in the literary sense and a clinical text in the medical sense, for the pathological symptoms of Clarissa . The "True Shandeism" of the novel is a principle of a creative humor, which can liberate singularities from any fixation of desire in our body, and make them flow properly and freely by creating an innovative experimental literary style (the invention of joyful musicality) and a mode of existence (the ontology of becoming). This principle can be read as a profound and humorous critique of the excessive idealization and obsession with the hymen and corpse of a beautiful virgin through the perverse male gaze in Clarissa . Along with the Deleuzian reading of the two novels, the way in which we examine the charm of the Deleuzian neo-baroque in the comparative research with the Christian baroque and elevate the concept of sympathy as the principle of Deleuzian love could not be possible without experiencing the intriguing elective affinities between Clarissa and Tristram Shandy . Such a mutual transformation in the dynamic encounter between literature and philosophy is, indeed, essential in writing this dissertation.