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Notions of Otherness

Notions of Otherness

Literary Essays from Abraham Cahan to Dacia Maraini

By Mark Axelrod-Sokolov

‘Notions of Otherness’ is a collection of literary essays that approaches the idea of alterity politically, aesthetically, ethically, culturally and sexually in a diachronic manner.

EPUB, 96 Pages


April 2019

£28.00, $47.96

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PDF, 96 Pages


April 2019

£28.00, $47.96

  • About This Book
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About This Book

Defining what one means by the notion of ‘otherness’ is no mean feat. Typing the word into JSTOR results in no fewer than 39,000 citations. One can be overwhelmed with notions of what constitutes ‘otherness’.

To a great extent, the essays in ‘Notions of Otherness’ approach specific texts (e.g., Sarraute’s ‘Tropisms’) and philosophies (e.g., Lawrence’s ‘Ranamin’) as reflective of Simmel’s notion of the Stranger whose membership within the group, described in the Spring 2010 issue of ‘Social Research’, involves both being outside it and confronting it.

The entirety of the literary texts that have been written about (Cahan, Woolf, Schulz, Lawrence, Ionesco, Duras, Wittig and Maraini) have been addressed from the perspective of being ‘outside the group’ and ‘confronting’ the group both from a sociological perspective and an aesthetic one. Challenging male authority is one example of being outside the group; challenging traditional notions of writing fiction is another aspect of being outside the group; challenging one’s own loss of culture or being forced to do so is being outside the group and advocating a fascist form of living within a democracy is yet another aspect of being outside the group. Each of these texts challenges ‘codes of otherness’ and by so doing manifest notions of otherness in a distinctly unique manner.


“Mark Axelrod-Sokolov’s 'Notions of Otherness' comes at a crucial moment in the history of the concept, a radical shift from understanding ‘otherness’ as that which cannot be known to that which should elicit an ‘encounter.’ With his signature breadth of perspective and theoretical originality, Axelrod-Sokolov brings our current historical juncture—defined by alterity—into the fold of this broader ethical and even metaphysical discussion.”
—Pablo Baler, Professor of Latin American Literature, California State University, Los Angeles, USA, and Author of Latin American Neo-Baroque: Senses of Distortion

“A refreshing, instructive read in literary criticism, these essays bring to light how a number of twentieth-century works uniquely model different phenomena of otherness. Inspired by George Simmel’s notion of the Stranger, the author analyzes processes of identity that confront exclusion from the communities to which they belong.”
—Ana Paula Ferreira, Professor of Portuguese and Spanish Studies, Samuel Russell Chair in the Humanities, University of Minnesota, USA

Author Information

Mark Axelrod-Sokolov is professor of comparative literature in the Department of English at Chapman University, USA, and director of the John Fowles Center for Creative Writing and editor of its literary journal, ‘Mantissa’.


No series for this title.

Table of Contents

Introduction; 1. Acculturation, Otherness and the Loss of Jewish Identity in Abraham Cahan’s ‘The Rise of David Levinsky’; 2. Aesthetic Otherness in Woolf’s ‘Mark on the Wall’, ‘Kew Gardens’ and ‘Lappin and Lappinova’; 3. The Prose of Otherness in Bruno Schulz’s ‘Street of Crocodiles’; 4. D. H. Lawrence and ‘Ranamin’: Otherness and Visions of a Fascist American Utopia; 5. The Aesthetics of Otherness in Nathalie Sarraute’s ‘Tropisms’, ‘The Square’, ‘The Lover’ and ‘Hiroshima, Mon Amour’: Fiction, Film and Duras’s Notion of the Other; 6. Otherness and Sexual Alterity in Monique Wittig’s ‘Les Guérillères’; 7. Mystery, Authority and the Patriarchal Voice in Dacia Maraini’s ‘Voices’; Index.

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