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Gaze, Object, and Precious Stones in the Book of John Mandeville

《曼德維爾遊記》中的凝視、物/對體與寶石

Abstracts


Manifesting the desire for seeing, the fourteenth-century travelogue the Book of John Mandeville presents a world of spiritual, physical, and especially visual wonders by having its first-person protagonist travel to Jerusalem, the holy cities nearby, and amazing places far beyond. Though the narrative seemingly reveals the exotic world and recounts the abundant material objects through the perspective of a Christian knight, the "gaze" shown in the text is not a unidirectional viewing from the Latin West, but a bidirectional, or even multidirectional, gaze that splits between self and other. In addition, the gaze in the text is intriguingly intertwined with precious stones and jewels, the material objects typically associated with the exotic. Lacan's conceptualization of gaze as a third locus surpassing the simplistic self-other relationship may potentially contribute to the interpretation of this connection. In this paper, I would like to appropriate Lacan's idea of gaze as objet petit a to explore three specific parts in Mandeville's description, namely the episode of the Castle of the Sparrowhawk, the description of the Sultan's merchant-spies, and finally the almost omnipresent "gold, silver, and precious stones" in the lands of Prester John. This paper aims to scrutinize how the gaze-object in Mandeville's narrative challenges the traditional subject-object relation and configures a new kind of subject that can never be settled and closed, which echoes Mandeville's portrayal of the Earthly Paradise as an alienated and eternally unreachable Christian center.

Parallel abstracts


問世於十四世紀的《曼德維爾遊記》,透過敘事者對於觀看的渴望,及其前往耶路薩冷和遠方之地的精彩旅程,鋪展出一個充滿精神、物質、以及視覺奇觀的森羅萬象。然而,雖然這個作品看似以基督教騎士的視角呈現出異域之地和豐饒的物質世界,文中所展現的「凝視」,卻非來自西方單一角度,而是顯現雙向、甚至多元觀看的可能,凸顯游離於自我及他者的凝視。此外,在這部作品中,視線與珍貴寶石等帶有異域色彩的物件巧妙疊合。拉岡將凝視放在我他之外第三位置的解讀,正與《曼德維爾遊記》的刻劃相互呼應。本文借助拉岡理論中凝視作為小對體的概念,來檢視並分析《曼德維爾遊記》中,雀鷹堡橋段提及的黃金、蘇丹手下的間諜貿易商攜帶的寶石、以及祭司王約翰的國度中幾乎無所不在的「金銀珠寶」。本文旨在闡釋曼德維爾敘事中所呈現的凝視和物/對體,如何挑戰傳統的主客體位置,並藉此形構一個與人間樂園這個永遠無法再度回歸的基督教中心相互呼應的開放性主體。

Parallel keywords

《曼德維爾遊記》 物/對體 寶石 凝視 拉岡

References


Berressem, Hanjo. “The Evil Eye of Painting: Jacques Lacan and Witold Gombrowicz on the Gaze.” Feldstein et al., pp. 175-82.
Boothby, Richard. “Figurations of the Objet a.” Jacques Lacan: Critical Evaluations in Cultural Theory (II), edited by Slavoj Žižek, Routledge, 2003, pp. 159-91.
Borroff, Marie. Introduction. Pearl: A New Verse Translation, translated by Marie Borroff, W. W. Norton, 1977, pp. vii-xxi.
Camargo, Martin. “The Book of John Mandeville and the Geography of Identity.” Marvels, Monsters, and Miracles: Studies in the Medieval and Early Modern Imaginations, edited by Timothy S. Jones and David A. Sprunger, Medieval Institute Publications, 2002, pp. 67-84.
Carruthers, Leo. “The Four Rivers of Paradise: Mandeville and the Book of Genesis.” A Knight’s Legacy: Mandeville and Mandevillian Lore in Early Modern England, edited by Ladan Niayesh, Manchester UP, 2011, pp. 75-91.

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