Journal Article

THE LANGUAGE AND DISCOURCE OF <i>THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING</i>

Nike Kocijanèiè Pokorn

in Literature and Theology

Volume 11, issue 4, pages 408-421
Published in print December 1997 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online December 1997 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/11.4.408
THE LANGUAGE AND DISCOURCE OF THE CLOUD OF UNKNOWING

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The Cloud of Unknowing is a medieval mystical text written in Middle English. The language used is typical of medieval mystical texts; many of its metaphors are taken from the Bible and then developed by the great teachers of Christian thought (Ongen, St. Gregory of Nyssa, Dionysius Areopagite, Thomas Gallus, Hugh and Richard of St. Victor …). The discourse, on the other hand, i.e. the way the language is used in the text, the way in which the author develops his thoughts and communicates them to his readers, closely resembles that of twentieth-century deconstruction. Jacques Derrida himself acknowledges the similarities between apophanc and deconstructive discourses. But in spite of the fact that the discourses are similar, the meaning and message of these two currents of thought are essentially different If we accept the claim that deconstruction is that current of thought which seems to reflect at its best the state of mind of the dispersed, schizoid subject of the post-modern age, then also The Cloud of Unknowing, since it uses a similar language to the language of deconstruction, talks to a post-modern person in his/her own language, in its own way reveals the mistrust in discursive reason and the death of great narratives, but at the same time offers different solutions to his/her post-modem quest. Thus The Cloud of Unknowing through its discourse reveals the contemporary aspect of its message.

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Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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