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Coolabah  2013 

New Possibilities of Neighbouring: Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet

Keywords: Levinas’s ethics of alterity , Reinhard’s political theology of the neighbour , community in Australia.

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Abstract:

I intend to revisit Winton’s popular family saga in the light of Emmanuel Levinas’s ethics of alterity and Kenneth Reinhard’s political theology, both built upon the Christian principle of loving thy neighbour. The story of two families, the Pickles and the Lambs, sharing house in post-World War II Perth, proves fertile ground for the analysis of the encounter with the Face of the Other, the founding principle of Levinasian philosophy. In his political theology of the neighbour, which aims at breaking the traditional dichotomy friend/enemy, Reinhard draws on Badiou’s conception of love as a truth procedure, capable of creating universality in a particular place. Thus, the vicissitudes of the two families in coming to terms with each other in their “great continent of a house” invite a metaphorical reading and echo Winton’s interest in promoting a sense of community in Australia.

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