A Semiotic Perspective of the Category of Space in Literary Descriptions

Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates


2018, Vol. 4. №2

A Semiotic Perspective of the Category of Space in Literary Descriptions

For citation: Belozerova N. N. 2018. “A Semiotic Perspective of the Category of Space in Literary Descriptions”. Tyumen State University Herald. Humanities Research. Humanitates, vol. 4, no 2, pp. 8-21. DOI: 10.21684/2411-197X-2018-4-2-8-21

About the author:

Natalia N. Belozerova, Editor-in-Chief, Dr. Sci (Phil.), Professor, Department of the English Language, University of Tyumen; eLibrary AuthorID, natnicbel@gmail.com


Starting with Yu. Lotman’s assumption that an artistic space in fiction comes as a revelation of the author’s model of the universe, we choose the Interpreter’s point of view (as depicted in Ch. Pierce and Ch. Morris’s sign structure) to demonstrate some semiotic regularities of the decoding process. To unveil the work of these regularities, we choose the short stories of James Joyce (“A Painful Case”) and David Lodge (“The Man Who Wouldn’t Get Up”), and a story by Anton Chekov (“Steppe”). To a certain extent, all these texts share a common genotype — they developed from the cognitive process of translation the visual into the verbal and the verbal into the visual, if to take the reader’s perspective (Yu. Lotman). All these texts are treated here as iconic signs that are involved in the semiosis decoding process. The iconicity of the stories rests upon their common quality — the space between the margin is filled with the class nouns, that nominate either objects or natural phenomena, which according to V. N. Toporov [9] is a major marker of the category of artistic space. Other regularities of artistic apprehension of the descriptive texts include modalities of perception, such as modalities of the visible, of the audible of the tactile, etc. and semantic modalities described by A. Greimas [12], such as modality of Knowing, Being, Seeming, etc. Similarly, the system of values and anti-values displayed in the texts contribute to a semiosis process. All the text are characterized by the syncretism of the Spatial and Personal Deixis. In the story by James Joyce the personage constructs his personal space “in his own image”, in David Lodge’s story the reader witnesses an emulation process — the space engulfs the personage. A. Chekov’s “Steppe” is an example of V. Propp’s morphological functions at work.


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