For the past few days (which formed many months), I have been constantly trying to write an article about Deconstruction (only within the ambit of literary theory) for many students who have requested me to do so. However, Deconstruction is not so easy to construct! To write something about this is a highly risky job and before doing it, I wanted to be completely sure of myself and my research and my offerings. Do you see? Derrida hasn’t left the playground of Deconstruction in any comfortable condition and the ‘free play,’ I must say, is highly restricted.
Well, let’s get to the business of words. I have studied and studied again and again and again many books on literary theory in order to understand Deconstruction. I did the best I could do with available resources. And you have to believe me when I say that most of the books will put you in a further fix with the topic – Deconstruction hasn’t been easy to understand and neither to make someone understand. Other than the perplexing “Structure, Sign and Play” and the scholarly commentary on the essay, students (and sometimes the teachers as well) need something which can simplify the concept of Deconstruction in the literary context to them. My attempt, I have tried my best, is an attempt in the very direction.
What is Deconstruction?
Though Patricia, in her book Literary Theory & Criticism, has refrained from defining the term “Deconstruction,” it can certainly be defined within the limits of being a literary theory. On the basis of whatever I have studied, Deconstruction (as a literary theory) can be defined in the following words:
Deconstruction is an apparent revolution against all the literary theories before itself which vouch for a unity in the literary texts. It seeks to find the differences, contradictions, paradoxes, ambiguity and disintegration (in short, loopholes) in the text. Deconstruction basically aims at proving that a literary text is not certainly unified and it has a multitude of meanings if we try to find the same. Therefore, sometimes, it is also called textual harassment.
After defining Deconstruction theory in literature in the simplest and a lucid manner, we need to understand what does a deconstructive reading mean. The questions like what really does a Deconstructionist do and how will you deconstruct a particular text also need to be addressed for a proper understanding of Deconstruction. So, we move ahead now.
What does a Deconstructionist do?
In general, we read literary texts in order to establish unity and bring out a meaning based on our entire reading. The Deconstructionist, however, reads the text just to find the fault-lines. Mostly read in fragments, a Deconstructionist’s reading of any literary text is aimed at the following:
To prove that the text does not have any singular meaning and it be read and understood in various ways
To find out the disassociation of ideas and discontinuity of style to prove that the text is not a single unit and is rather made of different units of different kinds
To look for various kinds of breaks in text to find out the possible repressed interpretations which could be brought out of the ‘textual silence’