Not long after the release of his first novel, Everything is Illuminated, critics and authors alike began showering Jonathan Safran Foer with both praise and disparagement for his postmodern style. Yet, this large body of criticism ignores the theoretical work taking place within Foer's fiction. This thesis attempts to fill this gap by highlighting specific aspects of Foer's theoretical work as it relates to the creation of meaning in a text and to explore what this work might imply for the broader literary community. Much of Foer's work toys with the capacity of language to express meaning, indulging in the playfulness of language throughout his work to highlight the place where at written language blurs the line between word and flesh, or language and experience. In this playfulness, Foer seems to assert that meaning is created in the space between language and experience through the act of metaphor. This theory of metaphor places the individual, the author, and the critic all in a creative position and the narrative content of Foer's works examines how this creative power is used by individuals to create a world of meaning out of experiences that seem to have none. In this way, Foer argues that the creative act of metaphor is a redemptive act—an act of saving one's self from the void. Such a conclusion can be applied to all who use the word to create, particularly authors and critics, wherein the creative act as well as the interpretive act become acts of redemption.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Barlow, Lauren Nicole, "Criticism as Redemption: Jonathan Safran Foer's Theory of Meaning" (2010). All Theses and Dissertations. 2123.
literary criticism, deconstruction, Jonathan Safran Foer