Politics of Language and Discourse in One Man’s Bible by Gao Xingjian


  • Farida Chishti Professor and Head, Department of English, Govt. PG Islamia College for Women, Lahore
  • Aamir Aziz Assistant Professor, Dept. of English Language and Literature, University of the Punjab, Lahore


discourse, order-words, hail, territorialise, de-territorialise


Drawing on the power of discourse in Foucault’s concept of panopticism, of language in the Deleuzean concept of territorialisation, and Althusser’s interpellation, my study focuses on how Gao Xingjian dismantles the grand narrative of the Cultural Revolution in his second novel One Man’s Bible. Deploying textual, critical discourse and stylistic analyses as key tools to analyse selected data, this paper highlights the way a panoptic political order ‘hails’ and ‘recruits’ an intellectual hence marginal subject to participate in a culture of violence that comes to dominate the Chinese street politics during 1966-76. So pervasive is the hold of its ‘command-words’ that it transforms the very nature of his subjectivity, rendering him ‘docile and serviceable’; not only harmless to the state but also pliantly serving the cause, interest and ideology of the Party in power. To shake off the power-effects, one needs a new form of ‘deterritorialised’ or ‘counter’ subjectivity evoked by Deleuze and Foucault respectively, and symbolically represented in the physical act of ‘flight' from home. By absconding from the scene of violence, the self-exile thwarts the forces of oppression in their attempt to subjectify him, and takes charge of his own subjectivity. This is an area which has not stirred any debate in the critical circles yet, hence the study has potential to be an important addition to literature on Gao.