"The Prodigal Sign" sets out to characterise criticism as a set of prodigal practices that exceed the constraints of primary texts, history, and theory. This is not just because, as Derrida says, 'no practice is ever totally faithful to its principle', but also because critics are habitual runaways -- forever seeking to escape the jurisdiction of their forebears and of the academy. Always on the lookout for something new and distinctive to say about the same old texts or for texts that have escaped the professional attention of their peers, like the prodigal son, they live on their inheritance while trying to escape from their own disciplinary history. This work makes a case for celebrating the prodigal condition and for another escape -- breaking out of traditional constraints towards a hybrid form that combines the critical with the creative.
Kevin Mills is lecturer in English literature at the University of Wales--Aberystwyth, where his teaching and research interests focus on Victorian literature. He is the author of Justifying Language: Paul and Contemporary Literary Theory and Victorian Revelations: Unveiling Apocalypse in Victorian Writing.
Introduction; Parable & Criticism: The Prodigal Son; The Dwarf; Keywords: The Prodigal Daughter; The Broken Doll; The Strange Face of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde; Reason's Disciple: After Master Derrida; Father Away in the Forest of Books; The Elder Brother; Splitting the Aphorism; Skin Trunk: Literature & Resistance in Father & Son; 'I'; The Estate; Parable of the Republic; Index.