JoLIE 10:2/2017


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Natalia Gloria Muntean

1 Decembrie 1918 University of Alba Iulia, Romania






The research interest of this paper is an attempt to emphasise the relevance of the recent developments in cognitive linguistics, especially Cognitive Poetics and David Miall’s Defamiliarization Theory of metaphor. Clearly this would not be possible without recourse to previous valuable insight provided by Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Conceptual Integration Networks Theory on the one hand, and by recent neuroscience research in connection to the essential import of emotion in cognition (Antonio Damasio, 1994, 2000).

A more specific goal of this present paper is to present an analysis of a short story in the light of these theories so as to reveal, in a more applied manner, what exactly we stand to gain from them, how they can enrich our understanding of the way in which literature and reading assist us in a fruitful discovery and building of identity, how the analysis of the metaphors employed by an author reveal that author’s conceptual universe, his most intimate authorial structure of intent. I believe that Cognitive Poetics together with David Miall’s Reader Response approach can shed necessary light on those intricate and less obvious cognitive strategies that ultimately build and create or trigger the search for that cherished new meaning which constitutes the ultimate reason for a writer’s as well as a reader’s quest. To be more specific my approach is based on Margaret H. Freeman’s development of the notion of an author’s conceptual universe as well as her emphasis on feeling as major catalyst of coherence and meaning in a literary (or artistic in general) work. Freeman and Miall are my spiritual guides in their understanding of the very strong interrelationship between cognition, feeling and metaphor (both departing from neuroscientific evidence). Metaphor cannot work as essential creative cognitive phenomenon without feeling and the metaphoric crossing of conceptual domains is shown by these cognitive linguists to reside and to be enabled and motivated by affect/feeling/emotion.

The short story I analyse is The Courtier by Salman Rushdie, a story which features in his 1994 short fiction book East, West. Largely, it is the story of a teenager’s search for identity, but this teenager happens to be an Indian, educated in England whose family lost pace with him or the other way around, whose experience and search is paradoxically both painful and funny, both profound and marked by shallowness and mimicry, and who finds a genuine authentic source of inspiration in the least expected people. The story can and does read as a parable, as informing people’s sense of search for identity and authenticity even though many of its readers may not be geographical migrants.


Key words: Conceptual metaphor; Parable; Projection; Analogy; Emotion; Migrant; Identity.





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How to cite this article: Muntean, N.G. (2017). Identity in Salman Rushdie’s The Courtier’. A cognitive approach. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 10(2), 73-82. DOI:



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