Nie Zhenzhao’s ethical literary criticism provides a new take on ethics in literature, emphasizing the historicity of ethics and providing a new toolkit in understanding ethical dilemmas in literary texts. This article deploys ethical literary criticism in reading Panangsapul iti Puraw a Kabalio [Search for the White Horse], a marvelous realist novel by award-winning Ilokano writer Ariel Sotelo Tabag. Focusing on the ethical knots encountered by the four characters of the Tabaco clan, it examines the ethical choices they made against the backdrop of the ethical environments of the Second World War and the Martial Law period. Examining the life narratives of the characters reveals the ways in which their ethical choices are for vanquishing the horrors of the past so that they may live a better future. Building on Danilo Alterado and Aldrin Jaramilla’s maiyannatup a panagripirip, the article also reflects on the transplantation of ethical literary criticism in the Ilokano context to extrapolate a vernacular form of ethical consciousness which marks cultural difference and is astute to the cultural and historical concatenations and literary tradition in which the text and the author are imbricated.


Ariel Sotelo Tabag, ethical choice, Panangsapul iti Puraw a Kabalio, ethical literary criticism, Ilokano literature

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
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Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
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Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
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University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
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Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)