Is there such a thing as a post-modern novel?
‘Post-modernism extends modernist uncertainness, frequently by presuming that world, if it exists at all, is unknowable or unaccessible through a linguistic communication grown detached from it’ ( Stevenson: 28 ) .
The usage of the post-modern has become a mostly relevant term in critical and literary theory in recent yeas. Where some critics argue that post-modernism is merely an development of modernism, others, such as Fredric Jameson, (Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism:1991 ) argue that different attacks to post-modernism exist.
Jameson argues that postmodernism is defined chiefly as a deficiency of a cardinal component ( be it construction, narrative, story-line ) and considers that historical, political and economic values, in line with capitalist economy, have altered political orientations and hence decentred traditional literary values. Shirvani ( 1994 ) concurs, ‘Post-modernism emerged as a gesture of rebellion against the canonisation of modernism and the attendant evisceration of its oppositional potential’ ( 291 ) .
The post-modern non merely causes critics to neglect in finding a orderly description of the term, but neither can they hold on an exact passage from modernism to pos-modernism.
Common divides exist with some proposing the deceases of Joyce and Woolf, whereas others prefer the terminal of the Second World War or the terminal of Colonialism. The many literary tools that sub-divide the term such as mythology, feminism, detective fiction or postcolonial narrative are possibly the lone manner of sorting its significance. Literary surveies and readership have later called into inquiry literary value, which seems to hold less importance within the practical technological universe.
However, it is precisely the inquiry of the practical and the existent that has lead a figure of writers to get down to organize a literary canon that inquiries these mutual oppositions by ego reviewing non merely the author but besides the reader. Where as Jameson eschews intensions to art, Hutcheson (A Poetics of Postmodernism, 1988 ) argues that aesthetics play an of import portion in post-modernism. A return to aesthetics every bit good as self-reflexive qualities and the usage of the existent in events and people from history ( 3 ) make a flexible discourse which both constructions and de-structures literary texts.
This inward looking and self-consciousness, two subjects that are peculiar to what hold been defined as post-modern novels dominate the chief constructions of several novels that will be discussed in this essay. Italo Calvino’sSe una notte d’invierno United Nations viaggiatorepublished asIf on a winter’s dark a travelerin 1979,Lunar Park( 2005 ) by Bret Easton Ellis andNumber9dreamby David Mitchell, published in 2001, exemplify the bound and illimitable constructions of the post-modern text.
Bret Easton Ellis’sLunar Park, the first of his novels to be written in the past tense, is clearly a semi-autobiographical narrative. This fresh encapsulates precisely the ambiguity that haunts many novels that are termed post-modern. The chief character in the text is Bret Easton Ellis himself who begins the book novelizing his earlier life and his rise to fame as an writer. This principle portion of the novel seems to be a life which, to the reader, seems consecutive frontward and probably. However, it is during the descent into a whirlpool of drug and intoxicant dependence that the line between world and phantasy Begins to film over. He marries an actress ( who, it seems, has her ain website [ 1 ] but there is no record of her elsewhere ) and later moves to a dislocated town called Midland, near New York. It is in evidently deemed Midland that the oblivion between world and fantasy Begin to collide. As Ellis become progressively preoccupied with affairs of decease ( particularly those of his male parent ) which parallels the progressively haunted ambiance of his house, Ellis’s paranoia seems to take clasp, changing the reader’s constructs of what is existent within the novel. This 3rd infinite that is created at this point in the novel is arguably fabricated but the trust that Ellis creates at the beginning of the novel forces the reader to oppugn their ain reading of the text: is Ellis delusional and paranoid, are the characters around him merely excessively doubting to accept his world or is Ellis playing a devilish game with the reader?
Number9dreamby David Mitchell besides uses a practical world in which to establish his book. Again, the boundary line that should divide the practical world from world is questioned. The supporter, Eji Miyake undertakes two journeys within the novel ; that of his hunt for individuality and the one which parallels the more fabricated attack to his life. Although the skeletal component of the book is Eji’s narrative, Mitchell further reveals the supporter through dreams, games, books, and so on. This intertextual component of the book forces the reader to oppugn their function within the novel.
Mitchell, through utilizing changing narrative techniques ( Eji’s experiences in each chapter reflect the manner of narrative ) reveals the many faces of the supporter. Indeed this text maps as a diary, as a dream, as a hunt for individuality and a speculation of life. The ambiguity that is created through these maps ne’er reveals to the reader the true ground for Eji’s need to brood in practical world instead than confront his ain world. The lone intimation is possibly Eji’s inability to come to footings with the decease of his sister Anju, nevertheless, even this is merely dealt with through an imagined world which so causes the reader to oppugn how much is reliable.
Mitchell smartly proposes differing worlds. First, there is the world we can touch and experience and utilize as mundane life. There is the alternate world of dreamscapes which are realistic ( we can non make an image which is non a contemplation of our experiences ) ; the computing machine games and books are a different world, that are perchance person else’s world but besides allow the participant to go another ego. Furthermore, Mitchell, by using the mediums of literature, civilization, media and history, uses this text to discourse the grieving processes that we endure and intimations that practical world plays a big portion in larning to get by with calamity. Eji becomes reliant on phantasy and dreaming: he transforms from the hunt for himself ( ‘That was who I truly was, a dream of the Real Miyake’ : 408 ) to a hunt for a practical ego ( ‘I would give anything to be woolgathering right now’ : 418 ) . This is besides true sing his parents where he realises that his hunt for his male parent ( and his thoughts of what he would be like ) was really more inspiring and of import than world when he eventually meets him.
Calvino’s book,If on a winter’s dark a travellerreminds the reader in the first case that they are reading a book by opening it therefore: ‘You are about to get down reading Italo Calvino’s new novel,If on a winter’s dark a traveler. Relax. Concentrate. Dispel every other idea. Let the universe around you fade’ ( 1 ) .
Calvino so continues to rede how the reader should sit or place themself in order to acquire the most from reading the novel. However, it is the sentence, ‘Let the universe around you fade’ that is arguably one of the most of import sentences in the novel. The reader is intentionally asked to allow the universe disappear and to go entrenched in the novel. However, this petition itself makes the reader cognizant that they are reading a book. Furthermore, it calls into inquiry the infinite between phantasy and world that is besides exhibited in Calvino’s novel. The reader can ne’er allow the universe slice ; they need their ain experiences of the universe in order to place with the book and its characters. It is besides their experience of the universe that will name into inquiry the world or the unreality of the narrative. Furthermore, the untypical construction of the text intentionally reminds the reader of who they are and their portion in the novel: the reader. This reminder continues unabated throughout the novel.
In this manner the writer forces the reader to play their function but he is besides cognizant of his ain duty. Calvino inquiries what a author is with a expressionless pragmatism: authorship is a occupation to do money, non to pleasure an audience. Indeed the ‘Good for you’ ( 4 ) that he tells the audience with blithe indifference of the quality of the novel comes near to banishing the audience. [ 2 ] He so continues, within this piece of fiction, to face the mass of unneeded books that are available to purchase that distract fromexistentbooks. [ 3 ] Calvino’s thoughts on the value that is placed on literature ( peculiarly since unfavorable judgment has favoured aggregate civilization in recent old ages ) clearly underpinned the consciousness of non merely composing but reading as Re ( 1998 ) concurs: ‘Writing literature may be difficult work, but reading it may be merely as demanding. The inquiry of who reads what, the political relations of readership, cultural inequality and the resistance between “high” and “low” civilization, are cardinal to the current argument in cultural surveies and the crises in literary studies… [ Calvino ] believed that to happen readers one must make them by contriving an ideal reader… The reader-whoever he or she may be and wherever he or she may come from-must be seduced by the text into going want the texts wants them to be’ ( 127 ) . It was the inquiry of who the author is that caused Calvino to oppugn the value of literature in the post-modern universe. Furthermore, Calvino’s text, although really structured avoids traditional structuring. All the uneven numbered transitions are narrated in the 2nd individual. The reader is forced to oppugn whether theyouis the chief male supporter, the female supporter or the storyteller himself. Furthermore, after the first chapter of the book ( which is really the 2nd ) the reader ( the supporter ) is so fooled into believing that the perennial chapters are a production mistake instead than a arch game that Calvino plays with the reader’s uneasiness. He so returns the book to happen that the replacing is a wholly different novel, which, some manner in, is lost to blank pages. Meanwhile, unaware, the reader is witnessing the Ark secret plan in which the supporters realise that they are portion of a publication confederacy. The reader so realises they excessively are portion of a signifier of literary confederacy: the rubrics of books that are dismissed by Calvino as valueless are really the rubrics of the books the supporter is seeking to read which consequence in a coherent rubric, despite the incoherency in the whole of the novel: a deficiency of construction which is really a really stable construction.
Marie-Laure Ryan in her critical analysis onNarrative as Virtual World( 2005 ) , citing Campbell’sThe Hero with A Thousand Faces( 1993 ) [ 4 ] , in her chapter entitledThe Two & As ; Thousand faces of the practical, clearly delineates [ 5 ] what is practical world and what is world, even if when using this to texts, the poles are non clearly demarcated:
As we see from lexical definitions, the significance of practical stretches along an axis delimited by two poles. At one terminal if the optical sense, which carries the negative intensions of dual and semblance ( the two thoughts combined in the subject of the unreliable image ) ; at the other terminal if the scholastic sense, which suggests productiveness, openness and diverseness. Somewhere in the center are the late-twentieth-century associations of the practical with computing machine engineerings ( 27 ) .
The usage of the practical, through computing machine games, books, the cyberspace, and picture taking now call into inquiry the typical modernist hunts for individuality. This hunt still continues, but is more than of all time a lone experience where the call to come in the escapade ( and so enlightenment ) can now be set by a practical world instead than a courier as in Campbell’s illustration. This practical world further dramas with Jung’s theories of the unconscious or Barthes’ thoughts of the myth [ 6 ] . However, the writers that have been discussed here, along with others ( Isaac Asimov, Juan Luis Borges, Daniel F. Galouye, Stanislaw Lem, Julio Cortazar ) use the practical in order to research the unconscious.
‘Once the power to automatically capture and double the universe was the exclusive privilege of the mirror ; now this power has been emulated by technological media – and the universe is being filled by representations that portion virtuality of the mirrorlike image’ ( Ryan:28 )
Indeed the job of specifying the post-modern is possibly post-modern in itself. The post-modern’s eschewing of classs and looking deficiency of traditional literary constructions means that the post-modern can ne’er be to the full understood. Paul de Man ( 1990 ) reminds us of Barthes’ ailment that ‘Literature overmeans, as we say of bombs that they overkill’ ( 184 ) and that possibly these books no longer typify literary escape for the reader but a witting exercising for the author who instead than sets about the undertaking of composing as a watercourse of narrative, carefully and cunningly constructions every word, even though a premier feature of a post-modern novel is frequently its looking deficiency of construction and way.
‘The terminal of Eurocentrism means besides that all the parametric quantities, the classs, the resistances which were used to specify, sort and explicate undertakings in the universe are being challenged. These include non merely the rational classs linked to peculiar historical minutes, but even those that had appeared cosmopolitan, such as male and female, myth and ground, nature and civilization, and even apparently more simple polarities-affirmation and negation, above and below, capable and object’ ( Re: 132 ) .
The job, hence, of specifying the being of a post-modern novel arguable strictly because it is eschews classification. However, this turning away itself is certainly something that can be categorised?
‘Of all the footings Post-modern must be the most over- and under-defined. It is normally accompanied by a expansive flourish of negativized rhetoric: we hear of discontinuity, break, disruption, decentring, indefiniteness and antitotalization. What all of these words literally do is integrate that which they aim to contend – as does, I suppose, the term post-modern itself’ ( Hutcehson: 3 ) .
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