Welcome to Scribd. Sign in or start your free trial to enjoy unlimited e-books, audiobooks & documents.Find out more
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword
Like this
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
(de)Construction of the Postmodern

(de)Construction of the Postmodern

Ratings: (0)|Views: 58|Likes:
Published by olfa_hanini

More info:

Published by: olfa_hanini on Jun 13, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less





The following ad supports maintaining our C.E.E.O.L. service 
by Regina Rudaitytė; Marija Barkauskaitė
Source:Literature (Literatūra), issue: 49(5) / 2007, pages: 116-122, onwww.ceeol.com.
ISSN 0258–0802. LITERATÛRA 2007 49(5)
Regina Rudaitytë
Associate Professor,Department of Literary History and Theory,Vilnius University
The Booker-prize winning novel
(1990)by Antonia Susan Byatt is generallyregarded as an emblematic postmodern novelin which texts, authors, literary movementsof the past are transformed and reflected; theyare presented in the form of metafictionalnarrative, of rewriting, of parody and pastiche,giving them a reinterpretation and recoding ina totally different cultural and literary context.However, it seems to me that it is possible todetect the writer’s ambivalence towards andunease about the postmodern, inscribed in thenovel’s text. My proposition is that althoughByatt’s play with conventions of metafiction,the use of parody and pastiche which is oneof the most important features of postmodernart, are instrumental in the construction of thepostmodern, on the other hand, this post-modern move eventually results in the critiqueand deconstruction of postmodernism itself.Byatt’s parody is also very explicitly directedat the modern critical theories, particularlypoststructuralism and feminist criticism. Myargument will be based on a discussion of Byatt’s
.It is a truly complex, intricate and multi-layered novel both in terms of its structureand themes, blatantly intertextual and can beread through other texts incorporated into theauthor’s narrative, referring to transtextualrelations.The novel’s subtitle –
 A Romance
– pointsto its architextual relations with the genre of the romance and guides the reader into thereception and interpretation of Byatt’s novelas a romance. However, the metatextual layertestifies to Byatt’s novel being a postmoderndouble-coded text: it is both the imitation of the romance and Victorian poetry as well astheir critical reconsideration and reappraisalfrom the perspective of the contemporarycontext. It is metafiction in which the writerresorts to parody, pastiche and the narrative-destabilizing intertextuality, the moves whichforeground fictiveness. In her book of literarycriticism
Passions of the Mind 
(1992), Byattpoints out that “parody and pastiche areparticularly literary ways of pointing to thefictiveness of fiction, gloomily or gleefully”(Byatt, 1992, 157).The novel’s thematic complexity is pro-grammed in its paratext – the title and twoepigraphs. The twofold possession implicatedin the title and defining the duality of presenta-tion and interpretation saturates and connectsthe past and the present as well as two plot
stories: the novel features the Victorian andpresent-day lovers possessed by love andpassion for each other as well as for poetry;on the other hand, it parodies contemporaryacademics, literary scholars, and biographerspossessed by the object of their search and re-search. Sparing no effort to find the missingmanuscripts of a famous nineteenth-centurypoet, in their maniacal search they resort toany, even the most unscrupulous means, forthe sake of their academic career.The novel’s first epigraph is taken fromthe Preface to
The House of the Seven Gables
by Nathaniel Hawthorn:
When a writer calls his work a Romance, it needhardly be observedthat he wishes to claim a certain latitude, both as toits fashion andmaterial, which he would not have felt himself en-titled to assume,had he professed to be writing a Novel. The latterform of composition is presumed to aim at a very minutefidelity, not merelyto the possible, but to the probable and ordinarycourse of man’sexperience. The former – while as a work of art, itmust rigidlysubject itself to laws (…) – has fairly a right topresent that truthunder circumstances, to a great extent, of the writer’sown choosingor creation… The point of view in which this talecomes under theRomantic definition lies in the attempt to connect abygone time withthe very present that is flitting away from us.(Epigraph)
This paratextual reference to the text of the American romantic writer N. Hawthornehighlights the creative powers of the genre of the Romance, its inherent potential to trans-form reality, the writer’s freedom to contructthe world according to his wish and fancy, aswell as the attempt to connect the past, whichin Byatt’s novel is recurrently reawakened, with“the very present that is flitting away fromus.” This way Byatt’s intention is stated, andthe romantic context of 
is mappedand validated. This paratext also points to therelationship between truth and fantasy, realityand fiction, to the fictiveness of the worldconstructed by the writer. Byatt’s double-coded text plays with the tension betweenreality and a fictionalized construct. The fic-tiveness of 
is also emphasized by theother epigraph to the novel – a long excerpt fromthe Victorian poet Robert Browning’s poem
 Mr Sludge, “the Medium”
, which closes withthe following lines:
How build such solid fabric out of air?How on so slight foundation found this tale,Biography, narrative?’ or, in other words,‘How many lies did it require to makeThe portly truth you here present us with?’(Epigraph)
The secret and extremely passionate relation-ship of the fictional Victorian poet Randolph HenryAsh with the poetess Christabel LaMotte, whoremained sunk in obscurity, unfold in parallel withthe romance of the two modern lovers Rolandand Maud (whose names are derived from theMedieval romance and its Victorian rewritings –
The Song of Roland 
and Lord Alfred Tennyson’spoem
) – connecting the past with thepresent and producing the duality of vision. Theauthor plays with time, constantly movingbetween the past and the present. These dislo-cations of time shatter the illusion of reality andhighlight metafictionality of Byatt’s text. Thesame function is performed by the duality of presentation: the novel’s narrative structureurges the reader to interpret the love story of the Victorian poets Ash and LaMotte from thetwentieth-century perspective; the modern

You're Reading a Free Preview

/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->