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We shall never be again as we were! — Henry James, The Wings of the Dove Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision. — Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse *** You have fallen into art—return to life. — William H. Gass, Willie Masters’ Lonesome Wife A screaming comes across the sky. It has happened before, but there is nothing to compare it to now. — Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow So I mean listen I got this neat idea hey, you listening? Hey? You listening…? — William Gaddis, J R
Copyright © David Emmett 2009 All rights reserved The moral right of the author has been asserted.
1. Introduction 2. Form
the emergence of a postmodern technique
3. Practitioners 4. Themes
the authors and critics
moments in time
5. Post-postmodernism 6. Creative Response
back to the future
Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature
the postmodernist author attempts to create new experiences for the reader. both external and contained in the duplicity of each word’s meaning. p. Conversely. there is no shortage who view it as little more than an aberration. whether consciously or not. Sim. it was the lack of grand theories to instruct (or limit) the writer that allowed postmodernism to be diverse and responsive to a changing society. this leads to many misconceptions and a need to retrospectively ‘place’ the movement in our literary history. a misguided fashion. the postmodernist text is a combination of many texts. In the years since postmodernism’s dominance has faded – and with the rise of the social realist novel – there has been an increase in titles that attempt to discuss or deﬁne this literary movement (Barry 2002. Through the use of form and themes. What it was postmodernism brought to the reader differed greatly and herein lies the difﬁculty of deﬁning postmodernism. self-contained entity? And. The questions we must ﬁrst ask are: Can postmodernism be described as a distinct. On the other hand. From the publication of Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems (1956) to the publication in Harper’s Magazine of Tom Wolfe’s ‘Stalking the Billion-footed Beast’ (1989). Postmodernist writing often shared common themes. The postmodernist understanding is a reaction against modernist theory but is also a product of the historical context. 111). According to postmodernist theory. ed. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 4 . it is these qualities that make postmodernism intriguing to study. the author’s intentions cannot be received by the reader in a deﬁnite.T H E H I S T O R Y O F P O S T M O D E R N I S M I N L I T E R AT U R E second half of the The history of postmodernism in literature encompasses only a short period which begins and ends in the 20th century. and an innovative use of form which contrasts with earlier literature. Postmodernism therefore must be given both a ﬂexible and an evidence-based deﬁnition. postmodernist literature would come to dominate new and highly regarded writing. In many ways. Some scholars. in their sentimentality for a fallen giant. if not: Is it important? While this is not to suggest there is no middle ground – between this and being undeﬁned – any deﬁnition based on little more than vague notions is an ineffectual one and should be avoided. uniform manner. have professed postmodernism’s unique literary worth. Today. Therefore.
a literature aware of its past. However. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 5 . intro. p. subtle. this attitude would have precluded ﬁction that is. to avoid what is considered frivolous writing.). ix). an image which ignores the adoption of postmodern technique into the wider creative routine. invigorating coat of paint and perhaps some further genius but importantly. with the advent of post-postmodernism. ix).] than any prose we have” (Barthelme 1987. where innovations in style are seen as a sign of disengagement” – where the duty of the author is to “just tell it to us. and more like poetry [. p. get it across and get it over with” (Barthelme 1987.The popular image one reads in newspapers or encounters in conversation. the future of postmodernist ideas and technique in literature may survive intact. . comm.. pers. 12 Aug. an attitude emerges “wherein stylistic deviations are disallowed. shifts from an open avoidance to caricature. It is an attitude expressed by the idea that postmodernism can be summed up with “an exclamation mark” (M Cromer 2009. beautiful. . A little tweaked. as Dave Eggers writes of Donald Barthelme. with a fresh. If it had existed at the time. Eggers 2005. intro. Today. Eggers 2005. postmodernists would have to face the “newspapering process” – where. “playful.
the narrator described Rozinante as a horse: “whose bones stuck out like the corners of a Spanish Real. Their efforts were not focused on the suspension of belief. Motteux 1993. 49) This passage reminds us that writing is symbolic and. p. but written language itself. postmodernists experimented with words in new and exciting ways. that became prominent in postmodernist writing. Howard 1989. The protagonist has become obsesed with the tales of chivalry he has read. Having removed the rust he sets about repairing the helmet with pasteboard. . Following the success . Deciding on the name Rozinante1 he imagines it is: “a horse before or above all the vulgar breed of horses in the world” (Cervantes 1605–15. trans. and at times. The artistic worth may remain but the intention to recreate ‘reality’ will fail from the ﬁrst ink that hits paper. begins to perceive his world through these ﬁctions and begins his own quest. ﬁnally external to any function but the very exercise of the symbol — [. through written description. being a worse jade [a worn-out horse] than Gonela’s. Language. authors were looking for new ways to interact with the reader. played on similar ideas. can be seen much earlier. is an emphasis on form. with the rise of cinema and later television.” (Cervantes 1605–15. Cervantes had the innovative idea of continuing the story with characters who have read about the protagonist in Part I. The Death of The Author: “once an action is recounted. This new direction allowed the novel to compete in a world where realism. p. after all his master has become a knighterrant. 11). in his delusion. Don Quixote. Motteux 1993. However. trans. trans. p. Roland Barthes writes in his essay. and no longer in order to act directly upon reality — that is. Cervantes’ Don Quixote (1605–15) is a text that addresses the act of reading itself.] writing begins. Part II of Don Quixote. not through the prism of content. qui tantum pellis et ossa fuit 2 [was so much skin and bones]. Postmodernists thought about how words appeared on the page. p.Form the emergence of a postmodern technique The gift of postmodernism to all literature.” (Barthes 1968. In need of armour he ﬁnds some which belonged to his great-grandfather. . their writing “begins by speaking and only sees and conceives afterward” (Deleuze & Guattari 1975 . 12) It appears Cervantes is warning us of what can happen to our own understanding if we excessively indulge in another’s storytelling – it is an irony that confronts the reader. becomes instantly inferior to ﬁlm at replicating or recording life. More than any other literary movement. Don Quixote decides it is only ﬁtting his horse be renamed. as they read. trans. as they saw it. for intransitive ends. Before Postmodernism Many formal techniques. 591). with all of its limitations should be exploited to create a different kind of experience. they even ﬂaunted the ﬁctionality and false reality narrative creates. if it was to be only one. published in 1615. Maclean 1985. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 6 .
well-a-day! do what we can for him. though without advancing an inch. he shall march to his regiment. we might recruit him again at once. He'll drop at last. and what will become of his boy? He shall not drop said my uncle Toby. Trim. and the old woman's. ed. Trim and what with thy care of him. as he wrote it down. p. pp. cried my uncle Toby. and his boy's.” (Sterne 1759–67. He shall march. p. cried my uncle Toby. blushed as he gave it in. He shall be supported. said the Corporal. ed. and the recording angel. dropped a tear upon the word. p. Forgoing a strict adherence to the plot in favour of digression would become common in postmodernist texts such as Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973). “The accusing spirit. The characters are “amongst the most odd and original in ﬁction” (Tuckerman 1894. in this world.” (Calvino 1979. 339–340) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 7 . He will march. said the Corporal. the title character becomes the narrator of wild. Boxall. said the Corporal. Instead. the digressions are only loosely linked with his biography and often focus on his uncle Captain Toby Shandy: “A sick brother-ofﬁcer should have the best quarters. rising up from the side of the bed with one shoe off. said the Corporal. 61). and blotted it out for ever. which Cervantes shares. Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy. Once past his third year. Cervantes’ use of form in Don Quixote places it “at the head of a long line of ﬁctions of which ﬁctionality itself is the principle substance” (Patrick 2008. He shall not die. maintaining his point. said my uncle Toby.While in their motivations and the extent of experimentation they are very different. However. 39) The acknowledgment. He will never march. the poor soul will die. and if we had him with us. by G—. marching the foot which had a shoe on.Ah. Boxall. Thou art an excellent nurse thyself. preﬁguring modern and postmodernism ﬁction” (Milne 2008. and numerous digressions. and mine together. 33). which ﬂew up to Heaven's chancery with the oath. Gentlemen (1759–67) draws inspiration from farce. trans. It is suggested by the title that it is a story concerned with the biography and ideas of Tristram Shandy. “In a fortnight or three weeks. a comic genre involving buffoonery in which highly unlikely characters and events occur. of the inescapable ﬁctionality any text possesses is known as metaﬁction. p. an' please your Honour. comparisons can be drawn to Italo Calvino’s If on a winter’s night a traveler (1979). 95). ﬁrmly. smiling. he might march. and has been described as “the archetypal ‘experimental’ novel. said Trim. This novel is essentially about a character called ‘the Reader’ and their attempt to read the novel. he will never march but to his grave. Weaver 1981. said my uncle Toby. we could tend and look to him. and set him upon his legs. He cannot stand it. An' please your Honour. it also gives us insight into the limitations of writing that many postmodernists felt: “the sensations reading evokes remain scant compared to any sensation really experienced. added my uncle Toby.
It was not until after Ulysses that his writing took a radical turn away from what was common to modernism. John Barth uses a diagram to discuss how a traditional narrative should be structured in the eponymous story from his collection Lost In The Funhouse (1967). representing the progression of the narrative thus far and informing the reader of events to come. which the narrator’s cordially explains. these similarities are striking and it worthwhile to acknowledge Sterne’s foresight. James Joyce was born in Dublin. . beginning with the stream-of-consciousness technique. including from his early supporter Ezra Pound. Other similarities can be drawn to Donald Barthelme’s ‘At The Tolstoy Museum’ – from Forty Stories (1987). where – at the expense of objective description and dialogue – the character’s mental events are continuous: “Latin again. In a similar fashion.” (Joyce 1922. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Ulysses (1922). (continues) “Is that best side of her face? They always know. Joyce would receive criticism. has a history in older literature but more often than not these merely are intended to complement the narrative. the reader is confronted by two identical black and white portraits of Tolstoy over a two page spread.326). Notable works are Dubliners (1914). Wonder where that rat is by now. character-driven plot and traditional characters with consistent names and descriptions are replaced by charactertypes. liked that best. Shah of Persia. Night Michael Gunn gave us the box. p.The inclusion of visual elements to ‘play’ with the reader is another technique that is often associated with postmodernism. p. 4 and following the publication of Finnegans Wake (1939). “the master-text of modernism” (Munton 2006. Way to catch rattlesnakes. pp. for the novel’s experimental use of language. corpusnomine. Last tip to titivate [. Once again it is true that the postmodernist example and the earlier one only share some similarities and the motivations and historical context of each is quite different. That holds them like birdlime. Priest with the communion corpus for those women. Turning up. only to lament his own short story has failed at it. 279–280 ﬁgures. An example of Sterne’s experimental technique. several ‘kernel stories’ replace a coherent. Experimentation in his writing is clear. After having been introduced to the story. In Tristram Shandy there is an entirely black page (39) to represent the mourning of Yorick’s death3 and a blank page intended to look like a printing error (189). including compatriot Samuel Beckett. Ireland on 2 February 1882 and is considered one of modernist literature’s principal Plotting the narrative. cofﬁn or coffey. . This is where Sterne and many postmodernists differ. 283) However. Later there are illustrations. In terms of narrative. Nonetheless. Knock at the door. ed. His writing is known to have inﬂuenced many prominent writers. Chap in the mortuary. During the composition.] What do they think when they hear music. Boxall. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 8 . Illustration of course.
would face similar reluctance to disorder in the text. isn't it now?” (Ellmann 1959. 233) and.” (Joyce 1939. prain. though venissoon after. However. Do you think we are tonedeafs in our noses to boot? Can you not distinguish the sense. p. the reader is left without any comfortable understanding. 1) The inclusion of these references suggests Joyce saw Tristram Shandy. p. The ﬁrst reference to Tristram Shandy is in fact on the ﬁrst page: “Sir Tristram. Finnegans Wake is a "reconstruction of the nocturnal life” (Mercanton 1988. were sosie sesthers wroth with twone nathandjoe. faith! But this is no laughing matter. I want no expert nursis symaphy from yours broons quadroons and I can psoakoonaloose myself any time I want (the fog follow you all !) without your interferences or any other pigeonstealer. had passencore rearrived from North Armorica on this side the scraggy isthmus of Europe Minor to wielderﬁght his penisolate war: nor had topsawyer's rocks by the stream Oconee exaggerated themselse to Laurens County's gorgios while they went doublin their mumper all the time: nor avoice from aﬁre bellowsed mishe mishe to tauftauf thuartpeatrick not yet. Joyce makes use of phonetic association throughout Finnegans Wake and this is not a likely coincidence. p. fr'over the short sea. as a predecessor to Finnegans Wake. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 9 . sir. bray? You have homosexual catheis of empathy between narcissism of the expert and steatopygic invertedness. Intertextuality is also present in the text. violer d'amores. begor. some twenty years later. Postmodernist writers. 610) At times. Many postmodernists were also inspired by Sterne’s writing but few would feel the same of Joyce. from the sound. Joyce transcends the boundaries of his own language by creating an English-familiar but polyglot-intentioned voice where vernacular and a lyrical shapeshifting of words are fused together: “— Are you to have all the pleasure quizzing on me? I didn't say it aloud. Regardless. 612). I have something inside of me talking to myself. the reader may still have difﬁculty appreciating such an experimental text.The reason it receives comments such as “perhaps the most daunting work of ﬁction ever written” and “the greatest unreadable novel ever written” is largely to do with language technique. p. this is in part the aim. p. which at the time would have been one of only a few English texts that ‘played’ with the readers expectations. “it's natural things should not be so clear at night. 230). as Joyce explained to William Bird. had a kidscad buttended a bland old isaac: not yet. In Finnegans Wake. Get yourself psychoanolised! — O. only the sounds of Joyce’s invented language system. though all's fair in vanessy. — You're a nice third degree witness. with the suggestion of Sterne’s Tristram Shandy: “joys of ills for Armoricus Tristram Amoor Saint Lawrence” (Joyce 1939.” (Joyce 1939.
. . In the case of Metamorphoses Kafka insisted on ambiguity. 289). Severin agrees to become the slave of Wanda Von Dunajew. impossible.” (Kafka 1915. It was a picture of a lady in a fur hat and stole. Throughout these stories. expressing concerns over the original cover illustration in a letter to Kurt Wolff5: “Not that. who with Finnegans Wake attempted this through his commentary. p. for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong. and set in an attractive gilt frame.the insect itself cannot be drawn it cannot even be shown from a distance” (Preece 2002. She renames him Gregor and compares him to Samson a number of times. p. Hofmann 2007. 6) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 10 . trans. p. a ﬁctitious story that deals with events or situations that are clearly fantastic. Kafka’s use of intertextuality goes deeper into the narrative than the naming of a character. trans.] hung the picture he had only recently clipped from a magazine. Kafka intended to hide nothing of the narrative to come when he wrote the following opening lines: “When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a monstrous insect. we are offered a description of his room that subtly signposts the link (Coyne 2002): “Over the table [. . In the second paragraph. 1) Written in the form of a fable. Although Kafka wrote during the period when modernism was still in its ascendency. yet modernism would suggest this is the role of the author. they are Kafka’s most famous works. holding in the direction of the onlooker a heavy fur muff into which she had thrust the whole of her forearm. 64) Peter Kuper © 2003 “Somebody must have made a false accusation against Josef K. or incredible. no attempt is made to explain or solve the missing links with reality. Parry 2007.” The Trial (Kafka 1925. Freed 1996. as Gregor attempts to ascertain the reality of his situation. please not that!. and he would die only two years after Ulysses was published. Through a borrowed yet cleverly reengineered description. trans. However. sitting bolt upright. the ‘metamorphosis’ Gregor Samsa has undergone is not paralleled to reality but rather to another ﬁctional account.” Metamorphosis (Kafka 1915. Unlike Joyce.. Kafka intentionally avoided explanation. In Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch’s Venus In Furs (1870). p. his writing moved toward a rejection of the grand narrative.
on which white powder lay like a soft hoarfrost.This is immediately paralleled in Sacher-Masoch’s passage where the narrator ﬁrst witnesses Severin and Wanda in a painting: “A beautiful woman with a radiant smile upon her face. only to realise that no such resolution will take place (Sutherland 2008. Malone Dies (1951). An important ﬁgure in literature’s transition from modernism to postmodernism.g. Eugene Ionesco (Rhinoceros). 17) This is the opening line to a speech that announced Samuel Beckett as the recipient of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature. p. Molone Dies. Endgame (1957). p. Molone Dies parodies Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 11 . and the result will be either a paradox or an Irishman. his writing would attempt to confront man’s existence in an illogical world where only death is certain. The ﬁrst part of the novel follows the title character through a series of nauseating encounters only to end up in a ditch. overcome by an overwhelming sense of bewilderment and grief. Her right hand played with a lash. His novels Molloy (1951). while her bare foot rested carelessly on a man. endlessly. “In his novels. for he creates a mythical universe of lonely individuals who struggle vainly to express the inexpressible. Molloy. the second of the trilogy. Gregor’s longing for an imagined past – we can appreciate both interpretation as a voice “consisting of several indiscernible voices” (Bathes 1968. writers of new or revived fables. By partly alienating ourselves from the present reality of the character – e. allegory and elements of surrealism into their own writing. he is best remembered for works that challenged his audience. Although his writing retained “a meticulous naturalism in the description of architectural space and landscape” (Preece 2002. there is a search for the self. continues Beckett’s reduction of language. a pastiche of detective ﬁction. p. Kafka would inspire the Neo-Fabulists. to incorporate the use of intertextuality. with abundant hair tied into a classical knot. The second half of the novel concern’s Moran and his son’s search for Molloy. “Mix a powerful imagination with a logic in absurdum. ed. and an achieving of nothing” (Lee 1969). like a dog. Allen. Beckett relinquishes Ibsenite characterisation. grotesquely attempting some form of communication. Savage 1921. Notable plays are Waiting For Godot (1952). She was nude in her dark furs. Harold Pinter (The Birthday Party). Boxall. 460). ed. p. 7) The reader can perhaps further understand Metamorphosis through the many examples of intertextuality (with Venus In Furs) rather than through a direct comparison with the world. trans. and instead concentrates on imagery. Through his own writing he attempted to break down the expectation of realism. Language is useless. 7 Today.288). the ﬁrst of the trilogy. 1) and the possible richness of the fable. supported on her left arm. as in his plays. and The Unnameable (1953) are also considerable achievments.” (Gienrow 1993. Unlike in Molloy there is no plot but instead an interior monologue. Beckett’s earliest writing reﬂected his modernist inﬂuences 6 and his later style developed from these. His characters exist in a terrible dreamlike vacuum. At times Beckett writes with the sole aim of mocking the modernist novel and its form. with Tom Stoppard (Rosencrantz And Guilderstern Are Dead). lying before her like a slave. then crawling on.” (Sacher–Masoch 1870. Associated with the Theatre of the Absurd. is divided into two parts. p. was resting on an ottoman. as well as plot and resolution.
Benny Profane (V. p.) or Tyrone Slothrop (Gravity’s Rainbow). Sutherland goes on to suggest that in the final novel of the trilogy Beckett: “attempts formally to address a question he has been skirting around in his previous work: what is left of a novel once the story. ﬁctional space. It is intentionally one of incredibly boring proportions. religious) ideology there remains experience.) It will be I? It will be the silence. socialist. the text becomes a reality itself. the form of the novel begins: “spluttering and collapsing in a series of logical and syntactical breakdowns” to be replaced by a voice in the darkness—’the unnamable’. You must go on. 478). ed. Within the novel. p. until they say me. beginning with Watt (1953). strange sin!) You must go on.until they ﬁnd me. intentions and (Promethean.” (Sutherland 2008. (That would surprise me. 478) What then can the reader expect? What can the writer offer? Postmodernism would suggest that in the rubble of the realist plot. This story masquerades as a bildungsroman. independence. Perhaps it's done already. At the end of Malone Dies.8 Narrated by ‘the unnamable’ whose existence might be about to end or just begin – the reader is left unclear of which: “I’ll go on. You must say words. With each word existing alone. ed. I'll go on. Thus the writer can offer a huge amount to the reader in creating new techniques or reconstructing past ones. before the door that opens on my story. rounded characterisation. is an earlier incarnation of Pynchon’s Mucho Maas (The Crying Of Lot 49). I'll never know: in the silence you don't know. p. a novel dealing with a the formative years of a person. Perhaps they have said me already.the usual pondering of life and death at the centre of so many novels – on his deathbed Molone suffers through nightmares and hallucinations before the inevitable end. as long as there are any . where I am? I don't know. I can't go on. (Strange pain. Boxall. Perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story. and narrator have been removed?” (Sutherland 2008. Language becomes an intertextual entity and the novel an assemblage with freedom and a multiplicity of meaning. The Unnamable is the last in his trilogy and completes Beckett’s attempts. to develop a unique style of writing. intended to mock traditional narratives with the mundanity of real life. characters. is the story of Sapo Saposcat. if it opens. with death having come to the narrator. no longer a simple reﬂection on reality.” (Beckett 1953. fascist. Boxall. The character’s unlikely name. 86) The Unnamable relies intertextually on the first two novels for understanding. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 12 .
" (Tristran Tzara 1918. strips of a few words or individual words before rearranging them. was inﬂuenced by the Dadaist movement. Now rearrange the sections placing section four with section one and section two with section three. Sometimes something quite different. Wishing for my screams with her gun. half the ﬁrst page and half the second. The method was used in The Ticket That Exploded (1962) and Nova Express (1964). is a semi-automated method of juxtaposition. These are the last two novels which. Burroughs explains in his own words: “The method is simple. With this method a page is folded down the middle and placed on another page. And there you are—an inﬁnitely original author of charming sensibility. who exposed Burroughs to the cut-up method. Choose from this paper an article the length you want to make your poem. These methods reduce the control of the writer through ‘chance operations’ but there is still room for creative input. similar to collage in the visual arts. a prominent writer of the Beat Generation. 30) A variation on the cut-up method is the fold-in method. form Burroughs’ Nova Trilogy. Barbara Wright 2003) The cut up method.10 In ‘Dada Manifesto on Feeble & Bitter Love’ (1918) by Tristan Tzara there is a section titled ‘How to make a Dadaist poem’ which gives a good explanation: “Take a newspaper. Like this page. Here are some examples: “Turndoorknob. Hazy blue photographs. 9 Brion Gysin. Now cut down the middle and cross the middle.” Created using a ‘travesty generator’. Shake gently. You have four sections: 1 2 3 4…one two three four. Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag.” (William Burroughs 1978. along with The Soft Machine (1961). Cut out the article. Take a page. p. His most notable work is Naked Lunch (1959). At home a morning wife imagines: a skinny jailer with pig-iron ﬁngers and spit king. Next carefully cut out each of the words that make up this article and put them all in a bag. 11 Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 13 .The Beat Generation The cut-up and fold-in methods were popularised by William S. Burroughs. trans. But I am streets of time away. The method involves sourcing material from one’s own writing or the writing of others – including newspapers and magazines – and then cutting these into quarter pages. Take some scissors. Dogs straightaway seeing me sleeping – gun divorce learnt – God became her morphine. Sometimes it says much the same thing. And you have a new page. The page is rewritten by reading across the combined text. even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd. This creates sentences. The writer is able to create fresh descriptions and suggest new meaning not possible with traditional writing methods. The poem will resemble you. both in the original choice of source material and the subsequent rearrangement. with unexpected juxtapositions. Here is one way to do it. Next take out each cutting one after the other.
for writing with both jouissance and plaisir. On The Road (1958) is Kerouac’s most notable work yet not the best example of spontaneous prose. . they’ve been inﬁltrated by a bunch of religious fanatics. Unlike his later work. . 31). giving ourselves up to it [. it was heavily revised before publication. At its best. climbs in & goes to sleep/ the hoods come out/ tho they don’t know it. who is wearing a blanket & pilot’s cap. 20) Burroughs felt these methods allowed writing to go beyond the monotonous repetition of already told stories “All writing is in fact cut-ups. These techniques allow for us to escape our normal thought patterns by introducing “the unpredictable spontaneous factor with a pair of scissors” (Burroughs 1978.” Reviewing The Ticket That Exploded. p.] & settle for some out of work movie usher.the whole group looks around for some easy prey [. 52) From Tarantula (1971): “The dada weatherman comes out of the library after being beaten up by a bunch of hoods/ he opens up the mailbox. genitals spilling scenic railways in sheep – Recorders of the city rotting – vast music in the throat of God – Movie screens went out from darkened restaurants – Juxtapositions of light made this dream. . p. 281) Spontaneous prose is Jack Kerouac’s extension of Joyce’s stream-of-consciousness technique. p. Providing the reader an avant-garde text with the shock of the unexpected (jouissance) and also elements of the traditional novel.” (Bob Dylan 1971. For many readers these methods remain disconcerting but if read as the text has been written – in a non-traditional manner – the writing becomes meaningful: “We cannot know what the vision means unless we experience it totally.” (William Burroughs 1962. 30).] If we read the book properly we can feel the pleasure also—or learn to. this form can answer Roland Barthes’ call. p. mastery and delicacy (plaisir). . . intelligence. p. (Robert Gorham Davis 1963. . A collage of words read heard overhead” (Burroughs 1978. in The Pleasure of the Text (1973). An example of spontaneous prose is the opening passage from the story ‘Railroad Earth’ published as part of the collection Lonesome Traveler (1962): There was a little alley in san Francisco back of the Southern Paciﬁc station at Third and Townsent in redbrick of drowsy lazy afternoons with everybody at work in ofﬁces in the air you feel the impending rush of their commuter frenzy as soon they’ll be charging en masse from Market and Sansome buildings on foot and in buses and all welldressed thru workingman Frisco of Walkup ? ? Truck drivers and even the poor grime-bemarked Third Street of lost bums even Negroes so hopeless and long left East and meanings of responsibility and try that now all they do Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 14 .From The Ticket That Exploded (1962): “Magnetic silver ﬂakes closed your account – nitrous screens crackling.
According to the section on ‘Mental State’. Instead. ed. His method is described as: “An attempt to discover form. 58). they've got to catch 130. p. Ann Charters 1995. In spontaneous prose there should be no limitation or selectiveness of subject. 136 all the way up to 146 till the time of evening supper in homes of railroad earth when high in the sky the magic stars ride above the following hotshot freight trains. p. Ann Charters 1995. his frequent use of en dashes (–) in place of periods. Ann Charters 1995. spontaneous prose follows the “rhythms of rhetorical exhalation and expostulated statement.129) Unlike many postmodernists. because not ‘crafted’. 57). his heavy use of amphetamines allowed him to write novels in extraordinarily short periods of time. His ideas saw Allen Ginsberg. 40) The principles behind Kerouac’s style are found in a manifesto called ‘Essentials of Spontaneous Prose’ (1959).is stand there spitting in the broken glass sometimes ﬁfty in one afternoon against one wall at Third and Howard and here’s all these Millbrae and San Carlos neat-necktied producers and commuters of America and Steel civilization rushing by with San Francisco Chronicles and and green Call-Bulletins not even enough time to be disdainful. 4) Kerouac suggests ideas and imagery should be written down as they come into the mind of the author.” The focus of a text should not be preconceived and should come naturally as one writes from a “warm protective mind” (Kerouac 1959. this should lead to the most natural writing. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 15 . and to discover experience in the act of writing it. This reﬂects Kerouac’s interest in replicating the sound of jazz music in the rhythm of a text. p. p. the words and impressions left unedited – “Interesting. ed. This belief could account for the substance abuse Kerouac often worked under.” (Weinreich 1990. the writer should allow the subconscious to ﬁnd uninhibited modern language through a state of trance (Kerouac 1959. p. no instead I’m just the Phantom of the Opera standing by a drape among dead ﬁsh and broken chairs – Can it be that no one cares who made me or why? – ‘Jack what’s the matter. suggesting it is an illusion of new life that only becomes necessary when language itself is overly restricted (Kerouac 1959. p. Big Sur (1963) was written over ten days in 1961: “I could be a handsome thin young president in a suit sitting in an oldfashioned rocking chair. bang!” (Kerouac 1959. (Jack Kerouac 1962. Kerouac also rejects genre-ﬁction. Hence. ed. Craft is craft.” (Jack Kerouac 1963. For example. 57). like a ﬁst coming down on a table with each complete utterance. 57).” He proposes that the reader of a text will be appreciative of writing that satisﬁes and excites the author – “No pause to think of proper word but the infantile pileup of scatological buildup words till satisfaction is gained. ed. Ann Charters 1995. 134. 132. nor the restrictions of grammar adhered to. Supposedly. not to imitate it. what are you talking about?’ but suddenly as she’s making supper and poor little Elliott is waiting there with spoon upended in ﬁst I realize it’s just a little family home scene and I’m just a nut in the wrong place. p.
and I’ve been up all night. talking.12 It was the post-structuralist theorist and critic Julia Kristeva who drew attention to the phenomenon in postmodernist literature. allusion and sometimes appropriation. reading the Kaddish aloud.” (ed. Gora 1980. By depicting a text within the world of literature. The notion of intertextuality replaces that of intersubjectivity. any text is the absorption and transformation of another text. popularising the term in Séméiôtiké (1969). 66) The term refers to a writer’s use of external texts to add meaning to their own. while I walk on the sunny pavement of Greenwich Village. in writing after 1956. p. 73) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 16 . Often this is achieved through quotation. This results in highly individual and varied understandings: “Postmodernism embraces an extreme notion of intertextuality [.the author of ‘Howl’.] the limits of interpretation are set only by the boundaries of the imagination. Here is an excerpt from ‘Kaddish’ ﬁrst published in the collection Kaddish and Other Poems: 1958-1960 (1961): “Strange now to think of you. trans. realizing How we suffer—” (Allen Ginsberg 1962. Talking. and to far more radical ends. p. The former is found in John Barth’s ‘Lost In The Funhouse’: When Ambrose and Peter’s father was their age. His long-lined poetry is perhaps most effective at replicating the sounds of jazz music. gone without corsets & eyes. intertextuality speciﬁcally relates to the inﬂuence past reading has on the reader’s understanding of a text. 285) Examples of intertextuality range from brief descriptions that explicitly draw on another text. p. In terms of literary interpretation. The concept is articulated well in the following: “Any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations. Intertextuality sees the relationship with ‘reality’ become more indirect. rather than the physical world. the reading experience is transformed. begin to relinquish traditional poetic form. Sim 2001. as mentioned in the novel The 42nd Parallel by John Dos Passos.” (Barth 1968. listening to Ray Charles blues shout blind on the phonograph The rhythm the rhythm—and your memory in my head three years after— And read Adonais’ last triumphant stanzas aloud—wept. downtown Manhattan. p. rewrites of earlier ﬁction or even appropriations of entire passages. 93) Toward Further Experimentation Intertextuality is a literary device that appears frequently. and poetic language is read as at least double. .” (Kristeva 1969. The search for the ‘meaning’ of a text through consensus is undermined as readers will reference many different texts. clear winter noon. . the excursion was made by train.
32) Intertextuality presents new difﬁculties for the common reader. She had to be named” (Acker 1986. . the dangers of political conservatism and the uncertainty of female identity – “She needed a new life. to continue within the patriarchy is to prevent Don Quixote’s selfhood: “Acker’s protagonists must move beyond the border of culture to conceive of themselves as individuals [. Don Quixote believes she has “to become a knight. Set in the modern-day. identity is a ﬁctional construct of society. meaning ‘once a hack’ or ‘always a hack’ or ‘a writer’ or ‘an attempt to have an identity that always fails. for even in Acker’s delirious narratives. there is a description of ‘armour’ – “From her neck to her knees she wore pale or puke green paper. Acker must write from within a male text. . 31).Some of the writers who have used intertextuality in the latter sense are. p. SHE HAD NO SPEECH OF HER OWN. To have the fullest enjoyment they may ﬁrst need a thorough knowledge of literature.p. right before an abortion. heavy use of intertextuality may become alienating and difﬁcult to comprehend. According to post-structuralist theory. This can be both challenging and exciting.” (Acker 1986.13 Angela Carter14 and Kathy Acker in her novels Great Expectations (1983) and Don Quixote: Which was a Dream (1986). However. p.’” Lastly. The events and tone of the beginning are based on the earlier Don Quixote. . . in any obvious way. 3). there’s the Sancho Panza-like character – “Simeon. p. ALL SHE COULD DO WAS READ MALE TEXTS WHICH WEREN’T HERS. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 17 . There are intertextual references to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1928) and Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Don Quixote (1752) as well. 29).] to shed the culturally constructed self. This was her armor” (Acker 1986.” (Friedman 1993. Don Quixote’s cowboy sidekick”15 (Acker 1986. it is impossible [. the reader is not. For her quest to succeed in a misogynist society. p. For the advanced reader. she can save the world. Then a passage similar to the naming of Rozinante – “Her wheeling bed’s name was ‘Hack-need’ or ‘Hackneyed’. to love. Great Expectations also includes allusions to the work of writers as diverse as Madame de La Fayette. . informed of this. 243) In an extreme use of intertextuality.] This quest cannot be completed. a female Don Quixote has a revelation. for she could solve this problem only by becoming partly male” (Acker 1986. p.]”) is taken nearly verbatim from Dickens. and my Christian name Philip [. Don Quixote: Which was a Dream reinterprets Cervantes’ work from a feminist point of view. . must subvert it. 10). First. depth is added and the longevity of a text improves as meaning changes and increases over time. If she can love. In Great Expectations the ﬁrst paragraph (“My father’s name being Pirrip. John Keats and Herman Merville. Jorge Luis Borges. before a female text can exist—her protagonist is forced to follow: “BEING BORN INTO AND PART OF A MALE WORLD. The text raises Acker’s concerns about the historical depiction of romance. on the other hand. To the casual reader. Both this and other post-structuralist ideas are central in Don Quixote: Which Was A Dream. However.
nor best. An example is Robert Coover’s ‘Heart Suit’ (2005). this delivers literature to those with a special interest or an academic outlook. 2) Metaﬁction can include the following scenarios: • • Characters who note their existence in a ﬁctional text. The term is credited to writer and critic William Gass in an essay titled ‘Philosophy and the form of ﬁction’ from Fiction and the Figures of Life (1970) in which he states “many of the so-called ‘antinovels are really metaﬁctions” (Gass 1970. 16 Metaﬁction can take many forms. It was later deﬁned by Linda Hutcheon and later this deﬁnition was extended by Patricia Waugh: “Fiction about ﬁction—that is. ‘Heart Suit’ by Robert Coover . p. It is a circumstance postmodernists had attempted to avoid. Instead of removing the distinction between high and low culture. • The text incorporates chance allowing the story to unfold in a number of ways.The extreme uncertainty of ‘meaning’ created by a more relative and intertextual approach to interpretation may also alienate these readers. Characters who suggest certain actions be carried out as such actions are expected in a ﬁctional text. highly digressive and fragmented narratives which ignore traditional expectations of plot.” From Metaﬁction: The Theory and Practice of Self-conscious Fiction (Waugh 1984. • The narrator may predict the reader’s reaction to an event unfolding within the text. • Maximalism or psuedo-epic novels such as Gravity’s Rainbow and Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 (1961) 17. • • There may be extensive use of footnotes that act as a continuation of the story. Metaﬁction is a term that refers to the use of any narrative device within a text that is self-referential or represents a self-aware acknowledgement toward the text’s ﬁctionality. Commonly there are non-linear. ﬁction that includes within itself a commentary on its own narrative and/or linguistic identity” From Narcissistic Narrative: The Metaﬁctional Paradox (Hutcheon 1980. either because the author considers such a goal ludicrous and unattainable or simply an undesirable.18 Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 18 The reverse of the deck. 1) “A term given to ﬁctional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship between ﬁction and reality. postmodernists actually create their own ‘anything-goes’ dogma that in many ways forces the reader and writer to meet certain expectations. often written in a humourous or playful manner. 25). p. p. Metaﬁction in turn represents a rejection of realism. By reacting against the limiting and paternalistic dogma of modernists such as Ezra Pound. approach.
. 329) Jerome Klinkowitz writes. I’m just playing with words anyway. women [. speaking of the story. Myers is writing Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 19 .” Although. Sukenick complements the story by writing about what he is wearing or not wearing.] I just make it up as I go along. merely make believe: “Maybe you’ve begun to notice certain discrepancies. Just to make sure. The word Cora is wearing the word nightgown. ‘A Bag of Tired Tricks’ (2005)..’’ he writes. It is because of these reasons that much of the discussion has been centered around metaﬁction. if you were in any doubt of his opinion. money. • A text may address speciﬁc conventions of ﬁction such as title. the hell with it. The nightgown itself is in her drawer with her panties. what did you think I was doing. Two memorable texts that includes metaﬁction are Ronald Sukenick’s Up (1968) and Clarence Major’s Reﬂex and Bone Structure (1975). p. 562) It is so unusual that the best way to demonstrate it is with an excerpt form the novel itself: I am standing behind Cora.. Toward the end of the novel the reader is told how the novel is ﬁctional. writing in 2005. leaving his opinion impossible to misinterpret. genre 19 and dialogue. it is a fundamental building block of postmodernist ﬁction and many other techniques are dependent or derived from metaﬁction. Just playing with words ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-ga-goo-goo-gig-geg-gug-gack. The word nightgown is what she is wearing. . The backs of her legs are lovely. . . ‘‘She is wearing a thin black nightgown. I’ve had enough of this. Very sharp [.• The author may appear as a character or a character unlike the author will posses the same name. both in favour and against. I thought your parents were dead. I’m thirty three I’ve got more important things to attend to. and certain elements of it.] You want to ﬁnd out about my personal life give me a ring in the book [. I watch the sentence: the backs of her legs are lovely. Vinson. career. While it may have been remarked as wild and innovative in the 1960s and 1970s. I thought you weren’t married. p. When used well it can be exciting for a reader but when used poorly in a sense of gimmick to it. in Contemporary Novelists (1996). At other times the author notes he has crossed out the previous passage.]As a result. ed.’’ (Major 1975. He expressed this in a review for Atlantic Monthly which he titled. about Reﬂex and Bone Structure that it is a novel which: “treats stimuli from social life and the output of a television set as equally informative[. Brian Reynolds Myers. I love her. 74) It can be suggested that metaﬁction provides a distraction. did not. . The word standing allows me to watch like this. can be especially when they are over used. Myers subtitles the article.] I’m going to ﬁnish this today. p. in his unfair and condescending manner: “Blank pages? Photos of mating tortoises? The death throes of the postmodern novel.” (Kinkowitz 1976. the action of this novel takes place not simply in the character’s behavior but in the arrangements of words on the page.” (Sukenick 1968. and in his defence. However. .
particularly in response to the novel Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005) by Jonathan Safran Foer. The epic ‘Pale Fire'. 17) and then a couple pages on further links himself with this mysterious nation. Frederick Busch’s Mutual Friend (1978). Nabokov’s tale – beneath its obvious form – is consumed by questions of authorship. . Appalachia. He lists a number of novelists and texts which “interweave action with writing inextricably” (Fowler 1989. we are told. Alexander Pope (1688-1744). symmetry. 370). witty. Rather than accepting the ﬁctional illusion and drawing it into the foreground. is the work of “John Francis Shade [. Henry Golding’s Paper Men (1983). 13). 370). accompanying commentary – in which the narrative largely takes place – and an index. Alastair Fowler deﬁnes the term as when “the central strand of the action purports to be the work’s own composition” (Fowler 1989. a post-postmodernist. 21 With careful reading. These include. p. In the crudest sense. It is not only partly responsible for later poioumena novels.] during the last twenty days of his life. . Shade had been an academic at Wordsmith College whose work was focused on the English poet. also happened to be – to use the term cautiously – a ‘close friend’ and neighbour of Mr. clear references are continually made to postmodernism which suggest it is an illegitimate movement in literature. originality and moral truth [. Kinbote. poioumena novels confront the boundary between ﬁction and reality from the shadows. one soon begins to seriously doubt his sanity. p. intricately entertaining work” (TIME 1st June 1962) “A creation of perfect beauty. strangeness. Judge Hugh Warren Goldsworth’s house next door. p. “A monstrous. 19). Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook (1962). The reader begins to question whether to trust this purported expert and. The difference lies in how ﬁctionality is presented. situated north of Russia: “February and March in Zembla (the two last of the four “white nosed months. USA” (Nabokov 1962. Shade. the ﬁrst question regarding the credibility of authorship raised within the text. Vladimir Nabokov’s Pale Fire (1962) and Salman Rusdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981). p. as we call them” (Nabokov 1962. p. having rented. but also the exemplar of poioumenon. In A History of English Literature (1989). if one ignores Nabokov’s name on the cover. as well as interpretation. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 20 . . as suggested in the foreword by “scholarly ass” (TIME 1st June 1962) Charles Kinbote. Unremarkable as this may seem it is the concept framing Pale Fire that has won acclaim. at his residence in New Wye. reading his rather bizarre interpretations. Kinbote mentions a proverb. of the poem. is early on. p. The technique consider the limits of narrative truth and creates “a rhetoric of uncertainty” (Fowler 1989.] one of the very great works of art of this century” (Mary McCarthy 1962) These are two descriptions bestowed on Pale Fire following publication in 1962. perhaps a mere nuance of it. speciﬁcally a Zemblan proverb: “The lost glove is happy” (Nabokov 1962. John Fowles’ Mantissa (1982). . 370) for the reader to unravel. Pale Fire is a 999-line poem of four cantos in heroic couplets 20 with a lengthy foreword. Poioumenon is closely related to metaﬁction. the validity of assertions made by and to his ﬁctional character-authors and the struggle over the creative intention.
91) in his epic poem. as Kinbote concedes. Zemblan’s secret police. It is interesting to note the revelation that Kinbote is on the run and his colleagues at Wordsmith seem to have implicated him in the murder but. she made him tone down or remove from his Fair Copy everything connected with the magniﬁcent Zemblan theme with which I kept furnishing him and which. Kinbote states he was overcome during one conversation: "Well. James de Grey. as with much of the rest of the novel. Charles Kinbote. Ravenstone or even d’Argus and he’s working for the Shadows. Yes. Kinbote continues to insist the poem is inspired by the tales of King Charles the Beloved’s exile. However. Regardless. p. poor King. Jack Grey was none other than an undercover agent sent to kill the exiled King of Zembla.a. just as regularly. having wisely digested Kinbote’s stories. Jack Degree. with Kinbote’s 236 pages of assistance. 296) There are various interpretation of Pale Fire and conﬂicting clues are left by Vladimir Nabokov throughout the novel to suggest the layer beyond what appears obvious but unlikely. I fondly believed would become the main rich thread in its weave!” (Nabokov 1962. he suggests Sybil Shade is to blame: “It also dawns upon me now that. His real name is Jakob Gradus a. the killer calmly waited for the police to arrive. Ravus. what will you be doing with yourself." I said gaily. the commentary and the real world. p. of Zembla. It is suggested the criminal mistook John Shade for Judge Goldsworth. Jacques de Grey. A way to explain away the madness of Zembla and the curious links between the poem. p. rather old-fashioned narrative in a neo-Popian prosodic style. the reader is left to contemplate this strange admission. an escaped inmate from the Institute for the Criminally Insane. 300) Remarkably as it seems. without knowing much about the growing work. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 21 .While seemingly non-existent. they are. 91) We are told the gardener saw Jack Grey. p. one in the same: "And you. (Nabokov 1962. what’s important is that Shade’s manuscript has been saved to thoroughly tell the story. The man who had seen Grey convicted but Kinbote knows better. “was reassembling my Zembla” (Nabokov 1962." "Mountains. p. "what were you writing about last night. ﬁre directly at and fatally wound Shade. the poem seems less about a Zemblan king and his country and more of: “An autobiographical. John? Your study window was simply blazing.k. In retrospect. having missed King Charles and killed another man. having read the completed work and ﬁnding little explicit references. 259) believing Shade. at least in Charles’ mind.” (Nabokov 1962.” (Nabokov 1962. Some readers attribute authorship of the poem and commentary to Shade. poor Kinbote?" a gentle young voice may inquire. eminently Appalachian." he answered.
p. p. 306). difﬁcult is what can make it brilliant in the hands of a master and rewarding for the committed reader. p. in a ﬁnal passage where Kinbote considers his life ahead: I may pander to the simple tastes of theatrical critics and cook up a stage play. put forward by Mary McCarthy in her 1962 review titled ‘Bolt from the Blue’ in The Nation. Shade’s daughter who committed suicide. or even relates a history not always backed up by the facts (McHale 1987). points to an index reference: “Botkin. Historiographic Metaﬁction is a term that ﬁrst appeared in Poetics of Post-modernism: History. a chess problem. 300) The same disconcerting confusion of poioumena that makes its comprehension. ed. 66) – Kinbote had been mistaken for a refugee from Nova Zembla. It seems any attempt to unravel Nabokov’s scattered clues and ﬁnd a single truth. American scholar of American Descent” (Nabokov 1962. [while] self-consciously pointing both to their inherent paradoxes and personality and. and literary theory (Hutcheon 1988.believing he has created the ﬁctional Kinbote in order to fake his own death. an infernal machine. This all has been transformed into the mad King of Zembla story. What works well in the absurdity. history. another lunatic who imagines himself to be that king. might just require more than a single read. Even Hazel. in the nicest sense. of which there are explicit suggestions throughout the commentary. Russia called “Botkin or Botkine” (Nabokov 1962. The aim of historiographic metaﬁction is to broaden the scope of Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 22 . In the commentary to line 894 — “Sit like a king there. McCarthy then draws on other links to suggest Botkin. the ﬁrst and last letters of this name are also Nabokov’s initials — V. and explanation. a colleague of Shade. of Nabokov’s Pale Fire may not follow for serious contemplation and my confuse those not sure how to approach such a labyrinth of a text. a trap to catch reviewers. a clockwork toy. historiographic metaﬁction is intentionally anachronistic. 267). Botkin. to their critical or ironic re-reading of the art of the past. install and destabilize convention in parodic ways. p. p. is some kind of ﬁctional version of Nabokov sent mad by fear of being found out a pederast. V. a do-it-yourself novel” (Mary McCarthy 1962) such a novel can also appear self absorbed in the current affairs and concerns of the literary life. p.” (Hutcheon 1988. 124) but is related to postmodernist writing from the previous two decades. of course. Pale Fire. Sim. perhaps only a deception. 23) Unlike a historical ﬁction.N. Theory. (Nabokov 1962. At the same time as it might become “a Jack-in-thebox. and let Marat bleed” (Nabokov 1962. One of the most persuasive. and perishes in the clash between the two ﬁgments. a Faberge gem. that the world needs to have its own For Dummies title. and a distinguished old poet who stumbles by chance into the line of ﬁre. an old-fashioned melodrama with three principles: a lunatic who intends to kill an imaginary king. Of course. can only make your mind spin dangerously perhaps toward a madness familiar to Kinbote or V. Fiction (1988) by Canadian literary critic Linda Hutcheon (Lewis 2001. so often accepted and exploited by mass media. mixes fantasy with history. and poioumena novels. 5) in order: “use and abuse. a cat-and-mouse game. p. was suggested by Brian Boyd.. it is wrong to suggest it is an invalid way or ineffective way to write and any argument to this aim both deprives readers and promotes the idea. We are left with perhaps one door out. It is often applied to novels which ﬁctionalise historically important ﬁgures and events while in the process incorporating literature. Others believe Kinbote has created Shade. An anagram of Kinbote.
ﬁction by accepting – as truth – how mass-media depicts public ﬁgures. By exploiting a mistrust in established history, it is perhaps a Western incarnation of the predominantly South American 'magic realism,’ which brings to literature the intrigue and emphasis on myth of oral history. According to Paul Myerscough, an editor of the London Review of Books, the sentences in E.L. Doctorow’s Ragtime (1975): “gather, like the fragments of a mosaic, to form a picture of American life in the early 1900s—an era whose sensibilities [. . .] belong now to history” (Myerscough 2006, ed. Boxall, p. 645) The novel follows the relationships between African-American Coalhouse Walker, a wealthy caucasian family (Father, Mother, Mother’s Younger Brother, the little boy) and a poor Jewish immigrant family (Tateh, Mameh, the little girl). It depicts various encounters with famous historical ﬁgures including Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, Harry Houdini and J.P. Morgan. “The ofﬁces of the J. P. Morgan Company were at 23 Wall Street. The great ﬁnancier came to work one morning dressed in a dark blue suit, a black overcoat with a collar of lamb’s wool and a top hat. [. . .] When he stepped out of his limousine the car robe fell around his feet. One of the several bank ofﬁcers who had rushed out to meet him disentangled the robe and hung it over the robe rail on the inside of the door. The chauffeur thanked him profusely. [. . .] In the meantime Morgan had marched into the building, assistants, aides and even some of the ﬁrm’s customers circling him like birds. [. . .] He was at this time in his seventy-ﬁfth year of life —a burly six-footer with a large head of sparse white hair, a moustache and ﬁerce intolerent eyes set just close enough to suggest the psychopathology of his will. Accepting the obeisances of his employees, he strode to his ofﬁce, a modest class-paneled room on the main ﬂoor of the bank where he was visible to everyone and everyone to him. He sat down behind his desk [. . .] and said to his aides I want to meet that tinkering fellow. What’s his name. The motor mechanic. Ford” (Doctorow 1975, p. 114–115) Other notable examples include Robert Coover’s The Public Burning (1976), Don DeLillo’s Libra (1988), Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon (1997) and Donald Barthelme’s ‘Robert Kennedy Saved from Drowning’ from the collection Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts (1968). The ﬁrst is set at the height of McCarthyism during the Eisenhower administration (1953-61) and focuses on the execution of the Rosenbergs as seen through the eyes of then Vice President Richard Nixon. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of espionage, for giving details of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union, and executed by the electric chair in 1953. The second looks at the conspiracies around the Kennedy assassination in 1963 and the man arrested, but killed before his trial, Lee Harvey Oswald. Pynchon’s ‘history’ of the men whom the Mason-Dixon Line is named after, Charles Mason (1728–1986) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733–1779, but in a rather revised fashion – Benjamin Franklin demonstrates electricity while dressed as the Grim Reaper. Originally surveyed between 1763-67 to determine the boundary between Maryland and Pennsylvania, the Mason-Dixon Line would later become famous, after the Missouri Compromise of 1820, for its use to delineate slave-owning states from those which were not or would not be as new states were admitted to the Union.
Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature
Faction is non-ﬁction presented in a narrative form more common to literary ﬁction. A text written in this style may also
be referred to as literary or creative non-ﬁction, a non-ﬁction novel or sometimes as part of the New Journalism or Gonzo Journalism styles. Some writers of faction retained the journalistic aim of objectivity and others, in support of postmodernism, believed this to be deceptive. An example of the former is found in Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood (1965) and the latter in Gonzo Journalist22 Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1971). Although used in novellas and full-length novels, faction can be more commonly found in literary journals and magazines like The Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker. In this context, faction texts often employ traditional journalistic forms including lengthy essays or portraits of public ﬁgures. Being a hybrid form, faction is normally focused on ‘showing’ the story by using clever description and giving an artistic feel. In other words, faction attempts to see “the facts come alive through narration and setting” (Druker n.d.). This is as opposed to traditional non-ﬁction which, in an impersonal manner, focuses on ‘telling’ by listing the facts, giving events in chronological order and bringing to attention a number of points of view. The need to pursue a clear narrative in a faction text almost inevitably sees one point of view emerge dominantly. This element
of faction, because it concerns people who are alive, has caused some criticism. In one review of Norman Mailer’s Pulitzer Prize winner The Executioners’ Song (1979), Diane Johnson suggests the author has created something equivalent to “literary ambulance-chasing” and by “playing neither by the rules of ﬁction nor by the rules of fact, he is in danger of sinking in facile sensationalism” (Johnson 1979). Daniel Miller suggests Mailer creates a “web of ambivalence” (Miller, D 2005, p. 228) that ensures the audience will be unable to come to a decision on the morality – “[This] divides the audience, suspending them between the unreachable poles of right and wrong” (Miller, D 2005, p. 228) – of his real-life protagonist, Gary Gilmore. This is a man sentenced to death after killing two men during consecutive robberies even after both complied with his instructions. By humanising Gilmore and emphasizing the effect his sentencing has on Nicole Baker, Gimore’s lover, Mailer negates the suffering the victim’s family members while not needing to ignore Gimore’s actions. Some critics have suggested it has a similar “immoral” effect in a format easily persuasive to an otherwise uninformed masses. While perhaps unfair of Mailer, in that his focus is not so much on those sentenced to capital punishment but more on the fundamental morality and assumptions imbedded in the institution of capital punishment, it does raise valid questions about the ethics of faction texts. The strength of any ‘truth’ as perceived by the reader, regardless of whether this is intended, is unavoidably signiﬁcant when a story claims to be non-ﬁction but is presented in the emotive fashion of a narrative. There are many more notable examples of faction, a form that seemed to usurp ﬁction as the bringer of realism, which took journalism, as Capote puts it, from “the most underestimated, the least explored of literary mediums” (Capote, cited in Plimpton 1966) to a higher level. One is Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test (1968) which follows – the once junior Beat writer turned psychedelic hippie leader Ken Kesey23 and his Merry Pranksters through the rise and fall of LSD from within the 1960s counterculture. Another is The White Album by Joan Didion which famously begins: “We tell ourselves stories in order to live” (Didion 1979, p. 11) and again covers charts the 1960s as it was experienced by the author. Lastly, there is Gay Talese’s intriguing essay, published in Esquire, ‘Frank Sinatra Has a Cold’ (1966) which took over three months to write and, denied an interview with Sinatra himself, attempted to
Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature
uncover the man through interactions with his entourage: “Some of Sinatra’s close friends, all of whom are known to the men guarding Jilly’s door, do manage to get an escort into the back room. But once they are there they, too, must fend for themselves. On the particular evening, Frank Gifford, the former football player, got only seven yards in three tries. Others who had somehow been close enough to shake Sinatra’s hand did not shake it; instead they just touched him on the shoulder or sleeve, or they merely stood close enough for him to see them and, after he’d given them a wink of recognition or a wave or a nod or called out their names (he had a fantastic memory for ﬁrst names), they would then turn and leave. They had checked in. They had paid their respects. And as I watched this ritualistic scene, I got the impression that Frank Sinatra was dwelling simultaneously in two worlds that were not contemporary.” (Talese 1966)
Janey’s Dreams — an illustration from Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School, pp. 46–47
Illustration, as mentioned earlier, is common in postmodernism and often adds to the playfulness of the work but separately from the use of language. It can be found in the short-stories of Donald Barthelme, Kurt Vonnegut’s Breakfast of Champions (1973), John Barth’s Lost In The Funhouse and Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School (1978). At the extreme it has also seen the emergence of the ‘graphic novel’ which has its roots in the comic book form. A notable example is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen (1985).
Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature
1985. The accumulated ﬁlth of all the sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”. This includes references to past comic book heroes. teleported to Mars to make the case for humanity’s worth. Then Silk Spectre II is. and then broken out again by Nite Owl II and Silk Spectre II when they begin to believe his story. all the vermin will drown. Nixon remains president and after the Keene Act 1977 the superheroes have been forced to retired. historiographic metaﬁction and self-reﬂexive metaﬁction.and I’ll look down. 1 In aiming to be more than a pulp comic. The ﬁrst two operate with support of the government while the last is a sociopathic vigilante. It soon appears that fellow superhero Ozymandias (Adrian Veidt) may be behind the death of The Comedian and the accusations against Doctor Manhattan. They visit him at his antarctic lair. Doctor Manhattan (Dr.. Watchmen demonstrates the postmodernism’s openness toward forms traditionally relegated to genre ﬁction. Only three remain: The Comedian (Edward Blake). This directly results in the invasion of Afghanistan. at Doctor Manhattan’s behest. Rorschach and Nite Owl II continue to investigate. fragmented narrative. where he admits his involvement and that he has planned what will appear to be an alien invasion in New York in order to prevent escalating tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union resulting in an atomic war but that it will be at the cost of millions of lives ‘The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when then drains ﬁnally scab over. and whisper “no. Watchmen. When Edward Blake is murdered Rorschach investigates and believes he has uncovered a plot to murder his fellow superheroes. is accused of being carcinogenic to those around him and he soon leaves Earth for Mars.It is the year 1985 and in Watchmen’s alternative universe.”’ Rorschach’s Journal. In addition to this there are indications of intertextuality. p.. Meanwhile Doctor Manhattan. whose atomic powers have been a signiﬁcant advantage over the Soviet Union. which parallels the Soviet–Afghan War (1979-89). October 12th. a retired supervillain. Jon Osterman) and Rorschach (Walter Kovacs). Rorschach is placed in prison for supposedly having murdered Moloch. the use of symbolism and the Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 26 .
Today. However. At times their experiments were even resisted by the reading public. the techniques employed by postmodernism are what fundamentally distinguish it from other movements. amongst the otherwise engaged reader of ﬁction? It is simply the arrival of other entertainment and the unsettled silence of major newspapers. 746) To summarise. The reading experience created is largely unique to this movement although to assert that it is a mere aberration from historical precedents ignores the evidence of earlier experimental writing. For many readers there is a need for individual and identiﬁable style. Such readers need to be able to readily associate postmodernist writers with their own work.‘story within a story’ of a ﬁctional comic called Tales of the Black Freighter. In philosophy. many of the post-structuralist critics and theorists remain well-known. It seems this is not the complete answer. the universalist belief in one kind of literature was no more. or rather amnesia. aside from Doctor Manhattan none of whom have evident superhuman powers. The contradictory nature of the characters. The collective memory. retired superheroes” that creates “a heart-pounding. such as John Barth. have led them to be described as: “a ragbag of bizarre. Postmodernism’s rejection of the past spread to more and more writers allowing for regional distinction and synchronous literary movements to emerge. damaged. their attractions. needing something more. Worse even. and their pitfalls.’ as typiﬁed by the emergence of Chinua Achebe’s with his debut novel Things Fall Apart (1958) and Gabriel García Márquez with One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967). Among the masses an attitude has emerged that art isn’t for them and amongst those in the arts there has been a retreat to the position art for the masses isn’t really good art. Moore knows comics. Boxall. Technique itself. sharing the serious human dilemma often proposed in novels with the visual possibilities of the comic book: “Watchmen maintains a human heart in the face of Armageddon.” (Grossman 2005). to push boundaries and have opportunities that would have in the past relegated them to the footnotes of literary history. heart-breaking read and a watershed in the evolution of a young medium. ed. But the question remains: Why the lack of knowledge surrounding many of the most important postmodernist writers. as in the case of James Joyce. In the mid-1960s. Watchmen remains an important measure for new graphic novels because writer Alan Moore and artsit Dave Gibbon created the perfect example of the hybrid form. Rather it remains more complex. This includes Africa’s post-colonial literature and South American’s ‘magic realism. Postmodernism allowed writers to feed off each other’s innovations. prevented their publication. these earlier writers were limited by the focus on personal style that accompanied realism and modernism as literary movements. and there is no place here for a simple tale of heroes and villains. of postmodernism is a strange mystery. to borrow and advance. because their innovation differed from what was identiﬁed as a the style of an individual writer or school of writers such as the Bloomsbury Group. Yes.” (John Shire 2006. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 27 . in part. p.
line for line—with those of Miguel de Cervantes.” The letters are an “indispensable set of gears” which become a “a rhizome.. 28 a work by (Titus Maccius) Plautus (c. Dada emerged during World War I in reaction against the artistic. pp. ed.250-184 BC) who wrote comic plays with unrealistic plots and larger than life characters. Naked Lunch did not use the cut-up or fold-in technique but his use of juxtaposition and lack as to concern at chapter order sign of his later ideas and as a result can be considered a precursor. Motteux 1993. p. William Carlos Williams. There is no doubt this technique extends far back in literary history as we saw in the previous sub-section. Borges’ short story ‘Pierre Menard. Hurley 1998. Albeit not: “another Quixote. p. 44). Would actually be if. Author of the Quixote’ (1944.Bruno. Maclean 1985. 4 Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari (1975) argue that Kafka’s letters form part of the “literary machine.. 174–176).Could the the dissemination of a postmodern technique have prevented many writers from distinguishing themselves in the traditional manner of literary fame? Perhaps.. al. Marcel Proust. the actors 10 – in response to interjections – began insulting the audience.. sold no more than one hundred copies in its original run (University of Delaware Library 2003). His admirable ambition was to produce a number of pages which coincided—word for word. (Gienrow 1994. shows both Beckett’s admiration for the work and signs his own themes and ideas were developing: “Proust is completely detached from all moral considerations. 1 The alternative spelling of Rocinante is explained in the following footnote of the Wordsworth Classics edition: “Rozin commonly means an ‘ordinary horse’.. Finnegans Wake appeared in serialised form as Work In Progress in literary journals such as the avant-garde transition and Transatlantic Review from 1924 onward.. that he is now a horse that claims the precedence from all other ordinary horses...the sin of having been born. a net.. and also. Murphy 8 (1938). trans. 5 6 James Joyce. Allen. Our Exagmination Round His Factiﬁcation For Incamination Of Work In Progress (1929). This intertextual reference has signiﬁcant parallels with the protagonist’s own state of mind in Don Quioxte.H. His own contribution 7 was called Dante. pp.com/cutupmachine. sentences “cosy and prickly as an old blanket” (Murdoch 2009.Joyce. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 28 .” (Cervantes 1605–15. Franz Kafka. 37) 12 13 14 Carter’s ‘Puss-In-Boots’ (1979. Ante signiﬁes before and formerly. The set was described as “consisting of a bicycle wheel and some signs hanging from a clothes lines” (Motherwell and Arp 1989. as much as the text itself. for example. 19) A close friend of James Joyce he had helped organise with Sylvia Beach. 12) Cevantes quotes a description from Aulularia. the fresh surrealism present in every sentence Richard Brautigan ever wrote. The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories) is a rewrite of Charles Perrault’s tale from 1697. social and political conventions that led to the war.Tragedy is not concerned with human justice. 174). In Proust (1931). 6. His earlier novel.” (Beckett 1931.. Literature today.he had no intention of copying it.Vico. 9 An international art movement. p. III. 11 http://languageisavirus. could be in a better position. There is no right and wrong in Proust nor in his world. ed. p. The Nazi occupation of Paris and Beckett’s subsequent ﬂeeing to Vichy France was quite probably the event which pushed him toward further experimentation and a rejection of his earlier Joycean style. a spider’s web” essential for us to reconstruct the fragmented contents of the text or “the expression” (trans. 591–592).The tragic ﬁgure represents the expiation of original sin. and the wider interpretation of contemporary texts. et. Pierre Menard. Reﬂecting this attitude is the famous performance of Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes’ Dance of the Curled Chicory. a study of In Search of Lost Time or Remembrance of Things Past (1913–27). trans. that he was formally an ordinary horse. 2 3 Another example of intertextuality. writing Don Quixote. p.html is a web-based application that creates cut-ups from user-inputed text. were common knowledge among the avid reader as are D. On 27 March 1920 at the Théâtre de l'Œuvre in Paris. but it does not need to be so. in this case with Shakespeare’s Macbeth. 67) Beckett began writing Watt eleven years before it published hence the misleading publication dates. Ficciones) is about a ﬁctional French poet..” (Borges 1944. Lawrence’s imagery or Ernest Hemingway’s simple and profound style. Flynn. which surely is easy enough—he wanted to compose the Quixote. p.. Thus the word Rozinate may imply. a collection in defence of his close friend and the work that would become Finnegans Wake (Attridge 1990.
John Irving. and the writers of it. 62) ‘Heart Suit’ is a story presented on a deck of oversized playing cards. Title Card) This means a sentence might begin on the last line of the Eight of Hearts and continue on the King of Hearts: “The ambitious Viceroy/Greets the King of Hearts will all the deference due him. p. They came from nowhere. Nothing they said. Above all.” (Coover 2005.’ Doc Daneeka replied. This style of writing. Simeon. ‘les saint-simoniennes’. took place at no speciﬁc location. ‘Can you ground him?’ ‘I sure can. Carol Siegal suggests Acker was inﬂuenced by Luis Buñuel’s Simon of the Desert (Siméon le Stylite) (1965) which depicts a contemporary acetic in the Mexican desert reliving the life of the saint while a woman Satan attempts to lead him astray. The characters had no backgrounds. But ﬁrst he has to ask me to. . the King of Hearts calls for the tarts baked for him by his Queen. acts as a foil to the protagonist much like Sancho Panza in the earlier Don Quixote.’ [. are famously discussed in The Fabulators (1967) by American literary critic and theorist Robert Scholes. appearing as an young girl in a sailor’s dress. Prior to publication it went through various numerical revisions but they settled on twenty-two. 49–50) Yes. only to ﬁnd they have been stolen. often in conjunction with intertextuality. the snowy wastes. the name be a reference to Henri de Saint-Simon (1769-1825). if any. Anyone who wants to get out of combat duty isn’t really crazy. That’s part of the rule. obvious sentiments and emotions. previously mentioned. the open sea. an ascetic who supposedly lived upon a pillar ﬁfteen metres above the earth. in which the action.” (Wolfe 1989. In one scene. is evident in the writing of the Neo-Fabulists or Fabulators including John Gardner. did. At the time of his death in 459 C. It begins: 18 “[The thirteen hearts cards may be shufﬂed and read in any order. Alternatively. elemental terrain—the desert. It was some nameless. into a naked hag. You couldn't even tell what hemisphere it was. with Simon prayers.15 St. John Barth and Angela Carter.’ Doc Daneeka said. à la Kafka. this act of religious devotion had continued for thirty-six years (Thurston 1912).E.] ‘You mean there’s a catch?’ ‘Sure there’s a catch. hilarious and sometimes moving fables. ﬁrst published in McSweeney’s Quarterly 16. ‘Catch-22. with this card ﬁrst and the joker last. The character’s name may be a reference to St. by Tom Wolfe’s in his. pp. from the Deuce of Hearts to the Ace of Hearts.” (Coover 2005. the Neo-Fabulists avoided all the big. Yossarian and Doc Daneeka: “‘Is Orr crazy?’ 17 ‘He sure is.] *** All on one summer’s day. Heller is responsible for the phrase. albeit it rather 16 disparagingly.’” (Heller 1961. she bares her thighs and breasts to him only to be transformed. They didn’t use realistic speech. Simeon Stylites the Elder. who is later transformed into a dog. or possessed indicated any class or ethnic origin and. concealing the secret malice he bears him and his intimate knowledge of the Queen’s private matters. Card 8–Card K) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 29 . . essay ‘Stalking The Billion-Footed Beast’: “Neo-Fabulists wrote modern fables. whose feminist writing inspired the French women’s movement. the woods. Postmodernist fabulists write gruesome. (Siegal 2000) The second justiﬁcation for metaﬁction. The phrase is ﬁrst mentioned in a conversation between the protagonist. They are also speciﬁcally referred to.
genre or a misappropriated style to become an artistic expression in itself. addicts of drugs not yet synthesized. postmodernist westerns such as Richard Brautigan's The Hawkline Monster (1974) and postmodernist detective ﬁctions such as Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (1984) and Paul Auster's The New York Trilogy (1987).” (Burroughs 1959. ﬂesh of the giant aquatic black centipede—sometimes attaining a length of six feet—found in a lane of black rocks and iridescent. Some examples include. would have believed was lacking in the era of ‘plausible deniability.1387) and Alexander Pope’s ‘An Essay on Man’ (1733-34). one equally as genius and inventive. This hints at the intertextual reference of form. Thompson. It is pointed out in the text (p. ﬁnds it impossible to extricate himself from the piece due to his own involvement and impact on events. osteopaths of the spirit. The justiﬁcation is expressed by Fredric Jameson in 'Postmodernism and Consumer Society' (1983): 19 "The writers and artists of the present day will no longer be able to invent new styles and worlds – they've already been invented. This parodic genre mixing or borrowing of a well-known style destroys the distinction between high and low culture. p. By not purporting to be objective. I snapped two quick shots into Hauser’s belly where his vest had pulled up showing an inch of white shirt. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 30 . exhibit paralyzed crustaceans in camoﬂaged pockets of the Plaza visible only to the Meat Eaters. brown lagoons. black marketeers of World War III. 45) “I dropped to the ﬂoor on one knee. investigators of infractions denounced by bland paranoid chess players. I pushed the suitcase open.' as Marx said in another context. 178) In poetry a heroic couplet is a single rhyming pair of iambic pentameter (Encyclopædia Britannica 2009). reaching for my suitcase. Followers of obsolete unthinkable trades. I felt the concussion of Hauser’s shot before I heard it. 82) by rearranging the names of the Judge and Shade’s college you can form the name of notable English poet. So the weight of the whole modernist aesthetic tradtion – now dead – also 'weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living. is the overtly subjective nature. The second and third line of the following are an example of a heroic couplet: “Nor can one help the exile.Pastiche refers to a confusion of genre and form in which the reader is made aware of the text's mimicry often through the contrast and combination of distinct styles. 609-611). only a limited number of combinations are possible. Notable works of poetry where heroic couplets are used include Geoffrey Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’ (c. traditionally at the expense of minority groups. p. 115) The result of pastiche is that postmodernism can allow. apart from being enjoyable to read. in a bastardised form. His slug slammed into the wall behind me. A notable example that combines all three is Naked Lunch by William S. Half Foster 2001. postmodernist science ﬁctions such as Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhoue Five (1969). excisors of telepathic sensitivity. alcohol abuse and antigovernment attitude. rather than simply reporting and remaining personally uninvolved in the events. the reader is made aware of possible deﬁciencies and is more likely to maintain a healthy 22 skepticism. the old fan/Revolving in the torrid prairie night/And. bits of coloured light” From ‘Pale Fire’ (Nabokov 20 1962. a ﬁerce critic of the Nixon administration (1969-74).’ Gonzo writer’s believe the suggestion of objective truth only hides bias and this is reﬂected in postmodernism’s understanding of history as being told through a number of established ﬁctions. doodling Etruscan. from the outside. He grunted in a way I could feel and doubled forward. This is something Hunter S. ed. themes and imagery in Shade’s (really Nabokov’s) poem.” (Burroughs 1959. William Wordsworth (1771–1850) and Irish poet. p. 21 ‘Gonzo’ is a radical faction style referring to texts where the author. 23 Kesey is also the renowned novelist who wrote One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1962). The obvious beneﬁt of this style." (Jameson 1983. Oliver Goldsmith (1728–74). and my left hand closed over the gun butt—I am right-handed but I shoot with my left hand. Burroughs: “Trafﬁckers in the Black Meat. the most unique ones have been thought of already. It is also worth mentioning that Thompson is perhaps a cult ﬁgure due to his reoccurring and vividly portrayed themes of illicit drug use. Shooting from the ﬂoor.
Bradbury 1977. suggests that we move beyond the “literature of exhausted possibility” (Barth 1967.). as David Foster Wallace says. 72).). E. That is to say the traditional narrative that aims to defy the limits of literary possibility and to create a wholly original work.). The Revised New Syllabus (1966) and Chimera (1972). is that few of these writers treat you with contempt.S. ed. Ronald Sukenick (U.S. “succumb to the idea that the audience is too stupid” (Miller. Jorge Luis Borges (Argentina).).).S. Angela Carter (Britain). It is preferable to discuss a few postmodernist writers in detail rather than attempting to cover every postmodernist writer in a few words. Elliot Fremont-Smith asks whether Barth is not: “as so many people interested in original. L) Writers John Barth is an American writer born on the 27 May 1930 in Cambridge. ed. that set out grotesquely simpliﬁed stuff in a childishly riveting way. Don DeLillo (U. His notable works are The Floating Opera (1957).). These writers do not create: “crass. funny. creative and brilliant writing agree he is – the most original. commercial pieces of ﬁction that are done in a formulaic way – essentially television on the page – that manipulate the reader. The Literature of Exhaustion (1967). cited in Miller. Robert Coover (U. it is helpful to list some of the more notable examples from the United States and elsewhere: Kathy Acker (U. William Gaddis (U. p. and it’s a great thing.) and Kurt Vonnegut (U. John Barth (U.” (Fremont-Smith 1966) His contributions have not solely been ﬁctional.S.S.24).). Richard Brautigan (U. Barth Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 31 . Giles Goat-Boy.L.” (David Foster Wallace 1996. Bradbury 1977.S. Their assertion that form is the least important quality to a writer “makes them considerably less interesting than excellent writers who are also technically contemporary” (Barth 1967. L 1996) to appreciate the challenging ﬁction.S. This is reﬂected in the following section. Maryland.S.S. Thomas Pynchon (U. However.S. funny.S.).). They don’t. Doctorow (U. Umberto Eco (Italy). The one thing to remember. while topical and contemporary in use of language are technically out of date. Vladimir Nabokov (U. Most prominent postmodernist authors came out of the United States while the inﬂuence of French critics on literary debate was considerable. p. Donald Barthelme (U. or. p. John Hawkes (U. ed.S. ﬁrst published in the Atlantic Monthly.).). Ismael Reed (U. He received his Bachelor of Arts (1951) and Master of Arts (1952) from Johns Hopkins University. Lost In The Funhouse (1968). Instead it is intended to gives a few notable examples.S.). 72). Practitioners the authors the critics This section is by no means intended to be a conclusive list of all postmodernist authors and critics.S. Italo Calvino (Italy). Günter Grass (Germany). creative and brilliant writer working in the English language today. both contemporaries who gained notoriety early in Barth’s career.). His critical essay. Bradbury 1977.S. Salman Rusdie (Britain).S. Burroughs (U. He would later return there to teach English and Creative Writing courses between 1973-1995 (Mahoney 2000). William S. Joseph Heller (U. The Sot-Weed Factor (1960). The novels written by the likes of Saul Bellow and John Updike.25 Reviewing Giles Goat-Boy. 70) present in “turn-of-the-century type novels” (Barth 1967.). cynical.
Bradbury 1977. p. acknowledge them. a more radical assertion than Roland Barthes’ death of the Author. not to mention a novel” (Barth 1967.1) Giles Goat-Boy actually begins not with this opening line but with its two-part introduction. p. In essence. p. my deeds have been heard of in Tower Hall. This is followed by a ﬁctional cover letter contributed by the discoverer of the text—J. a world uncertain of truth. while at times for different audiences. West Campus (run by New Tammany College). Bradbury 1977. p. Bradbury. he does not argue that. works against this aim. Writers like Vladimir Nabokov and Jorge Luis Borges who in the end.suggests that while historically the novel may remain a major art form it does not invalidate “work created in the comparable apocalyptic ambience” of the belief it is dead (Barth 1967. p. a supercomputer. It is suggested the text was originally authored by one (or a combination) of the following. a world that has experienced the extreme horrors which can come from a single individual who holds power. 79) that we will see the greatest works of our time. George. The story charts his rise from life as an animal (Billy Bockfuss) to life as an at ﬁrst reluctant human person (George the Undergraduate) and ﬁnally as hero (George the Heroic Grand Tutor. The plot is a mix of Christian theology. The story concerns a boy (known by various names. ed. In order to make a profound comment on our society the author need not write literature of exhaustion but “need only be aware of their existence or possibility. classical mythology and events of the Cold War era. ed. p. p. ed. . . He is adopted into a goat herd at the University farm. because “the very idea of the controlling artist. While some suggest Barth is announcing the death of the Novel. 78). even fascist” (Barth 1967. ed. it is with the emergence of writers who place importance on representing not “life but the representation of life” (Barth 1967. and my childhood has been chronicled in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. GILES or Billy Bockfuss) born to his chaste mother Virginia R. The writers of Western liberal democracies – an important post-WWII distinction – can oppose the Aristotelian vision of the artist. saviour of New Tammany College). 80) but instead.B. Bradbury 1977. Barth writes from the perspective of his time. ed. Stoker Giles. Hector after a computer error in the WESCAC programming room. Bradbury 1977. 77). The two forms are not mutually exclusive and we see this is true in today’s post-postmodernist literature. has been condemned as politically reactionary. 83). if it continues. “George is my name. postmodernism has failed. and East Campus Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 32 . will become the great artists. A designation historically deﬁned as having the “combination of that intellectually profound vision with great human insight. 71). and consummate mastery of his means” (Barth 1967. Bradbury 1977. where Giles Goat-Boy is from. and with the aid of very special gifts [. poetic power. both can be appreciated for their respective qualities. The University in the Giles Goat-Boy is a microcosm of the universe. prestige to be gained and the effect this would have on ofﬁce politics. ed.” (Barth 1966. it is only then do they transcend the limits that they have accepted in the old form. The ﬁrst part is supposedly written by four editors. The postmodernist does not attempt in their writing to “add overtly to the sum of ‘original’ literature by even so much as a conventional short story. This letter explains the title and motivations for the work. Paradoxically. so dominant in earlier literary movements. George Giles or WESCAC. who discuss whether it would be beneﬁcial for them to publish the book in terms of proﬁts to be made. a world that seems near an end. However.] go straight through the maze to the accomplishment of [their] work” (Barth 1967.
Giles Goat-Boy is thirty-three years old. Here our anti-hero draws parallels to the Biblical “He who loses his life shall preserve it” (TIME. The former has the Founder (monotheist religion). West Campus represents the U. He continued to abandon realism in his collection of short stories. East Campus. hero. of course. 409).(run by Nikolay College) are pitted against each other.” (Barth 1968. a patois of academic terminology becoming the lingua franca. ed. I won’t hold you responsible. represents the Soviet-dominated Eastern European countries of Cominform/Comecon and the Warsaw Pact. Each has a supercomputer. allied Western European countries of N. It consists of three related novellas (Dunyazadiad. pg. metaﬁction and contemplating the relationship between artist (author) and perceiver (reader). the Holocaust and the atomic espionage carried out by the likes of Julius Rosenberg for the Soviet Union. 35) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 33 .T. 5 August 1966). Lost In The Funhouse.” The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Joseph Campbell 1949. p. This is. where Siegfrieder College cremated its Moishians. “to Pass All Fail All” (Barth 1966. Writer and ﬁlmmaker. 108. and it was then stolen for EASCAC by defectors. for which he received the National Book Award in 1973. listen give me life in a manner of My ﬁrst words weren’t my ﬁrst words. the focus is shifted to parody. a reference to the Second World War. WESCAC (West Campus) and EASCAC (East Campus) and over both is the threat of EAT-ray. occupied by Nikolayans. Before his death he vanishes – only to reappear in the middle of a sex act over Founder’s Rock. This technology was developed by WESCAC during Campus Riot II. Perseid and Bellerophoniad). The language in the book is aimed satirically at the limits of academic language and confronts the intellectual dead end Barth discussed in The Literature of Exhaustion. This can be seen in the story titled ‘AUTOBIOGRAPHY: A Self-Recorded Fiction’ which opens: “You who speaking. 30) Barth would return to the topic of mythology in Chimera. 577) At the book’s end. saint – lives out all the stages in Joseph Campbell’s ‘monomyth’ which Barth had listed above his writing desk. Giles Goat-Boy – as messiah. the latter is Founderless (atheism).O and the Marshall Plan. transmuted.A. Campbell’s structualist26 theory of mythology argues that there are fundamental similarities in all our heroes: “A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man. I wish I’d begun differently. p.S. Instead. Boxall. pp. Like Jesus Christ. (Garth Twa 2008. In an act of intertextuality. Garth Twa comments: The entire language is corrupted. Giles Goat-Boy is handed over to a lynch mob. We are left the mantra that accompanied him since it appeared on a punch card at his birth.
the University of Buffalo. Two of his brothers. For a time. p. technological advancement. Simply for the number of different styles he has employed. academia and mythology in Giles Goat-Boy. religion. He had earlier contributed to the University of Houston’s The Cougar and. and the issues he has confronted in his writing. whilst living on West 11th Street in Manhattan. and one of the few who have written successful “novels which imitate the form of the novel. His father was a modernist architect and academic. On his return to Houston he founded an interdisciplinary arts journal Forum. He was born to Helen and Donald Barthelme. are also writers and academics. the College of the City of New York and the University of Houston. by an author who imitates the role of the Author” (Barth 1967. (Daugherty 2009) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 34 . in Philadelphia on the 7 April 1931. Married four times. and even the interaction between author and characters in LETTERS (1979). communism. . While he did not obtain a degree. 76) Donald Barthelme is an American writer and journalist best known for his short ﬁction. creative writing and philosophy at the University of Houston between 1949–1951 and 1954–1957. around US$1000 of royalties per annum. the subjects he studied would remain interests throughout his life. Snr. abortion in The End of the Road (1958). He taught creative writing at Boston University. Bradbury 1977.. There is. mythology and the role of gender identity as a metaphor for the role of the author and perceiver in Chimera.” [emphasis added] (Peter S. and drawing so heavily on material he has exhausted before. p. edited the 2nd Infantry Division’s publication. but left this and moved to New York City in 1962 where he edited another journal Location. Essentially the criticism is that the “self-imprisonment and funny language” (Robert Garis 1969. His career as a professional journalist began at the Houston Post in 1951. on the 23 July 1989 in Houston. literature. disillusionment at society’s failings and American colonial history in The Sot-Weed Factor. The New Yorker began publishing his work in 1963 but due to the low income this provided. . However. fascism. 79). he was a friend and neighbour of the writer Thomas Pynchon. 163) that Barth employed and encouraged has limits too: “Barth cannot write a dull page [. John Barth can be called a genius. p. while serving with the US Army in Korea between July 1953–December 1954 . These modernist inﬂuences would fuel a distaste for the experimental nature of his son’s writing. from throat cancer. In 1961 he became the director of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston. Barthelme suffered from alcoholism and was a heavy smoker which resulted in his death. his most common criticism is the relentless reminder of ideas and devices that he has already touched on. suicide in The Floating Opera.John Barth is certainly one of the most interesting postmodernist writers. he became an academic. ed. Barthelme studied journalism. Prescott 1979.] but by writing a great many very similar pages. he becomes very quickly dull. Steven and Frederick.
Unspeakable Practices. It is an attempt to reinforce the truthfulness of the story through the need for anonymity. p. often bracketed together by critics describing what’s going on in ﬁction.” (Gillen 1972. cited in Delman) His most notable short story collections are Come Back. (John Barth 1991. The narrator then begins to deconstruct his own phrasing giving us a clear feel for the story’s postmodernist qualities: “But it is wrong to speak of “situations. experimental form.Speaking of his death. The mystery surrounding the location at which the balloon begun harks back to a technique often used in realism. Donald’s death two years ago struck me very strongly for the obvious reasons. Dr. 37) ‘The Balloon’ by Donald Barthelme was originally published in 1968 as part of the short story collection. In all. Caligari (1964). L 1996).” implying sets of circumstances leading to some resolution. Unspeakable Practices. John Barth commented: We had been cordial colleagues. pp. sensations. because we Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 35 . 27 Other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1966. After Donald’s death. Of Barthelme’s place in literature Francis Gillen writes: “Barthelme’s importance as a writer lies not only in the exciting. and this guy’s dead! At least as good a writer as myself. I guess I felt my ﬁrst experience of genuine “survivor’s guilt. Unnatural Acts (1969) and City Life (1970). 46) The public attempt to decide on its meaning with little success: “Some people found the balloon ‘interesting’”(Barthelme 1982. simply the balloon hanging there—” (Barthelme 1982. 46–47) and “there was a certain amount of initial argumentation about the meaning of the balloon. reactions. here I am perfectly healthy and busy publishing a new novel and drinking wine and eating food and making love and enjoying my friends. but in the exploration of the full impact of mass media pop culture on the consciousness of the individual who is so bombarded by canned happenings. “the exact location of which I cannot reveal” (Barthelme 1982. The story starts out with the narrator explaining that an enormous balloon has appeared over the city of New York. his novels Snow White (1967) and The Dead Father (1975). and extended over Central Park. It having started at a point on Fourteenth Street. it is an example of pastiche and in turn metaﬁction. In other words. 46). and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1982 following the publication of the omnibus Sixty Stories (1982). there were no situations.” as they call it. some escape of tension. p. p. and many would say better. and general noise that he can no longer distinguish the self from the surroundings. the balloon covers an area of over forty-ﬁve blocks north-south and as many as six cross-town blocks on either side of the Avenue going east-west. It is one of his best known stories and one which the David Wallace Foster commented was “the ﬁrst story I ever read that made me want to be a writer” (cited in Miller. Unnatural Acts. Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the National Institute of Arts and Letters in 1972. this subsided. He won the National Book Award for Children’s Literature in 1972 with The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine or the Hithering Thithering Djinn (1971).
Some people decorate the ball and others write messages on it. 46). many people take delight in watching advertisements on television or billboards that distinguish themselves. Yet. changing the language of the city itself. There are the psychological efforts the balloon has on people: “Others engage in remarkably detailed fantasies having to do with a wish either to lose themselves in the balloon. you asked if it was mine. this difﬁculty would have been circumvented. The private character of these wishes.have learned not to insist on meanings” (Barthelme 1982. eventually accept its place. Not everybody is happy with the balloon’s presence. “LABORATORY TESTS PROVE” or “18% MORE EFFECTIVE” on the sides of the balloon. a lack of certainty toward the balloon. Yet. Would not madness break out if these were all replaced by works of ‘artvertising’ or art that tricked us into believing it was for desireable products? Imagine if a person went out to purchase make-believe products which appeared only as images on billboards without any obvious explanation.” (Barthelme 1982. 51) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 36 . But there is more to be learnt from this story yet. I said. there remains a distrust. of their origins. It is simply a consequence of it being there. The balloon becomes an important part of New York life. The balloon. 51). having been unable to remove it. give them something other than hard streets and concrete buildings. p. The narrator comments: “Had we painted. In the 2000s. it really had more to do with the narrator’s “sexual deprivation” and “feeling of unease” toward a lover who had been in Norway (Barthelme 1982. the balloon was able to constantly shift and redeﬁne itself and this was distinct from people who had very rigid lives. this is not the purpose of the balloon. representations of representations. yet there is evidence that they were widespread. on the occasion of your return from Norway. 49) Toward the end we ﬁnd out that the balloon has become a landmark. The balloon has ﬁlled an empty hole in the people of the city but it is all false: “I met you under the balloon. (Barthelme 1982. or to engorge it. in great letters. Advertising is the visual art many are best acquainted with. Children play on the balloon and its surface. During its twenty two days of inﬂation. is a spontaneous autobiographical disclosure. p. and that why it became so admired by the people was that it was an uncontrolled force. I said it was. p. 48) In other words. was such that they were not much spoken of.” (Barthelme 1982. Barthelmesque mayhem. Here Barthelme parodies the academic debates of postmodernism and the deconstructionist school. p. With all of this speculation and importance that was placed on the balloon. The unexplained nature of the balloon becomes less important as times passes. with all its mounds and valleys. The authorities. This is the world of Baudrillard’s simulacra. deeply buried and unknown. p. had the balloon been an advertisement it would have gone unnoticed without a second thought.
Donald Barthelme is conﬁdent in his writing that it need not be based on our life. Flynn. Ianthe BrautiganSwensen writes in the foreword. . Brautigan was diagnosed with clinical depression and paranoid schizophrenia. I have no interest in using the stones to ﬁnd my way back. throughout his childhood. novels and poetry. He was a writer of the 21st century [. . cited in Toibin 2009). Mental illness. In 1954 he moved to Oregon and later the city of San Francisco where much of his career would be centred. a physical object but delights in it. After relations with his mother became strained. He never knew his biological father and his mother lived with a number of men. I 2001) In January 2009. . Brautigan moved in with a friend’s family.’” (Brautigan-Swensen 2009. a ﬁrearm and a note beside him that read: “Messy. It included examples of his poetry and short ﬁction along with tribute pieces written by other authors in a Brautigan-inspired style and prints by visual artists that recreate some of his best writing. . Richard Brautigan is an american writer of short ﬁction. but I think some of the answers lie in ‘All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace. In 1956. isn’t it?” Subsequent investigations conﬁrmed it was suicide and a forensic report suggested his death may have occurred up to a month earlier. a piece titled ‘Sharing My Father. Brautigan’s badly decomposed body was found. rather he believes in seeing the “mysterious shift . in reality. His words are like illuminated stones that I carry with me: when the path becomes dark. My father never ‘got real’. 6) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 37 .’ about the power of his words: “My father’s writing didn’t belong in the waning hours of the Twentieth Century. p. a phone call made to a former girlfriend on the 14th September. His daughter. in part related to his traumatic upbringing. the Australian literary journal Torpedo released an issue dedicated to Brautigan. This ﬁtted in with the last contact Brautigan is known to have had. He occasionally wrote pieces about the experience of the poor and childhood but to what extent these are truthful is unclear. (Brautigan. as it is understood by realism.’ in which my father envisions ‘mutually programming harmony like pure water touching clear sky. ed.] He never lived on the spin of the past. would plague his career and lead to his eventual suicide sometime between 14 September–26 October 1984. to commemorate the 25th anniversary of his death. I cast them ahead and they illuminate the way into the future. In summary. he does not just accept that a text is. on the 26th October by a private investigator. He was born to a single mother on the 30 January 1935 in Washington state.take place as soon as one says that art is not about something but is something” (Barthelme 1962. He graduated from secondary school in 1953 and did not continue his studies. I have no clue of what the future will bring. often who were abusive.
Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 38 . by a hotel. He is the literary embodiment of Woodstock [. 45) Brautigan parodies the idea of a novel’s title coming from a line or character within the text. masks his serious doubts in the good of American society. At home he creates a makeshift reel out of ordinary string and a bent pin. In Watermelon Sugar (1968) and The Abortion: An Historical Romance (1971). the narrator believed he had spotted from a distance a creek and waterfall. Having eating his breakfast. sweeping the sheep aside. . Rather it is Brautigan’s second and most successful novel. The creek did not act right. the title being shared.] having trouble believing.” (Brautigan 1967. for example. 6).” (Yardley 1971. p. reviewing The Abortion for The New Republic. His search begins.His most notable works are his novels Trout Fishing In America (1967). Sometimes these take the form of letters between narrator and other characters. The next morning. (Brautigan 1967. uniquely used and laced with his famously inventive or juxtaposed descriptions: “A shepherd walked in front of the car. . . his collection of poetry The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1969) and his collection of short stories The Revenge of the Lawn (1971). he wakes up early so as to get the trout when they are feeding or as he reasons when “they had something extra” (Brautigan 1967. p. p. off-hand style is wholly vogue. p. . Brautigan reverses this. Shorty). this leads him to question the hopes of the counterculture itself. Keen to go trout ﬁshing. Brautigan exploits this kind of humour to create a layered text which. but friendly. [. TFIA. I ended up being my own trout and eat the slice of bread myself. takes the reader on a psychedelic trip through Brautigan’s metaﬁction. with a failed attempt when. 4) The novel continues through a series of loosely-related vignettes. at ﬁrst. an opera and a character (Trout Fishing in America. There was a strangeness to it. He looked like a young. consisting 151 pages of Brautigan brilliance and only the occasional trout. In turn. While rather treacherous to use ‘Trout Fishing In America’ in this way. he vows to return the next morning and does so. There was a thing about its motion that was wrong. describes Brautigan as the principal writer of the 1960s counterculture: “That the young should have taken so passionately to Brautigan is not surprising.] His exceedingly casual. in the chapter titled ‘Knock On Wood (Part Two)’. 28 Jonathan Yardley. as a young boy. a leafy branch in his hand. The novel loosely follows the narrator to a number of creeks and lakes in search of trout. Unfortunately what he ﬁnds is something unexpected: “But as I got closer to the creek I could see that something was wrong. and I readily concede that there is a certain charm about it and him. The waterfall was just a ﬂight of white wood stairs. as it is occasionally abbreviated by Brautigan fans. it being one of the less nimble titles. Then I knocked on my creek and heard the sound of wood. In TFIA. 24) Trout Fishing In America is not a guide to trout ﬁshing in America. he takes a slice of white bread for bait before leaving for the creek. skinny Adolf Hitler. Finally I got close enough to see what the trouble was.
’” (Brautigan 1967. ‘Can I help you?’ ‘Yes. He’s going to give it to his niece for a birthday present. A man came in here this morning and bought 563 feet. The insects we’re giving away free with a minimum purchase of ten feet of stream.’ the salesmen said. of which every line would feature Brautigan’s humour. 140) Due to the fragmented narrative and use of temporal distortion in TFIA. Can you tell me something about it? How are you selling it?’ ‘We’re selling it by the foot length. You can buy as little as you want or you can buy all we’ve got left. it would seem. p.Another example of Brautigan’s humour and wordplay is in the chapter titled ‘The Cleveland Wrecking Yard. ﬂowers. coming across a sign that reads: USED TROUT STREAM FOR SALE.’ I said. at its best. and underlying darkness. MUST BE SEEN TO BE APPRECIATED. the passage hints at our wider obsession with marketing all that we can: “Then a salesmen came up to me.’ He reads a list of advertisements for the wrecking yard. it becomes difﬁcult to demonstrate the wit and full effect the novel can have on the reader. grass and ferns were also selling extra. if one were to quote entire pages. ‘I’m curious about the trout stream you have for sale. It is only possible. While obviously absurd. 29 Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 39 . and the trees and birds. and in a pleasant voice. ‘We’re selling the waterfalls separately of course.
It is used four times in this example of ﬂash ﬁction. (Brautigan 2009. Many writers would try not to reuse the same phrase but Brautigan uses it to build emotion and hold the story together. It begins: It’s really a very beautiful exchange of values when women put their clothes on in the morning [.” Eirian Chapman created this visual interpretation of the poem in memory of Richard Brautigan for Torpedo. We took him to the carnival and he started crying when he saw the Ferris wheel. ending as follows: Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 40 . Electric green and red tears ﬂowed down his furry cheeks. He looked like a boat out on the dark water. being published is signiﬁcant. His style is often described as poetic and in the poem ‘A Boat’ there is the same type of description as in his prose: “O beautiful was the werewolf In his evil forest. is less than a page long and follows a simple idea. of the those last few words has the same effect as a refrain in a poem. 61) His story ‘Women When They Put Their Clothes On In The Morning’. p.] (continues) You’ve been lovers and you’ve slept together and there’s nothing more you can do about that. of work and responsibility but there is love also. that is love. ed.To discuss Brautigan’s use of language it is helpful to read his short ﬁction and poetry. but does so in a rather fresh and unexpected way. January 2009. ed. with small changes. Flynn. . (Brautigan 1971. p. 70) The repeated use. The narrator is woken up the reality of the world. Flynn. . That he was a poet prior to his ﬁrst novel. from Revenge of the Lawn (1971). The story sums this up. A Confederate General from Big Sur (1964). so it’s time for her to put her clothes on.
but rather there may be a authoritative few. “But anyway: It’s time for her to put her clothes on and it’s so beautiful when she does it. maybe it’s even love.” (Brautigan 1971. it is too much of an investment to be faced with a writer who believes in more than realism. Structuralism. which similarly rejected meaning derived from biography. Flynn 2009. They were motivated by different reasons to write and each had their own unique qualities. which when combined created the sign. She’s got her clothes on. and in turn structuralism. the auditory experience allows for two distinct words. Postmodernism often requires an openness which is what makes it so difﬁcult to deﬁne and discuss. Her body slowly disappears and comes out quite nicely all in clothes. can be linked to postmodernist literature although cannot wholly deﬁne it. . For example. At least this was the ambition but within literary studies a problem arose around play. ed. They may continue to ignore the ‘reality’ of what these writers felt about the world and which seeps into the words of every page. oral history or a novel – made up of words. There’s a virginal quality to it. had an effect on how postmodernism was received. According to post-structuralist theory. The predominantly anglophone New Criticism. It is as ludicrous to read a postmodernist text on the merits of its realism as to read Henry James in search of metaﬁction. many French critic and theorists are associated with both post-structuralism and structuralism at different times in their careers. For some readers. . While there remained no necessary connection between a word and an object. the signiﬁed.“Or . there is also conﬂict between what New Criticism suggests can be considered art and what postmodernism does. and the concepts. there was still security of a relative meaning when this was invoked. and the use of biography in criticism of a text. while at its peak before 1956. p. and as result we have risked losing their words as well. 70) In summary. of no obvious relation in terms of deﬁnition. the lives of these writers often remain under explored. ‘difJerance/différance’ – Derrida’s term – or the possible double meanings embedded in the structure of language. Critics Literary theories of post-structuralism. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 41 . speciﬁcally because it rejected that a text can only have one intended meaning. Blurring the line between these methods of interpretation. the signiﬁers. to be confused in conversation. However. was distinct in suggesting that all forms of language are united by a single system – whether they be advertising. one could easily identify the structure concerning the relationship between a text and meaning. the object. These writers care no less about humanity but require different approaches in much the same way as one expects more frequent jump cuts and special effects in an action ﬁlm than in a slower paced ﬁlm. the make up of language encourages two interpretations of the single event but structuralism attempts to ignore the presence of such a process. and the beginning is over. In other words. in part due to the nature of the critical mindset of the time.
At least this permutation has always remained interdicted [. critiques structuralism by suggesting its method of analysis ensures a desired outcome: “The function of this center was not only to orient. . is a scepticism toward authority and claims of ultimate truth. Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences.] has dreamed of full presence. and science: Science has always been in conﬂict with narratives. of sign.] a discourse called philosophy. . and the reason of Enlightenment thinking. . . Jean-François Lyotard. . . the reassuring foundation. and theoretically postmodernism.In an essay titled ‘Structure. the center also closes off the play which it opens up and makes possible. dreams of deciphering a truth or an origin which escapes play and the order of the sign. the origin and the end of play.” Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 42 . . homosexual and the insane. . in The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (1979). . As center. the majority of them prove to be fables.] (continues) “There are thus two interpretations of interpretations. At the center.] an explicit an explicit appeal to some grand narrative [. The other [post-structuralism]. Bass 1978. of structure. the center of a structure permits the play of its elements inside the total form. . . For example. Underlying post-structuralism. questions are raised concerning the validity of the institutions governing the social bond: these must be legitimated as well. I will use the term modern to designate any science that legitimates itself with [. it is the point at which substitution of contents. pp. . This has implications for the idea of positivism.] For example. and organize the structure–one cannot in fact conceive of an unorganized structure–but above all to make sure that the organizing principle of the structure would limit what we might call the play of the structure.] As can be seen from this example. which is no turned toward the origin. . the name of man being who [. . or metanarratives. elements. balance. or terms is no longer possible. of play. Marxism which supposes an ultimate end – the socialist revolution and then communism. the rule of consensus between the sender and the addressee of a statement with truth-value is deemed acceptable if it is cast in terms of a possible unanimity between rational minds[ . if a metanarrative implying a philosophy of history is used to legitimate knowledge.” (Derrida 1967.[Nevertheless. Michel Foucault’s Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason (1961) highlights the avoidance of the ‘different’ or socially disenfranchised—namely. It then produces [. The one seeks to decipher. discusses the relationship between grand narratives. Judged by the yardstick of science. But to the extent that science does not restrict itself to stating useful regularities and seeks the truth. and which lives the necessity of interpretation as an exile. prisoners.’ published in Writing and Difference (1967). equal outcomes and the disappearance of the state – to come. Jacques Derrida. a pioneer of ‘deconstructionism’.[. trans. 369–370) This idea appears in other studies also. the permutation or the transformation of elements (which may of course be structures enclosed within a structure is forbidden. it is obliged to legitimate the rules of its own game. 352. which relies on a claim to authority to progressively build on knowledge through scientiﬁc discourse. afﬁrms play and tries to pass beyond man and humanism. By orientating and organizing the coherence of the system. It also suggests a disillusionment with the ‘answers’ offered by other grand narratives.
over time and being interpreted by many audiences. in the wider sense:” I deﬁne postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives. or the third has misunderstood the second individual’s account. learning of recent actions. p. This same shift occurs with a novel. The rise of our consumer society created the ongoing shift. the second individuals relates his account of the conversation to another who disagrees with both of them.(Lyotard 1979. p. the individual’s opinion changes. 358) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 43 . having imploded under the pressure of simulacra. This incredulity is undoubtedly the product of progress in the sciences: but that progress in turn presupposes it. Baudrillard uses the example of Disneyland. The next day. this is an illusion. While the collective imagination may be deceived into thinking that such signs refer to something real and solid outside the system. but the ﬁrst individual feels either the second individual has misrepresented his views to the third. xxiii–xxiv) In other words. The third individual happens to meet the public ﬁgure months later and. xxiv) Perhaps the most striking implication is the suggestion of post-structuralism is an acknowledgement that meaning suffers from the same kind of instability as language. Lyotard then goes on to deﬁne the postmodern. in the case of science a cumulative end rather than just a sole ﬁnding. in fact meaning never maintains a ﬁxed point but rather is changing all the time. reproduced images and the play of signs (Kellner 2007). Bennington & Massumi 1984. toward what Baudrillard termed hyperreality. then the basis and process by which that claim comes out of must be examined philosophically.” (Lyotard 1979. An example of this continued change would be the following: a conversation is had one day about the importance of a public ﬁgure between two like-minded individuals. This notion has implications for how ﬁction both depicts the world in addition to its technical elements. trans. What’s more decades later. His term simulacra refers to when: “commodity and sign have combined in order to form a self-referential loop within a closed ‘object system’. For a person reading today may not notice a then topical issue but might notice a coincidental reference to an event which on the novel’s publication had yet to occur. Sim 2001. The week after she mentions her changed opinion of the public ﬁgure with the ﬁrst individual. trans.” (ed. Hyperreality is where lives are experienced through simulations. Bennington & Massumi 1984. whose views were recounted by the second individual. as a result of technological advances like television. the children of all three have never even heard of the public ﬁgure. the clear distinction no longer exist between what appears on the surface and what resides beyond. Lyotard suggests that once a person. a commodiﬁed ‘reality’ existing within the world but also in our imagination via television – a third-order image. philosophy or an institution claims a wider truth. He suggests we have began to lose our ability to determine between real and imaginary.
Along with this inﬂuential text he wrote the important Mythologies (1957) which rigourously analysed advertisements. 49) Barthes points to past authors who have attempted to strip their role in deﬁning the meaning of the text by suggesting the accidental manner in which writing comes about. especially that of the author: “We know that a text does not consist of a line of words. He asserts that the modern author is a product of the philosophies of the Reformation. If no uniform idea can be expressed why write? In the manner of postmodernist literature such a concept is often played off against. Howard 1989. p. criticism consists. resulting from the thousand sources of culture” (Barthes 1968. trans. his person. The Fashion System (1967) – then following his shift toward post-structuralism –The Pleasure of the Text (1973) and S/Z (1970). this has led to a corrupted focus: “Tyrannically centered on the author. p. in which are wedded and contested various kinds of writing. sets out to establish an interpretation of literature which rejects the assertion that with the author lies a wellspring. For literature it may also suggest the futile nature of writing. releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the ‘message’ of the Author-God) but is a space of many dimensions. English empiricism and French rationalism which stressed the importance of the individual. in saying that Baudelaire’s work is the failure of the man Baudelaire. Such authors promote language itself as the source and rely on the reader to intepret. his passions. Tchaikovsky’s his vice: the explanation of the work is always sought in the man who has produced it. Barthes. and he gives examples. his history his tastes. Howard 1989. Van Gogh’s work his madness. in ‘The Death of the Author’. trans. no one of which is original: the text is a tissue of citations. trans. in regards to the meaning of a text. 52) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 44 . Howard 1989. in the context of his essay ‘The Death of the Author’ (1967). 52–53) Barthes looks to earlier societies that relied on a storyteller telling the narrative as a performer and mediator rather than as an individual.” (Barthes 1968. through the more or less transparent allegory of ﬁction. is most often remembered. most of the time. it was always ﬁnally the voice of one and the same person. p. According to Barthes. he is not furnished with a being that precedes or exceeds his writing. Yet this mild mockery. a greater insight than attainable by the reader. He suggests literature is a composite and trap in which identity is lost. This theme of empowering the reader is key to Barthes’ essay. which comes out of an existentialist crisis.Roland Barthes.” (Barthes 1968. as if. the author. Barthes’ scriptor is aimed at replacing the author: “The modern scriptor is born at the same time as his text. rather ironically. suggests a gap between between those who create and those who write about the creation and the act of creation.
is without the hindrances of biography and intended meaning because it is only with the reader that the interplay between different dimensions can be constructed: “The reader is a man without history. without psychology. It is a text “all the more total for its fragmentation” (Deleuze & Guattari 1980. p. in other words having too much meaning to the point of ambivalence. trans. 4) but it risks becoming an ‘overdetermination’. A book is an assemblage of this kind. ﬁxes and order. . the question of how that assemblage of form is then discussed. Massumi 1987. only to invoke the cyclic unity of the eternal return. through imitation. unlike the author. and territories. Massumi 1987.] All this. Massumi 1987. or the tree. Then there is the fascicular root in which out of the death of the root-text a new text is born. The classical text – in ﬁction that comes out realism a. being an assemblage. Massumi 1987. 54) Discussing the nature of a text in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1980). is in reading a text. as applied to literary theory. unlike the tree-root text. It is a multiplicity – but we don’t know yet what the multiple entails [. they suggest one deﬁnition for a text: “In a book. which plots a point. p. . the dialogue between cultures. present as the nonknown in thought.The true location of writing. 2). trans. Massumi 1987. This is very different from a the tree or the root. as in all things.” Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 45 . he is only that someone who holds gathered into a single ﬁeld all the paths of which the text is constituted. made up of the multiple secondary roots that grow out of the original. 1) Delueze and Guattari suggest here that. strata. Before distinguishing between different types of texts.” (Deleuze & Guattari 1980. according to Barthes. accurately described as having ‘multiple roots’. but also of ﬂight. and must be. trans. Howard 1989. The obvious problem with this is that the text is also physical – “Binary logic is the spiritual reality of the root-tree” (Deleuze & Guattari 1980. lines and measurable speeds constitutes and assemblage. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari developed the concept of the ‘rhizome’. witout biography. p.” (Deleuze & Guattari 1980. trans. A rhizome-text has continuously growing meaning and. p. 3).” (Barthes 1968. p. a text necessarily loses attributable authorship and rather that the common practice of doing this is rather a manner of speaking. The reader. trans. [. .] after it has been elevated to the status of substantive. extends meaning laterally or by chance: “Principles of connection and heterogeneity: any point of a rhizome can be connected to anything other. much like saying – the example they use – the sun rises. . and as such is unattributable. with nature between it and the world. Deleuze and Guatarri continue and discovering that what is needed would be like the biological rhizome. Given that a text forms an assemblage.k. shatter the linear unity of knowledge. The uniﬁed text exists as intertextual references. there are lines of articulation or segmentarity. James Joyce is suggested as an example: “Joyce’s words. trans.a. 3) The example of William Burroughs’ cut-up technique is also given but pointed out as ﬂawed due to “its laws of combination” (Deleuze & Guattari 1980. p. This ‘root-tree’ text is a reﬂection. naturalism – is like a root which attempts to signify the world. movements of deterritorialization and destratiﬁcation.
(Deleuze & Guattari 1980. Jacques Lecan and Claude Lévi-Strauss) – structuralism asserts that language is: 26 “a system of interlinked units. Postmodernism in literature was a response to the historical context or at least to historical movement. 7). p. P. 28 But sufﬁce to say I will express a human need and end this paragraph with the word Mayonnaise. Massumi 1987. For the experienced there will be a fundamental sense in this. Petersburg. trans. 29 Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 46 . 150–151). Germany and Switzerland. 24 25 Much of Barth’s ﬁction was originally published by Doubleday (New York) but is today reprinted by Anchor Books (New York). Sim 2001. Rather the process was far more organic.” (ed. 5) – and the principle of assigning rupture – “against oversignifying breaks separating structures or cutting across a single structure” (Deleuze & Guattari 1980. p. No single critic has a manifesto that can be held over postmodernism as proof of some design—although let it be said that parts of the whole do correlate with postmodern trends. Michel Foucault. Nabokov had also lived in Britain. to avoid the Enlightenment idea of ‘progress’. 4) Deleuze and Guatarri continue the discussion outlining the other principles of the rhizome-text such as multiplicity – “it is only multiply if effectively treated as substansive” (Deleuze & Guattari 1980. My apologies for those who are not but when you go and buy Trout Fishing In America. each which had a meaning only in relation to the whole” it sought to identify and understand “the underlying rules of language. While much of his career coincided with his time in the United States. Massumi 1987. it is helpful to consider some of the academic or philosophical arguments concerning literature in the period after 1956. the deep structures that must exist if language is to perform its function. the language in which he wrote predominately. remains a radical and inaccurate suggestion to suppose postmodernism of literature was born of post-structuralism. English. Began by Ferdinand De Saussure and extended by others – notably Roland Barthes. smile and bring back a jar of Mayonnaise (Brautigan 1967. However. within literature. In summary. was in fact his third language. There is a degree to which postmodernist writers acknowledged the contribution of critics and theorists and to which intellectual justiﬁcations always inﬂuence the outlook of a period in time. 365) 27 Barthelme’s original publisher was G. trans. France. Brautigan’s original publisher was Delacorte Press (New York) but his work is being released by Houghton Mifﬂin Harcourt in the anniversary of his death. trans. Putnum’s Sons (New York). Vladimir Nabokov (1899–1977) was born in St. Russia. p. Massumi 1987. p. p.
Faced with this dilemma. They mocked the romantic visions of war. throughout the 1920s and 1930s.Themes moments in time Post-Hiroshima: an excerpt from ‘Bomb’.C. questions arose concerning the true nature of humanity. The reoccurrence of certain themes reﬂect important issues in the history of a particular time. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 47 . In time. postmodernism does not differ. In this. the reader failed to act. However. Michael a burning sword St. In the aftermath of these atrocities. it is was post-Auschwitz. For even when faced with vivid description. many also suffered in the experiences of the First World War. Sophia peeling over Sudan O athletic Death Sportive Bomb the temples of ancient times their grand ruin ceased Electrons Protons Neutrons To understand the origins of postmodernism in literature. it proves beneﬁcial to discuss the historical context. Perhaps even their style of realism. if extended beyond Nazi Germany. Firstly. a few realities stand out. post-Dresden. the mace the flail the axe Catapult Da Vinci tomahawk Cochise flintlock Kidd dagger Rathbone Ah and the sad desparate gun of Verlaine Pushkin Dillinger Bogart And hath not St. Fiction is often one of the better mediums for discovering the past. depicted the military bureaucracy as one of contradictions and explored the extent to which government will manipulate the people it represents. with its clean progression and attractive language. was there a tacit encouragement? Was modernism complicit in the gloriﬁcation of war by way of an eagerness to frame ﬁction in ideology? It is certainly true many writers. held great implications for both leaders and the individual. was to blame. Budger of history Brake of time You Bomb Toy of universe Grandest of all snatched sky I cannot hate you Do I hate the mischievous thunderbolt the jawbone of an ass The bumpy club of One Million B. postmodernists looked to the absurd. writers too would begin to ask of literature’s guilt. George a lance David a sling Bomb you are as cruel as man makes you and you're no crueller than cancer All Man hates you they'd rather die by car-crash lightning drowning Falling off a roof electric-chair heart-attack old age old age O Bomb They'd rather die by anything but you Death's finger is free-lance Not up to man whether you boom or not Death has long since distributed its categorical blue I sing thee Bomb Death's extravagance Death's jubilee Gem of Death's supremest blue The flyer will crash his death will differ with the climbor who'll fall to die by cobra is not to die by bad pork Some die by swamp some by sea and some by the bushy-haired man in the night O there are deaths like witches of Arc Scarey deaths like Boris Karloff No-feeling deaths like birth-death sadless deaths like old pain Bowery Abandoned deaths like Capital Punishment stately deaths like senators And unthinkable deaths like Harpo Marx girls on Vogue covers my own I do not know just how horrible Bombdeath is I can only imagine Yet no other death I know has so laughable a preview I scope a city New York City streaming starkeyed subway shelter Scores and scores A fumble of humanity High heels bend Hats whelming away Youth forgetting their combs Ladies not knowing what to do with their shopping bags Unperturbed gum machines Yet dangerous 3rd rail Ritz Brothers from the Bronx caught in the A train The smiling Schenley poster will always smile Impish death Satyr Bomb Bombdeath Turtles exploding over Istanbul The jaguar's flying foot soon to sink in arctic snow Penguins plunged against the Sphinx The top of the Empire state arrowed in a broccoli field in Sicily Eiffel shaped like a C in Magnolia Gardens St. between the period 1956–1989. post-Blitz and post-Hiroshima. a poem by Gregory Corso The structure of the poem evokes the image of a mushroom cloud. If one is to condense the effects of history on literature. had radical politics. In depicting the events of war in ﬁction. The existentialist arguments pursued at the Nuremberg Trials.
A relationship of suspicion existed almost unbroken until the fall of the Berlin Wall on the 10 November 1989 and the subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union on the 25 December 1991. US$8 trillion had been spent on arms worldwide. Hitler called off the invasion due to the failure of the Luftwaffe to defeat Royal Air Force and having lost 597 more aircraft in the process. Fascistic dictatorships were maintained in an effort to prevent the spread of communist tyrannies. All in all. Not least of these is mutual assured destruction. This is evident in the establishment of N. with the mass removal of Germans east of the Oder-Neisse line occurring with support of the Red Army. However. This is the kind of paradox which postmodernists were unable to ignore. However. Some of the developments in this period include the global propagation of television. tensions would only increase. and there were 18 megatons worth of nuclear stockpiles (Issacs & Downing 1998. better arming of the British Spitﬁre and Hurricanes and the diversion of Luftwaffe aircraft to bomb London when the pressure was on the British (Lowe 2005. Germany would be united again. The last factor to consider is the rise and rise of consumerism. p. The Germans then retaliated and “so it goes” (Vonnegut 1969. and the Warsaw Pact. Rising from the American success in the second was an increased wealth and production capacity. Soon the militaries of both nations had shifted from cooperation to confrontation. Between 1945 and 1996. or even whether. 419). No decisions were made on when. the sophistication of British radar. Churchill was briefed of the extraordinary weapon that would be unleashed on Japan but Stalin. With this expenditure also came bloodshed in the third world. On the 25 April 1945. a world of contradictions and paranoia. The reasons for the British success include. and Soviet troops had hugged and toasted their leaders when they met on the River Elbe. radar stations. Later. U. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 48 . bombed the city of London. The beneﬁts and disadvantages of which are encapsulated in the 1959 Kitchen Debate between Khrushchev and the then vice-president. was not. in the coming years. who had already been planning to do so.T. Under the command of Hermann Goering.O. Aftermath of WWII The Battle of Britain. The initial aim was to bomb harbours. occurred between the 12 August–30 September 1940. costing many civilian lives (Siebert 2001). consumerism would also become an area of distinction between the opposing sides during the Cold War. when the Allies met in July at the town of Potsdam. who unlike Churchill had sent troops to ﬁght against the Japanese. against Hitler’s orders. An idea by which a massive build up of arms was justiﬁed as a means to overt war. 47). airﬁelds and munitions factories. The nations under Red Army occupation were forced to reject the aid offered by the Marshall Plan. relations between Stalin and Truman were distinctly cooler. the shift to suburbia from rural and inner-city areas and the increased importance placed on celebrity ﬁgures. In response Churchill. It followed the surrender of France on the 22 June. on the 24 August 1940. In the end.A. Richard Nixon. or the Blitz. the German Luftwaffe fought against the Royal Air Force in preparation for a planned invasion of Britain. postmodernist literature was written under the conditions of an ideological world.The second factor to consider is the rise of the world’s ﬁrst superpowers in the United States and the Soviet Union. There was already an issue over the border between Poland and Germany. p.p. Wars in Korea. Many of the theories of Cold War foreign policy raise eyebrows today and yet they continued for almost half a century. the Luftwaffe.S. 93–94). bombed Berlin. South-east Asia and Afghanistan were fought by expeditionary forces of one superpower while the enemy was supported by the other superpower.
and thousands and thousands of people are killed. He has seen his birth and death many times. And he’s given a regular trial. and pays random visits to all the events in between. as the ﬁrst aerial bombing campaign on major civilian centres. The plot follows Billy Pilgrim. p. following the precedent of the Blitz. an American infantry scout of German ancestry in the Second War World. In other words. while the Luftwaffe was responsible for over 60 000 deaths (Lowe 2005). [. was the Allied bombing of Dresden on the 13 February 1945. He has gone back through that door to ﬁnd himself in in 1963. which has the alternative title of The Children’s Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death. he says. and then he’s shot by a ﬁring squad. He said he couldn’t remember much. The subtext of this approach.’ said O’Hare. 103). Vonnegut speciﬁcally sets out with the intention of depicting the horrors of war and drawing attention to morally contentious acts committed by the Allies. is the suggestion both are as absurd as each other. which resulted in around 50 000 – 130 000 deaths in single night (Lowe 2005. ‘Don’t you think that’s really where the climax should come?’ Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 49 . Slaughterhouse Five (1969) by Kurt Vonnegut is a ﬁctionalised account of his experience of the Second World War. who claims he was abducted by aliens in 1967 and has now become caught in a world of disjointed time: “LISTEN: BILLY PILGRIM has come unstuck in time. 31 begins with a chapter from the author about his real life experience of Dresden and his problems writing the book – coming to terms with the memory but feeling a sense of triviality in writing the story: He was unenthusiastic. beside each other. the bombing of civilian homes became a hallmark of the Second World War.’ I said. Billy has gone to sleep a senile widower and awakened on his wedding day. It is often criticised as an example of a bombing on a city which had little involvement in war production and therefore of little strategic importance. The text. aside from being the ﬁrst defeat of Nazi Germany. It is an example of how postmodernism is inﬂuenced by history and also concerns for humanity.] ‘I think the climax of the book will be the execution of poor old Edgar Derby. 30 From 1940. And this one American foot soldier is arrested in the ruins for taking a teapot. it was a centre for German military communications. . The horrors and justiﬁcations of war are equivalent in their madness to unbelievable stories about aliens and ﬂying saucers. One other possible reading is Vonnegut is attempting to portray the trauma and havoc created by the experience and memories of war. It is estimated between 600 000 and 1 000 000 civilians died as a result of Allied bombings. A while city gets burned down. One of the worst examples. He has walked through a door in 1955 and come out another one in 1941. in a use of pastiche.’ ‘Um. Vonnegut has placed science ﬁction and a war story. On the other hand. . including when he was a prisoner of the Germans in Dresden during the ﬁre bombing.The Blitz is signiﬁcant. ‘The irony is so great.
” (Vonnegut 1969. The best outline I ever made. had been put by their captors when the bombing of Dresden took place. expresses these concerns. and you’ll be played in the movies by Frank Sinatra and John Wayne or some of those glamorous.” Franklin 2009. I know. p. was on the back of a roll of wallpaper. or anyway the prettiest one. to never say anything or want anything ever after. There is a cheapness of death in war and Vonnegut wishes to depict this. war-loving.‘I don’t know anything about it. because there is nothing intelligent to say about a massacre. except for the birds. In Slaughterhouse Five the reoccurrence of the phrase. ed. (Vonnegut 1969.S. In discussions of war. in a last ditch effort to destroy Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 50 .’ she said. what he sees as. so we’ll have a lot more of them. death is different than in peace time.32 who led a team of 2000 scientists in developing a secret weapon at Peenemünde. and Vonnegut in real life. The wife of a friend. when he writes: “It is short so short and jumbled and jangled. ‘That’s your trade. And they’ll be fought by babies like the babies upstairs.R. The years leading up to publication in 1969. ‘You’ll pretend you were men instead of babies. not mine. In the context. Vonnegut knows that these ‘thrills’ are in no way comparable to the real life experience. the Germans looked to Wernher Von Braun. Sam. juggling broad thematic and structural complexities. Boxall. p. dirty old men. Seb Franklin writes: “Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five is an indespensible achievement in twentieth-century writing. 612) The failure of Operation Barbarossa at Stalingrad – the invasion of the U. 3–4) This section is a clear example of metaﬁction. Reviewing Slaughterhouse Five. I had outlined the Dresden story many times. “so it goes” after every death. and it always is. 11) The slaughterhouse of the title refers to the building where Pilgrim. the technique forces a sense of guilt upon reader for delighting in the tales of war. Everybody is supposed to be dead. In September 1944. when she remarks about Vonnegut’s attempts write a war novel: “‘Well. The result of which saw them survive but being put to work ﬁrst burying the bodies and later burning them. 14) The timing of the novel’s release is also signiﬁcant.S. Vonnegut is clearly aware. Vonnegut acknowledges.’ As a trafﬁcker in climaxes and thrills and characterization and wonderful dialogue and suspense and confrontations. p. Everything is supposed to be very quiet after a massacre. on the Baltic Sea.’ he said. were when the anti-Vietnam War movement was at its peak. becomes a chilling use of black humour.’” (Vonnegut 1969. begun on the 22 June 1941 – and the success of the D-Day landing on the 6 June 1944. And war will look just wonderful. the inevitable shortcoming of a war novel. pp.
as it passed through the sky.G. The majority of the text is set in England. Slothrop hears a girl singing. frequent descriptions of drug use. Accompanying herself on a balalaika. Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon is an extraordinary work of postmodernist literature. arms raised to the sky. p. One of those sad little Parisian-sounding tunes in 3/4: Though its another year. Pynchon included this quote. . The text is written with the experience of the 1950s. including parodic songs: “From the glassless bay window of a dress shop. Under the rose is a drying tear. Always some souvenir Takes us by sad surprise. unusual sexual encounters. 60s and early 70s in mind. You went away from me. Under my linden tree . France and Germany between 1944– 1945. with its high-pitched wail trailing. in the dimness behind a plaster dummy lying bald and sprawled. there are also ﬂashbacks to the First World War. An example is the title page of The Counterforce. is almost a thousand pages long and includes hundreds of characters. That is the rose I ﬁnd . One rose was left behind – Pressed in my Book of Hours. A central focus is on the V–2 rocket and its creation. Though its another me. . the Germans would begin launching a new weapon across the French Channel—the V–2 rocket. Pynchon often writes about such fantastic conspiracies in his work. In Gravity’s Rainbow. there are absurdly named characters. There is no clear plot. as in all of Pynchon’s work. It consists of four parts. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 51 . At one point.British morale. which includes an accompanying quote attributed to Richard Nixon. . discussions of paranoia and references to pop culture. the text suggests the war was engineered by major companies for their own proﬁts. the forth part of the novel. the concentration camps and revolts in Africa at the turn of the century and ﬁnally the 1970s. employing the techniques of historiographic metaﬁction and intertextuality. Never completely dies. in the wake of the unfolding Watergate scandal. Farben – who produced the Zyklon B used in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. the period between the wars. but rather the fragmented narrative consists of a series of digression and intertwined stories. just before the Gravity’s Rainbow went to the printers. Love never goes away. However. There are frequent allusions to the military-industrial complex. This includes I. The weapon would go on to strike fear into British civilians. . it reads simply: “What?” (Pynchon 1973. hands curved for bouquets or cocktail glasses they’ll never hold again. 731).
Then the text begins to implode as Slothrop seemingly descends into madness. Laszlo Jamf. German rocket bomb. Katharine. and a mysterious plastic called Imipolex G. and still Most Secret. Slothrop attempts to investigate the matter. That would be fuel cut off. which had been invented by a Dr. the next rocket will land. by night. He has seen it in a ﬁlm. Brennschluss. (continues) “Oh. Slothrop becomes the major characters in the text. It can return. But Pirate knows it. This is the new. end of burning. . . drops and crystals. Marias. Jamf is responsible for the psychological conditioning of Slothrop when he was child. Alice. Airplanes are not launched vertically. Later. and Prentice can return to make his banana breakfast for the men downstairs. But not from an airplane. he assumes a number identities including Rocketman. Shirley. Not if it’s really true. that wherever Slopthrop has had his last sexual encounter. p. has stopped its climb. The white line. just the last fortnight . . when Teddy Bloat photographs and unusual map on his desk. On the map are the names of Slothrop’s many sexual partners. the rocket fails. Love never goes away. Love. the component Schwarzgerät. 7) Luckily. after all. They are. farther east. .” (Pynchon 1973. by day. what’s their word . Oh.” (Pynchon 1973. Gladys. Carolines. He is then called to Greenwich to receive a message. At ACHTUNG 33 headquarters. just risen over Holland. Capt. American and Africa. Already a ﬁnger’s width higher now. Darlene. that I left with you. watches as a German V-2 ﬂies through the air: “What is it? Nothing like this ever happens. We don’t have one. Delores. the character of Lieutenant Tyrone Slothrop is introduced. Or else it’s classiﬁed. yes: around the curve of the Earth. 345–346) The text opens in London on the 18 December 1944. Tender and green and new As the leaves from a linden. The reader later ﬁnds out. It’s a vapor trail. Pointsman – a Pavlovian psychologist – Brigadier General Pudding. The reader later discovers that the Schwarzgerät Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 52 . and others are involved in the secret project called The White Visitation. It becomes evident that Slothrop is somehow involved with the development of a mysterious rocket with the serial number 00000. collecting his illegally grown bananas on the rooftop. aimed at controlling Slothrop because of his use to the military. Pirate Prentice. dressing up in a white zoot suit. . is striking the rocket’s exhaust. Susans and Elizabeths. . a couple of Sallys. resulting in a series of hilarious scenes throughout Europe. Abruptly. the sun over there. Annes. signalled by his sexual arousal. p. making them blaze clear across the sea . in a conversation between Pointsman and Kevin Spectro. This resulted in him becoming hypersensitive to loud noises.
and is persued by the evil American Army Major Duane Marvy. Slothrop reaches down into a purling mountain stream to ﬁnd the same harmonica. and the successor 00001 rocket. His adventures on the Riveria or in an undeground V-2 factory in Nordhausen are among its least demanding comic sections. For example. he begins to call himself Rocketman. at peace. The rest of the text follows events surrounding the 00000 rocket. an allied rocket program. duel with custard pies and guns while crossing the Harz mountains in Germany. Slothrop’s madcap peregrinations take up most of the narrative space in the book. and he thinks–or rather Pynchon inserts–the last peaceful pastoral lines of Rilke's "Sonnets to Orpheus.is a capsule made out of the mysterious plastic. Slothrop and Marvy. As Harvard boys come and go outside the stall (where the young Malcolm X is the rag-snapping shoeshine boy) the drunken Slothrop crawls down porcelain sides. totally adrift in the mountains of Europe. It is Slothrop who falls among French gangsters. the water ﬂowing freshly through its mouth holes. Such symmetry is dazzling." Then Slothrop sees the Rainbow linking earth and sky and stands crying. German black marketeers. intended to allow a human aboard a rocket. deep into the clogged and rusted pipes. thinking of classmate Jack Kennedy and fearing imminent Negro buggery and death by excremental tidal wave. This use of Rilke and the Rainbow is deliberately opposed to the Rilke and Rainbow of Blicero's rocket. with nothing in his head." He has completely dropped out. and dresses in a cape and Wagnerian opera helmet. in a baloon and a creaky prop plane. Slothrop manages to ﬁnd his way to Operation Backﬁre. renegade American drug dealers. In one sequence that parodies the rocket motif. Reviewing the novel on its release.” (Locke 1973) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 53 . into the bowl. Richard Locke reﬂects on the character Slothrop and the cultural and historical context Gravity’s Rainbow represents: “Chased and chasing rockets in a doped-up manic state of fear. Hundreds of pages later. who epitomizes America’s go-get’em capitalistic frontier killing ways. bending blue notes of water. "just feeling natural. strung out too far on his paranoid quest for the secret rocket ever to reassemble an identity. one of the ﬁnest extended surrealistic excursions in modern American ﬁction is a journey searching for a harmonica lost down the toilet in the men's room of the Roseland ballroom in 1938. where an attempt is made to castrate him. (continues) “Throughout the book there are brilliant set pieces and episodes that play exquisite variations on earlier scenes.
” (Pynchon 1973. then a ﬁrst-term congressman. But it was not a star. This and other cases. a prominent member of the State Department. a bright angel of death. Inside the Schwarzgerät is Gottfried. When Hiss appeared before the HUAC on the 5 August – two days after the initial allegations – he denied ever having met Chambers. p. allegations of espionage had been raised against Alger Hiss in the House Un-American Activities Committee by Whittaker Chambers. In the following weeks further information was extracted from Chambers. the discrepancies in his story becoming further apparent. 902) The Cold War When it became known that the Soviet Union had detonated its ﬁrst atomic bomb in September 1949. it was falling. the United Nations. In an unusual turn of events.k. Hiss was convicted of perjury. in a televised session of the committee. such as the investigation of famous Hollywood ﬁgures. absolutely and forever without sound. The ﬁnal passage. at one point he began accusing senior Army personnel of espionage. had been a close advisor to President Roosevelt and had helped set up the United Nations. . movie theatre as the rocket descends silently: “The Last image was too immediate for the any eye to register. Hiss then sued Chambers for libel.A. a ﬁlm we have not learned to see . A year earlier. coming outside to wish on the ﬁrst star. an editor of TIME and a known former Communist. Few initially believed it could be true. Hiss was questioned for ﬁve hours and he began to falter.Gravity’s Rainbow ends with the launch of the 00000 rocket by Weissmann a. this backﬁred when sensitive documents passed on to Chambers were proven to have been made with Hiss’s typewriter. However. Dreaming of an early evening in each capital luminous enough to tell him he will never die. continued to stir up public paranoia. Blicero. falling nearly a mile per second. that the pointed tip of the Rocket. a young Aryan boy who Weissmann has been sexually abusing. just at this dark silent frame. suspicions of espionage grew. Around the same time Sen. McCarthy soon began to loose credibility as his accusations became more wild. academics and many others. Alger Hiss.a Capt. is set in a L. took over the question of Hiss and was soon convinced of his guilt. In early 1950. And in the darkening and awful expanse of screen something has kept on. a face we all know – And it is just here. On the 25 August. . In December 1954 the Senate voted to censure him and his short period of notoriety was over. It may have been a human ﬁgure. reaches its last unmeasurable gap above the roof of this old theatre. However. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 54 . under the title of ‘DECENT’. Joseph McCarthy’s would begin making accusations against members of the State Department. It is now a closeup of the face. Richard Nixon.
Fortunately on the 28 October. Robert McNamara. Secretary of Defence. informed President John F. Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle (1963) is a text heavily steeped in paranoia and black humour. before peaking again in the early years of the Reagan Administration (1981-1989). A group of senior ofﬁcials came together as the Executive Committee of the National Security Council to aid the President in deciding what action should be to taken. American forces were prepared for a nuclear war and on the 23 October so too were the armies of the Warsaw Pact. questions soon arose as to whether this would satisfactorily prevent retaliation. Other examples of division in the West include the May 1968 riots in Paris and the emergence of terrorist groups such as the Red Army Faction in Germany and the Weathermen/ Weather Underground in the United States. Also. The Crying of Lot 49 (1966). 19) The hysteria surrounding communism in the late 1940s and 1950s would become known as McCarthyism. Some examples of this include fears of British spies. Government.At the height of the period. the Bomb and a Caribbean island. On the 14 October 1962. easing slightly during the period of détente in the 1970s. Written in the science ﬁction genre. One of the more complex stories of paranoia is Thomas Pynchon’s novella. weapons based in Turkey. there were great divisions between different groups within American. Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of passing atomics secrets to the Soviet Union and executed. Kennedy that in fourteen days the site would become operational. This often aimed at large. This is highlighted by the Anti-Vietnam War movement. Khrushchev agreed to dismantle the Soviet weapons in Cuba in exchange for a similar removal of U. In Europe and elsewhere in the world. Hoover declares the day he arrests him.S. However. at different times. Cat’s Cradle manages to capture a moment in time vividly. had ‘aggressively sought ways and means to secretly conspire with the Soviet Government to the detriment of his own country!’ Fuchs to Gold to Greenglass to Rosenberg—quadruple play!—and now what next? Praise pours in. the emergence of gay liberation. However. ice-nine is capable of freezing the world’s water the instant it comes into contact with the ocean. In the following days the world came close to nuclear war on a number of occasions. p.S. The plot is a lethal combination of dictator. following tense diplomatic negotiations. the U. Robert Coover’s The Public Burning uses historiographic metaﬁction to tell the story of the Rosenbergs and the wild public frenzy that lusted after their deaths: “The net goes out and draws in Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. a blockade would be an act of war and so it was decided to call the move a ‘quarantine’. African American Civil Rights movement. the paranoia would continue at all levels of American society. The atom bomb is represented by a substance called ice-nine. then Freemasons – which led to the Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 55 . It was eventually decided to blockade Cuba rather than attempt the air strike. described by J. At ﬁrst it looked as though an air strike would be called to destroy the site.” (Coover 1977. the island is called San Lorenzo and the dictator Papa Monzano. the drug counter-culture. an american spy plane ﬂying over western Cuba had photographed the construction of a nuclear missile launch site.The theme of paranoia became widespread in postmodernist literature. Edgar Hoover on one of his daily press releases as ‘important links in the Soviet espionage apparatus’ —Rosenberg. It concentrates the ageold American fear of secret networks. secretive institutions including the U. However. 34 Invented by the Nobel Prize winning scientist Felix Hoenikker.S.
the Tristero. This was the doctor who had an affair with Babette and supplied her with Dylar. the protagonist. a fear there were ‘red under the bed’. marriage breakdown and death. She is taking an experimental drug called Dylar and her efforts to obtain the drug.36 There is rise of secularism. their is an underlying anxiety which neither want to face. During the evacuation that results. unfurrowed. a woman called Oedipa Maas.Anti-Freemason political party – and in the 20th century. The protagonist. whenever she appears close. p. His fourth wife. fears of inadequacy. 35 At one point in the text. Thurn and Taxis. He shoots him and then attempts to make it look like a suicide. or a real Tristero. This exacerbates his concerns and he begins to have trouble sleeping.” (Pynchon 1966. so as to be identiﬁable. Oedipa goes to see a play called the The Courier’s Tragedy. In an effort to relieve himself of this fear he searches out Willie Mink. Overcome with guilt. Their mailboxes are cleverly made to look like rubbish bins but are labelled with the acronym W. result from her extreme anxiety over her eventual death. In the process of the evacuation. assumed full. The gun in Mink’s hand. Just then Mink manages to ﬁre a shot off and he injures Jack.S. He begins to take German lessons secretly. Of course.E. but only as words within the text itself: “Either Oedipa in the orbiting ecstasy of a true paranoia. DeLillo describes a wide cross-section of surburban life. Although she and her husband often joke over who will die ﬁrst. She soon begins a quest to uncover the truth of a mysterious underground mail network.A. he fears loosing his credibility as an academic. the truth of the matter is the organisation does exist. was an alien.T. He suffers great anxiety because of his inability to speak German. Jack Gladley. which include being unfaithful to her husband. Babette is another point of contention in the text. Jack is exposed to a lethal quantity of Nyodene D but its effect won’t occur for many years. and manage to be at all relevant to it. Another major concern of the text surrounds the spillage of a toxic chemical called Nyodene D. receives a letter one day informing her that she has been named executor of Pierce Inverarity’s estate – a former boyfriend and wealthy businessmen. circle into some paranoia. is a professor of Hitler Studies at College-on-the-Hill. Oedipa’s search never comes to a true conclusion because. some further doubt creeps in. Pynchon switches direction and forces the reader to question the very existence of the Tristero.There is increasing reliance on pharmaceuticals to prolong our lives and the inﬂuence of the media and faceless corporations in our every day lives. Jack takes Mink to the hospital and he survives. or there was just America and if there was just America then it seemed the only way she could continue. Some of the events within the invented play reﬂect the text itself. Pynchon watches on as the reader becomes more interested and keen to see Oedipa unravel the mystery. With an upcoming conference to be based at his university. In it she ﬁnds some suggestions of the Tristero and its – real life – rival. 126) Rise of Consumerism Don DeLillo’s White Noise (1984) is a text which bring together the dominant anxieties of late 20th century society.. Jack arrives at Mink’s hotel intent on killing him. For there either was some Tristero beyond the appearance of the legacy America. Jack is ready to leave. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 56 . When this point is reached.
trying to ﬁgure out the pattern. which decode the binary secret of every item. 325–326) In summary. the rocket used on the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. regardless of age. who with American support. They turn into the aisle. our carts stocked with brightly colored goods. 334). (DeLillo 1984. In the altered shelves. The men consult lists. Most of the children never made it to Jerusalem but instead were sold into slavery. The men scan for stamped dates. p. They walk in a fragmented trance. However. White Noise is an attempt to highlight an inherent madness of our consumer society. giving us time to glance at the tabloids in the rack. his youngest son. satisfying. they try to work their way through confusion. It was the ﬁrst example of this type of an attack during 30 warfare. Technical Units. albeit one which has since become common. Eventually. There is agitation and panic in the aisles. a division of the British military.S. Northern Germany. chemical sunset. the cures for cancer. The attack. They see no reason for it. infallibly. causing other carts to run into them. paranoia and an an emerging consumerism come out of a reality that is unique to the period between 1956–1989.It is only in Wilder. that Jack ﬁnds a way to go on living free from fear. in the aftermath of one of the greatest bloodbaths. 32 33 The acronym stands for Allied Clearing House. prepared for some anxious event. ghost images. the women for ingredients. For this reason. stop and go. the tactic had already been employed by the Condor Legion when the town of Guernica was bombed during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939). ruled ruthlessly over his people. Many have trouble making out the words. the remedies for obesity. white packages plainly labeled. Von Braun would be taken to the United States to develop rocketry for the U. a self-conscious air. The older the man or woman. following the Second World War. the ambient roar. dismay in the faces of older shoppers. trying to remember where they’d seen the Cream of Wheat. The original Children’s Crusade took place in 1212 with the aim of reaching modern-day Israel. But in the end it doesn’t matter what they see or think they see.S.A. the women do not. There is a sense of wandering now. It occurred at a time of global upheaval. It manages to capture the overall feeling remarkably well: “The supermarket shelves have been rearranged. The ﬁnal passage takes place at a supermarket after Babette and Jack have watched a miraculous. The terminals are equipped with holographic scanners. Men in Sansabelt slacks and bright knit shirts. p. discern the underlying logic. sometimes stop abruptly. the more carefully dressed and groomed. This is the language of waves and radation. the condiments scattered. Strong themes of black humour. It happened one day without warning. The miracle vitamins. sweet-tempered people taken to the edge. wary of a second level of betrayal. carried out by Germans aiding Franco’s Nationalists. And this is where we wait together. A slowly moving line. Only the generic food is where it was. The tales of the supernatural and the extraterrestrial. an aimless and haunted mood. killed over 1600 civilians (Lowe 2005. and as result the themes of writers such as Kurt Vonnegut and Thomas Pynchon reﬂect this. The name is possibly an allusion to Haiti’s Papa Doc Duvalier. ﬁnd no sense in it. when reading postmodernism there is often a strong reminder of the historical period in which it took place. The scouring pads are with the hand soap now. in the plain and heartless fact of their decline.A. or how the dead speak to the living. he would go on to design the Saturn 5. 31 Incidently. They scrutenize the small print on packages. clusters of well-dressed ﬁgures frozen in the aisles. 34 Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 57 . Army and later N. peer along the shelves. The cults of the famous and the dead. Smeared print. some writers and critics have suggested postmodernism is irrelevant to the realities of the 21st century. Women with a powdered and fussy look.
35 The acronym stands for: We Await Silent Tristero’s Empire. This gives you a clear indication of the inﬂuence of consumer culture on Don DeLillo. 36 Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 58 . The term white noise refers to the sound emitted by a radio or television when not tuned into a station.
56). Dismissing the realist novel as pointless is to show ignorance.’ Misguided by an idea they were refreshing literature. for it was present in the Nazi Reich. 78) In addition. ed. p. who moved away from their literary forebears out of respect. A few examples are Tobias Wolff (1945–). In fact. 49). postmodernism doesn’t represent a valid rejection of an “exhausted literature." (Updike 1989. what substantial achievement could young writers make? There were others. cited in Aikman. 45). suggested Wolfe’s: “Is much too narrow a view. p. So the question is: was Tom Wolfe right? While highly successfully. and half a century of Baudrillard’s hyperreality. John Updike. new writers of dirty realism or minimalism were published throughout the postmodernist period. cited such examples and disagreed with the essay stating: “Magical Realism and Minimalism. p. Such writers held a belief the masters could not be bettered at their own game.” No. John Barth. The idea that because we live in Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 59 . 121). To write of conﬂict as having a clear progression toward resolution seems even more preposterous when. These writers. p. Raymond Carver (1938–1988) and Charles Bukowski (1920–1994). p. Tom Wolfe’s debut novel The Bonﬁre of the Vanities (1987) didn’t make him the ﬁrst writer of realism to emerge since the 1950s. After all it was realism that in 1930s “put American literature up on the world stage for the ﬁrst time” (Wolf 1989. I wouldn't want a world in which there were only Balzac and Zola and not Lewis Carroll and Franz Kafka. He suggests that American literature had stagnated and entered a “neurasthenic hour” (Wolf 1989. 48). p. structure could now be associated with oppression. postmodernists writers were in fact bringing American literature close to destruction.Post-postmodernism back to the future In 1961. because over their head forever hung the threat of the Other and fears of the Bomb. political and military conﬂict had led only to further political and military conﬂict. “the peerless leader” (Wolfe 1989. 47) – that alienates readers and derides successful novelists as genre novelists and their novels dismissed by the “curious epithet” of ‘popular ﬁction. These writers often felt there was something unique about the post-WWII era and this required its own literature. many of the postmodernist tendencies came from writers. To Wolfe. not in any real sense. who drew inspiration from earlier modernist and realist writers such as Anton Chekov and Ernest Hemingway. Wolf feels postmodernism uses the novel as a literary game and this isn’t to achieve its full potential to affect change. Wolf sees postmodernism as an intellectual phenomenon – “the intelligentsia have always had contempt for the realistic novel—a form that wallows so enthusiastically in the dirt of the everyday life” (Wolf 1989. realism is more than a literary device. Philip Roth argued in an essay that the reality of the Cold War world was so absurd ﬁction could not be expected to remained trapped by realism (Lewis 2001. I see the feast of literature as truly a smorgasbord. realism is Literature and literature is Realism. admittedly with a high degree of contempt for realism. in recent history. who Wolfe had praised. are all honorable alternatives to being realistic. p. They did not known such a world. With the end of the Cold War. Wolfe suggests to reject it is like an engineer “discarding the principle of electricity. If one considers the news of the day – construction of the Berlin Wall would begin that June – it is understandable that writers felt uncomfortable creating a world of reason. on the grounds that it has been used ad nauseam for a hundred years” (Wolf 1989. the witch hunts of the McCarthy era and the Kafka-esque experience of the Communist Bloc. In the Post-war era. By following the rules that had seen them so perfectly depict an age. It is even irresponsible because not even good journalism can illuminate a time of “convulsive social change” in the way the social realist novel can. 51). 37 all achieved a degree of critical success during the height of metaﬁction writing. Sim. Tom Wolfe’s ‘Stalking The Billion-Footed Beast’ argued for “the New Social [Realist] Novel” (Wolf 1989. p. this justiﬁcation for postmodernism disappears.
seeks to transcend them. inevitable in the immediate period after the fall of postmodernism. But it continued. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 60 . They were published in small independent magazines such as the nowdefunct Might and later Timonthy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern 39 and The Believer. as Tom Wolfe and other since have suggested. there were a number of younger writers who resisted the rapid shift toward neo-realism." (Barth 1989. as Francis Fukuyama proclaimed in The End of History and the Last Man (1992). The market being what it is. believing they occupied a worthy space in between.’40 The young writers. Myers. At ﬁrst. not everyone thinks there is a place for postmodernism in the literary nor contemporary ﬁction. p. go too far. conﬁdence and certainty. all writers should acknowledge when any set of ideals becomes widespread it is at risk of becoming a dogma – precluding diversity and in turn making literature static and formulaic. A Reader’s Manifesto’ (2001). But what is Wolfe’s social novel. One example is Mikhail Epstein’s ‘transmodernism’ (1998) which rather than rejecting the principles of modernism outright. The Atlantic and The New Yorker were chasing after a taste of ‘cool. This phenomenon in literature has been given three or so different monikers. This often relates to the degree with which a critic rejects either the basis of modernism or postmodernism. if not a retreat back to the earlier styles of realism and modernism? During 1990s. They neglected the reader’s yearning to contemplate our society with seriousness and “by the end of the 1970s postmodernism had degenerated from a startling assault on traditional narrative into a style as predictable as any other” (Myers 2005). contemporary neo-realism. This illustration appeared in a 2007 article by Garth Risk Hallberg for Quarterly Conversation titled ‘The One That Got Away: Why James Wood is Wrong About Underworld. They had admired and been inﬂuenced by postmodernism or even taught by postmodernist writers. a sort of government-in-exile for young writers. An interesting position. The writers themselves. Reconstructivist art consists of four The ﬁght continues: the illustration hints at the views of critics such B. The usage varies between each. cited in Aikman. 38 Some of the best managed to ﬁnd publishers. To an extent the extremes of postmodernism did. Not a regression but in a synthesised form. Combining many of the aims and themes of realism but promoting experimental technique.R. On Moody: many came to his defence. Unless. in the music genre sense. soon followed. albeit at a fundraiser and with a willing Peck. depending on the theoretical nature of the discussion. the writer himself turned to violence—throwing a pie in Dale Peck’s face.a large and varied country we therefore ought to write the sweeping. They wrote ‘serious’ ﬁction but lacked the arrogance to present themselves in such light.’ The article discusses Don DeLillo’s Underworld (1997) and the current literary debate around the epoch after postmodernism. ushered in a new decade of clarity. panoramic novel is like arguing that our poets all ought to be like Walt Whitman rather than Emily Dickinson. The combination of an audience tired by postmodernism and the ﬁnal victory of Western liberal democracy. The work of younger writers has resulted in a return to postmodernism. By the 2000s the likes of Harpers’ Magazine. However. Another is Chris Sunami’s ‘reconstructivism’. Tom Wolfe’s novel and essay came at the right time. 78) Whether any of these justiﬁcations are true or not. In the eyes of many. it is literature who is harmed ﬁrst. In other words. the success of such writers were mere after shocks. At such a point. of course. all the while sitting back and winking. directing criticism at the mainstream itself. or more spookily. it then seemed the postmodernist style belonged and would soon assume a position equivalent to genre ﬁction. soon emerged as what could be called alternative or indie ﬁction. happily obliged. but were an uneasy presence within mainstream literary ﬁction. and Dale Peck who famously called Rick Moody “the worst writer of his generation” (Peck 2002). They challenged the authority of the traditional literary mainstream to publish ‘serious’ ﬁction.
It is the mindset of the future. of a lack of clarity at what is what. For those who are afraid of Islamism but know they must hold some responsibility for its existence. Those who want and live by moral principles but who cannot be certain they’re right. They are. It maintains the same openness toward a certain kind of realism in writing as to science ﬁction. etc. and. Writers such as Dave Eggers. no matter how small. They are all proud of ﬁctionality. It is a mindset acting as a counterweight to those not just announcing the death of the author. from realism and modernism. modernism. Third. It is a mindset that allows the internet to act as a digital paper. Zadie Smith and David Foster Wallace 41 are great examples. that will allow ﬁction to maximise its variety and in turn its readership in a way the cost of ﬁlms often prohibits. Our contradictory selves. an awareness “of its own status as a creation. Yet. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 61 . it seeks to create the best conversation between author and reader. It is this mindset that will allow diversity in ﬁction and the critics of both extremes are welcome because it is in that situation that the novel stands a chance against the combined onslaught of new technology and even. which may or may not exclude realism. cited in Miller. They write of uncertainties. in the case of literature. life or dreams – they write for the majority of us. but the death of art. neo-realism and so forth. Jonathan Safran Foer. a relatively young writer 42 remark: “Writers my age (mid-thirties). a reconstructivist text must be fundamentally driven to “inspire a genuine emotional response” (Sunami 2004) although able. Post-postmodernism shows an interest in postmodernism – especially the narrative devices associated – but doesn’t see earlier movements as wholly tired or misconceived either. a structure derived. It is intriguing to ﬁnd one Rick Moody.elements. First. even if only known by a small population on the internet. the writers at the edge of an edge occupied by literature itself. Our problem is how to confront the inﬂuence of a single novelist: Thomas Pynchon” (Moody 1997) That he considers Pynchon important an important writer of his generation is not such a radical statement. however. Second. but that he considers him the single most important novelist is something different all together. appear not as such. of cynicism at both extreme and centrist politics. the mainstream press acknowledges this. They provide more than an insight of ‘what it must be like for others’ – the marginalised. in order to be absent of the contempt shown both by avant-garde and commercial ﬁction (Wallace. non-standard form. Rick Moody. Lastly. which itself may be based on another yet-earlier work” (Sunami 2004). classicism. in the case of journalism and non-ﬁction. realism. It is also a mindset that ensures writers will not remain undiscovered. of a lack of satisfaction at compromise in work. They are also wholly aware of the literature that came before. an illusion or a ﬁction” (Sunami 2004). they are also aware of the ability of literature to affect change. old technology. to at ﬁrst. L 1996). the poor. Will Self. albeit also with the least imaginative name. A paper comparable to physical paper but just as with thicker and thinner pages with its own advantages. the ill. We live environmentally unsustainable lifestyles but our basis for such lifestyles is comfort. postmodernism. Romanticism. Post-postmodernism is the last of these deﬁnitions and is the least burdened with rigid criticism. to varying degrees. at times. includes an exaggeration intertextuality such as when “an explicit reference is made to a prior work. We love consumerism but we hate it. – but also an insight into the rest of us with our relative crises. Nonetheless at the same time. don’t have the luxury of choice. who have nowhere else to turn.
He was born on the 20 March 1970 in Boston. Following their deaths he was unable to complete his studies at the University of Illinois due to his new responsibility as guardian of Toph. co-authored children’s books with his brother. I actually have established an e-mail address[. it resembles its illustrious but ill-fated ancestor Might. He lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for a number of years. it's invigorating to read the work of talented writers who revel. in a speech to the American Writers Guild: Nothing has changed! The written word—the love of it and the power of the written word—it hasn’t changed. his younger brother. in particular. It’s a matter of fostering it. publishers avoid. He then went into partnership. who was then 8 years old. and having faith. was published. both his parents died of cancer within weeks of each other. on Might. is of a sort one rarely ﬁnds in literary magazines. no stories about loved ones wasting away from cancer. although the magazine folded in 1997. if you ever think Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 62 .]if you are ever feeling down. On the future of the written word his is quoted as saying. In an area where people try so hard for meaning. Reviewing the ﬁrst issue for Metroactive. for his work with 826 Valencia. set the path for his later career as an editor and publisher. He then moved to California. 826 Valencia – a non-proﬁt writing and tutoring centre for children. with his friend David Moodie. a cartoonist and a journalist.” (Tao Moises 1998) The literary journal was founded by Eggers to focus on the style of writing more mainstream. if you are ever despairing. cavort and wallow in glorious. is inspired by Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are (1963). Tai Moises wrote of a unique style that has continued up to the present day: “McSweeney's is a brilliant. . Illinois when Eggers was a child. His most notable works include A Heart Breaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000). and otherwise been a proliﬁc editor and contributor to many publications. at the age of twenty-one. The editorial voice is articulate. It is accompanied by the independent publishing house McSweeney’s Books which begun releasing books in 2001. In pitch. This venture. What Is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng (2006) and most recently the non-ﬁction Zeitoun (2009). His family moved to Lake Forest. not giving up on it. . publisher and owner of a pirate supplies store which acts as a ‘front’ to. (Flanagan 2009) In 1998. of all things. living there until. a TED Prize recipient. an online weekly based in Silicon Valley. in an act of intertextuality. a collection of short stories How We Are Hungry (2004). no autumn leaf imagery. working as a freelance graphic designer. 43 or commonly just McSweeney’s. There's no poetry. ﬂamboyant absurdity. where his older brother and sister lived and could provide support. screenplays. In August 2009. The New Yorker published an excerpt from his forthcoming novel The Wild Things which. (continues) “The ﬁction. editor. and timid. Don’t get down. the ﬁrst issue of Timothy McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. Eggers has also written – occasionally under pseudonyms – song lyrics. irreverent. courtly and waggish: imagine George Plimpton in a Groucho Marx nose and glasses. for profundity and resonance. But Eggers has given his new lit-mag a sort of retro Men in Tights atmosphere: it has the old-fashioned gentility of silly people wearing funny clothes. In 2006 he was ﬁnalist for National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and in 2008. which was a magazine aimed at those in the 20–30 age bracket. doggedly bumptious parody of the revered institution of the Little Literary Magazine.Dave Eggers is an American writer. fertilizing it.
e-mail me. too similar. Matter of fact.e. many of you might want to skip much of the middle. worn over T-shirts with logos for non-existent companies. with snug. hard with gel. even when they seemed interesting to those living them at the time. The scene takes place at a bar. . “5. they have in their hands beer that has been brewed on the premises.. There are small women in big shoes. The passage describes the author’s puzzlement at what it means to be young. which is more than can be said for the book thereafter. Actually. “‘Should we order some food?’ we/they say. and those lives are very difﬁcult to make interesting. That gets you to page 123 or so. cited in The New Yorker) A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. is heavily inﬂuenced by the postmodernist tradition and is also an exemplar of post-postmodernism. shiny heads. for twice the price. They have unbuttoned the ﬁrst two buttons of their tight synthetic-ﬁbered shirts. a sort of mooing. Like us. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 63 . monotonal groan. which is a nice length. on the one night of the week when he is able spend time with friends: “We watch the crowd below. toward the ﬁctional nature of a text. punctuated by the occasional squeal—‘Ohmygod!’ “There are too many of them. one continuous. at the end of the 20th century. There are young men up from Stanford in light blue oxfords with shortshorn. namely pages 239–351. The text also employs metaﬁction through the use of self-referential passages and the overall fragmented narrative. . all this standing. “Everyone is talking. The book thereafter is kind of uneven. They are wearing clothes they bought secondhand in the Mission or. the ﬁrst three or four chapters are all some of you might want to bother with. The interesting technical angle is how Eggers does not rely on the reader. ribbed shirts. Those ﬁrst four chapters stick to one general subject. for the suspension of disbelief — i. talking. a kind of faction memoir. It’s many playful additions prefacing the book. having organised a baby-sitter for his brother. and I will buck you up and prove to you that you’re wrong. What are they all doing here? All this standing.publishing is dying or print is dying or books are dying or newspapers are dying (the next issue of McSweeney’s will be a newspaper—we’re going to prove that it can make it. “[. If you ever have any doubt.] they mouths are moving. “‘I don’t know. They’re out with people from work. The following is an excerpt that gives a good demonstration for a post-postmodernist’s concern with emotion. People have come with friends and are talking with the friends they’ve come with. “6. which concern the lives of people in their early twenties. something manageable. as is common in realism.” (Eggers 200. p. They are looking into the faces they see every day and are saying things they’ve said a hundred times. including the copyright page and a section titled ‘Rules and Suggestions For Enjoyment Of This Book’ which includes the following points: “4. viii) This is followed by a lengthy acknowledgements and with drawings and diagrams included. a nice novella sort of length. sitting. of us. but their words are only groans. They have shaved heads or carefully messy Westenberg hair. Should we? we/they say.” Eggers 2009. It comes out in September). in the context of his personal circumstance. Too many. in the Haight.
pp. black humour. . and not-normal achievement. . .” (Dave Eggers 2006. and in turn the future of the writers’ workshop. The two novels published during his lifetime.] That would make it all worthwhile. .” He won the bet. In a bet. The Broom of the System (1986) and Inﬁnite Jest (1996) are considered cult classics. a city. Which is. but it is not naive in thinking we are without problems. 38 Rick Moody. something huge. .] Or rioting. in fact. It was to be a conventional dramatic narrative. that would justify everything. from a city. is a concern for humanity. and the reader is not persuaded by The Old Man and the Sea (1952). whether they be abroad in the form of a new Other. in writers like Dave Eggers and those he publishes. Inﬁnite Jest is an example of fragmented narrative and maximalism at 1079 pages.e. a thing that will outlast him and you and me. at home in our leaders or within one’s own soul. how we lived. David Foster Wallace committed suicide in September 2008. Hemingway came up with the following: “For sale: baby shoes.] We are wasting this. pp. who are lost within their families and lost within their nation. faction in his journalism and metaﬁction in his short ﬁction. named Normal). 37 If there are any doubts to Ernest Hemingway’s minimalism. is case in point. but particularly a book like this. based on the Eastern seaboard of the United States. x-xi) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 64 .]He is from the Midwest – east-central Illinois. and ordinary. There is also a very quiet but very sturdy and constant tragic undercurrent that concerns a people who are completely lost. So he is normal. and regular. a book that gives so much. conﬂict) and ﬁnally dénouement (climax and resolution). talking about nothing. 41 Sadly. Hemingway was challenged to write a story in six words. There is humor everywhere. never worn. had made a similar mistake in the early 20th century when they were unwilling 40 to publish writers of the West who wrote in the. . This includes John Steinbeck. but will help future people understand us — how we felt. How dare we be standing around. there is a less a sense of victimisation in the world and more a focus on the individual’s ability to contribute. in ‘Writers and Mentors’ an article published by the The Atlantic for the 2005 Fiction Issue.[. . and lost within their time. what we gave to each other and why. Not least of all. . McSweeney’s was created with the expressed purpose of published writers rejected by other journals. in his 2006 introduction writes: “It’s long. who while studying at Brown University was taught by Angela Carter. which is an intensely normal part of the country (not far. no joke. and this is his extraordinary. Who would do such a thing if not for want of connection and thus of love? [. Vernacular. Or no: an orgy. complication (middle. gathering here in numbers like this [. (continues) “But this—this is obscene. 39 In fact. following the Freitag Triangle i.” (Eggers 2000. He was a writer of great talent paying homage to postmodernism through his use irony. These prominent publications. Many of the ideas follow. running at something.] what an author is seeking when he sets out to write a book — any book. Something huge. a country. knocking it over? Why do we all bother coming out. 133–134) In the post-postmodernist. [. it is writing worth being read. with an exposition (beginning). discusses the effect this had on his writing. but most importantly. David Eggers. The taking over of something a building. . open rather than closed. In post-postmodernism. to be speciﬁc. not running one huge mass of people. and irregular.(continues) “I’ve risked everything for this? “Something needs to happen. that required such sacriﬁce and dedication. Nobel Prize for Literature. responsive to events. Post-postmodernism is engaged in the discussions of society. the aesthetic of postmodernism lives on. There should be an orgy. Formally. It responds to a new political order. . but there are pleasures everywhere. after all [. and who only want some sort of direction or purpose or sense of community or love. there is an anecdote centred around his invention of the ‘micro-story’. Robert Coover and John Hawkes.
. habitual carrier of paper and pen. Illinois. In discussions of writing. disreputable . those reading Ian McEwan’s Atonment (2001). . . . of Germanic origin. While only in their early issues they have attracted positive reviews from media outlets such as ABC Radio National on their program The Book Show. . related to Dutch meaning ‘an imprecise quantity of used pencils. delinquent .' while emerging writer means 'born-again literati. has resisted the passage of time. faultless . .42 young writer¦yə ng ¦ profession ( younger writer¦ yə ng gər rītər¦. . undercooked . . In describing the author of A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005). youngest writer ¦ yə ng gəst rītər¦) 1 writer between the ages of 18–50 years : Zadie Smith is a young wrier who published her ﬁrst novel at 23 years old. p. . crass . gives American literature a bad name. 3 informal derogatory a deluded writer of crime-ﬁction. however. However. . . malevolent . embarrassing . unmasked . 2 a vain so-and-so who searched and found a job in which. . McSweeney’s inspired the creation of Torpedo and The Lifted Brow. . 257) Namely. 4 a misleading or imprecise deﬁnition. . . . grew up Lake Forest. . inﬂammatory . . Moody goes on to lampoon those great series of adjectives quoted on the front covers of books: “‘Cruel . . .” (Moody 2009. International success like that of McSweeney’s may yet remain just ambition. author of Red Creek Precinct: “a particularly merciless serial killer eliminates. . adolescent . . . p. ORIGIN Old English g(e)ong wrītere. . who frequents a solarium and has hair that is an artiﬁcial. D. 259) Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 65 . impetuous . provocative . . . . young writer is the term for a pre-geriatric writer without 20-something offspring : : Dave Egger. . . . . . people he witnesses in public spaces reading a particular novel.’ In Australia. Sweeney is a literary critic and also. hilarious . rambunctious . sadistic . L. . . unobstructed . arrogant . perhaps a little grey hair but only above the ears. . Rick Moody’s story was called ‘Advanced Praise For: The Atonement Murders’. . This 43 refers speciﬁcally to Issue 4: Fake Bookcase of The Lifted Brow. .’ — Omaha Daily News” (Moody 2009. It is a series of eleven absurd reviews about a novel attributed to an author called Aldrich Simmons. . habitual carrier of papyrus and quill'. . . . Ill-humored . . her ﬁrst novel was published when she was 59 years old. Often formatted in a manner intended to deceive the reader if not thoroughly read : I slipped this deﬁnition of ‘young writer’ into my SDI without being noticed. fratricidal . apparently randomly. . . . at least in radio interviews. according to a Mrie Norquist Ames. a young writer and publisher. . . over 40 years. . . . by way of it having similar appearance (and syntax) to New Oxford American Dictionary. . monumental . it is worth taking notice when an already successful writers such as Rick Moody contributes to an independent Australian literary journal. . employ emerging writer:: Marina Lewycka is an emerging writer. in which the title a story was given to the author to then write. inspiring . . . sinful . sloppy . which airs on weekdays. jet black. The protagonist of the supposed novel. blameless . nasty . which with an echo of Brautigan’s The Abortion: An Historical Romance (1971). vegetal . USAGE Young writer means 'handsome.
He was was still dressed in the same clothes from the day before. yep. We were sounding smart with all the underlined. He had woken on top of. The belt around his waist dug into his hips. NARRATOR: Is that a good thing? He has wrecked everything. Quite remarkably.. His head felt like someone had mistaken it for an egg and placed it in the microwave. feeling as though it might burst in all directions—sloppy and unidentiﬁable. “No.so I’d kinda understand if you’d thought that. I almost punch him but he’s got this dumb smile on— Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 66 . DAVID EMMETT: If cities were hamburgers— NARRATOR. it’s just he’s one of those people. everything was strange. 12:30PM: Um.” I say with the remote control held tight. His retinas were furious too. He spat out the feather he was unintentionally chewing. But it was not without reason. the covers of his bed. not in his usual fetal position.. slot. and around. his face pushed into the pillow. (“Neighbours. how could I let this happen?” But he couldn’t remember much of the past twenty-four hours. this isn’t because our protagonist is hungry. We watch Neighbours. It spun around.Creative Response In Search Of Lessing’s Time an interpretation It was a shock for David Emmett.) And his stomach ached— NARRATOR: Mind you. looking at his watch. When he gets hungry. for it seemed as though all of his thoughts and actions were controlled by an invisible hand. “How embarrassing. looking annoyed: Hmmm. Neighbours!” she glares at me. at a slow but disconcerting pace.” she says to me. READER. like my sister over the six-thirty time Wait. not under. you see. DAVID EMMETT: Sydney would be a McDonald’s cheeseburger. but ﬂat on his stomach. “Yes. He lay there. capitalised letters. when he woke one morning to an odd feeling of trepidation. he thinks with his stomach. NARRATOR: Well OK. They screamed at his eyelids for allowing the sunlight in. watch him do it here.
She had stumbled He carefully pushed the strap from her dress back over her shoulder. There was only one pair of underwear with revealing holes in it and a bunny suit he had worn to a Christmas party the year before. It was broken. All he could remember of her. When she walked the heel on her left shoe kept slipping. like Garnier shampoo. Her hair smelled remembered her. so his memory was gone. Free-will. He bent down and “Where you going?” he said. You pretend you’re withdrawing thousands. who could write witty descriptions. Accurate descriptions of the mysterious girl and her hair. More beautiful than the bridge he built out of Paddlepop sticks. The author knew where it could lead. A rich brown colour. when he realised. You can’t get it out but there’s like twenty people lined up behind who’ve been waiting. One call and David Emmett would break free from this Borgesian ﬁccione. he couldn’t hear. Nothing of the last twenty-four hours. And he wondered. He sat on his front step and cursed the author of this story. And slipped off her shoes. He grew dizzy from her perfume. It was like going to the ATM and ﬁnding you have only ten dollars. And her hair. the one in the green bottle. He had been certain he needed to call somebody. satin I think. In his eyes. All over him. OK. What matters is: it would sell. That wasn’t all. was now a technicolour yellow. On the collar and in the breast pocket there was even evidence of masticated raspberries. To write it the author would need at least a novel but he only had a thousand words. it was the author. black shoes with their broken heel.. Independence. Thinking he had a phone call to make. He’d come back later. His shirt. about to knock. He still smelt like vomit. The author didn’t want him to make that call. A quiet voice She threw up on him. Most of his clothing had been taken. It may end happy. They were black.” It was a simple question but she looked at him as though it depended on too much that was yet to happen. But TECHNICOLOR™. keeping your body close to the keypad and making clicking sounds with your tongue. It would sell like a Dan Brown novel and be written in the poignant prose of a Nobel laureate. Where was she now? David Emmett imagined going in search of her. it may not. He lent closer in and— that was all he knew. the door was open. into his arms and even though they had never met. The look she gave him and the sad. Imagined his hair smelling just as amazing. a quest of immeasurable proportions. buying a bottle. everybody just agreed it was part of the narrative. No two bottles. and every one that read this story. Too quiet. received bad karma. “I’ll take you there. He was at Dorris Lessing’s front door. one who could write a novel. passed between trembling lips. Not sickly. I know. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 67 . But of course. Possible only in dreams. he could never. He imagined himself at the chemist. David Emmett went into the living room. Luckily for us – at least in this story – karma doesn’t exist. If only he understood—why this feeling in his stomach? Why the weakness in his arms? Again and again the memory of her hair. Then it dawned on him. Then a novel. Amazingly beautiful. When he returned to his house. Not banana. He decided to ﬁnd another author. But he didn’t have a call to make. somebody famous and then he would ﬁnd that girl. It trickled down his cotton shirt like a cliché down the spine. He would track down an author. harrowing descriptions. He hoped the author. Then he smelt it and She was beautiful. once white.. in his hair. unbelievable.
that the epoch of postmodernism in literature has passed. When critics and theorists suggested the world had moved on. However. What is clear. the history postmodernism in literature will be important to the development of future literature. where techniques in hip-hop and dance-punk music have seen today’s youth exposed and subconsciously appreciative at the innovations of postmodernism in literature. have grown in relevance in the digital age. one should look at the writers who shared a similar outlook in approaching literature between the years 1956–1989. writers who were able to distinguish themselves from what had been done before. The reason for this is that the origins of postmodernism and the underlying architecture. whether in digital or print formats. In the history of postmodernism in literature is a solution to fears writing must wither and die.Conclusion In conclusion. to a different level technical innovations. postmodernism continues to have an inﬂuence on writers in the 21st century. Be that as it may. They included the likes of Thomas Pynchon. writers attempted to respond. In postmodernist literature. It remains unclear whether or not they were successful sculptures of a postmodern hyperreality. In their online existence. they created a form which could not be mimicked and appropriated by ﬁlm and television. as this will not do for many. In their genius. it must come at the acceptance that neither realism or postmodernism are to blame for the decline of literature as the dominant form of entertainment. It began with openness and this allowed for writers of a new prose to emerge. Doing so will allow literature to maintain a strong position alongside television and ﬁlm. niche markets will continue to grown stronger because it is here they occupy a global space and so too should the market for post-postmodernist literature. It can only be deﬁned in the act of reading. Student Directed Inquiry – The History Of Postmodernism In Literature 68 . It is clear in forms beyond writing. This is despite the efforts of some to dismiss postmodernist literature as an isolation fashion. Many of them employed a similar use of technique and showed an interest in common themes. there is a keen desire to move beyond straightforward depiction of the world. However. Going forward the internet will complement literature. Courageous publishers will acknowledge niche markets for literature and focus on products for a number of these groups. Richard Brautigan and Vladimir Nabokov.
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