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The Postmodernist Novel
? Brief Introduction
Background Branches ? Novelists and works
◆Time : 1960s ◆Backgrounds
a. an unusual ferment in American social, political and artistic life. b. social concerns have become intense when information begins to explode. c. a marked change in the ideals of democracy, individualism and the credibility of the government d. the traditional realistic narrative techniques were suspected not only inadequate but falsifying in presenting life.
? Novel of absurd
a. regard the conventional novel as ‘literature of exhaustion’ b. the old ways of presentation should be updated and the new devices should be found. c. the novelists of absurd tend to burlesque traditional novelistic devices, they like to use the black humor. d. the attitude of them is not always an unmitigated ‘No’ for them uncertainty is the rule.
? Novel of metafiction
a. tell the readers that the fiction is the fiction
b. Burlesque and parody are use as means to reject c. the text of the novel is often self-subversive
? Novel of avant-gardism
a. used as a term of preference for postwar writing which has enjoyed some vanguard status. b. a clean breakaway from normal novelistic conventions. Little or no story interest ,dull and not readable.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Joseph Heller Kurt Vonnegut Ken Kesey John Barth Donald Barthelme Thomas Pynchon William Burroughs Jack Kerouac Vladimir Nabokov
Joseph Heller (1923 –1999)
Life ? The most prominent American novelist of the absurd in the postwar period. ? He is an American satirical novelist, short story writer and playwright. ? He served in the US Air Force during WWII and wrote a book about his experience in the war called Catch-22
? Catch-22 is a satirical, historical novelfirst published in 1961. The novel, set during the later stages of World War II from 1943 onwards describes the wartime experiences of Army Air Corps Captain John Yossarian. Yossarian devises multiple strategies to avoid combat missions, but the military bureaucracy is always able to find a way to make him stay.
? Through burlesque, the ruthless burlesque of the military unreason to expose the absurd . ? Another object of ridicule is the military logic inherent in the monstrous establishment. ? He use an absurd linguistic surface to reflect the depth of the absurdity of the modern world. ? The book is apparent formlessness.
Status ? The title of this work entered the English lexicon. ? This book is the first book in America to treat the absurdist theme with absurdist. ? Marked the beginning of the novel of the absurd
Kurt Vonnegut (1922 –2007)
A science fiction , satire, and black comedy writer, good at combining black humor with science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs as well as being honorary president of the American Humanist Association. He is widely considered one of the most influential American writers of the 20th century. He was named Staute Auther for New York in 2000
? Major works
Slaughterhouse-Five Play Piano Mother Night Cat's Cradle Breakfast of Champions Slapstick Jailbird Canary in a Cathouse Welcome to the Monkey House Harrison Bergeron( good example of combining black humor with science fiction)
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death (1969) is an anti-war science fiction novel about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim.
? Slaughterhouse-Five is essentially autobiogrephical. ? Told by a narrator,mostly third-person,except in the first and last chapter. ? About war and man’s inhumanity to man and about life and history. ? The absurdity of life, the central theme of the book,is illustated well in characterzation and struction.The story is basically in the mode of the stream of conciousness.
? Slaughterhouse-Five is an interesting specimen of formal experimentation. ? For one thing, it manifests evdient features of metafiction,that is to tell readers that what they are reading is the auther’s fabrication. ? Futhermore, authorial presence and authorial comments help make the narrative appear fictional.
Ken Kesey (1935 –2001)
? Life Born in Oregon, graduated from the university of Oregon. He has written a few novels and a couple of children’s books
? Works One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Sometimes a Great Nation Demon Box Sailor Song
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
? This novel is set in an Oregon asylum, and serves as a study of the institutional process and the human mind. The novel was written in 1959 and published in 1962. The novel was adapted into a 1975 film, which won five Academy Awards. ? Time Magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
? This novel is set in a mental hostipal near Portland, Oregon. The life of the inmates seems to be placid until Randle McMurphy ? The mental hospital ward is symbolic of a microcosm of the world at large. ? The world of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is an absurd one.The fog-generating machine creats a surreal impression makes real and unreal intermingle and make for uncertainty.
John Barth (1930--)
Novelist and short-story writer. Born in Maryland and became a collage writer teacher in the early 1950s.So he is very familiar with southern literary tradition and many of his works are set in academia. Known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.
? ? ? ? ? ?
Letters: A Novel Sabbatical: A Romance The Tidewater Tales The Last Voyage of Somebody the Sailor The Sot-Weed Factor Giles Goat-boy Lost in the Funhouse
The Sot-Weed Factor
? The Sot-Weed Factor has been regarded by many as his masterpiece. The book is one of Barth’s major experimental works. ? The author’s deliberate attempt at the use of parody, it parodies the 18-century novel and its various conventions in general. ? This novel contains a series of coincidence, but not for the same purpose.
? Giles Goat-boy is another of Barth’s experimental work, set in campus. It is an amalgam of genres and parodies the traditional technique of allegory. ? Lost in the Funhouse is metafiction pure and simple.
? In 1967 the credited essay named The literature of Exhaustion signed the beginning of postmodern and metafictional fiction in the US and declared the death of traditional realism. ? With the publication of his works like The SotWeed Factor and Lost in the Funhouse, Barth began to take the leader in the postmodern endeavor in America.
Donald Barthelme (1931–1989)
? Known for his playful, postmodernist style of short fiction newspaper reporter and a novelist of children literature. ? The Hithering Tithering Djinn won the National Book Award for children’s literature. ? Influence by the French symbolists, European surrealism of the 1920’s, Barthelme has been renowned for his comic and surreal vision, his portrayal of the grotesque and the fragmented ,his experimental style of montage, visual effects and graphic play and his parody of traditional forms of storytelling, all that classified him definitely as postmodernist and avant-gardist.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? City Life (1970) Sadness (1972) Amateurs (1976) Great Days (1979) Snow White (1967) The Dead Father (1975) The Dead Father (1975) Overnight to Many Distant Cities (1983) Paradise (1986) The King (1990
? The novel, Snow White, first bought him to national attention. ? This novel is both comic and erotic. ? It is full of ironies pastiches and parodies of modern fiction. ? Barthelme is poking fun at the function of the storytelling form. ? His novel, At the End of the Mechanical Age, is the same stylistic novel.
? The anti-novel feature of his works is glaringly evident in his short stories for which he is better know. ? His language and its overtones, his unique sentences, his crosscutting, his collage and avantgarde techniques and his surrealism—all these might make him a little difficult. ? There is always his pleasant humor, black-comedy kind of humor, a kind of unexpected , not always warranted funniness, which serves to dispel depression and gloom on the part of the readers.
Thomas Pynchon (1937--)
? His life is little known, born on Long land , major in English. ? In his writing career Pynchon has borrowed theories from science and technology and employed them as some informing principle in his writings These include entropy and the quantum theory. ? He has the sense of the entropic breakdown of the world and his notion of life’s uncertainty. Like V, The Crying of Lot49 Gravity’s Rainbow.
? ? ? ? ? ? V The Crying of Lot49 Gravity’s Rainbow Vineland Mason and Dixon Slow Learner: Earlier Stories
? This novel offers a horrific picture of entropy on all levels of existence. ? The scene of uncertainty is enhanced by the narrative strategies employed in the storytelling. ? The novel’s fantastic mode of narrative adds an element of perplexity.
First, the narrator does not seem to be reliable, we deal rather with a flowing consciousness. Then the text is fragmented, incoherent and often obscure. ? The novel’s language also makes for uncertainty. ? The novel is highly self-conscious
William Burroughs (1914) –1997)
? The oldest Beat writer, have a good education at Harvard. ? A junkie for 15 years, he lived most of the time intellectually and psychologically on the fringes of community, so most of his work’s themes are drugs, perverse ways of living, violence and homosexuality.
? His works reveal a mind thinking and communicating differently from accepted standards.
? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? Junkie The Exterminator The Wild Boys The Naked Lunch Cities of the Red Night Queer Mind War Place of Dead Roads
The Naked Lunch
? This novel is Burroughs’s well known novel, it appears to be all confusion and chaos. ? There can be different ways in which to evaluate the book. One is to see it as the self-indulgence of Burroughs at its worst. The other is think that the novel states the author’s view of life and society that reveals a different facet of things. ? In terms of narrative techniques, Burroughs is subversively innovative. There is little structure and montage and collage.
Jack Kerouac 1922 –1969)
? Born in French Canadian family. Went to Columbia but did finish there. Meet the member of the Beat group and lived a stormy life. ? Through his works people can get a peek at the behavior of a young generation, angry, depressed, directionless, but trying to make sense of life and of themselves and get somewhere eventually.
? ? ? ? The Subterraneans Maggie Cassady The Lonesome Traveler On the Road
? Kerouac’s experimental writing style is known as ‘spontaneous prose’, which evidently enabled him to enjoy a freedom from accepted rules and limitations in writing. On the Road is a good example of writing in this style. There is an air of a stream of consciousness in which he memory with dreams
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 –1977)
? He was a multilingual Russian-American novelist and short story writer.
? He was a highly conscious literary artist comic and witty, writing in a self-concious language and miximum indirection. ? His main works are Dar, or the Gift, Lolita, Pale Fire.
? This novel is Nabokov’s most sensational and influential work, which has been profusely commented upon since its first appearance in print. ? This novel may be the vehicle by which Nabokov puts out to air in the sun something that Americans and people in general are unaware of having in them and, if any happen to be, would try to keep in the closet. It is the impulse on which humans act at their most instinctual ? The novel helped to increase human selfawareness and the level of tolerance and compassion, and pushed back the thematic boundaries of literature in no small measure
? He was a typical postmodern and metafiction writer. He used metafictional techniques such as frame-breaking, emphasis on reading rather than the writing of fiction and text within text in his writings ? There is another metaficytional device, emphasizing writing as a process of reading
? William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac belong to ( ). A. the Confessional School B. the Beat Writers C. the Black Mountain Poets D. novelist of absurdity ? How do you understand the meaning of the letter ‘V’ in Thomas Pychon’s novel V.