From Modernism to Postmodernism: Concepts and Strategies of Postmodern American Fiction (Postmodern Studies 38) (Textxet Studies in Comparative Literature)

From Modernism to Postmodernism: Concepts and Strategies of Postmodern American Fiction (Postmodern Studies 38) (Textxet Studies in Comparative Literature)

Gerhard Hoffmann

Language: English

Pages: 750

ISBN: 9042018860

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

This systemic study discusses in its historical, cultural and aesthetic context the postmodern American novel between the years of 1960 and 1980. A general overview of the various definitions of postmodernism in philosophy, cultural theory and aesthetics provides the framework for the inquiry into more specific problems, such as: the broadening of aesthetics, the relationship between aesthetics and ethics, the transformation of the artistic tradition, the interdependence between modernism and postmodernism, and the change in the aesthetics of fiction. Other topics addressed here include: situationalism, montage, the ordinary and the fantastic, the subject and the character, the imagination, comic modes, and the future of the postmodern strategies. The authors whose fiction is treated in some detail under the various aspects thematized are John Barth, Donald Barthelme, Richard Brautigan, Robert Coover, Stanley Elkin, Raymond Federman, William Gaddis, John Hawkes, Jerzy Kosinski, Thomas Pynchon, Ishmael Reed, Ronald Sukenick, and Kurt Vonnegut. Table of Contents 1. Introduction: Methods of Approach 2. Postmodern Culture, Aesthetics, and the Arts 3. Situationalism 4. Philosophy and Postmodern American Fiction: Patterns of Disjunction, Complementarity and Mutual Subversion 5. The Fantastic 6. The Space-Time Continuum 7. Character 8. The Imagination 9. The Perspectives of Negation: The Satiric, the Grotesque, the Monstrous, Farce and Their Attenuation by Play, Irony, and the Comic Mode 10. The Novel After Postmodernism Notes Primary Sources Secondary Sources Index














allow the transfer. The author is now also a character within the text and writes letters to, and receives letters from, his former and by now again present protagonists (Barth, LETTERS); or the characters in a novel within a novel are aware of and dissatisfied with the role that their author has allotted them; they discuss the situation among themselves, deceive their author about their identity out of spite, and even think of leaving the novel for a better “job”(Sorrentino, Mulligan Stew). The

cluster of faculties that make up experience, but they will concern us later in the section about character. Perception, a mere sensory rendering of the world, creates only surfaces. In order to mark the problematic relationship between subject and object, the normal processing of the perceived by the categories of understanding is cut off, so that perception stands alone with an abyss between the object and its potential significance. There are now only (futile) attempts of consciousness to

or “blank”, are special forms of difference within the situation and between situations; they serve to incorporate the unknown within the known, the inexpressible within the expressible, the possible within the actual, and thus serve force, the energetics of narrative. Situated in the pause and the blankness between the situations is the potential of both difference and synthesis. Difference produces force, synthesis form. Narrative defines its world-making not as intrinsic gestalt but as

in postmodernism in general, life in its diversity serves as the last instance of integration. Life — in an ironic reversal — is guaranteed by the work of art, a circumstance Situationalism 151 that foreshadows the conception of the world as language: the floating opera “floats willy-nilly on the tide of my vagrant prose” (FO 7). Both kinds of boats, those that represent dreams and those that depict the “world”, are fictions. It is typical of Barth that the symbolic vehicle is not a ship but

represses the freedom of the individual but, because of its complexity and instable (fictional) reality status, does not step forward to reach the status of a clearly recognizable enemy. Barth uses the “weakness” of language, the impossibility to reach through and beyond the text to whatever might be called “reality”, to dramatize, for instance in “Title” and “Anonymiad” (Lost in the Funhouse), the problems facing the artist. The writer/protagonist has both an artistic and existential problem,

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