By Adam Kelly
American Fiction in Transition is a examine of the observer-hero narrative, a hugely major yet seriously missed style of the yank novel. throughout the lens of this transitional style, the ebook explores the Nineteen Nineties relating to debates concerning the finish of postmodernism, and connects the last decade to different transitional classes in US literature. Novels via 4 significant modern writers are tested: Philip Roth, Paul Auster, E. L. Doctorow and Jeffrey Eugenides. every one novel has an analogous constitution: an observer-narrator tells the tale of a huge individual in his lifestyles who has died. yet every one tale is both concerning the fight to inform the tale, to discover enough capacity to relate the transitional caliber of the hero's existence. In enjoying out this narrative fight, each one novel thereby addresses the wider challenge of historic transition, an issue that marks the legacy of the postmodern period in American literature and tradition
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Extra resources for American Fiction in Transition: Observer-Hero Narrative, the 1990s, and Postmodernism
The novels by Roth, Auster, and Eugenides are all narrated from a point in the 1990s, but the story of the hero takes place, respectively, in the 1990s, the 1980s, and the 1970s, with historical incidents from each decade framing the events of the narrative and deepening the concern with transition. The Waterworks then jumps back a century, to a set of events from the 1870s narrated retrospectively from an indeterminate point about 30 years later. Putting consideration of Doctorow’s novel to one side for now, it is also notable that the first three novels named above share an overtly tragic outline.
Published in 1970, The Open Decision is—like the work of Bruffee and Buell—a late document of the pre-“theory” age. In his focus on existential issues, Bryant accepts an unproblematic and relatively untheorized view of language and representation, focusing almost solely on story and character in the novels he examines. In “Periodizing the 60s,” Jameson explicitly names existentialism as the “ideological supplement” 32 American Fiction in Transition to high modernism, in that both operate according to the “supreme fiction” of the “meaninglessness of the contingent object-world unredeemed by the imagination” (199).
But for Derrida, this law—this principle of non-contamination, of generic purity—is inevitably put into question by what he calls “the logic of the example” (227). Every text that is birthed can only become an example of a genre by inscribing itself with a mark or gesture that does not itself belong to the genre in question; as Derrida puts it, “The trait that marks membership inevitably divides” (227). The need to mark itself, or to be marked, as part of a genre means that any text is both inside and outside that genre at the same time: “The re-mark of belonging does not belong” (230).
American Fiction in Transition: Observer-Hero Narrative, the 1990s, and Postmodernism by Adam Kelly