By Adam Kelly

American Fiction in Transition is a learn of the observer-hero narrative, a hugely major yet significantly ignored style of the yank novel. throughout the lens of this transitional style, the e-book explores the Nineteen Nineties in terms of debates concerning the finish of postmodernism, and connects the last decade to different transitional sessions in US literature. Novels through 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 an immense individual in his existence who has died. yet each one tale is both in regards to the fight to inform the tale, to discover enough skill to relate the transitional caliber of the hero's lifestyles. In taking part in out this narrative fight, every one novel thereby addresses the wider challenge of ancient transition, an issue that marks the legacy of the postmodern period in American literature and tradition

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Extra info for American Fiction in Transition: Observer-Hero Narrative, the 1990s, and Postmodernism

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In a similar way, my readings of individual novels in the chapters of this study should be understood not simply as exemplifying an overarching theoretical methodology, but as acts that participate in a developing critical process. Each of my four chapters begins with a prologue highlighting a concept investigated in Derrida’s texts—secrecy, testimony, narcissism, and justice, respectively. The reading of each novel in five main parts then attempts to follow Derrida in treating literary criticism as an event of countersignature, a response to the singularity of a work that cannot be dominated by a pre-formulated set of laws.

Yet for Derrida, Jameson’s conception of “History,” and his notion of “the political unconscious,” would in fact serve as metaphysical idealisms that act to constitute the very paradox they are ostensibly trying to solve. Likewise, a process such as cognitive mapping would posit the metaphysical possibility of a transcendent outside to the system, a point from which to survey it. That this may in fact reduce the political potential of the concept 28 American Fiction in Transition is an insight not only offered by Derrida’s work; Perry Anderson also acknowledges it at a rare critical moment in his otherwise celebratory account of Jameson’s thought: “Here some deeper difficulties may be at work.

Introduction 25 Fredric Jameson is not interested simply in diagnosing the event-oriented consciousness of postmodernity; he also wants to offer a set of tools for dealing with its effects. In The Political Unconscious, his most influential work of criticism in this vein, Jameson affirms as his goal “a dialectical or totalizing, properly Marxist ideal of understanding” (10). This ideal is to be achieved using a method that identifies the forces of history as the repressed content of a literary text, figured for the critic by the text’s surface antinomies and deeper contradictions.

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American Fiction in Transition: Observer-Hero Narrative, the 1990s, and Postmodernism by Adam Kelly


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