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American Literature, 1945 to Date Mihai Mindra, Spring 2013

LEC TUR E 3 I N TRO DUC TION TO 1 9 5 0S A M E R I CAN F IC TION ( II) : PR E - PO STMODERNI STS N . M A ILE R, V. N A B O KOV, J. BA RTH , PH . ROTH

Contents
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Pre-requisites for postmodernism Norman Mailer: New Journalism & Postmodernist fictional experiments Vladimir Nabokov: criticism of American domesticity & materialism of the 1950s & postmodernist narrative experiments John Barth: existentialist concern with the Self & postmodernist narrative experiments Philip Roth: realist concern with the Self in the context of ethnic identity & modernist narrative experiments

Postmodernism Prerequisites
the U.S. emerged from World War II in excellent economic shape Continuity of the prewar and wartime growth and opportunity proved delusory particularly for female factory workers and African American veterans.

1945 - 1960s: literature could represent a common national essence: an ideal formed in the 1950s as a patriotic act to fight communism and accumulate material possessions.

Postmodernism Prerequisites
The 1950s 1960s were at the same time a period of social conflict between: conformity - individuality tradition innovation stability disruption Manifested as: Civil Rights Movement, feminism, antiwar protests, minority activism, COUNTERCULTURE (n. A culture, especially of young people, with values or lifestyles in opposition to those of the established culture).

Postmodernism Prerequisites
Artists, critics, and intellectuals of all sorts confirmed that a feeling of trauma had overcome American writers by the 1950s. They vied with each other when the bad dream from which we cannot awaken the bad dream of history began. (Leslie E. Fiedler, An End to Innocence: Essays on Culture and Politics 48. Also see: Norman Podhoretz, Doings and Undoings: the Fifities and After in American Writing 23, Eric F. Goldman, The Crucial Decade And After: America, 1945 1960 112.) Reasons: conformity, mass society, new technology. (Source: Reminiscence and Re-Creation in Contemporary American Fiction. Stacey Olster. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989, 6)

Postmodernism Prerequisites
Climate of historical and literary impasse after political disillusionment, specifically with communism, which many American writers had experienced earlier. Political disillusionment was not new in America; what was new: engagement with organized dissent was new for American writers (cf. Olster 6) Communism was a political ideology and a philosophy of history that was popularized in America as close to the specifically American philosophy that had shaped the present American ideas. In its view of history evolving toward a utopian classless society that would be preceded by an apocalyptic revolution, communism was millennialism all over again, dressed in a new set of terms, and commanding the same kind of belief and emotional commitment from its adherents. (Olster 7)

Postmodernism Prerequisites
Millennialism, also called millenarianism or chiliasm: the belief, expressed in the book of Revelation to John, the last book of the New Testament, that Christ will establish a 1,000-year reign of the saints on earth (the millennium) before the Last Judgment. More broadly defined, it is a cross-cultural concept grounded in the expectation of a time of supernatural peace and abundance on earth. (Encyclopedia Britannica,
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/382720/millennialism)

Postmodernism Prerequisites
Liberal intellectuals inherited the liberal 19th century faith in Enlightenment values like equality, reason, progress. They had looked to the promises of millennialism and later of socialism for guarantees of these values. However, after a century of millennialist doubt, the horror of a world war, and the demise of the Socialist movement after 1919, 20th century liberals were left with a longing to believe but not much to believe in. A communism promoted as twentieth-century Americanism was a suitable repository of faith. Their beliefs had been bolstered by facts :
The Bolshevik Revolution seemed to confirm the Marxist promise. The 1933 U.S.A. recognition of Soviet Russia Shifts in the Communist Party line: the 1935 Popular Front (Olster 6-7)

Postmodernism Prerequisites
The U.S.A. Popular Front In 1935 the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern announced another change of direction. It now stressed the need for a "popular front," a movement to create political coalitions of all antifascist groups. In the United States, the Communists abandoned opposition to the New Deal; they reentered the mainstream of the trade union movement and played an important part in organizing new unions for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), for the first time gaining important positions of power in the union movement. As antifascist activists they attracted the support of many nonCommunists during this period. Intellectually, the Popular Front period saw the development of a strong communist influence in intellectual and artistic life.

Postmodernism Prerequisites
The point at which writers finally realized that events in the Soviet Russia could no longer be accommodated within a humanistic tradition came to different people at different times:
the 1936-38 Moscow trials for some, the Nazi-Soviet Pact (1939) for others. (Olster 7)
It was not until the 1950s, and after the Yalta Conference (1945, Stalin and Communism revealed as power oriented), the Chinese Revolution (1949, Mao Zedong and the Civil War), and the Korean War (1950 1953), all of them felt about Communism as just another manipulative ideology leading to destruction (Olster 7) the American sociologist Daniel Bell considered that a major characteristic of the decade was the end of ideology (The End of Ideology. On the Exhaustion of Political Ideas in the Fifities, 1960) Testimony to the spirit of the age: Norman Mailers The Man Who Studied Yoga

Postmodernism
Use of the term since the late 1950s applied to a wide range of phenomena referring to a complex of anti-modernist artistic strategies which emerged in the 1950s and developed momentum in the course of the 1960s used for diametrically opposed practices in different artistic disciplines (e.g postmodernist painting and architecture which is a return to artistic narrative and representational practices).

Postmodernism
Postmodernism is: either a radicalization of the self-reflexive moment within modernism, a turning away from narrative and representation OR an explicit return to narrative and representation. both seek to transcend what they see as the selfimposed limitations of modernism subjected experience to unacceptable intellectualizations and reductions.

Postmodernism
The attempt to transcend modernism follows two main strategies: Questioning of modernisms premises and its procedures from within the realm of art. Undermining the idea of art itself: The idea of art, art-as-institution, is a typically modernist creation built upon the principle of arts self-sufficiency. But such an autonomy is a self imposed exile.

Postmodernism
One of the fundamental books which discusses and presents Postmodernism as a complex intricate cultural phenomenon -The Postmodern Turn by the American critic Ihab Hassan (Ohio State University Press, 1987) Hassan presents some characteristics of Postmodernism; e.g.: INDETERMINACY-involving ambiguities, ruptures, displacements, relativity. FRAGMENTATION-,,____,, montage, collage, parataxis (the placing of related in a series without the use of connecting words).

Postmodernism
DECANONIZATION- including derision of authority and genre, deconstruction of language power. SELF-LESS-NESS -self-effacement, self-multiplication (reflection) DEPTH-LESS-NESS THE UNPRESENTABLE - no mimesis, flat surfaces, the horrible and the and UNREPRESENTABLE abject. IRONY - the recreations of mind in search of a truth that continually eludes it see Pynchons The Crying of Lot 49 and V.

Postmodernism
HYBRIDIZATION - parody, travesty, pastiche, de-definition, deformation of traditional genres, threshold literature. CARNIVALIZATION- comic/absurd, heteroglossia (variety of languages), performance, participation in the wild disorder of life, immanence of laughter. PERFORMANCE - the text wants to be written, answered, acted out; PARTICIPATION - narcissism of the performing self, solipsistic pleasure in the making of the text. CONSTRUCTIONISM - reality is constructed, suggestion of the growing intervention of mind in nature and culture. IMMANENCE - the minds capacity to generalize itself through symbols; languages reconstitute the universe.

N. Mailer (1923 2007)


Author of more than 40 books including fiction, autobiography, and essays; Experimental, including non-fiction / New Journalism, fiction writer: his life work could be associated with all major twentieth century literary movements; Political (leftist) activist; Experimental journalist. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POWwE47aAgg

N. Mailer (1923 2007) brief Chronology*


1923 Norman Mailer bom in Long Branch, New Jersey, to Isaac Barnett Mailer and Fanny Schneider Mailer. 1927 Family moves to Brooklyn, where he attends local public schools. 1939-43 Attends Harvard University, intending to study aeronautical engineering. Wins Story magazine's annual college contest and writes first novel (unpublished). Receives a B.S. in engineering sciences. 1944-46 Elopes with Beatrice Silverman in February, 1944, and remarries her in a traditional Jewish ceremony in March. Enters the Army, and serves at Leyte, Luzon, and with the occupation forces in Japan.Discharged in May, 1946. 1948 Publishes The Naked and the Dead. Studies at the Sorbonne on the GI Bill, writes articles for the New York Post. * Harold Bloom, ed. Norman Mailer. New York: Chelsea House, 1986.

N. Mailer (1923 2007) brief Chronology


1949 Birth of daughter Susan. Speaks at Waldorf Peace Conference. Works on (rejected) screenplay in Hollywood. 1951 1952 Publishes Barbary Shore. Divorce from Beatrice Silverman.

1953 Becomes contributing editor for Dissent. Founded by a group of New York Intellectuals, which included Irving Howe, Lewis A. Coser, Henry Pachter, and Meyer Schapiro, Avowed mission: to dissent from the bleak atmosphere of conformism that pervades the political and intellectual life of the United States. democratic socialist values, critique contemporary politics and culture, and oppose both Soviet totalitarianism and McCarthyism in the U.S.

N. Mailer (1923 2007) brief Chronology


1954 Marries Adele Morales. Contract disputes over obscenity in The Deer Park; after several rejections from publishers, manuscript accepted. 1955 Publishes The Deer Park. Founds The Village Voice with Daniel Wolf and Edwin Francher.
> Greenwich Village in New York investigations of New York City politics + reporting on local and national politics, with arts, culture, music, dance, film, and theater reviews Published well-established authors alongside counterculture.

1957 1959

Birth of daughter Danielle. Publishes " The White Negro" in Dissent. Publishes Advertisements for Myself. Daughter Elizabeth Anne born.

1960 Runs for Mayor of New York on Existentialist ticket. Stabs wife Adele with penknife; she refuses to press charges. Under observation at Bellevue for a few weeks. 1962 Publishes Deaths for the Ladies (and Other Disasters). Divorce from Adele Morales. Marries Lady Jeanne Campbell, a columnist. Their daughter Kate born in August.

N. Mailer (1923 2007) Brief Chronology


1963 Publishes The Presidential Papers. Divorce from Lady Jeanne Campbell. Marries actress Beverly Bentley. 1964 Publishes An American Dream serially in Esquire. Birth of son Michael Burks. 1965 Publishes revised version of An American Dream as a book.

1966 Publishes Cannibals and Christians. Birth of son Stephen McLeod.


1967 Publishes Why Are We In Vietnam? Adapts The Deer Park for the theater, where the play receives a limited run. Makes two films. Takes part in anti-war demonstrations. Elected to the National Institute of Arts and Letters.

N. Mailer (1923 2007) Brief Chronology


1968 Publishes The Armies of the Night, which receives both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Covers both political conventions, and publishes Miami and the Siege of Chicago.

1969 Runs for Mayor of New York in Democratic primary, advocating New York City's secession from the state; comes in fourth in a field of five.
1970 Publishes Of a Fire on the Moon. Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 1971 Publishes The Prisoner of Sex. Birth of daughter Maggie Alexandra to Mailer and Carol Stevens. Separation from wife Beverly Bentley.

N. Mailer (1923 2007) brief Chronology


1972 1973 Publishes Existential Errands. Publishes Marilyn: A Biography.

1975

Publishes The Fight.

1976 Publishes Genius and Lust: A Journey Through the Major Writings of Henry Miller. 1978 Publishes A Transit to Narcissus. Wife Beverly Bentley sues for divorce. Birth of son John Buffalo to Mailer and Norris Church. 1979 Publishes The Executioner's Song, which receives a Pulitzer Prize. Divorce from Beverly Bentley.

N. Mailer (1923 2007) brief Chronology


1980 Marries and divorces Carol Stevens. Marries art teacher Norris Church. Publishes Of Women and Their Elegance. 1983 Publishes Ancient Evenings. 1985 Publishes Tough Guys Don't Dance. 1991 he publishes Harlot's Ghost. 1997 he publishes The Gospel According to the Son. 2007 he publishes The Castle in the Forest. dies of acute renal failure on November 10th, 2007.

The Man Who Studied Yoga (1952)


Fictional evidence of the series of ideological disappointments of American intelligentsia, preceding Postmodernism (Olster 7-8)
narratological techniques throughout the short story which serve to indicate the constructedness / artificiality of the text. Norman Mailer makes a traditional, omniscient narrator speak in the first person thus identifying himself with the author. Omniscience deconstructed: The short story begins: I would introduce myself if it were not useless. The name I had last night will not be the same as the name I have tonight. For the moment, then, let me say that I am thinking of Sam Slovoda. Obligatorily, I study him, Sam Slovoda (slovo word in Slavic languages), who is neither ordinary nor extraordinary, who is not young nor yet old, not tall nor short. (character marks convention eliminated)

The Man Who Studied Yoga (1952)


He is sleeping and it is fit to describe him now, for like most humans he prefers sleeping to not sleeping. He is a mild pleasant-looking man who has just turned forty. If the crown of his head reveals a little, he has nourished in compensation the vanity of a mustache. He has generally when he is awake an agreeable manner, at least with strangers; he appears friendly, tolerant, and genial. The fact is that like most of us, he is full of envy, full of spite, a gossip, a man who is pleased to find others are as unhappy as he, and yet this is the worst to be said he is a decent man. He is better than most. He would prefer to see a more equitable world, he scorns prejudice and privilege, he tries to hurt no one, he wishes to be liked. I will go even further. He has one serious virtue he is not fond of himself, he wishes he were better. He would like to free himself of envy, of the annoying necessity to talk about his friends, he would like to love people more; specifically, he would like to love his wife more, and to love his two daughters without the tormenting if nonetheless irremediable vexation that they closet his life in the dusty web of domestic responsibilities and drudging for money. How often he tells himself with contempt that he has the cruelty of a kind weak man. May I state that I do not dislike Sam Slovoda; it is just that I am disappointed in him. He has tried too many things and never with a whole heart.

The Man Who Studied Yoga (1952)


The short story revolves around three couples - the Slovodas, the Sperbers and the Rossmans, who have agreed to watch a pornographic movie together one afternoon

Before watching the short story, Alan Sperber tells the story of Cassius OSchaugnessy, who has been involved with every major movement of the
20th century: serving in WW I helping to found DADA (avant-garde) after the war becoming a Marxist a Communist an anarchist a pacifist during WW II.

The Man Who Studied Yoga (1952)


The invisible protagonist (Cassius OShaugnessy, mentioned/quoted by other characters, never directly presented) has been involved with every major movement of the 20th century: serving in WW I helping to found DADA (avant-garde) after the war becoming a Marxist a Communist an anarchist a pacifist during WW II, etc.

The Man Who Studied Yoga (1952)


Mailer tells, indirectly, the story of his own political involvements: A member of the Progressive Citizens of America organization (1946-48), an organization of dissident liberals, trade unionists, veteran Communists denouncing monopoly and racial segregation, the growing red-scare and its assaults on civil liberties.

Worked on Henry Wallaces 1948 presidential nominee campaign of the Progressive Party. Renounced both later saying that Russias system of government was as debased as that of the United States (Olster 7-8)
.

The Man Who Studied Yoga (1952)


The liberation from political/ideological narratives portending Postmodernity, while Cassius is meditating in India, hinterland away from History: My navel had begun to unscrewI turned again, and my navel unscrewed a little moreI turned and turnedafter a period I knew that with one more turn my navel would unscrew itself forever. At the edge of revelation, I took one sweet breath, and turned my navel free.

The Man Who Studied Yoga (1952)


The short story explores disillusionment with all forms of ideologies and the unhappiness brought about by family life in the 1950s. The three couples are all undergoing psychoanalysis or, if not yet started, they are using the jargon to explain their and their childrens behavior. The same technique of making an omniscient narrator speak in the first person narrative and play godlike roles ends the short story:

The Man Who Studied Yoga (1952)


However could he *Sam+ organize his novel? What form to give it? It is so complex. Too loose, thinks Sam, too scattered. Will he ever fall asleep? *+ In the middle from wakefulness to slumber, in the torpor which floats beneath blankets. I give an idea to Sam. Destroy time, and chaos may be ordered. I say to him. Destroy time and chaos may be ordered, he repeats after me, and in desperation to seek his coma, mutters back, I do not feel my nose, my nose is numb, my eyes are heavy, my eyes are heavy. So Sam enters the universe of sleep, a man who seeks to live in such a way as to avoid pain, and succeeds merely in avoiding pleasure. What a dreary compromise is life! - collapse of fictional planes - mockery of transcendental communication - all concerns with spirituality (e.g. yoga) are doomed to fail into materiality

Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977) Brief Chronology*


1899 Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (VN) born on April 10 (April 23) at 47 Bolshaia Morskaia Street, St. Petersburg. Parents are Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov (VDN [18701922]), a teacher of criminal law at the Imperial School of Jurisprudence, and Elena Ivanovna Nabokov (nee Rukavishnikov [18761939]). 1900 Brother Sergei born February 28 (March 13). 1901 VNs Rukavishnikov grandparents die. Mother inherits country estate Vyra, and VNs uncle Vasily inherits country estate Rozhdestveno. Mother travels with Vladimir and Sergei to Biarritz, France. 1902 VN and Sergei learn English from British governess, Rachel Home. Sister Olga born December 24 (January 5, 1903). * Julian W Connolly. The Cambridge Companion to Nabokov. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Vladimir Nabokov (18991977) Brief Chronology *


1919 Facing approach of Bolshevik troops, Nabokov family departs Sebastopol for Athens on Greek ship on April 2 (April 15). From Athens, Nabokov family moves on to London. VN enters TrinityCollege, Cambridge, in October; begins studying zoology and then modern languages (French and Russian). Writes poetry in Russian and in English; also writes first entomological paper (published 1920). 1920 Nabokov family moves to Berlin; VDN helps establish Russianlanguage newspaper Rul (The Rudder). VNs poem Home appears in Trinity Magazine; his poem Remembrance appears in The English Review. He also publishes Russian poems in Rul using the pen name Cantab. 1921 Publishes poems and the short story Nezhit (The Wood-Sprite) in Rul in January, using for the first time the pen name Vladimir Sirin. Finishes translation of Romain Rollands Colas Breugnon (published as Nikolka Persik in 1922).

Vladimir Nabokov (18991977) Brief Chronology *


1922 On March 28, VDN is shot and killed while trying to defend Pavel Miliukov from assassination by two monarchist gunmen. In June, VN receives BA degree and moves to Berlin.

1923 1936 VN writes several poems, plays, short stories and novels in Russian while in exile in Germany. He leaves Germany in 1936 for France,
1939 Writes The Real Life of Sebastian Knight, his first English-language novel. Travels to England looking for employment. Mother dies in Prague. Germany invades Poland on September 1. France attacks Germany on September 7. Nabokov receives and accepts offer to teach summer course in Russian literature at Stanford University.

Vladimir Nabokov (18991977) Brief Chronology *


1940 Germany begins invasion of France on May 12. Nabokov departs France soon afterwards with Vera and Dmitri aboard ocean liner Champlain. Arrives New York May 27. Vacations at summer home of Mikhail Karpovich in Vermont. Rents apartment in New York City. Meets Edmund Wilson. Writes reviews for the New Republic and the New York Sun. Works on Lepidoptera at the American Museum of Natural History. 1943 Begins teaching non-credit Russian language course at Wellesley College. Receives Guggenheim Fellowship to work on new novel, Bend Sinister. During summer, collects butterflies and works on novel in Utah.

Vladimir Nabokov (18991977) Brief Chronology *


1947 Bend Sinister published in June. Nabokov offered teaching appointment at Cornell. Collection Nine Stories, containing stories translated from Russian as well as English-language stories, appears in December.

1950 Begins working on novel entitled The Kingdom by the Sea, which later evolves into Lolita. Discouraged, he is prevented from burning his early drafts by Vera. Begins teaching major course on European fiction at Cornell.
1955 Lolita accepted for publication by Maurice Girodias, owner of Olympia Press in France. Named one of the best books of 1955 by Graham Greene in the London Sunday Times. 1956 John Gordon denounces Lolita in the London Sunday Express, sparking controversy over the novel. Nabokovs collection of Russian short stories, Vesna v Fialte i drugie rasskazy (Spring in Fialta and Other Stories), published in New York. French government bans Lolita along with several other Olympia Press titles (ban is overturned in January 1958).

Vladimir Nabokov (18991977) Brief Chronology *


1961 Works on Pale Fire, finishes novel in December. Takes rooms in Montreux Palace Hotel, Switzerland. 1962 Pale Fire published. Stanley Kubricks film version of Lolita released. 1967 Short-story collection Nabokovs Quartet appears. Revised version of Nabokovs memoir, Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited, published. Nabokovs Russian translation of Lolita published. 1969 Ada published in late spring.

1972 Transparent Things published in October.


1973 A Russian Beauty and Other Stories, a collection of stories originally written in Russian, appears in April. Strong Opinions, a collection of interviews and notes, appears in November. Nabokov awarded the National Medal for Literature in the United States.

Vladimir Nabokov (18991977) Brief Chronology*


1974 Lolita: A Screenplay published. His last complete novel, Look at the Harlequins!, appears in August. 1975 A second collection of early stories, Tyrants Destroyed and Other Stories, appears in January. 1976 Third collection of early stories, Details of a Sunset and Other Stories, published in March. Nabokov sustains concussion from a fall, hospitalized for ten days.

1977 Hospitalized in Lausanne with fever and influenza from March to May. Returns to hospital in Lausanne in June. Dies on July 2. After cremation, body is interred in Clarens cemetery.

Vladimir Nabokov (18991977)


One major characteristic of his work: his overt engagement with past and contemporary literature / intertextuality; literary allusions permeate his text and deciphering those conditions understanding of the literary text. Has been associated with modernism, however he distances himself from high modernists and has been mainly interested in the romantics, plus Yeats, out of his contemporary environment. Interest in the afterworlds & the occult. Particular postmodern sensibility : fragmentation of the self and rejection of all grand narratives a precursor to postmodernists.

Lolita (1955)
Lolita - 1955, Paris (New York, 1958). According to Brian McHale, in Postmodernist Fiction, 1987 with Nabokov the crossover from modernist to postmodernist writing ...occurs during the middle years of [his] career, specifically in the sequence Lolita, Pale Fire (1962), Ada (1969). Humbert Humbert of Lolita belongs to the tradition of unreliable modernist narrators The America in the novel is a construction of the European immigrant writer. His language is also a construct, a fictional American, never used before, or later on by another American writer. Lolita herself, as a nymphet, proves later on in the plot of the novel to have been a construct of imagination.

Lolita (1955)
Constructionism: reality constructed in the story world of a mind which generates and pervades it. Immanence is also to be found here. the increasing capacity of the mind to generalize itself through symbols, to intervene in nature, to act upon itself through its own abstractions, and to end up becoming its own environment (Lolitas/Nabokovs America). An intellectualizing tendency. The immanence of language: languages constitute the paradigmatic example of this dynamic of immanence, since they reconstitute the universeinto signs of their own making, turning nature into culture, and culture into an immanent semiotic system. (Ihab Hassan, The Postmodern Turnin Santiago Juan-Navarro, Postmodern Visions of the Americas (Self-Reflexivity, Historical Revisionism, Utopia). Cranbury NJ: Associated University Presses, 2000, 22)

Lolita (1955)
Nabokov created made-up lingos that still contain compelling and comprehensible real-world referents. The first of these will be the national rhetoric of America, a country that prides itself on its own self-invention. Nabokovs rewriting of American national myths demonstrates that heterotopias really do destabilize reality: his alternate Americas reveal the constructed nature of the real-world country and suggest how it could be rebuilt by active readers Nabokovs rewriting of American national myths demonstrates that heterotopias really do destabilize reality: his alternate Americas reveal the constructed nature of the real-world country and suggest how it could be rebuilt by active readers. (Trousdale 35)

Lolita (1955)
Heterotopia: There are also, probably in every culture, in every civilization, real places places that do exist and that are formed in the very founding of society which are something like counter-sites, a kind of effectively enacted utopia in which the real sites, all the other real sites that can be found within the culture, are simultaneously represented, contested, and inverted. Places of this kind are outside of all places, even though it may be possible to indicate their location in reality. Because these places are absolutely different from all the sites that they reflect and speak about, I shall call them, by way of contrast to utopias, heterotopias. (This fragment was selected from a text, entitled "Des Espace Autres," and published by the French journal Architecture /Mouvement/ Continuit in October, 1984. It was the basis of a lecture given by Michel Foucault in March 1967. Source: Rethinking Architecture: A Reader in Cultural Theory. Edited by Neil Leach. NYC: Routledge. 1997. pp.330-336)

Lolita (1955)
Vladimir Nabokovs novels ask readers to distinguish between objective and interpretive truths as they sift through evidence provided by the narrators. Lolitas Humbert, Pale Fires Kinbote, and Adas Van create unreliable hybrids that are implicitly contrasted with Nabokovs own unification of his cultural worlds. Humbert, Kinbote, and Vans failed hybridizations teach us the power as well as the limits of interpretive truths: their self-serving readings of their surroundings are an education in the (limited) flexibility of the physical world and imply the possibility of a transcendent synthesis of the personal and the national. Nabokovs novels use the interplay between constructed and objective truths to renegotiate the relationship between geography and culture. In Lolita, landscape participates in the narrative, first contradicting Humberts romantic claim to unite Europe and America and then providing glimpses of better hybrid worlds beyond the scope of Humberts imagination. (Trousdale 37)

Lolita (1955)
Nabokovs Americaswhich he had to invent to write Lolitashow the degree to which fiction can affect our understanding of real places and demonstrate how historical and cultural narratives are amenable to reconstruction and reinterpretation.

While the natural world does not respond to the impositions of the worldfashioning narrator, America is already a real-world locus of cultural synthesis as well as the subject of a panoply of utopian visions and national discourses. (Trousdale 38)
America becomes the site of Nabokovs syntheses in Lolita, Pale Fire, and Ada in order to establishand begin to solvea fundamental problem facing transnational writers: how to bring their physical surroundings and their imaginary worlds into dialogue. This sited union of the physical and the imaginary is both an end in itself and a step toward Nabokovs more unusual rejection of linear timeFor Nabokov, America, more than any other country, provides a meeting point for old and new worlds. (Trousdale 38)

Lolita (1955)
Self-less-ness as self-effacement and self multiplication, as reflection; motif of the double.
the pseudonym of the narrator Humbert Humbert, and its fictional evil double, Clare Quilty.

Decanonization - as a burlesque of the Romantic Doppelgnger . With the same device one finds elements of intertextuality : complex relationship between Humbert and Clare Quilty.
In modelling Quilty on the Doppelgnger of the Gothic tale, Nabokov invokes R.L.Stevensons Dr.Jekyl and Mr.Hyde, Hans Christian Andersens The Shadow and Poes William Wilson.

Lolita (1955)
Poe is everywhere in Lolita : Humberts lost love is called Annabel Lee and he often identifies himself with A.Gordon Pym. Humbert calls himself once Edgar H.Humbert. Clare Quiltys mouldering mansion, Pavor (Lat. for panic) Manor burlesques Poes falling House of Usher. In the same postmodernist spirit Nabokov has rejected a romantic or trans-cendental notion of self ; another of Humberts jocose appelations is Jean Jacques Humbert. The unified, definitive self is a joke to Nabokov. He accepts the fragmentation, and he lets Humbert define himself however he must.

Lolita (1955)
Transnational writers frequently address the problems of missed references and of zone like juxtapositions by setting their texts in overtly alternate worlds. These may be:
alternate historical (Nabokovs Ada, or Ardor *1969+, Rushdies The Ground Beneath Her Feet [2000], and some of Isak Dinesens Tales [1934]); fantastic (Maxine Hong Kingstons The Woman Warrior: Memoir of a Girlhood Among Ghosts *1975+, Rushdies Midnights Children, or Vikram Chandras Red Earth and Pouring Rain [1995]); or more subtle in their alterity, as in the mystery-novel world of Kazuo Ishiguros When We Were Orphans (2000), the fantasy-novel references of Junot Dazs The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007), or the plausible fictional country of Joseph Conrads Nostromo (1904).

However we categorize these fictional worlds, they all enter into unstable dialogues with the real world. (Trousdale 21)

Lolita (1955)
Nabokov belongs in the twentieth-century modernist-postmodernist canon of difficult and allusive English-language writers like Joyce and Pynchon and at the same time in the equally difficult and allusive community of exiled and migrant writers (to which Joyce also belongs). (Trousdale 31)

John Barth (1930Brief Chronology


born on 27 May 1930, in Cambridge, Maryland

Graduated and taught at Ivy League universities in the U.S. Author of 15 works of fiction and two of non-fiction Some of his works were included in the syllabi of American literature since the 1970s. 1956 National Book Award finalist for The Floating Opera. 1968 Nominated for the National Book Award for Lost in the Funhouse. 1973 Shared the National Book Award for Chimera with John Edward Williams and Augustus. 1974 Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. 1974 Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences

John Barth (1930-

Frequently associated with postmodernism; however his work incorporates / reflects other literary movements / genres. An Interview with John Barth. William Plumley, Chicago Review. Volume: 40. Issue: 4 Publication date: Fall 1994. Page number: 6+

About his being labelled a postmodernist: *+ when we were all being called existentialists in the decade I started publishing, in the 1950s, everybody fretted. Nobody acknowledged b eing an existentialist. Sartre said, "I'm not an existentialist... I don't know what they're talki ng about." Then we got to be called black humorists for a while. Then we were called Fabulists for a while. And more lately we have been called postmodernists, so we think we're st ill doing the same old thing, writing this sentence, then the next sentence, and then the one after that as best we know how, but the name of our ship seems to change as the jour ney continues.

John Barth (1930-

*+ I don't deny the term postmodern. I think there is a thing roughly described by a term like postmodern. *+ There is a kind of postmodernism which repudiates the great moderns. Postmodernism in tha t sense means, let's don't do anymore the kind of stuff that Joyce and Kafka, Proust and Ma nn do....That's not my kind, by the way.... *+ In the period after the second World War, sensibilities like mine that had cut their teeth on those great modernists were looking for not the next best thing after modernism, but the best next thing after modernism, shaking up bourgeois notions of linearity and c onsecutivity and ordinary, realistic description of character, ordinary psychological cause and effect.[We] favor movie techniques like "disjunction" and some admixtu re of "irreality" with conventional reality and so forth.

The Floating Opera (1956)


mainly his skepticism concerning man capacity to perceive history otherwise than as a series of fragments, aleatory bits of a puzzle he will never be able to solve History as narrative of reality becomes for the novelist story as narative of reality and the impossible mimesis in a nutshell, his presentation of the postmodern version of the novel: It always seemed a fine idea to me to build a showboat with just one big flat open deck on it, and to keep a play going continuously. The boat wouldnt be moored, but would drift up and down the river on the tide, and the audience would sit along both banks. They could catch whatever part of the plot happened to unfold as the boat floated past, and then theyd have to wait until the tide ran back again to catch another snatch of it, if they still happened to be sitting there. To fill in the gaps theyd have to use their imaginations, or ask more attentive neighbors, or hear the word passed along from upriver or downriver.(FO, P.7)

The Floating Opera (1956)


The narrator is actually interested in the meaning of the history of his own fathers death and his relationship with this father Human history, life can only be perceived, honestly as fragmentation, as described in the above presentation of the show on the moving ship and fiction, to be honest and truthful should only try to make the message faced and understood. self conscious fiction, that is metafiction, where a selfconscious first person narrrator, Tom Andrews tells about how you cant tell a story when you dont know who you are.

Postmodernism Prerequisites
METAFICTION -- defined by Patricia Waugh (in Metafiction. The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction, Routledge, 1984, p.2): a term given to fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artefact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality. In providing a critique of their own methods of construction, such writings not only examine the fundamental structures of narrative fiction, they also explore the possible fictionality of the world outside the literary fictional text. John Barths The Floating Opera, V. Nabokovs Pale Fire.

The Floating Opera (1956)


self-less-ness, the unpresentable and unrepresentable. the structure of the novel, in the spirit of an existentialist version of postmodern reality, imitates unrepresentability : 1st chapter in 1954 (age 54) 2nd chap. Todds plan for suicide 3rd chap. an interrupted explanation 4th chap. back to 1937

The Floating Opera (1956)


the book is an inquiry into Todds life:
existential reverberations, intertextuality as Kiekegaard and Camus are somehow alluded to, and Sterne in point of technique. skeptical inquiry suggesting postmodern epistemological pessimism also an inquiry into the sense of narrative, the life of the novel, an attempt at avoiding the counterfeit classical mimesis.

although undergirding his study with verifiable information, punctuating his memoirs with dates, documents, notes and outlines of twenty years past, Todd recognizes the limited aid these tools can afford in reconstructing the past

The Floating Opera (1956)


He understands that in order to derive any significance from his fathers past he must make a leap from factual examination to speculative causation.

He is fully aware that causation is never more than an inference; and any inference involves at some point the leap from what we see to what we cant see (p.214) Todd remains attuned to the subjective element behind any biographical study.

Bellow and Barth: Existentialism


Seize the Day and The Floating Opera : both published in 1956 In both existentialist issues raised by first person narrator (also variably 3rd person narrator in SD).
Tommy Wilhelm: in his middle forties (Norton II, 1985, p. 1903) Todd Andrews: 37 (New York: Anchor Books, 1988, p.9)

Time unit: one day (existentially decisive)

Location: both protagonists live in hotels at the time of the great existential day. TW : Hotel Gloriana, New York. TA: Dorset Hotel, Cambridge the seat of Dorchester County, Eastern Shore of Maryland.
Time: SD: 1950s (returned from WW II, mention of the Cold War?); FO: 1937.

Bellow and Barth: Existentialism


Existentialist issue:
TW: personal drama tightly connected to father and past. Made the Bellowian wrong major choice of building his life on responses to other teaching selves: Dr. Adlers, his former wifes, Dr. Tamkins (whose philosophy of seize the day, however, takes Tommy to the right direction of simply reacting spontaneously to life). TA: Discovers his whole life had been built on abstract stances. Also determined and obsessed by father (suicide) in direct relationship with personal existential choice and life (see his dedication to his Inquiry) [p.16]

Major difference: TWs final choice is humanistic (becoming aware of the Other); TAS skepticism and death oriented thought makes him Postmodernist/antihumanist.
Bellow: a humanist existentialist Barth: a rationalist existentialist.

Similar existentialist issue (taking masks on and off): Ralph Ellisons Invisible Man (1952).

Life-Story(1968)
- published in Lost in the Funhouse: Fiction for Print, Tape, Live Voice (1968) - collapse of life and fiction into one another through the confusion over referentiality - self-reflexivity, metafiction chief techniques - reflects contemporary concern with postmodern theories of the Self (E. Goffman and his emphasis on the constructedness of everyday life) mixed with psychoanalytic interpretations which favoured the definition of the self as governed / determined by fantasies / stories / complexes stored in the sub/un conscious.

Life-Story(1968)
The beginning of the short story: *+ He being by vocation an author of novels and stories it was perhaps inevitable that one afternoon the possibility would occur to the writer of these lines that his own life might be a fiction, in which he was leading or an accessory character. He happened at the time [9:00 a.m., June 20, 1966; Barths note+ to be in his study attempting to draft the opening pages of a new short story - metafiction in two forms: open references to writing the story + references to other literary texts / authors that inform the text of the short story (Samuel Beckett, Jorje Borges, etc.) - A short story about writing a short story, with several beginnings drafted and theories upon the role of fiction and on life being cognate with fiction

Philip Roth (1933 -) Brief Chronology*


1933 N.J. Born March 19 to Herman Roth and Bess Finkel Roth in Newark, 1951-54 After one year at Rutgers University, Newark, attends Bucknell University, from which he receives a B.A. in English, magna cum laude, and is elected to Phi Beta Kappa. 1955-57 Does graduate work at the University of Chicago, from which he receives an M.A. in 1955. While there, publishes a short story, "The Contest for Aaron Gold," which is selected to appear in The Best American Short Stories of 1956. Also during this time, enlists in the army, but is discharged because of a back injury. 1959 Goodbye, Columbus, for which he receives a National Book Award, and the Jewish Book Council's Daroff Award. Continues to publish short stories, which are well-received. *Harold Bloom, Philip Roth. New York: Chelsea House, 1986.

Philip Roth (1933 - ) Brief Chronology*


- has published over 27 works of fiction & received several awards and prizes: - Twice the National Book Award (1960, 1995), the National Book Critics Circle Award (1987, 1991), and the PEN/Faulkner Award (1993, 2000). - a recipient of the National Medal of Arts (1970), the Pulitzer Prize (1997), and Frances Medici Foreign Book Prize (2000)

Philip Roth (1933 - )


- his books engage in various modes (realist / modernist / experimentally postmodernist) with American history its effect on individuals, including multiculturalism and growing concern with ethnic identity

- Roth stresses individual lifes contingency on history , taken to comprise a multiplicity of non-coalescent histories
- early fictional texts, including the short stories published in Goodbye Columbus, represent an original blend of Jamesian/Flaubertian realism and comedy / satire.

- at the same time, his novels indirectly reflect his contemporaries engagement with their literary predecessors, through the form of diluted intertextuality. E.g.:

Philip Roth (1933 - )


references to James Portrait of a Lady in the opening pages of his Letting Go Lewiss Main Street permeates Roths When She Was Good Freudian interpretations infuse Portnoys Complaint Kafkas The Metamorphosis, Gogols The Nose, and Tolstoys The Death of Ivan Ilych - intertexts for Roths The Breast, etc.

Roth also experimented with metafiction (Roths My Life as a Man and The Counterlife), science fiction (The Plot against America) and autobiophraphy qua fiction (Operation Shylock) a variety of concerns and forms. Yet, what transpires throughout is his engagement with the literary as a form of individual and historical knowledge, which sets him closer to Vonnegut, Updike and Bellow rather than Barth & Pynchon

Defender of the Faith (1959)


short story included in the collection Goodbye, Columbus (1959) Explores ethnic identity issues from the perspective of Nathan Marx, a recently discharged and decorated Sergeant from the WW II front in Germany boldly confronts Jewish stereotypes and engages with non-favorable portraits of Jews (e.g trainee Grossbart), which often put him at odds with the Jewish audiences in the U.S.

First-person narrative with its traditional modernist limitations (we only have one perspective over the events recounted and thus the reader is limited to that in making out the events of the story) which focuses on 1940s American social life and history.

Defender of the Faith (1959)


The beginning of the story reads: In May 1945, only a few weeks after the fighting had ended in Europe, I was rotated back to the States, where I spent the remainder of the war with a training company at Camp Crowder, Missouri. - Nathan Marx, the narrator, engages with three trainees Grossbart, Fishbein, and Halpern, all Jewish, who on account of their Jewishness manage to obtain a few advantages for themselves in the camp;

- when he discovers that based on the information he has revealed to Grossbart the latter had obtained his transfer to a New Jersey base instead of the Pacific, Nathan intervenes to send him to the Pacific together with the other two Jewish trainees.

Defender of the Faith (1959)


- last scene in the short story he is accused of being an anti-Semite by Grossbart but he does not relent; - one of the explanations Nathan Marx gives for Grossbarts behavior is that the Jews were taught to lie in order to survive by the oppressive mainstream. - the end of the short story reads: I stood outside the orderly room and I heard Grossbart weeping behind me. Over in the barracks, in the lighted windows, I could see the boys in their T-shirts sitting on their bunks talking about their orders, as theyd been doing for the past two days. With a kind of quiet nervousness, they polished shoes, shined belt buckles, squared away underwear, trying as best as they could to accept their fate. Behind me, Grossbart swallowed hard, accepting his. And then, resisting with all my will an impulse to turn and seek pardon for my vindictiveness, I accepted my own. Nathan Marx becomes the defender of the faith while paradoxically sending one of his peoples to the front.