Quiet in time and narrative
in The quiet contemporary American novel
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This chapter examines the discrepancy between the prize-winning success of quiet fiction and repeated critical surprise at the trend's existence. Through analysis of texts by Marilynne Robinson and Paul Harding, the chapter makes two propositions about what quiet fiction might be in its contemporary American form. First, it defines quiet as a narrative aesthetic through analysis of Robinson's Gilead and its partner novels, Home and Lila. Building on the aesthetic conditions, the author reads each text for four quiet criteria and argues that a quiet text privileges the depiction of quiet characters, locations and interior life. The second strand deals with time and temporality in Robinson's and Harding's quiet texts. A quiet novel where narrative duration is based on the movement of thought and the invocation of memory is liberated, the author argues from the linear representation of time and otherwise committed to the portrayal of subjective experience.

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