Any reader who has ever visited Asia knows that the great bulk of Western-language fiction about Asian cultures turns on stereotypes. This book, a collection of essays, explores the problem of entering Asian societies through Western fiction, since this is the major port of entry for most school children, university students and most adults. In the thirteenth century, serious attempts were made to understand Asian literature for its own sake. Hau Kioou Choaan, a typical Chinese novel, was quite different from the wild and magical pseudo-Oriental tales. European perceptions of the Muslim world are centuries old, originating in medieval Christendom's encounter with Islam in the age of the Crusades. There is explicit and sustained criticism of medieval mores and values in Scott's novels set in the Middle Ages, and this is to be true of much English-language historical fiction of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Even mediocre novels take on momentary importance because of the pervasive power of India. The awesome, remote and inaccessible Himalayas inevitably became for Western writers an idealised setting for novels of magic, romance and high adventure, and for travellers' tales that read like fiction. Chinese fictions flourish in many guises. Most contemporary Hong Kong fiction reinforced corrupt mandarins, barbaric punishments and heathens. Of the novels about Japan published after 1945, two may serve to frame a discussion of Japanese behaviour as it could be observed (or imagined) by prisoners of war: Black Fountains and Three Bamboos.
This study explores the landscape of contemporary British fiction through detailed analysis of five authors that have emerged to critical prominence in the 21st century. The authors addressed - Ali Smith, Andrew O’Hagan, Tom McCarthy, Sarah Hall, and Jon McGregor – have all established themselves through popular and critical success, but have received significantly less attention than some of their peers. This book does not seek to thrust these authors into a putative canon of 21st century literary writing, but rather to explore through close attention to the resonances, continuities, elisions, and frictions across their works the temper of the contemporary moment as it is expressed by a group of writers. Each is devoted a chapter that analyses their creative output to-date within the frame of their stylistic and thematic development, as well as drawing comparisons across their writing and that of their peers. The intention is never to provide the kind of synoptical overview that a period-study might suggest, instead Twenty-First Century Fiction: Contemporary British Voices seeks to juxtapose critical readings within a constellation of contemporary literary concerns to examine what cultural energies and flows are emerging in the new century. In doing so, it identifies three recurrent areas of concern that might be said to infiltrate our times; these are Materiality, Connectivity, and Authenticity. In many forms and through many articulations, these issues emerge as insistent – if inchoate – questions about how current literary practice is responding to the challenge of the post-millennial world.
The gothic has, for two hundred years, played an important role in female culture; and worked early on to feminise established literary forms and has, throughout its history, strongly challenged established notions of femininity. Neo-gothicism reflects the feminine dimensions of the ongoing cultural and literary change: gothic horror addresses 'gendered' problems of everyday life. This book focuses on the narrative and ideological components that shape gothic fictions as feminine forms. It explores the classic texts of two hundred years of gothicism on three levels. The first is their contextualising of the specific cultural-historical situation that they both come from and address. The second is their narrative texture, marked by a complex subjectivity; and third, the inter-textualisation of feminine gothic writing. Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women uses gothic contextualising to tell a gothic story of growing up, and Margaret Atwood's Lady Oracle parodically incorporates gothic texture. The gothicism of Aritha van Herk's No Fixed Address relies very much on the Canadian landscape, and points to the intersection of neo-gothicism and Canadian culture. Lynne Tillman's Haunted Houses is a fictional braid of three gothic life stories of girls growing up in contemporary Brooklyn; the 'haunted houses' of the title are their bodies that are not born but becoming women. Dress, a classic feminine gothic sign for both propriety and property, is shown in the postmodern context as thematic enclosure of the body as well as formal enclosure of the story.
This book takes four stories by the Russian Romantic author Vladimir Odoevsky to illustrate ‘pathways’, developed further by subsequent writers, into modern fiction. Featured here are: the artistic (musical story), the rise of science fiction, psychic aspects of the detective story and of confession in the novel. The four chapters also examine the development of the featured categories by a wide range of subsequent writers in fiction ranging from the Romantic period up to the present century. The study works backwards from Odoevsky's stories, noting respective previous examples or traditions, before proceeding to follow the ‘pathways’ observed into later Russian, English and comparative fiction.
Swedish crime fiction became an international phenomenon in the first decade of the twenty-first century, starting with novels but then percolating through Swedish-language television serials and films into English-language BBC productions and Hollywood remakes. This book looks at the rich history of Nordic noir, examines the appeal of this particular genre, and attempt to reveal why it is distinct from the plethora of other crime fictions.
Contemporary British writing moves in a variety of directions, and the object of this study is the exploration of a particularly fertile path some recent British fiction has taken. This book reveals the extent to which the grotesque endures as a dominant artistic mode in British fiction. It presents a new way of understanding authors who have been at the forefront of British literature over the past four decades. The book examines the history of the grotesque in visual art and literature together with its historical and theoretical accounts. Criticism historically has often represented the grotesque in the work of an author as the product of the personal habits and idiosyncrasy of the writer. Devoted to the late Angela Carter, the book considers the hallucinating characters, monstrous metamorphoses and disorientating play with perspective and scale that all point to the importance of the grotesque in fiction. Looking at the work of Martin Amis in the light of the grotesque in literature, it examines his novels Money: A Suicide Note and London Fields. The presence of the grotesque, with its characteristic contradictory elements, in Ian McEwan's fiction offers a sustained engagement with issues of subject formation. The grotesque provides a theoretical model capable of investigating both the principal narrative energies and the controlled structures of Iain Banks's fiction, acknowledging his place within the Scottish and wider European literary traditions of the grotesque. The book also looks at works of Will Self and Toby Litt.
events in the news media, owe much to stereotypes of Muslim society long
embedded in the imagination, and, most conspicuously, in the imaginative
fiction of the West. Today, this tradition is expressed mainly through
cinema, television or in the lurid romances available on railway
bookstalls or supermarket stands, in which the vicious terrorist or
the corrupt oil-rich businessman are recurring Middle Eastern
French crime fiction and the Second World War explores France's preoccupation with memories of the Second World War through an examination of crime fiction, one of popular culture's most enduring literary forms. The study analyses representations of the war years in a selection of French crime novels from the late 1940s to the 2000s. All the crime novels discussed grapple with the challenges of what it means for generations past and present to live in the shadow of the war: from memories of French resistance and collaboration to Jewish persecution and the legacies of the concentration camps. The book argues that crime fiction offers novel ways for charting the two-way traffic between official discourses and popular reconstructions of such a contested conflict in French cultural memory.
The legendary poet and boxer Arthur Cravan, a fleeting figure on the periphery of early twentieth-century European avant-gardism, is frequently invoked as proto-Dada and Surrealist exemplar. Yet he remains an insubstantial phenomenon, not seen since 1918, clouded in drifting untruths. This study processes philosophical positions into a practical recovery – from nineteenth-century Nietzsche to twentieth-century Deleuze – with thoughts on subjectivity, metaphor, representation and multiplicity. From fresh readings and new approaches – of Cravan’s first published work as a manifesto of simulation; of contributors to his Paris review Maintenant as impostures for the Delaunays; of idle dissipation in New York as a Duchampian readymade; and of the conjuring of Cravan in Picabia’s elegiac film Entr’acte – The fictions of Arthur Cravan concludes with the absent poet-boxer’s eventual casting off into a Surrealist legacy, and his becoming what metaphor is: a means to represent the world.
This collection of essays seeks to question the security of our assumptions about the fin de siècle by exploring the fiction of Richard Marsh, an important but neglected professional author. Richard Bernard Heldmann (1857–1915) began his literary career as a writer of boys’ fiction, but, following a prison sentence for fraud, reinvented himself as ‘Richard Marsh’ in 1888. Marsh was a prolific and popular author of middlebrow genre fiction including Gothic, crime, humour, romance and adventure, whose bestselling Gothic novel The Beetle: A Mystery (1897) outsold Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Building on a burgeoning interest in Marsh’s writing, this collection of essays examines a broad array of Marsh’s genre fictions through the lens of cutting-edge critical theory, including print culture, New Historicism, disability studies, genre theory, New Economic Criticism, gender theory, postcolonial studies, thing theory, psychoanalysis, object relations theory and art history, producing innovative readings not only of Marsh but of the fin-de-siècle period. Marsh emerges here as a versatile contributor to the literary and journalistic culture of his time whose stories of shape-shifting monsters, daring but morally dubious heroes, lip-reading female detectives and objects that come to life helped to shape the genres of fiction with which we are familiar today. Marsh’s fictions reflect contemporary themes and anxieties while often offering unexpected, subversive and even counter-hegemonic takes on dominant narratives of gender, criminality, race and class, unsettling our perceptions of the fin de siècle.