Introduction to Fiction
Introduction to Fiction ENGL 2307
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ENGL 2307 Introduction to Fiction Course Author Dr Wallis R Sanborn III Yourgmder my be di ferentfmm the nuihor ENGL 2307 features 0 3 hours credit 11 lessons each containing Introduction Lesson Objectives How to Proceed Discussion and Lesson Assignment 0 1 comprehensive final examination 1 textbook Prerequisites ENGL 1301 and ENGL 1302 All lesson assignments may be submitted via email or surface mail ENGL 2307 Published by Division of Outreach and Distance Education Texas Tech University BOX 42 191 Lubbock TX 794092191 Outreach 81 Distance Education Course Development Instructional Designer Dr Wallis R Sanborn 111 Copyright 2004 by the Board of Regents for the College of Arts and Sciences acting for and on behalf of Texas Tech University Lubbock Texas 79409 All rights reserved TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction Part 1 ENGL 2307 Introduction to Fiction The Accessible Postmodern American Novel V Introduction Part 2 Working Terms and the Defining Characteristics of the Postmodern American Novel Xiii Course Lessons Lesson One John Earth 1930 and The Floating Opera 1956 1 Lesson Two John Earth and The End of the Road 1958 9 Lesson Three Ken Kesey 1935 2001 and One Flew Over the Cuckoo s Nest 1962 17 Lesson Four Truman Capote 1924 1984 and In Cold Blood 1965 25 Lesson Five Leslie Marmon Silko 1945 and Ceremony 1 97 7 33 Lesson Six William Kennedy 1928 and Ironweed 1983 41 Lesson Seven Toni Morrison 1931 and Beloved 1987 49 Lesson Eight Tim O Brien 1946 and The Things They Carried 1990 57 Lesson Nine fnlia Alvarez 1950 and How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents 1991 65 Lesson Ten Cormac McCarthy 1933 and All the Pretty Horses 1992 71 Lesson Eleven A Step into the Postmodern Short Story 79 Final Examination Directions 89 introductionpart Introduction to Fiction The Accessible Postmodern American Novel he purpose of this course is to trace the evolution of the postmodern Overview American novel as it developed from the middle 20th century to the late 20th century Within this 40year window of time the American novel was rede ned in structure in content in philosophy and even in authorship In its first hundred years from the middle 19th century to the middle 20th century its modernist period the American novel was a text dominated by Anglo male authors who wrote tales in a linear chronological manner that is the events in the modernist novel are often written in the order in which they occur However the postmodern novel is a more inclusive text and the de ning characteristics of the postmodern American novel are somewhat different than those of the modern American novel As such authorship of the postmodern American novel is not limited to Anglo males and structure is not necessaiily a linear story narrated by a first or thirdperson narrator The postmodern American novel is a text often written by an avantgarde author out of a sense of revolt and the text often rails against the status quo Prerequisites for this course include completion of English 1301 and 1302 or similar rstyear English tests or coursework The coursework in 2307 will include reading each novel thoroughly writing a one paragraph shortanswer exercise and a short essay for each lesson writing longer essays in Lessons Five and Ten and taking a multiple choice nal exam ENGL 2307 v1 0 Introducllon Pan 1 o v Course Objectives Texas Tech University Your first objective is to enjoy the 10 novels and small number of short stories you are to read Reading should be a pleasurable emotional experience but in the context of learning reading also should be a critical experience After defining the characteristics of both the modern and postmodern American novel with the aid of Harmon and Holman s A Handbook to Literature we will discuss read and analyze 10 important postmodern American novels Upon completion of this course you will be able to classify analyze and intelligently critique the postmodern American novel gain a working vocabulary of literary terminology learn the names and personality characteristics of the major characters of each novel develop critical and analytical reading and writing skills articulate the plot and story of each of the 10 novels gain biographical information regarding the authors studied use appropriate literary terminology in written assignments articulate the historical context under which each novel was written learn why the subject matter of these novels is uniquely American TethOOk and All of the following are required Materials Textbooks Harmon William and C Hugh Holmon A Handbook to Literature 9th Edition Upper Saddle River NJ Prentice Hall 2001 Note Other editions of this text are also acceptable Ford Richard Ed The Granta Book of the American Short Story New York Granta 1998 If you prefer you may find the assigned short stories in a variety of anthologies available in libraries vi Introduction Part 1 ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education Novels Alvarez Julia How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents New York Plume 1991 Barth John The Floating Opera and The End of the Road 1956 and 1958 New York AnchorRandom House 1988 Capote Truman In Cold Blood New York Vintage 1965 Kennedy William Ironweeal New York Penguin 1983 Kesey Ken One Flew Over the Cuckoo s Nest New York Signet 1962 McCarthy Cormac All the Pretty Horses New York Vintage 1992 Morrison Toni Beloved New York Plume 1987 O Brien Tim The Things They Carried New York Broadway 1990 Silko Leslie Marmon Ceremony New York Penguin 1977 Critical readings in electronic form see below How to Access Documents on Electronic Reservequot Optional teth J J A late edition collegiate dictionary A thesaurus The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers any recent edition Or an English handbook with a chapter on current MLA citation style Or The Essentials of MLA Style A Gniale to Docnrnentation for Writers of Research Papers any recent edition You could also look at the OWL Web site at Purdue httpowlenglishpurdueeduhandoutsresearchrimlahtml for help with MLA style A handbook for your word processor software A bound or CD ROM encyclopedia ENGL 2307 V10 Introduction Part 1 vii How to Access Documents on Electronic Reserve About the Textbooks Texas Tech University 1 Begin at the Library Homepage httplibraryttueduul 2 Click CourseE Reserve under the Services heading on the left side 3 Enter your course number no spaces and your section number 998 separated by a hyphen for example eng12307 998 4 In the Fields to Search area click and select Course Number 5 Click Go 0 You should see a list of all available readings for your course Locate your desired reading and click on it 1 Click on the green Download button 00 Read the copyright agreement and click Download Your reading selection will load in PDF format If you are unable to open PDF files go to wwwadobecom and download the free Adobe Reader A Handbook to Literature is an encyclopedic reference text that is extremely valuable to literature students at all levels of proficiency All but two of the working terms and literary definitions for this course see Introduction Part 2 will come from this handbook This text is very accessible and user friendly and I use it nearly every day Also this text which we usually will refer to as Harmon and Holman or HampH is crucially important to those who want to study and gain a greater appreciation of literature Please have this handbook with you whenever you read the novels study write your answers to your lesson assignments research and write your longer essays and study for the final exam The Granta Book of the American Short Story is an excellent anthology that covers the period of 1945 to 1992 As such the anthology is a perfect companion piece for our novel survey because the American short story is a literary work without which the whole of American postmodernism cannot be studied Consequently we shall take a short foray into the postmodern American short story to see that postmodern literary techniques and philosophies can be successfully promoted through the genre of the American short story viii Introduction Part 1 ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education Note that all of the stories you are to read can also be found at local libraries in other anthologies The novels you will read in this class are some of the finest works AbOUt the Novels published in the last half century The foremost reason I have chosen these specific teth is the exceptional quality of the art Every novel you will read has outstanding artistic merit and each text is a unique individual work of art As such regardless of mode of postmodernism each novel is worthy of attention as it exists alone But of course what is art without the artist I chose these particular authors because each author in addition to being a highly skilled writer is a person of certain cultural social and critical importance As such you will see how one s place at a certain historical moment influences one s creative and social philosophy and practice Accessibility one of the words in the subtitle of this course is very important Although some postmodernist texts are not very readable the novels I chose for this course are Our postmodern texts will be fun to read even though there are bleak passages in all of the novels But I enjoy reading these texts and I hope you do as well Chronology was also a concern when I created this primary source bibliography Since this course is a chronological survey we needed texts that would fall under a certain period of time in this case the middle to late 20th century These texts conveniently enough fit perfectly into this time period and you will read each text in the order of its original date of publication beginning with Barth s The Floating Opera and The End of the Road two novels in one book In each of these texts you will be seeking the defining characteristics of literary postmodernism see Introduction Part 2 so you will read texts with structures that explicitly present postmodernism And with each text I will highlight a specific focus and the broader defining characteristics of postmodernism All but two defining characteristics will come from A Handbook to Literature and I will assign a reading list for literary terms in part 2 of the Introduction Additionally and not so important to me each of the texts you will read in this class is a critical and commercial success You can see that I chose these texts for very specific reasons quality historicity social and cultural relevance authorship timeliness and postmodernity But these novels are all great books that are fun to read ENGL 2307 v10 Introduction Part 1 ix About the Course Guide Final Examination Texas Tech University Each lesson you will complete has several sections The Overview will introduce you to the author and the text and will establish the historical era and the literary focus of the specific lesson and text The Lesson Objectives will alert you to the things to look for as you read each novel The How to Proceed section will detail the steps you need to follow to complete the lesson The Discussion section will be my lecture to you You will need to read this section at leasttwo times highlighting the important data as you would when reading a textbook or novel I will give you more detailed explanation about the author the text the cultural historical and social relevance of the texts and the postmodern elements in the texts This section is to be your guide to the novel The Lesson Assignment is your written analysis of and reaction to the novels which you will send in for me to grade Most of your assignments will consist of two parts 0 a short answer exercise that will require an answer of about one paragraph up to about 150 words to your choice of one of several theory based questions 0 a short essay up to 400 words that will be text based and argumentative Each short answer exercise and each short essay is worth 20 points making a total value of 400 points for the course which has eleven total assignments the highest ten of which will be used for the final grade In other words you will drop the lowest lesson grade In the Lesson Five and Lesson Ten assignments you will be required to write a long essay of up to 2000 words You will write these formally as word processed documents and will use Modern Language Association MLA in text and end text citation Each of these long essays is worth 200 points Your final exam will be all multiple choice questions This exam is cumulative it will cover all literary terminology and all of the novels we have read history biography and so forth The total value of the final is 200 points As is the case with all Outreach 8 Distance Education courses you must pass the exam to pass the course no matter what your grades are on the assignments x Introduction Part1 ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education The possible numerical total after dropping the lowest lesson grade is Grading 1000 points 200 total points for short answer exercises 200 for short essays 400 for long essays and 200 for the final exam Letter grades break down as follows A 900 1000 points B 800 899 points C 700 799 points D 600 699 points F less than 600 points There will be no numerical curves Wallis Sanborn PhD has taught reading writing and researching skills AbOIIt the Allthoquot at Texas Tech University for seven years He began teaching because he loves books and loves to read and he wanted to pass on his love of literature to his students He is a former Marine and he is a student of Chang Hon style Korean karate He believes that critical reading writing and thinking are recursive and he enjoys helping students become better readers writers and thinkers He currently teaches modern and postmodern American fiction creative writing composition and poetry studies at The University of Texas of the Permian Basin He is writing a book on Cormac McCarthy titled Animal Presentation in the Fiction of Cannnc McCarthy He has one son ENGL 2307 v10 Introduction Part 1 xi introductionpart Working Terms and the Defining Characteristics of the Postmodern American Novel As you begin your journey through the postmodern landscape I first must set up some parameters by which we can classify and label that which we read as postmodern As well I must gather and de ne a number of general literary terms to use through the semester on the assignments and essays Vocabulary is a critical part of any area of study because one must use the language of a discipline to demonstrate knowledge in that discipline it is very important that you be able to articulate your opinions about literature using the language of literature With this in mind the purpose of the Introduction Part 2 is to familiarize you with the language of literary study and the de ning characteristics of American literary modernism and postmodernism Probably you have heard or used some of these literary terms in previous English classes but you probably have not used all of the terms Of course by the end of the course you will be able to articulate comfortably and accurately all of the literary terminology I will introduce and you will be able to de ne American literary postmodernism readily and rapidly Unless otherwise noted all of the de nitions of the literary terms below are located in the Harmon and Holman text To look up the formal definition of a term simply look up the word alphabetically and wild there it is Please note that unlike Lessons One through Eleven this Introduction will have no assignments to submit other than the Student Information essay however you will be responsible for all of the information in this Introduction on subsequent assignments and the nal exam Overview ENGL 2307 v1 0 Introducllon Pan 2 o XIII Introduction Part 2 Objectives How to Proceed Discussion Texas Tech University After completing this introduction you should be able to state the defining characteristics of American literary postmodernism state the defining characteristics of American literary modernism articulate the definitions of the literary terms listed in this Introduction use the Harmon and Holman text as an encyclopedic reference guide Read the Overview and Objectives for this section which will provide context and direction for this part of the Introduction Read highlight and take notes on the Introduction Part 2 Discussion in this course guide Look up the literary terms in the Harmon and Holman text to better familiarize yourself with the language of literature There is no graded assignment in this Introduction but please send me a brief Student Information essay telling me about yourself and your interests Also include in your essay your reason for taking this course your deadline for completion and any special concerns you might have Review your notes briefly each day until you know the characteristics of the genre and also the definitions of literary terms with which we are to work in this course When you have finished all the tasks above you may proceed to Lesson One Let s begin our discussion with a brief examination of American literary modernism so that we may contrast the modern with the postmodern American literary modernism hereinafter referred to in this course as modernism for simplicity and the modern American novel can be dated to 1850 and the publication of Nathaniel Hawthorne s novel The Scarlet Letter This novel which portrays a woman shunned and ostracized by her own community is modernist at its very essence because it places the alienated individual against family community and more importantly society And this alienation of the individual of one who is rejected by his or her society or who consciously chooses to xiv Introduction Part 2 ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education reject society is at the heart of modernism Remember the modern era the era in which we live is different from the literary term modern American literary modernism relates to the specific period and teth discussed in this section while modern is a blanket term used in the popular culture While The Scarlet Letter was written and published at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution in the US the Industrial Revolution subsequently affects the modernist novels that follow Hawthorne s novel Mark Twain s The Adventures afTam Sawyer 1876 and The Adventures of Huckleberry Firm 1885 take the alienated individual and place him in a setting where the modern and the premodern collide Steamboats are moving up and down the Mississippi River railroads are pushing westerly and Eli Whitney s cotton ginning process is revolutionizing agriculture production and so rural 19th century America is forced to modernize willingly or not One of the results of this forced industrial economic and agricultural modernization is the American Civil War 1861 1865 the first war fought with mass produced weaponry Stephen Crane s classic novel of the Civil War The Red Badge of Courage 1895 illustrates the carnage of the modern battlefield thousands of men armed with thousands of mass produced weapons slaughter their opposites in bloody modern mayhem Crane s work is one of the first to call attention to the dehumanizing effect that technology has upon the practitioners of technology the use of technology inevitably dehumanizes its user and subsequently leads to the alienation of both the practitioner of such technology and the human object of the technology Technology becomes a replacement for the human and therefore alienates the displaced human being Crane s later novel George s Mother A Tragic Tale of the Bowery 1896 illustrates the negative effects of the modern city a city replete with hunger poverty violence and tragedy upon the individual The modern American city at the end of the 19th century in this case New York City was built upon the philosophy of satisfying the needs of the masses At the time there were mass media newspapers mass transportation the trolley and train systems and mass housing the tenement system However there was nothing to aid the alienated individual in the concrete jungle As the 20th century opens American cities are exploding in population while the individual becomes less important to American society and thus becomes further an alien within his or her own home In fact from 1900 to well into the 1940s a great group of expatriate American writers left the United States for Europe for very different and individual reasons this group includes but is not ENGL 2307 v10 Introduction Part 2 xv Texas Tech University limited to Ezra Pound T S Eliot Hilda Doolittle Gertrude Stein F Scott Fitzgerald Ernest Hemingway and Richard Wright Pound Eliot Doolittle and Stein wrote their important works up to and through World War I 1914 1918 and Eliot s poem The Waste Landquot 1922 is probably the greatest poetic statement of its day regarding the alienation of man in the modern era Fitzgerald Hemingway and Wright along with John Steinbeck and William Faulkner are the greatest of the High Modernists and they wrote and published primarily between World War I and World War II 1939 1945 What all of these modernists have in common other than being American authors is the common theme of the individual alienated against his or her own society This theme of alienation is manifest on a number of different levels As Harmon and Holman note Modem implies a historical discontinuity a sense of alienation loss and despair It rejects not only history but also the society of whose fabrication history is a record It rejects traditional values and assumptions and it rejects equally the rhetoric by which they were sanctioned and communicated It elevates the individual and the inward over the social and the outwardquot Modern What this means is that the individual in the modernist novel is alienated not only from society but also from family tradition history and other cultural anchors To be an individual in a modern society is to be largely alone With this theme of isolation in mind we need to add a set of defining characteristics with which we can define the structure of the modern American novel These structural characteristics can be set in opposition to the defining characteristics of the postmodern American novel below and should be used to differentiate between the modern and postmodern A modern teXt usually demonstrates the following 1 It is narrated by a single narrator This narrator might be a character in the teXt and therefore will use first person narration speaking as I or we Or we might have a third person narrator who is not involved in the story But what is important here is the fact that in a modern novel usually a single narrator is used through the entirety of the book and a single tale is narrated N It is most often told in a linear narrative that is the story is told as it happens or happened from beginning to middle to end Also the action in a modern novel usually occurs within a single temporal span that is that action occurs primarily or exclusively xvi Introduction Part 2 ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education within the linear narrative There are no chronological leaps back and forth through time as there are in many postmodern novels Ceremony and In Cold Blood for example leap around in time while moving forward in narration 5quot Further the protagonist see below of the modern text is very often an existential individual this means that he or she is one who encourages the individual over society and believes that it is a positive to be a nonconformist Also the existentialist believes experience precedes HampH essence man exists without or before divine intervention and as such man is alone responsible for his or her state in life tie More often than not the modern novel is told in a reality based setting not a fantasy setting that is the events happen in this world in a real life setting E The modern novel is usually all text that is the story is told from beginning to end without intrusion from other types of documents For example in addition to the narrated story many postmodernist texts contain newspaper blurbs song lyrics poems and other non narrated items this internal paratext serves to assist in the storytelling more on paratext in the literary definitions section below 9 Additionally the isolated individual in a modern novel is often a hero or heroic figure who overcomes some tragedy or of course exile or societal alienation thereby resulting in an epiphany of sorts And while the hero or heroine of the modern novel is not the perfect hero of the medieval romance he or she is nonetheless not the corrupted antagonist of the postmodern novel he or she does possess some heroic qualities 7 In regard to authorship gender race topic and sexuality the modern novel is exclusive because it tends to exclude authors of color women authors dominant characters of color and subject matter that pertains especially to specific races It is a matter of record that most authors of the modern American novel are white males As well the major literary audience from 1850 to 1945 was the white male The result is a canon of work that is created by and for the heterosexual Anglo male However post World War 11 America was a country in flux and it is here or there shall we say that we segue to our primary focus the postmodern American novel ENGL 2307 v10 Introduction Part 2 xvii Texas Tech University Life magazine and television shows like Happy Days and Leave it to Beaver have created a false impression of postwar America for during the 1940s and 1950s the United States of America was anything but an ideal place in which to live For a select few particularly the burgeoning Anglo middle class a socioeconomic class created by the GI Bill life was baseball hot dogs and apple pie the American Dream with a mortgage a marriage two point five kids and a career But for a great many Americans postwar existence was not nearly so ideal If one were African American Native American Mexican American or Asian American life was lived in an era of institutional racism and personal racism Institutional racism meant segregated schools for ethnic minorities as well as segregated hotels businesses and travel accommodations The effect of personal racism was fear and many people of color dealt with verbal and physical violence as a part of their daily lives During World War 11 people of color fought and died for the United States but when they returned from the war they found that nothing had changed in regard to their place in American society For poor whites postwar life was hardly ideal but even the poorest of whites did not have to suffer daily under racist ideology and practice However even for the wealthiest white Americans of the era there was a current of constant fear for the postwar era began the Cold War The Cold War was a non shooting war between the United States and the USSR Union of Soviet Socialist Republics commonly referred to at that time simply as Russia Despite being a war of policy and words though this war was potentially catastrophic because it depended on the principle of mutually assured destructionquot known by the acronym MAD This principle meant simply that if we started a nuclear war with the Soviets or they with us the retaliatory strikes would be so devastating that life on Earth as we know it would cease to eXist and the knowledge that this was true created a constant state of fearful standoff Separated by the so called Iron Curtainquot the line between the communist East and the democratic West America and the Soviet Union eXisted in an oppositional bipolar world it was us versus them and life on this planet was at stake After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th 1945 man had shown the unique ability to destroy life on Earth The result of the MAD global politic was an American public that lived in a constant state of stress Because the world could end at any moment the individual already alienated now had to worry about the literal end of the world The result as Harmon and Holman dryly note was that the fundamental philosophical assumptions of modernism its tendency toward historical discontinuity xviii Introduction Part 2 ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education alienation asocial individualism solipsism and eXistentialism continued to permeate contemporary writing perhaps in a heightened sensequot Postmodern So to borrow a modifier from contemporary social terminology we can consider postmodernism as Xtreme modernism We take all of the fears and anxieties of the modernist individual and add the constant threat of the end of the world and the result is the postmodernist individual That said a postmodernist individual believes that humans are powerless to change the events of fate and that the world is a place of psychological emotional and physical trauma And of course with the impending end of the world just around the corner the postmodern individual lives in a universe that has no order this lack of universal order leads to the fragmentation of art and literature One result is the postmodern American novel a novel that is structurally different than a modern American novel So let s compare the defining structural characteristics of the modern American novel with the defining structural characteristics of the postmodern American novel 1 First let s look at narrators and point of view A single narrator usually narrates the modern American novel as stated above usually exclusively in first or third person and usually one story is narrated in a single narrative method The postmodern American novel is often consciously metafictive see Working Terms below that is the narrators is aware that he or she is writing or telling a story and as such the story is often about the telling of the story or the power of the telling of a story A modernist or more traditional narrative will deemphasize or even seek to make the narrator invisible while in postmodernist fiction the fact and method of storytelling itself are not made invisible but rather are highlighted they become another stream of meaning that runs parallel to and often intertwines with the story being told What s more the postmodern novel often will have multiple points of view POV This means that the story is told or seen through the eyes and mind of more than one narrator or character This multiple POV narration allows the reader to see the action as it affects different characters in the novel N Additionally some postmodern American novels will have more than one narrative structure This means that when narrator A is narrating the action one type of literary teXt is used for example ENGL 2307 V10 Equot F Texas Tech University very long formal sentences but when narrator B is narrating a second type of literary teXt is used for example short choppy sentences Toni Morrison s masterpiece Beloved does just this The different styles of writing allow hints to the various narrators educational backgrounds emotions beliefs opinions and thoughts The use of multiple narrators and multiple narrative structures is very postmodern because this narrative fragmentation and antiform reflects the fragmentation of the postmodern existence These multiple voices tend to turn the reader s attention to the act of narration itself in addition to the events being narrated In a postmodern world the linear narrative of the modern novel no longer will suffice Consequently the postmodern narrative tends to be chronologically fractured Stories no longer are necessarily told written or narrated in a linear manner from start to finish The postmodern American novel will often have a narrative tale that leaps around in a seeming lack of cohesive order or the narrative may even be told from the end of the story to the beginning of the story Julia Alvarez s How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents does just this There is not the assumption of only one type of order in the postmodern universe or perhaps more precisely at least not the assumption of only one type of order and there often seems to be a corresponding lack of order in the postmodern narrative Further time is not a measured constant in the postmodern novel Time may shift within a chapter a scene a paragraph or even a sentence to a future or past event or era This slipperiness of temporality is analogous to the denial of universal order in a postmodern universe There is no automatic assumption of traditional logical order in the postmodern universe and so there need not be any assumption of even traditional temporal order in the postmodern novel But do not fear for while time and narrative within the postmodern novel seem to be without order the authors always have order in mind Sometimes that narrative and temporal order is hard to find but we can do so I trust Where we had eXistentialism in the modern we have nihilism in the postmodern The word nihilism is from the Latin root nihil which means nothing as such a nihilist professes to believe in nothing and this is hisher life philosophy We will see our first nihilist in John Barth s The Floating Opera the first postmodern xx Introduction Part 2 ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education E 9 1 American novel you will read In the existentialist we see a person who at least believes in daily human existence but our nihilist won t admit even to a life of experience over essence As the end of the postmodern world is impending thinks the nihilist why believe in anything at all Rather than presenting story events realistically the postmodern novel often presents events in the mode of antirealism or magic realism Antirealism is a removal from narrative reality that includes the reader a subversion of traditional literature s use of elements like plot setting etc to create a sense of real life William Kennedy s Iranweed for instance is full of scenes where both the characters and the reader are drawn into an unreal world Magic realism is the addition of magic to the daily lives of otherwise realistic characters and this magic tends to occur without explanation or justification The story does not really set itself up as some kind of fantasy with obvious traditional cues but rather the magica quot events seem to come more or less subversively right out of where the reader would expect realism In the novel the characters of the text of magic realism and likewise the reader accept that real magic occurs on a constant and daily basis While the modern novel typically is made only of the primary text the postmodern novel is created of text and internal paratext Pam means beyond or beside so paratext means text beyond or accompanying the text proper and internal paratext is paratext contained within the first and last page of the story The postmodern novel often will contain advertisements song lyrics newspaper articles or editorials poems letters and many other types of internal paratext to further the story The use of internal paratext is also a postmodernist rejection of the validity of the modern novel form the story as it was once written simply is insufficient in a postmodern world Hence the advent and sometimes overuse of internal paratext in the postmodern American novel As the modern has the hero or semi heroic figure the postmodern has the antihero the very flawed but sometimes heroic figure Randall Patrick McMurphy in Ken Kesey s classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo s Nestis the consummate antihero He is selfish boorish rude abusive violent sexist and so on but nonetheless he saves a number of sad young men You see in a postmodern ENGL 2307 V10 Introduction Part 2 xxi Texas Tech University world no one is a hero in the top to bottom traditional sense and sometimes not at all the order of heroes and villains is out of time and place and date But in a postmodern world the flawed or often the very very flawed individual can act heroically if only temporarily and situationally The novels you will read are rife with antiheroes 9 Finally in regard to authorship gender race and fictional topic the postmodern American novel is inclusive rather than exclusive After World War II people of color took to the pen for power and many who sought power succeeded for even in a racist postwar America genius was recognized And those people of color who took to the pen some of them of immense talent wrote not of white America but of their America We have Leslie Marmon Silko writing of life on the Laguna Pueblo reservation we have Toni Morrison writing of the effects of a horrific legacy of slavery on escaped slaves in a semi free 19th century middle America we have Julia Alvarez writing of life in New York for Dominican American immigrants And in case you didn t notice all of the above authors are women In the postmodern era gender barriers of authorship have been broken as well So you can see that philosophically thematically structurally and generally the postmodern American novel is very different from the modern American novel Before we move on to Lesson One I need to list here a set of literary terms from Harmon and Holman with my own adapted definitions for clarity so that you will have this compact list in one place and readily available for reference use Iwould advise that you take this list make a one page copy of it and use it as a reference device Please remember though that the inclusion of this list of terms here does not absolve you of the responsibility of looking the terms up yourself and reading Harmon and Holman s full definitions of each term see the Introduction Assignment below Well we have come to the close of the Introductionalmost After the list of terms below you will find a reading assignment as your homework for this Introduction Ihope that you enjoy this course and these postmodern masterpieces and as well Ihope that you evolve as a critical reader writer and thinker during this course xxii Introduction Part 2 ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education Allegory An extended metaphor that has meaning outside the text for example the title of the showboat in John Barth s novel The Floating Opera Allusion An indirect reference in the main text or paratext to another author work of art historical fact etc Analogy A comparison of two things or two people usually for clarity Antagonist Character set as opposite to andor in con ict with the protagonist Antihero A very flawed but often heroic figure not necessarily the protagonist Beat Generation A cultural literary artistic and philosophical movement of the 1950s that was anti establishment and countercultural the Establishment was the US federal government and its laws as well as the social economic religious and political ruling classes and the culture was the middle class Anglo hegemony Look up quothegemonyquot in your dictionary if you need to you ll see it a lot in the study of literature Chronology quotThe temporal design of a work A story told from beginning to end has a linear chronologyquot HampH 8th ed Epigraph Usually a quotation that prefaces a section of the text proper a chapter the whole novel etc an epigraph is considered external paratext even when prefacing a chapter of a work Existentialism Experience precedes essence a philosophy that favors the direct daily life experience of a person over the esoteric and nebulous possibilities of spiritual essence identified and explained through hyperrationalism Fiction Narrative writing composed primarily of created situations and characters rather than depictions of actual people and events Hero A figure who typically is nearly or completely awless in character motivation and action not necessarily the protagonist Irony Recognition that reality is different from appearance or expectation For example if you say to one friend quotThat haircut looks so good on you I but another friend knows you actually hate that style then the statement is ironic Situations can be ironic as well as when for instance a driving instructor runs into a telephone pole Meta Prefix meaning quotabovequot or beyond Metafiction quotFiction abovebeyond fiction in other words fiction consciously written regarding fiction or storytelling that deliberately highlights the act of storytelling at the same time it tells the story Metaphor An analogy literally or figuratively labeling one object or person as another for effect for example quotMy heart is a broken wheel Modernism A literary movement dating from approximately 1850 to 1945 that typically depicts the struggles of an isolated individual at odds with his or her family history society etc Working Glossary of Literary Terms ENGL 2307 V10 Introduction Part 2 xxiii Texas Tech University Motif Images objects andor situations that recur through a text and unify the work with a thread of meaning for example the repeated use of blue light in several scenes Narrator The person telling or writing the story Novel quotAny extended fictional narrative almost always in prose HampH 8th ed Paradox A statement or idea that seems superficially impossible untrue or illogical but that can express significant truth for example quotSuffering makes me tougher or quotHe s happiest when he s miserable Paratext my term quotBeyond or beside the text external paratext is the epigraph the ISBN page the title page indices appendices bibliographies and the like Internal paratext exists within the text proper of the novel and is inserted for effect for example song lyrics letters poems and so on Point of view The narrative consciousness expressed in terms of quotpersonquot as in first person or third person from whose senses andor mind the reader experiences the story Postmodernism A literary movement coinciding with the end of World War II and the birth of the atomic age 1945 present that takes modernism s isolated individual and places him or her in a highly fragmented disordered doomed universe Protagonist The primary character in a work not necessarily the hero or antihero Roman a clef A novel in which most or all of the characters are based on real people lack Kerouac s seminal Beat generation novel On the Road for example Symbol A literal object in the text that also represents something other than its literal meaning For example by including an image of a bottle of booze an author may want you to see not just the bottle itself but also what it represents perhaps a character s alcoholism and ruined life Temporality The use of time within a novel In a postmodern novel time can leap forward or backward or time can move slowly or quickly Temporality and chronology are different in that chronology refers to the order of events that occur in the action of the novel and temporality refers to the author s use of time in the novel Text For our purposes the narrative words that comprise the story or novel Textbook Specifically in this course Harmon and Holman s A Handbook to Literature We may also refer to it as your or quotthe handbook Theme A dominant or the dominant idea of the novel for example redemption is one theme in William Kennedy s Ironweed xxiv Introduction Part 2 ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education Please look up all of the preceding literary terms in Harmon and Holman ntroduction and read the definitions presented by these outstanding editors All of Assignment the terms except paratext and temporalib are found in Harmon and Holman One more thing Whenever you read a word that you don t know whether you see the word in Harmon and Holman the novels or this course guide look up that word in your dictionary Doing so will increase your vocabulary and also will aid in your comprehension of the teXt Remember the only thing you ll send in for this assignment will be your Student Information essay There is no graded assignment in this Introduction ENGL 2307 v10 Introduction Part 2 xxv one John Barth 1930 and The Floating Opera 1956 J ohn Barth s first published novel The Floating Opera is a pleasantly OveWieW accessible postmodern primer full of the structural and thematic characteristics of the postmodern American novel What s more while the story is set in 1937 the novel is a re ection of the Cold War era after World War II and the fear of doom and apocalypse haunt the text The novel is the first person retrospective narrative of Todd Andrews a perfectly friendly postmodern nihilist who metafictively addresses the audience as he writes a novel Regarding the American nihilism of the 1950s Barth writes in the foreword to the novel I imagined myself something of a nihilist but by temperament a smiling nihilist not the grim faced kind vi As such Barth gives the reader a nihilist comedyquot vii And the novel is very funny When it was published in 1956 it was nominated for the National Book Award 443 the highest critical prize in American letters However the novel fell out of favor until it was revised and republished in 1967 Since a subsequent republishing in 1988 it has been a steady study with its companion piece The End of the Road in postmodern American literature Any study of the postmodern American novel must include The Floating Opera and our study logically begins with this classic tale of the perfect American nihilist After completing this lesson you should be able to Lesson ObieCtiveS 0 define describe articulate and write about nihilism in a novel 0 apply nihilism to Barth s novel citing page numbers and textual examples per MLA format ENGL 2307 v10 Lesson One 1 How to Proceed Discussion 1 2 3 4 5 Texas Tech University apply the set of postmodern defining characteristics to the text describe Todd Andrews personality and behavioral traits explain the allegories involved in the showboat s name and the novel s title The Floating Opera identify the internal paratext in the novel and explain its purpose to the novel explain how Barth uses metafiction through his narrator s writings Read the Overview and Objectives for this lesson which will provide a starting point for this novel and lesson Read highlight and take notes on John Barth s The Floating Opera including the foreword essay by Barth v viii the Prefatory Note to the Revised Editionquot x the contents xi and the About the Author paragraph 443 Read the Discussion section for this lesson It will help you understand and expand on what you read in the text Complete the Lesson One Assignment and submit it to Outreach 8 Distance Education according to the directions given in the Policies 8 Forms Guide Review your notes briefly each day until you complete the course When you have finished all the tasks above you may proceed to Lesson Two Why is The Floating Opera such a very appropriate novel with which to begin your study of the postmodern American novel To answer this question you ll first examine the structure of the novel and then you ll examine some of the literary devices Barth uses to create effect upon the reader Finally you ll look at this fellow Todd Andrews the protagonist of the novel and our nihilist of critical study Looking at the structure of The Floating Opera notice that it s a prose narrative of 252 pages with 29 numbered and titled chapters Pay attention to the chapter titles because many of them are metaphors For 2 Lesson One ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education instance the title of the first chapter Tuning my Piano means preparation before performance a piano tuner tunes the concert piano before the concert performance Chapter One serves as narrator Todd Andrews preparation before his performance and the metaphor invites the question of whether Andrews is the piano tuner or the concert pianist Is he the tradesman or the artist You must eXplore the novel to answer these questions and we will do so later in the lesson For now though look at the structure of the teXt and notice that Barth s novel contains a first person narrator who is going to tell an autobiographical narrative from a retrospective point of view Also notice after reading the first chapter that the narrator is writing in 1954 about events that occurred during June 1937 Therefore you know that you have a narrator who is writing during the Cold War a time when doom and fear of nuclear annihilation were prevalent And after reading the novel s foreword by Barth realize that Barth wrote the novel at approximately the same time give or take a year vii So in regard to authorship date we know that Barth and his fictional narrator are drafting this document at the same point in American history the chronological point when modernism was supplanted by postmodernism In regard to the narrative structure while the novel has one narrator the narrative line is fractured and sometimes a chapter does not continue from the previous chapter Also Andrews takes the reader into many off topic educational professional and familial asides and he states flatly that that s how the book will work 7 The novel is a fragmented document created in a fragmented universe during a fragmented moment in history and is created exactly as such And as Andrews addresses the audience directly in specific regard to the creation of his book 7 we students of American literary postmodernism realize that we have a literary work that is consciously metafictive As the first chapter opens Andrews is writing a novel while discussing how to write a novel Vaildl Metafiction in definition and in action And as you read the teXt notice that Andrews never leaves his metafictive perch You are introduced to other writing projects that Andrews works on continually The first of these writing projects is Andrews legal briefs Andrews is after all a lawyer and lawyers contrary to popular depictions write a lot more than they argue court cases dramatically Andrews Inquiry on Life Death and Self composes most of the volume of his writings and he fills his hotel room with files and peach baskets of Inquiry writings Andrews also continually thinks about and writes an ongoing letter titled A Letter to My Father in a ENGL 2307 V10 Lesson One 3 Texas Tech University probably futile attempt to explain why his father committed suicide Consequently we have a metafictive maze one that is composed as a novel written by a living author John Barth in the guise of a narrator Andrews who writes for professional and personal reasons what is more within the novel the narrator addresses the audience and philosophizes on the nature construct and power of the written language Welcome to the postmodern metafictive construct the writing is on the nature of writing but is created and expressed in fictional prose In addition to the blatant use of metafiction Barth also uses a number of other literary devices to create the novel Let s examine a few of Barth s literary tools Barth uses a variety of types of internal paratext He places lists advertising flyers outlines and other paratextual items within the novel Why Well perhaps because the novel is strongly metafictive and as such it is an examination of the effect of the written language upon the reader and upon Andrews In this case paratext aids the reader and is effective in showing that the postmodern world is a highly disjointed and fragmented world in this case the fragmentation of the postmodern world is represented by the fragmented paratext Barth uses However be aware that the paratext can be created by the author to purposely distract the reader but for the most part Barth seems to use paratext here in order to aid the reader in interpretation of Andrews world Additionally literature created in a disordered highly fragmented universe is similarly disordered and fragmented Hence the short chapters fractured narrative and internal paratext because the insertion of the paratext into the text proper serves to fragment the prose of the novel but not disruptively The use of allegory is also one of Barth s literary skills and he uses allegory on multiple levels The most explicit allegory Barth uses is the title of the text The Floating Opera the abbreviated title of the showboat the Floating Opera the title of chapter 27 The Floating Opera and the title of chapter 29 The Floating Opera First before we examine some of these floating operas remember that an allegory is an extended metaphor often with meaning throughout inside and outside the text Where do we begin The title of the novel is a metaphor for the novel that Andrews creates on page 7 Andrews makes an analogy between the book he is writing and the river showboat with the same name as the novel So you can ascertain that the phrase The Floating Opera is the title both of Barth s novel and Andrews novel within the novel Andrews story is an excerpt from his life subsequently Andrews life can also be titled The Floating Opera as in will the floating opera Andrews float or sink live or die Additionally the phrase is the title of 4 Lesson One ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education Chapter 29 a chapter in which the phrase refers both to the stage performance that takes place upon the showboat and to Andrews apocalyptic plan Thus to blow up the oating opera is to blow up both the boat and Andrews Finally as the novel was written in an era of what seemed at the time might be imminent nuclear destruction the Floating Opera can refer to life on Earth Allegories can often have meaning outside the fictional teXt and this is such an example Barth is a child of the Cold War and his allegorical title regards whether or not the human race will sink or float whether or not our opera will end in tragedy or happiness Let s now return to the novel and the Floating Opera of Todd Andrews our protagonist and nihilist In the foreword to the teXt Barth writes that Todd Andrews embodies my conviction that one may smile and smile and not only take his own life but blow up the whole show or failing in the attempt shrug his shoulders and come to a conclusionthat one may go on living because there is no more justification for suicide than for going on living viii What does this quotation mean Well the first half of the quotation alludes to the difference between appearance and reality A happy smile may hide a suicidal and even murderous soul Todd Andrews seeks to blow up the Floating Opera and all those aboard including his best friend his lover and the little girl who is quite possibly his daughter oh yes and himself But he fails in his attempt quite willingly it seems The second half of the quotation refers to Andrews ambivalence Ambivalent as only a happy nihilist can be Andrews goes on about his life eventually coming to the point in time at which he writes the novel we have just read This nihilistic ambivalence is alluded to quite early in the novel when Andrews says Come along with me reader and don t fear for your weak heart I ve one myself 2 This weak heart is a metaphor for Andrews ambivalence towards life or death He is a nihilist he believes in nothing and as such neither life nor death is preferable to him Additionally weak heart is a metaphor for one who has no capacity for emotion and Andrews it seems is emotionally bankrupt He is going to blow up his closest friends and a showboat full of strangers after all But why is Andrews such a nihilist Well this is for you to answer ButI must conclude that were he a frowning brooding nihilist he would not be as entertaining a narrator Andrews is the protagonist of the teXt in that he writes the novel and he plans the destruction of the Floating Opera on many allegorical levels He is not a hero but he is not an ENGL 2307 V10 Lesson One 5 Lesson One Assignment Texas Tech University antihero either He seems to be only an ambivalent nihilist one who oats through life Part I ShortAnswer Exercise Please respond with an answer of 250 words with articulate sentences in paragraph form to one of the choices below Your sentences should be grammatically correct and your tone persuasive see HampH Rhetoric Apply the bolded literary term used in the question prompt to a specific example used in a scene in the novel then argue a sentence or two on the significance of the passage that you have cited Do not use any examples listed in the Discussion for this lesson Your answer is worth 20 points 1 Give an example of Barth s use of metafiction and explain the significance of Andrews dialogue with the reader about writing 2 Give an example of Barth s use of internal paratext and show how the fragmented paratext supports the postmodern idea of a fragmented universe 3 In your own words define allegory and then give an example of Barth s allegorical use of the phrase the oating operaquot 4 Pick a defining characteristic of postmodernism not discussed above and show how Barth uses the defining characteristic in The Floating Open the novel not the boat or the allegory Part II Short Essay Write a 350 to 400 word response to one of the topics or questions listed below You are writing a brief argumentative essay so use a persuasive tone Make your introductory paragraph brief about two sentences and be sure it contains an argumentative thesis Cite the primary text the novel in your argumentative body paragraphs using MLA citation style in other words use direct quotations from the novel to support your argumentative thesis Discuss one scene only and only interpret the scene do notwrite a synopsis Then conclude the response with a brief paragraph about two sentences of summation and re declaration of your thesis Do natsimply repeat your thesis For example if your thesis is Barth uses metafiction toquot do not repeat Barth uses metafiction 6 Lesson One ENGL 2307 V10 Outreach amp Distance Education toquot in your summation Instead at least slightly reword your thesis so that you have something like Clearly Barth uses metafiction in order toquot Do not use secondary sources For format questions refer to a composition grammar or style handbook with a chapter on MLA in teXt citation No bibliography or works cited page is needed 5 Why is Andrews a nihilist 6 Is Andrews the piano tuner or the concert pianist the tradesman or the artist 1 adultery 8 suicide ENGL 2307 v10 Lesson One 7