Postmodernist Fiction

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Underpinning realism is the conviction that the world can be described in an objective manner. Modernism and postmodernism lose this faith in objectivity, and they focus instead on subjective modes of narration. Modern writers disagree with realist ones the real world can be merely translated, transmitted or reflected — every act of writing is essentially creating a new world.

Modernism rejects realist conventions, such as detailed descriptions or the third-person impartial narrator.

Postmodern literature - Wikipedia

Both modernism and postmodernism recognize that the fictional world is mediated through frames particular narrative choices which are always subjective. Postmodern writers argue that every reading of a work of fiction creates a different version of the text in the minds of readers, as every interpretation is unique. This multiplicity of texts goes against the impartiality and singularity of vision that realist writers believed in.

According to realism, the fictional world exists in its entirety and is analogous to the real world. Postmodern writers object to these views for the following reasons:. As a fictional world cannot exist outside of language, only things that are described by the narrator exist in a fictional world. Yet, it is simply impossible to depict the infinite number of objects that should exist in a world that is analogous to ours.

Every act of telling involves selection, organization, and interpretation on the part of the narrator. This partiality of narration is suppressed by realism, which for postmodern writers is dishonest and potentially dangerous. From a referential point of view, what happens in fiction is literally nothing.

Modernism gradually rejects the referential function. But this creates a problem, as coherence is lost.

Modernism is a cul-de-sac — there is nowhere to go from this radical refusal of meaning. Literature was becoming a jumble of incoherent sentences that no-one could understand. Postmodernism offers a solution. It preserves the realist referential function ironically by being both self-reflexive and referential.

Postmodernism, at its heart, is characterised by paradox. Armstrong, Tim, Modernism: a cultural history Cambridge: Polity, Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites. The idea that relativity divorced science from objectivity is pure nonsense.

Einstein's model of spacetime only says that motion can affect observations. That doesn't in any way imply that observations are subjective. Rather, one can transform anyone's frame of reference to any other, and qualitative predictions can be precisely made regarding what the new reference frame will see.

In other words, there is no subjectivity, only interactions between reference frames.

Postmodernist Fiction

Therefore, scientific theories are certainly objective. In fact, here is one objective way of viewing the world, and that way is the scientific method. The clear distinction between modern and post modern period is really very much vague Other product and company names shown may be trademarks of their respective owners. HubPages and Hubbers authors may earn revenue on this page based on affiliate relationships and advertisements with partners including Amazon, Google, and others. HubPages Inc, a part of Maven Inc. As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things.

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History and National Ideology in Greek Postmodernist Fiction

Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so. Updated on May 28, Virginia Matteo more. Modernism arouse as certain responses to late modernity. Modernity A time period which started in the 17th century with the transition from feudalism to capitalism. Postmodernity The period after modernity. Comparison of Modernism and Postmodernism Modernism. Modernism and Modernity Modernism is frequently characterised as a rejection of modernity and all its consequences — urban alienation, capitalism, changing social relations, modern inventions.

Formal Characteristics of Modernism in Literature Modernism in literature is instantly recognizable. It is characterised by: Refusal of coherent meaning Rejection of realism Subjectivity Split temporalities Unstable identity Idiosyncratic language Metafiction Experimental forms Split identities Focus on interiority Unreliable narrator Modern writers give primacy to form.

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Modern Conception of Time The linear conception of time is challenged by moderns. Another typical trait of modernism is metafiction. Metafiction Narrative that draws attention to its fictional status. Postmodernity and Postmodernism Postmodernity refers to the historical period after the Second World War, although in many cases not immediately after.

Formal Characteristics of Postmodernism in Literature Ambivalent stance towards realism Split temporalities Ironic narrator Metafiction Fragmentation Multiple points of view Focus on exteriority Pastiche Irony Black humour Intertextuality Postmodern texts are usually written in clear, everyday language, even though their structure can be quite complex. Postmodern texts are also frequently intertextual. Intertextuality The relationship between various texts. Postmodernism — Challenging Hegemonic Values Postmodern writers tend to challenge hegemonic values, such as heteronormativity, imperialism, and traditional conceptions of femininity and masculinity.

Heteronormativity Promoting heterosexuality as the norm to which all members of society should conform. Critique of 19th Century Realism Both modernism and postmodernism are disillusioned with 19 th century realism. Brian McHale. We have a postmodern architecture, a postmodern dance, perhaps even a postmodern philosophy and a postmodern condition.

But do we have a postmodernist fiction? In this trenchant and lively study Brian McHale undertakes to construct a version of postmodernist fiction which encompasses forms as wide-ranging as North American metafiction, Latin American magic realism, the French New New Novel, concrete prose and science fiction.

Considering a variety of theoretical approaches including those of Ingarden, Eco, Dolezel, Pavel, and Hrushovski, McHale shows that the common denominator is postmodernist fiction's ability to thrust its own ontological status into the foreground and to raise questions about the world or worlds in which we live.

There is no critical agreement on how postmodernism diverges from modernism. The divergence is, perhaps, made of nuance and subtle distinctions. One influential argument has been advanced by critic Brian McHale. Whereas modernism has an epistemological focus what one can know about the world , postmodernism questions the very status of reality and the world.

In postmodern fiction, in other words, characters can literally inhabit more than one world—as Billy Pilgrim does by residing both on Earth and on the planet Tralfamadore. Ontology how one exists replaces epistemology in the shift from modernist to postmodernist fiction.

What is real and what is really going on are not so easy to separate in the postmodernist novel. In other words, the reader can no longer take for granted that there is a settled and solid world by which the novel can be measured. Thus, it is difficult to come to any sort of resolution in a postmodernist novel, in which, it seems, questions about reality are far more important than any knowledge the novelist might be able to convey. More traditional novelists, including Gore Vidal , deplore postmodernism , arguing that it is merely a fashionable academic game that always leads to the same predictable conclusions about the unknowability of reality.

Postmodernism, for all its impressive achievements, has not displaced conventional fiction or the desire of most novelists to seek coherence, not chaos.

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Critical Survey Of Long Fiction. New York: Maxwell Macmillan International, Docherty, Thomas, ed.

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Postmodernism: A Reader. New ed. New York: Pearson Education, Fox, Robert Elliot. New York: Greenwood Press, New York: W. Norton, McCaffery, Larry. Pittsburgh, Pa. McHale, Brian. Postmodernist Fiction.


New York: Routledge, Malpas, Simon. The Postmodern. Maltby, Paul.

Dissident Postmodernist: Barthelme, Coover, Pynchon. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Parini, Jay, ed. The Selected Essays of Gore Vidal. New York: Doubleday, Reed, Peter J.