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Figures of Belatedness. Postmodernist Fiction in English

Ed. Javier Gascueña Gahete y Paula Martín Salván

Servicio de Publicaciones de la Universidad de Córdoba



Figures of Belatedness

This book wants to offer a wide sample of critical readings on postmodernist fiction in English. We trust not so much in helping to the establishment of a literary canon, but to provide a useful tool for scholars and students of this complex cultural phenomenon and heterogeneous literary category, in the belief that in spite of its ambiguity as a term, an effort at systematization and analysis is still necessary. This book is, in this sense, a proof of the richness and diversity of postmodernist studies, and it shows the immense possibilities of research offered by that very complexity and heterogeneity attributed to Postmodernism.

The authors discussed include William Gaddis, Thomas Pynchon, Jerzy Kosinski, Tim O’Brien,A.S. Byatt, Peter Ackroyd, Angela Carter, Julian Barnes, Arundhati Roy, Yann Martel, Salman Rushdie, Toni Morrison, David Foster Wallace and Mark Leyner, among others. The organization of the essays in this volume follows a literary chronology. The chronological ordering of their works can be said to provide a journey through Postmodernism's route, which allows for unusual combinations: the New York poet James Schuyler stands between the; A.S. Byatt shares her time with Tim O'Brien, while Yann Martel's Life of Pi is contemporary to David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest or Mark Leyner's My Cousin, My Gastroenterologist.

To some extent, we would like to claim that the format of the book mirrors some of the usual qualms about the term "Postmodernism" that will be discussed in it. A question repeatedly asked by theoreticians and literary critics has been: What does the "post-" in "Postmodernism" or "postmodern" mean? Risking a truism, we would like to point to the meaning of the prefix as "what comes after..." Just what those three dots must stand for has been one of the most fertile grounds for discussion for the past thirty years. The term necessarily implies some degree of belatedness as to the position of its practitioners in the literary canon. This leads back to the title of the book: "Figures of Belatedness." Postmodernism, we have meant to signify in our title, is always a figure of belatedness respecting a previous "something."