El jugador, fedor dostoievski

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Julian Barnes and the Postmodern Problem of Truth

Abigail G. Dalton

Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of the Prerequisite for Honors in English

April 2008

© 2008 Abigail G. Dalton

Table of Contents I: Introduction II: Chasing the Writer in Flaubert‘s Parrot III: Objective Truth in A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters IV: Memory and Obsession in Talking It Over and Love, Etc. Bibliography 1 21 45 76 93

I: Introduction ―Of course fiction is untrue, but it‘s untrue in a way that ends up telling a greater truth than any other information system – if that‘s what we like to call it – that exists. That always seems to me very straightforward, that you write fiction in order to tell the truth. People find this paradoxical,
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In Postmodern Literature, Ian Gregson provides an apt summation for the literature student:


Julian Barnes, Flaubert‘s Parrot, 168. 2

. . . for many of the American literary critics who brought the term postmodernism into circulation in the 1960s and early 1970s, post-modernism is a move away from narrative, from representation . . . the complexities of the term can be reduced this far: humanizing narratives are anti-postmodernist for these purposes, and the move is very much away from representation.3 Postmodernism, then, as this necessarily reductive definition suggests, can be taken as non-narrative and anti-representational. The traditional linear plot is often, if not always, replaced with a far more abstract form, and further, traditional literary elements such as a conclusive ending which satisfies the needs of both reader and character are often absent. Postmodernism defines itself against the narrative linearity of the realist novel. As literature defined as ―modern‖ often steps away from a conventional structure, focusing instead on stream of consciousness rather than story –Virginia Woolf is a particularly good example here – so does postmodern literature. Yet postmodernism goes one step further, insisting that readers recognize the page as a page, and the novel as an object. Barnes himself often abandons traditional narrative form, as Flaubert‘s Parrot exemplifies. It is not a story with a beginning, middle and an end, as an Austen or Eliot

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