Techniques of Subversion in Modern Literature: Transgression, Abjection, and the Carnivalesque

Techniques of Subversion in Modern Literature: Transgression, Abjection, and the Carnivalesque

Techniques of Subversion in Modern Literature: Transgression, Abjection, and the Carnivalesque

Techniques of Subversion in Modern Literature: Transgression, Abjection, and the Carnivalesque

Synopsis

Mario Vargas Llosa is one of the world's most respected and widely read living writers. His work is marked by technical sophistication and by its alliance with a variety of trends in modern culture. To date little criticism of his work has made use of the important developments in literary theory in the past two decades. This book does that, analyzing Vargas Llosa's place in modern and postmodern criticism.

Excerpt

There is a character in Barry Hannah short story "Love Too Long" who shares with us reminiscences of his days as a student at Bakersfield Junior College:

I'll tell you what I liked that we studied at Bakersfield. It was old James Joyce and his book The Canterbury Tales. You wouldn't have thought anybody would write "A fart that well nigh blinded Absalom" in ancient days. All those people hopping and humping at night, framming around, just like last year at Ollie's party that she and I left when they got into threesomes and Polaroids. (11)

Hannah is having his own particular brand of Southern-fried postmodernist fun here, of course, and the passage serves as an effective deflation of the pretensions of high culture. But it also suggests certain basic similarities between the time of Chaucer and our own unsettled times. Perhaps these similarities render the confusion of Hannah's character understandable; after all, Helen Cooper has recently demonstrated that there are in fact a number of parallels between the work of Joyce and that of Chaucer. But similarities between medieval poetry and the work of Joyce should surprise no one. As Shaun complains of his brother Shem the Penman, Joyce's principal representative in . . .

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