The Self-Apparent Word: Fiction as Language/Language as Fiction

The Self-Apparent Word: Fiction as Language/Language as Fiction

The Self-Apparent Word: Fiction as Language/Language as Fiction

The Self-Apparent Word: Fiction as Language/Language as Fiction

Synopsis

"The novel is dead" was the cry of the 1960s, and so it was as an authoritative report concerning the world; but from that death, Klinkowitz argues, arose a form of writing that celebrates the crea tive process, a narrative that is not about something but is something.

Klinkowitz first characterizes the "modern" fiction of the earlier 20th cen tury wherein the word fades into the background because the story line forms the essence of the fiction. Thus the word is "self-effacing." Postmodern fiction, on the other hand, features the word. Words in postmodern fiction are opaque, not transparent. Of necessity we notice the word and must look closely at it; thus the word becomes "self-apparent."

Excerpt

The Self-Apparent Word is the third panel in a triptych, providing the theory to accompany my literary history, Literary Disruptions (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975, revised 1780), and my cultural survey, The America 1960s (Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1980). All three books argue that there exists a definite style of innovative writing, flourishing since the mid-1960a, which challenges the most basic conventions of fiction. in my previous studies this challenge was described as a general attack on the suspension of disbelief: the new fiction would not represent the world but rather be something made and added to it. in preparing a theory to fully describe this development, I have chosen to replace the negatively phrased sense of anti-illusionism with the more positive term "self-apparency," for it is my belief that the revolution we have witnessed in American fiction is a more constructive affair. To avoid creating an obscure jargon, I've tried to limit my terminology of theory to obvious concepts generated by the styles of fiction themselves: "self-effacing" words of traditional fiction draw little attention to themselves as they work as transparent windows upon the world their stories represent, whereas "self-apparent" words are more opaque, forcing the reader to attend to the form of transmission (where the story's action now takes place).

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