The Novel as Performance: The Fiction of Ronald Sukenick and Raymond Federman

The Novel as Performance: The Fiction of Ronald Sukenick and Raymond Federman

The Novel as Performance: The Fiction of Ronald Sukenick and Raymond Federman

The Novel as Performance: The Fiction of Ronald Sukenick and Raymond Federman

Synopsis

This first full-length study of leading contemporary writers Ronald Sukenick and Raymond Federman defines the difference between modern and postmodern writers as the distinction between mimetic and performance art.

Larry McCaffery notes that "Kutnik's thesis is that performance art engages the artist and the audience in a process whose function is fundamentally different from the mimetic tradition… that is, rather than aiming at representing some preexisting state of affairs, performance art seeks to be an experience for its own sake, an experience which is ultimately to be recognized as continuous with reality and not merely an occasion for interpretation and analysis."

Postmodernists such as Sukenick and Federman spotlight themselves in the act of writing. Thus their creations have a life of their own, and the act of writing is so much a part of that life that the process of creation is as important as the end product. Kutnik's metaphor for this process is performance art.

Excerpt

Larry McCaffery

There is a telling but predictable irony that the first. book-length study of the fiction of Ronald Sukenick and Raymond Federman to be published in the United States -- Jerzy Kutnik fine analysis, The Novel as Performance, which follows -- has been written by a young Polish professor who teaches American history at the Uniwersytet Marii Curie-Sklodowskiej in Lublin. The "telling" aspect of the irony has to do with the seemingly ingrained conservatism which continues to mark the American critical and popular reaction to our own artistic innovators. As Ronald Sukenick recently pointed out during a panel discussion dealing with the influence of Latin American literature on North American writing (at the 1984 MLA Convention in Washington, D.C.), publishers, scholars, and even the reading public in the United States seem far more willing to accept experimentalism in foreign writers than they are in works by . . .

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