The Language of Fiction in a World of Pain: Reading Politics as Paradox

The Language of Fiction in a World of Pain: Reading Politics as Paradox

The Language of Fiction in a World of Pain: Reading Politics as Paradox

The Language of Fiction in a World of Pain: Reading Politics as Paradox

Synopsis

This book offers new and provocative readings of Milan Kundera's Book of Laughter and Forgetting, J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians and Life and Times of Michael K, selected short fiction of Nadine Gordimer and Grace Paley, Ibuse Masuji's Black Rain, John Hawkes's Travesty, and others.

Excerpt

I began writing this book in 1987. Since that time the leadership has changed in every one of the homelands of the writers I examine: Czechoslovakia, Japan, South Africa, and the United States. Some of these changes came as a surprise; others did not. Whether or not any of these changes in leadership will result in greater justice and less suffering remains to be seen. Whether or not these changes will result in wider awareness of political paradox and less assertion of political polarity also remains to be seen. I hope with a modest, deconstructive hope. If a more romantic hope proves justified, I will be glad my circumspection was unnecessary.

I am certain of my gratitude to those who helped me with this manuscript through advice and encouragement: John Cooke, John Gery, Patricia Smith of the University of Pennsylvania Press, Austin M. Wright, and several anonymous readers. I would also like to thank my colleagues in Educators for Social Responsibility for years of provocative conversation and Mackie J. V. Blanton for the loan of his computer.

4 December 1989 New Orleans . . .

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