Stages of the Clown: Perspectives on Modern Fiction from Dostoyevsky to Beckett

Stages of the Clown: Perspectives on Modern Fiction from Dostoyevsky to Beckett

Stages of the Clown: Perspectives on Modern Fiction from Dostoyevsky to Beckett

Stages of the Clown: Perspectives on Modern Fiction from Dostoyevsky to Beckett

Synopsis

In this illuminating study of the grotesque and black comedy, Mr. Pearce traces the classic clown tradition in the works of Beckett, Flannery O'Connor, Kafka, Faulkner, William Burroughs, Nabokov, Günter Grass, and other modern writers. The "stages" of the title refer to the historical development and concept of the clown from classical to modern literature. The author's radical perspective on the clown as the hero in a world of the absurd is especially important.

Excerpt

Stages of the Clown: Perspectives on Modern Fiction from Dostoyevsky to Beckett -- the main title, Stages of the Clown, catches one's interest immediately (what could this be?), and the subtitle then gives one the scope of the inquiry, a discussion of imaginative literature going as far back as Fyodor Dostoyevsky (an extremely today-oriented author) and coming up to the chief of our avant-garde, Samuel Beckett. This is a fascinatingly ambitious project, and Richard Pearce has admirably realized its potential.

Drawing from time to time upon previous commenttors, always properly credited, Mr. Pearce essentially goes his own way in this full and rich study of a gallery of modern authors, all of them highly esteemed at this time. I think that Mr. Pearce's insights about them will be widely appreciated.

Look at the twentieth-century authors he draws clown figures from: Saul Bellow, Ralph Ellison, Franz Kafka, Flannery O'Connor, William Faulkner, John Hawkes, Vladimir Nabokov, Günter Grass, and William Burroughs, as well as the previously mentioned Beckett.

In exploring the nineteenth century, Mr. Pearce discusses one other novelist besides Dostoyevsky: Charles Dickens. Dickens too is very much with us today, as we may see from the demonstrations in his favor during the centennial of his birth. Mr. Pearce doesn't choose to deal . . .

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