Hard Times as Bodie: The Allegorical Functionality in E.L. Doctorow's Welcome to Hard Times (1960)/Hard Times as Bodie: Die Allegoriese Funksionaliteit in E.L. Doctorow Se Welcome to Hard Times (1960)

By van der Merwe, Philip | Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies, August 2007 | Go to article overview

Hard Times as Bodie: The Allegorical Functionality in E.L. Doctorow's Welcome to Hard Times (1960)/Hard Times as Bodie: Die Allegoriese Funksionaliteit in E.L. Doctorow Se Welcome to Hard Times (1960)


van der Merwe, Philip, Literator: Journal of Literary Criticism, comparative linguistics and literary studies


Abstract

Hard Times as Bodie: the allegorical functionality in E.L. Doctorow's Welcome to Hard Times (1960)

"Welcome to Hard Times" (1960), E.L. Doctorow's first novel, differs from the rest of his oeuvre because it is not set in a metropolitan context like New York. References to historical events that contain an apparent "mixture" of "factual" and fictional elements that are typical of Doctorow's oeuvre are less prominent than in his other fiction, though definitely not absent. An analysis of the pioneer setting, the town Hard Times, reveals that other settings (including metropolitan ones like New York) are not merely representations of specific contexts, but portrayals with allegorical elements. Criticism of Doctorow's fiction does not sufficiently point out the rationale of Doctorow's fiction in relation to his first novel: it is not just the basic level that contains the true topicality but also the underlying causal and thematic relationships. This article sets out to explore "Welcome to Hard Times" as a case in point. The objective of this article is therefore also to show that an analysis of this novel provides a valuable basis for understanding the allegorical character of his fiction. Angus Fletcher's theoretical analysis, "Allegory: the theory of a symbolic mode" (1964), serves as a useful starting point for the analysis of the allegorical value of space and the town Hard Times as a microcosmic or symbolic society, as well as the "daemonic agents" in the town and the role of causality.

Opsomming

Hard Times as Bodie: die allegoriese funksionaliteit in E.L. Doctorow se Welcome to Hard Times (1960)

"Welcome to Hard Times" (1960), E.L. Doctorow se eerste roman, verskil van die res van sy oeuvre omdat dit nie in 'n metropolitaanse konteks, soos New York, geplaas is nie. Verwysings na historiese gebeure wat 'n skynbare "vermenging" van feitelike en fiktiewe elemente bevat, tipies van Doctorow se oeuvre, is minder prominent as in sy ander fiksie, hoewel dit beslis nie afwesig is nie. 'n Analise van die pionierruimte, die dorp Hard Times, toon dat ander ruimtes (insluitend metropolitaanse ruimtes soos New York) nie bloot representasies van spesifieke kontekste is nie, maar uitbeeldings met allegoriese elemente. Kritici wys nie genoegsaam die rasionaal van Doctorow se fiksie in die lig van sy eerste roman uit nie: dit is nie net die basiese vlak wat die ware aktualiteit bevat nie, maar ook die onderliggende kousale en tematiese verhoudings. Hierdie artikel het ten doel om "Welcome to Hard Times" as 'n pertinente geval te ondersoek. Die doelwit is daarom ook om aan te toon dat 'n ontleding van hierdie roman 'n waardevolle basis kan bied vir die verstaan van die allegoriese karakter van Doctorow se fiksie. Angus Fletcher se teoretiese analise, "Allegory: the theory of a symbolic mode" (1964), dien as 'n nuttige vertrekpunt vir die anafise van die allegoriese waarde van ruimte en die dorp Hard Times as 'n mikrokosmiese of simboliese gemeenskap, sowel as die "demoniese agente" in crie dorp en die rol van kousaliteit.

1. Introduction

E.L. Doctorow's criticism of President George W. Bush in a commencement address at Hofstra University in 2004 and his piece "The unfeeling president" published in the Easthampton Star (9 September 2004) may influence readers to view Doctorow's fiction, like his latest novel The March (2005), as "political" and of "historical" significance. As Williams (1996:65) points out, the critical reception of Doctorow focused on the political and historical concerns of an author with an inclination for experimentation. He has been called a "radical Jewish humanist" (Clayton, 1983:109) and compared to Norman Mailer and Joseph Heller, who are also "distrustful of and yet spellbound by the misuses of power" (Fowler, 1992:1, 6). The abuse of power is certainly a prominent theme throughout his oeuvre. (1)

Despite appearances, Doctorow does not actually blend fictional and (f)actual historical spaces, events and figures. …

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Hard Times as Bodie: The Allegorical Functionality in E.L. Doctorow's Welcome to Hard Times (1960)/Hard Times as Bodie: Die Allegoriese Funksionaliteit in E.L. Doctorow Se Welcome to Hard Times (1960)
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