CHAPTER 2: Alienation and Counter-Culture

By Gussago, Luigi | Postmodern Studies, January 2, 2016 | Go to article overview

CHAPTER 2: Alienation and Counter-Culture


Gussago, Luigi, Postmodern Studies


Sono nato quarto di tre figli in una famiglia decorosamente malestante. Fin dove risale la mia memoria, l'omissione della mia persona fu concorde e completa.1

It may very well be that I'm not playing with a full deck.

The cards won't add up for me; the world won't start making sense.2

Foreword

Everyday life is a maze of disconnected episodes that only on rare occasions happen to fit together reasonably, whereas novels are more likely to afford a consistent surrogate for reality. With this assumption in mind, in Romanzi, leggerli, scriverli,3 Cesare De Marchi defines fiction as a "movement of words", an "analogical experience" (45), based on a first-hand perception of visual impressions through a language medium. It is not a reproduction of the real, but a parallel, utterly verbal reality. In other words, a novel looks more convincing than the so-called 'real'. This chasm between the real and the feasibility of its artistic reproduction becomes a priority in defining modern poetics. In accordance with De Marchi, British avant-garde writer B.S. Johnson expresses doubts about literature as pure creative freedom: "Life is chaotic, fluid, random; it leaves myriads of ends untied, untidily. Writers can extract a story from life only by strict, close selection, and this must mean falsification. Telling stories really is telling lies."4 Martin Amis iterates this point about the subjection of 'reality' to style and language: "I would certainly sacrifice any psychological or realistic truth for a phrase, for a paragraph that has a spin on it." He lessens the impact of "mere psychological truth" in fiction, asserting that "I would sooner let the words prompt me, rather than what I am actually representing."5 Lotman comments on the naive critic's rejection of art as non-responsive to real life: he asserts that "unpredictability in art is simultaneously a cause and a consequence of unpredictability in life",6 providing instances of how art itself can interfere with everyday existence.

In the number of typical aspects of coherence in a novel, De Marchi mentions the salience and delineation of character, the well-developed parabola of the story towards its climax, the relevance of dramatised dialogues compared with household chatter. Most novels come to a conclusion, a resolution of events which is unattained in real life, or seldom achieved. Bearing this assumption in mind, the central issue is to situate picaresque narrative among the accounts of a fictional, flawless reality on the one hand, or as faulty chronicles of events, on the other. In fact, the picaresque seems more inclined to simulate the chaos of real life than the tidiness of fiction: characters are fundamentally shallow; the story, based on different stages of a journey, has more to do with the fragments of a routine than with classical literature; dialogues are idiosyncratic like most everyday conversation. Therefore, is the picaresque 'bad' literature trying to copy experience or 'good' mimesis in Aristotelian terms? Yuri Lotman aptly describes the interplay of these two slants:

The semiotic nature of the artistic text is fundamentally dualistic: on the one hand, the text simulates reality, suggesting it has an existence independent of its author, to be a thing amongst the things of the real world. On the other, it constantly reminds us that it is someone's creation and that it means something. This double interpretation leads to a game in the semantic field: "reality-fiction".

Culture and Explosion 73

The picaresque gropes with these two attitudes, the merely existential and the literary, the incoherence of everyday events and the exactness of a created world. This stance makes the picaresque a textual outsider, a stranger within the cultural and literary system of narration, affecting both the linguistic premises of the text and the set of values the picaro represents in the story. The picaros are strangers to society because they represent a counter-culture inside the bigger sphere of the 'official' culture. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

CHAPTER 2: Alienation and Counter-Culture
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.