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Les fictions du réel dans le monde anglo-américain de 1960 à 1980

 | 
Jean-Paul Regis
, 
Maryvonne Menget
, 
Marc Chenetier

History as Postmodern (Im)possibility

Theo D'haen

Note de l’auteur

I would like to thank Dr. C.C. Barfoot of the University of Leyden for his comments upon an earlier version of this article.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1984.
  • 2 Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1956.

1Alan Thiher, in Words in Reflection: Modern Language Theory and Postmodern Fiction1, convincingly shows how over the course of the twentieth century increasingly man has come to regard himself as a linguistic creature. In their early work Wittgenstein, in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, and Heidegger, in Sein und Zeit, still look for a firm or authentic relationship between world and word, between names and things. In their later work they come to see the world not as reflected in, or mirrored by, language but as constituted by language. In linguistics proper this same thesis is defended by Benjamin Lee Whorf in the various papers collected in Language, Thought, and Reality2.

  • 3 Speculation and opinions as to the starting date of Postmodernism continue to proliferate. On other (...)

2Albeit via a different route, Thiher sees the work of de Saussure and Derrida as leading to conclusions similar to those to be drawn from the work of Wittgenstein and Heidegger. He sees Derrida taking off from de Saussure's theories about the arbitrariness of the sign as positing, via the concept of "différance", the impossibility of language to function representationally. In a world constituted by language, then, words can only refer to other words; the world to us can only be "texte". Words can only refer to other words, texts to other texts. In this article I will concentrate on the consequences this late twentieth century view of man's linguisticity has on the way Postmodern fiction deals with what has traditionally been regarded as the report on the real par excellence: history3.

  • 4 Metahistory, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973. Tropics, Baltimore & London: Johns Ho (...)
  • 5 Obviously, some "Realistic" novels, e.g. by Scott or Jane Austen, more overtly claim a historical b (...)

3From the outset it should be clear that, as Hayden White has argued in his Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe and in some of the essays from Tropics of Discourse: Essays in Cultural Criticism4, the paradigmatically "realist" novel is closely linked to the classical historical narrative. In fact, the two explanations that adhere to the term "realism" in literature, viz. 1. historical Realism (capital R, and referring to fiction written during a particular nineteenth-century period) and 2. works purporting to report on "reality", here find their common ground. Both definitions assume the use of identical techniques: a plot that develops along the lines of chronology, continuity, logic and causality; characters that are singular and continuous; and an omniscient and reliable narrative voice. R/realist novels are, so to speak, as if historical narratives. Obviously, such close identification is all the easier if such fictions are historical to boot, or at any rate purport to report on events past, be they of a communal or personal nature. Examples that come most readily to mind are various novels by Thackeray, Trollope, and George Eliot5.

4After Realism, the novel's relationship to historical narrative, and perforce to history, becomes more problematic. The fictional protagonist of Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! may be Thomas Sutpen, but few readers, I believe, would deny that its real protagonist is history, specifically history of the Southern United States. The figure of Sutpen is merely a convenient focal point in which various views of the American South coalesce: the demonic or demiurgic, as voiced by Rosa Coldfield; the mythical-historical, as voiced by Mr Compson; the oral-historical, as voiced by Quentin; and the history as story version voiced by Shreve. In its multifocal narrative Faulkner's novel is a typically Modernist text. R/realist historical novels, in contrast, habitually rely upon a unifocal narrative. Or, to put it another way, whereas Realism, via its omniscient and reliable narrative voice, situates history somewhere "out there", in the objective flow of time and events, Modernism locates it in the consciousness of the individual character, expressing and distinguishing itself via its own narrative voice.

  • 6 See Wolfgang ISER, The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Uni (...)
  • 7 Condition, Paris: Minuit, 1979. Ihab HASSAN & Sally HASSAN (eds), Innovation/Renovation: New Perspe (...)
  • 8 See Douwe W. FOKKEMA & Elrud EBSCH, Het Modernisme in de Europese Letterkunde, Amsterdam: De Arbeid (...)

5Due to, and concomitant to, its subjectivization of the historical perspective Modernist fiction also loosens the straight historical narrative's plot structure. Abrupt time shifts can occur, as in the case of Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, and narrative continuity, logic, and causality are much more tenuous than in R/realist specimens of the genre. However, if in the novels of Faulkner, or of his co-Modernists, there appear Iserian "blanks"6, these can always be filled in by appealing to what Jean-François Lyotard, in his La condition postmoderne, has termed "métarécits" and which in English, in Hassan and Hassan's translation, have become known as "metanarratives"7. In Faulkner's case, as in that of various other Modernists, the metanarrative of Southern history is still most relevant here. However, it is complemented and filtered by the metanarrative of psychology, the science that in its rise and triumph is most closely contemporary with Modernism. It is the reliance on this metanarrative that not only explains the move towards subjectivization, but also the continuity of character so characteristic of Modernist texts. In other words, and perhaps paradoxically, while Faulkner's novels, in dealing with times and events past, break up the conventions of the historical narrative, they still rely upon the notion that there is such a thing as a past truth to be known through language, however hypothetically8. Or, put more generally: in Modernism, even if explicitly presented as an as if narrative, history still provides an outside, extralinguistic scaffolding, even if only as "coathanger" for the individual character to hang his personal "history" upon.

6The situation with Postmodernism seems to be radically different. Alan Thiher describes how, via the already mentioned theories of Wittgenstein, Heidegger, de Saussure, and Derrida, the very idea of a knowable, "narratable", history has been invalidated for us:

Their critiques of the metaphysics of essence have by and large destroyed the intellectual foundations upon which traditional narrative history can be built, especially to the extent that this narration has almost always been the tale of the unfolding of some essence, some ultimate real, guided by a providential telos. Without essentialist foundations the question remains open as to whether history can be more than an arbitrary chronicle (even if defined statistically); or, more interesting to us, whether history is a form of intertextuality having a status little different from that of fiction (p. 195).

  • 9 Tony TANNER, "What is the Case?" in his City of Words: American Fiction 1950-1970, London: Jonathan (...)

7In other words, like all supposedly "referential" realities, in Postmodern thinking history is a mere function of language, and not its prerequisite condition. To adapt the famous Wittgenstein dictum both Tony Tanner and Thomas H. Schaub fall back upon to label the work of John Barth and Thomas Pynchon; "history is all that is the case" or, to phrase that even more particularly in a postmodern fashion: "history is all that it is said to be"9. The postmodern emphasis on language as shaping rather than reflecting "reality" implies that whatever is officially deemed or labelled as such cannot lay claim to any intrinsically or essentially privileged status, be it epistemological or ontological. Official "history" becomes only one interpretation of "the facts", and not necessarily a more truthful one than other, rival, versions. Rather than a logical or necessary relation between historical facts, this official "history", in Thiher's words, now becomes a mere "absurd chronicle of contingent events", and "the annals of the incongruous" (p. 194). Identical facts allow for an endless variety of interpretations. This is a point well made by John Barth in Letters, a novel in which he re-writes the entire history of the United States, on the very basis of those dates, events, etc., that are also used to buttress official accounts of American history. In his version, then, American history becomes an entirely speculative "story", indeed merely a question of "letters"!

  • 10 Julian BARNES, Flaubert's Parrot, London: Jonathan Cape, 1984, p. 90.
  • 11 Ihab HASSAN, The Right Promethean Fire: Imagination, Science, and Cultural Change, Urbana, Ill.: Un (...)

8However, Postmodernism has not only gone one better than Modernism by radically suspending all belief in history as communal metanarrative. If Julian Barnes's narrator from Flaubert's Parrot can complain that "we can study files for decades, but every so often we are tempted to throw up our hands and declare that history is merely another literary genre: the past is autobiographical fiction pretending to be a parliamentary report"10, we even have to add that this autobiographical fiction, moreover, changes with the particular situation in which the narrator or character in question finds himself, since Postmodernism has also lost faith in the metanarrative of psychology, and therefore in the continuity of a stable identity. Thus, no longer can a Postmodern character or narrator anchor his or her "identity" in a meaningful communal or personal past. For Hassan, taking his cue from Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, in Postmodernism the individual, whether he be a real person or a fictional character, is an "‹ empty place › where many selves come to mingle and depart"11. And Thiher sees the major literary works of Postmodernism as "exacerbating the suspicion that character and self may be only functions of language", mere aspects or rules of grammar that we have hypothesized into metaphysical entities (p. 133).

9In Postmodern fictions, the Postmodern loss of faith in all forms of "history", be they communal or personal, takes the form of problematizing the narrative conventions traditionally linked to them, while at the same time raising "history" to a problem both thematically and metafictionally.

  • 12 Ihab HASSAN, Paracriticisms: Seven Speculations of the Times, Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois (...)

10This problematisation of conventions can take various forms. A first and obvious possibility is to do away with the continuity of historical narrative. Faced with the resulting discontinuities, the reader finds himself in a position similar to that of the Postmodern character, which also experiences its world as fragmentary and disjointed12. As Postmodern novels are often narrated by characters that retrospectively try to bring some order to their own past by writing down their "history", this experience is frequently - and metafictionally - expressed as a form of frustration, as witness the narrators of Coover's The Public Burning and John Banville's Birchwood:

  • 13 Robert COOVER, The Public Burning, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977, p. 420.
  • 14 John BANVILLE, Birchwood, London: Panther/Granada, 1984 (1973), p. 174.

Was there a clue in the sunshine? No, there were no clues, no clues. On the short walk through the park to Union Station 1 thought there's something peculiar about Uncle Sam. He's our Superchief in the Age of Flux. And yet here he is, worrying about something beyond it all - call it consistency, the game plan, the script, what you will... he's still hungering after some kind of shape to things. I thought. Or else he's putting me on, not telling me everything.13
I began to write, as a means of finding them again, and thought that at last I had discovered a form which would contain and order all my losses. I was wrong. There is no form, no order, only echoes and coincidences, sleight of hand, dark laughter, I accept it.
14

11As these quotations indicate, the problem of the incoherence and discontinuity of personal history also extends, a fortiori, to communal history. The work of Gaddis, Heller, Coover, Barth, Pynchon, and numerous other - especially American - Postmodernists provides answers thematically along two opposite lines. Either all that happens in these authors' fictions is based on sheer coincidence, or everything is the result of manipulation, be it a plot in which the protagonist is ensnared, or a delusion the protagonist inflicts upon him or herself. These, precisely, are the three possibilities Pynchon raises in The Crying of Lot 49. In this short novel Oedipa Maas, a Californian housewife, takes it upon herself to act as the executrix of the will of her former lover, Pierce Inverarity. All sorts of unexpected, and mysterious, events and happenings lead her to ask herself whether everything she experiences is part of a monstrous and incredibly complex posthumous "practical joke" by Pierce, or whether she has become involved in some gigantic historical conspiracy, an alternative world order dressing itself against, but which is infinitely more powerful than, the apparent order. Or is everything just a figment of her imagination? In that case nothing is connected to anything else, and Oedipa is imposing some kind of arbitrary order, that is no less real to her, upon things via "creative paranoia". A reading of Pynchon's entire work strongly suggests the latter possibility, and thereby brings us round again to the question of linguisticity, in the guise of story-making, as the Postmodern "condition humaine".

12In V. and Gravity's Rainbow Pynchon elaborates upon Oedipa's dilemma. In fact, the conspiracy or - more ominously or more innocently, depending upon one's point of view - the "practical joke" do not necessarily limit themselves to Oedipa's individual experiences. Phrased metaphysically it is God that becomes the main conspirator, or the practical joker. Unless here too everything depends upon coincidence, and Nietzsche's claim that "God is dead" has to be acknowledged. In the twentieth century this dilemma found its most poignant expression in physics' famous question as to whether "God plays dice", a question to which Einstein was the most celebrated nay-sayer. Or perhaps all we habitually see as God's work - our cosmos, its history and future (in the guise of predestination, a very relevant concept in the framework of Pynchon's fiction) - is merely a figment of the human imagination? Perhaps He is merely a function of individual or collective "creative paranoia". Then God is a linguistic creation, and truly "in the beginning was the word"? Or perhaps the entire creation is merely a dream of God? Maybe it all is just His linguistic creation - once again, but with a "différance" - "in the beginning was the word"? Did not John Fowles, in talking of The French Lieutenant's Woman, refer to the novelist's labour as the "Godgame"? And does not John Barth, in The Sot-Weed Factor and Letters, force a Pynchonean kind of creative paranoia upon his readers as the only possible explanation for the incredible concatenation of coincidences ruling these novels?

13Postmodern fiction often does not stop at breaking up its story line into discontinuous fragments, it also tends to generically and historically diversify these fragments. Robert Cover's The Public Burning, for instance, incorporates a number of theatrical "scenes" in which "Nixon" (the novel's protagonist) relives the trial and execution of the Rosenbergs. Discursive third-person chapters, communicating the novel's period flavour, alternate with subjective first-person "Nixon" chapters. Next, "intermezzi" in various genres incorporate fragments from a number of authentic and official period documents. All this makes The Public Burning into some sort of cross between a non-fiction novel and the historical novel told from a personal, but involved, point of view, almost a partial "autobiography", to revert to Julian Barnes's term. Generically similarly eclectic is John Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman, in which essayistic passages, excerpts from official contemporary reports, and verbatim quotations from scientific treatises on the social and economic position of women in nineteenth century England intrude upon the fictional narrative. Or one may take Julian Barnes's Flaubert's Parrot, which combines a detective-like search for "Flaubert" with a kind of biography of, and a critical essay on, the same writer.

  • 15 Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1981.

14As Philip Stevick argues in Alternative Pleasures: Postrealist Fiction and the Tradition, it is quite common in Postmodernism for some of these generically non-fictional fragments to take the form of pseudo-documents or, as he call them, "mock-fact fictions"15. More often than not, these purport to be historical in nature. In any case, whether mock-fact or not, the Postmodern mix of conventionally "real" and fictional discourses greatly contributes toward erasing traditional boundaries between fact and fiction, living and writing, history and story.

  • 16 Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981.

15If Postmodern fiction is generically eclectic, likewise it is so historically. Fowles borrows the language and conventions of the sixteenth-century epistolary novel for part of A Maggot. Barth does something similar with the seventeenth-century picaresque for The Sot-Weed Factor. As Alan Wilde argues in Horizons of Assent: Modernism, Postmodernism and the Ironic Imagination, Postmodernism is our age's cultural equivalent to the shopping mall: all historical forms and genres of literature are, owing or thanks to our virtually unlimited technical possibilities of reproduction, equally recoverable16.

  • 17 Charles JENCKS, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, London: Academy Editions, 1981; and ed. P (...)

16This immediate accessibility, however, also entails an utter levelling. It is a critical commonplace that particular uses of certain techniques, certain themes, motifs and genres reflect particular world views, or - more bluntly - ideologies. In my opening paragraphs I implicitly argued as much for the close relation between R/realist fiction and classical historical narrative. Now, for Postmodernism this link can only be said to be there negatively: the eclectic use Postmodernism makes of historical elements implicitly denies any such link. Robbed of their ideological content, however, these elements become merely and purely ornamental. Seen from this angle the Postmodern work of art, as Charles Jencks has argued for Postmodern architecture and Wendy Steiner for Postmodern fiction, becomes a collage of ornamental elements circling a void17. In fact, "ornaments around a void" is as workable a definition of Postmodernism as I can think of, because it happens to fit the "worldview" or "ideology" of Postmodernism, viz. that each worldview or ideology is linguistic by definition, and therefore nonexistent "in essence", or "an sich". For Postmodernism "essence" as such is a function of the contingent position a linguistic subject happens to be in at a specific moment (Thiher p. 195). This is how Robert Coover's Uncle Sam, from The Public Burning, puts it:

Hell, all courtroom testimony about the fact is ipso facto and teetotaciously a baldface lie, ain't that so? Moonshine! Chicanery! The ole gum game! Like history itself - all more or less bunk, as Henry Ford liked to say, as saintly and wise a pup as this nation's seen since the Gold Rush - the fatal slantindicular futility of Fact! Appearances, my boy, appearances! Practical politics consists in ignorin' facts! Opinion ultimately governs the world (pp. 110-11).

  • 18 Robert COOVER, The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., New York: New Ameri (...)

17In The Universal Baseball Association Inc.; J.H. Waugh Proprietor Coover expressed the same idea as " History: in the end, you can never prove a thing "18. Or to take one more example from The Public Burning:

What was fact, what intent, what was framework, what was essence? Strange, the impact of History, the grip it had on us, yet it was nothing but words. Accidental accretions for the most part, leaving most of the story out. We have not yet begun to explore the true power of the Word, I thought. What if we broke all the rules, played games with the evidence, manipulated language itself, made History a partisan ally? (p. 172)

18And all of these things Coover, of course, does in his fictions, as do his co-Postmodernists. To illustrate the same point, let me quote you a passage from a recent English novel which is an almost perfect illustration for all I have been arguing so far: Graham Swift's Waterland. The narrator of this novel, nominally spanning a period of some fifty years of the narrator's own life and memory, but reaching back far into the past via relayed stories, is a teacher of history. The book tells its story in a disjointed and unchronological way, and incorporates factual reports. In the passage that follows, the narrator retrospectively outlines his reasons for the way he has led his life:

  • 19 Graham SWIFT, Waterland, London: Picador, 1984 (1983), p. 53.

So I shouldered my Subject. So I began to look into history - not only the well thumbed history of the wide world but also, indeed with particular zeal, the history of my Fenland forebears. So I began to demand of history an Explanation. Only to uncover in this dedicated search more mysteries, more fantasticalities, more wonders and grounds for astonishment than I started with, only to conclude forty years later - nothwithstanding a devotion to the usefulness, to the educative power of my chosen discipline - that history is a yarn. And can I deny that what I wanted all along was not some golden nugget that history would at last yield up, but History itself, the Grand Narrative, the filler of vacuums, the dispeller of fears of the dark?19

19Clearly, "History" to this narrator has not been the "Grand Narrative, the filler of vacuums, the dispeller of fears in the dark". What he is left with, then, is Lyotard's "petite histoire" of his own life, a "petite histoire" which in itself - as it contains a murder, a suicide, an abortion, and madness rampant - is dramatic enough, and for the explanation of which he had turned to "History" with a capital H - in vain, as it turns out.

20In a sense, Waterland can be said to embody the culmination of a particularly Postmodern attitude toward history. At the same time, and precisely because it so deliberately contrasts personal "petite histoire" to "History", this same novel also marks a turn in Postmodern fiction. Although I do not have the time to go into it in detail here, I think my case is strengthened by the fact that I believe that Waterland also shows a return to what is commonly thought of as "character", though not without a "différance". As anyone who has read them will agree, in most of the Postmodern fictions I have discussed so far the personages rather resemble cartoon or strip heroes. In Swift's novel we are undoubtedly dealing with a human character again, but not one that, in the old R/realist or Modernist way, sees its life stretching back along lines of continuity and psychological explanability. Rather, it recognizes its situationalism, yet also can single out certain passages in its personal past which, though in themselves are not to be integrated in a larger (communal or personal) chronologically meaningful entity, are so vivid as to resist "fictionalizing". Perhaps it says something about our times, about the era of Postmodernism, that what distinguishes such passages seems to be the intensity of cruelties inflicted, or humiliations suffered.

21Swift's novel marks a turn and perhaps already points beyond Postmodernism and into something which as yet has no name, but which could presumably be called Post-Postmodernism or, with some kind of poetic justice and irony, "realism" again, although not without some necessary qualifiers.

22Let me just, by way of conclusion, expand upon this. To my mind, much recent British fiction shares the characteristics I singled out as marking Waterland. A case in point is the fiction of D.M. Thomas, particularly The White Hotel. Here again, via procedures similar to those of Swift's novel, we find received versions of history being debunked, problematized, jeopardized and jettisoned as possible explanations or justifications of what happens in the lives of individual characters. Here again, it is only personal détails de l'histoire that stick out from the blurred fiction that history has become. Even if as discourse they can claim no epistemological or ontological privileges, Lisa Erdman's concentration camp experiences refuse integration with, and on the same level as, the novel's other discourses.

  • 20 See also Richard TODD, "Convention and Innovation in British Fiction 1981-1984: The Contemporaneity (...)

23Peculiar to recent British fiction, at least if I am to judge from Swift's Waterland, Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and Shame, or D.M. Thomas's The White Hotel and Swallow, is that such personally "unfictionalizable" memories increasingly tend to become embedded in historical "magical realist" fictions which in themselves, even if only by their "magical" nature, explicitly problematize communal history. Though embedded in them, these "petites histoires", then, still refuse to become fully integrated with - to play the game of - Postmodern texts20.

  • 21 See Granta 8 (1983), "Dirty Realism - New Writing from America", and Granta 19 (1986), "More Dirt - (...)

24By contrast, for many of the newer American fiction writers, such as Raymond Carver, Bret Easton Ellis, Jay McInerney, David Leavitt, and Richard Ford, Postmodernism itself already is history. Their world is one that consists solely of cold and cruel "petites histoires": "Dirty Realism", as suggested by the British journal Granta21 which recently devoted a special issue to the kind of new, specifically American, writing I have in mind. For these authors, "History" is an implied impossibility. However, neither recent American "Dirty Realists" nor recent British "Magical Dirty Realists" could have moved onto whatever kind of "Realism" they are at if it had not been for Postmodernism's previous and explicit revelation of "History" as linguistic absence.

Notes

1 Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

2 Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press, 1956.

3 Speculation and opinions as to the starting date of Postmodernism continue to proliferate. On other occasions I have put the starting date of literary Postmodernism, at least in the U.S., as 1955, with the publication of William Gaddis's The Recognitions; cf. my "Postmodernism in American Fiction and Art", in Douwe W. Fokkema & Hans Bertens, (eds), Approaching Postmodernism, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1986, pp. 211-231.

4 Metahistory, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1973. Tropics, Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978.

5 Obviously, some "Realistic" novels, e.g. by Scott or Jane Austen, more overtly claim a historical basis than others. Still, even if it is true that within nineteenth century fiction we already find instances which are somewhere on the sliding scale from historical Realism to Modernist subjectivism - one merely has to consider the strong mediating voice of George Eliot, or the even more personalised narrators of Charles Dickens - I would argue that these still behave as as if historical narrative.

6 See Wolfgang ISER, The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978 (German version 1976). For my own discussion of Iser's theories with regard to Modernism/Postmodernism see my Text to Reader: A Communicative Approach to Fowles, Barth, Cortazar, and Boon, Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 1983; and "Postmodern Fiction: Form and Function", in Neophilologus 71/1 (Jan. 1987), pp. 144-153.

7 Condition, Paris: Minuit, 1979. Ihab HASSAN & Sally HASSAN (eds), Innovation/Renovation: New Perspectives on the Humanities, Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press, 1983.

8 See Douwe W. FOKKEMA & Elrud EBSCH, Het Modernisme in de Europese Letterkunde, Amsterdam: De Arbeiderspers, 1984. English version: Modernist Conjectures: A Mainstream in European Literature 1910-1940, London: C. Hurst, 1987.

9 Tony TANNER, "What is the Case?" in his City of Words: American Fiction 1950-1970, London: Jonathan Cape, 1971. Thomas H. SCHAUB, Pynchon: The Voice of Ambiguity, Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1981.

10 Julian BARNES, Flaubert's Parrot, London: Jonathan Cape, 1984, p. 90.

11 Ihab HASSAN, The Right Promethean Fire: Imagination, Science, and Cultural Change, Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1980, p. 202.

12 Ihab HASSAN, Paracriticisms: Seven Speculations of the Times, Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1975, p. 8.

13 Robert COOVER, The Public Burning, Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1977, p. 420.

14 John BANVILLE, Birchwood, London: Panther/Granada, 1984 (1973), p. 174.

15 Urbana, Ill.: University of Illinois Press, 1981.

16 Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981.

17 Charles JENCKS, The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, London: Academy Editions, 1981; and ed. Post-Modern Classicism, Architectural Design 5/6. Wendy STEINER, "Collage or Mirage: Historicism in a Deconstructed World", in Sacvan BERCOVITCH, (ed.) Reconstructing American Literary History, Cambridge, Mass. & London: Harvard University Press, 1986, pp. 323-351.

18 Robert COOVER, The Universal Baseball Association, Inc., J. Henry Waugh, Prop., New York: New American Library, 1968, p. 224.

19 Graham SWIFT, Waterland, London: Picador, 1984 (1983), p. 53.

20 See also Richard TODD, "Convention and Innovation in British Fiction 1981-1984: The Contemporaneity of Magic Realism", in Convention and Innovation, Th. D'HAEN, H. LETHER and R. GRUBEL (eds.) Amsterdam: Benjamins, forthcoming; and "Confrontation with Convention: On the Character of British Postmodernist Fiction", in Yearbook Postmodernism 1, forthcoming.

21 See Granta 8 (1983), "Dirty Realism - New Writing from America", and Granta 19 (1986), "More Dirt - New Writing from America".

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Université de Leyde

© Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 1988

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