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Distributed for Karolinum Press, Charles University

The Avant-Postman

Experiment in Anglophone and Francophone Fiction in the Wake of James Joyce

A new look at the development of innovative postwar writing in France, Britain, and the United States.
 

The Avant-Postman explores a broad range of innovative postwar writing from France, Britain, and the United States. Taking James Joyce’s Ulysses and Finnegans Wake as a joint starting point, David Vichnar draws genealogical lines from there through the work of more than fifty writers up to very recent years, including William Burroughs, B. S. Johnson, Ian Sinclair, Kathy Acker, Alan Moore, David Foster Wallace, and many others. Centering the exploration around five strategies employed by Joyce—narrative parallax, stylistic metempsychosis, concrete writing, forgery, and neologizing the logos—the book reveals the striking continuities and developments from Joyce’s day to our own.

806 pages | 6 1/2 x 9 1/4

Literature and Literary Criticism: American and Canadian Literature, British and Irish Literature, Romance Languages


Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION. JOYCE THE AVANT-
1. Preliminary notes on the novel, experiment, and the avant-garde
2. Joyce the avant-gardist: the Wake in transition
3. transition in the Wake: Joyce the transitionist
4. A Joycean avant-garde: parallax, metempsychosis, concretism, forgery, and neologism
5. Joycean (?) traditions: Hayman, Adams, Werner, Levitt
6. Post-Joyce

CHAPTER 1. JOYCE DE NOUVEAU:
“WITHIN OR BEHIND OR BEYOND OR ABOVE” THE NEW NOVEL, 1947–67
1.1 “Equivalent images, analogous sensations”: Nathalie Sarraute
1.2 “The Additional Step in Subverting the System”: Alain Robbe-Grillet
1.3 “Forever advancing on shifting sands”: Claude Simon
1.4 “Anamnesis of leitmotifs”: Robert Pinget
1.5 “To fail this way, in a superhuman attempt”: Claude Mauriac
1.6 “Do whatever you can to get the most out of it”: Michel Butor

CHAPTER 2. “BUT HOW MANY HAVE FOLLOWED HIM?”
JOYCE IN BRITAIN, 1955–75
2.1 “A horroshow crack on the ooko or earhole”: Anthony Burgess
2.2 “The Einstein of the novel”: B. S. Johnson
2.3 “This distanced technique of writing from the unconscious”: Alan Burns
2.4 “The voyce crying in the wilderness, rejoice with me”: Brigid Brophy
2.5 “A death wish and a sense of sin”: Ann Quin
2.6 “Who’s she when she’s (not) at home”: Christine Brooke-Rose, 1964–75

CHAPTER 3. MAKING JOYCE “PART OF THE LANDSCAPE”:
AMERICAN LITERARY EXPERIMENT, 1953–1973
3.1 “A new mythology for the space age”: William S. Burroughs
3.2 “The self who could do more”: William Gaddis
3.3 “That style which deliberately exhausts its possibilities”: John Barth
3.4 “Never cut when you can paste”: William H. Gass
3.5 “The book remains problematic, unexhausted”: Donald Barthelme
3.6 “Orpheus Puts Down Harp”: Thomas Pynchon

CHAPTER 4. JOYCEAN OULIPO, OULIPIAN JOYCE
4.1 The joys of constraint and potential
4.2 “Nothing left to chance”: Raymond Queneau
4.3 “A man of letters”: Georges Perec
4.4 “A pre-modern, encyclopedic cast of mind”: Harry Mathews
4.5 “The Babel effect”: Jacques Roubaud
4.6 The anticipatory plagiarist

CHAPTER 5. “THE CENTENARIAN STILL SEEMS AVANT-GARDE”:
EXPERIMENT IN BRITISH FICTION, 1976–2006
5.0 “Of the dissolution of character”: Christine Brooke-Rose, 1984–2006
5.1 “Life’s too shored to embark on it now”: Brian W. Aldiss
5.2 “Packed with meaningless local references”: J.G. Ballard
5.3 “A polyglot babble like a symphonic Euro-language”: Angela Carter
5.4 “Realism is anti-art”: Jeanette Winterson
5.5 “Great art should not move”: Alasdair Gray
5.6 “Grafting, editing: quotations, correspondences”: Iain Sinclair

CHAPTER 6. “THE FUNNYMENTAL NOVEL OF OUR ERROR”:
JOYCEAN AVANT-GARDE IN U.S. FICTION, 1973–1997
6.0 “‘Realism,’ the optical illusion of reality in capitalist thought”: Language poetry
6.1 “That level of activity that reveals life as fiction”: Raymond Federman
6.2 “A novel as a concrete structure rather than an allegory”: Ronald Sukenick
6.3 “Another awareness, another alphabet”: Walter Abish
6.4 “The parodying punning pre-Joycean cakewalk”: Ishmael Reed
6.5 “Does language control like money?”: Kathy Acker
6.6 “The joyous heresy that will not go away”: Gilbert Sorrentino

CHAPTER 7. JOYCE AS SUCH / TEL QUEL JOYCE
7.1 Tel Quel’s “Enigmatic Reserve”
7.2 “A certain type of Excess“: Jean-Louis Houdebine
7.3 “Dis: Yes – I.R.A.”: Maurice Roche
7.4 “As close as possible to that unheard-of place”: Hélène Cixous
7.5 “A subject illimitable, numberless”: Philippe Sollers
7.6 “An avatar of catholicity”: Beyond Tel Quel

CHAPTER 8. POST-2000 CODA: CONCEPTUAL JOYCE
8.1 “Misinterpreting the avant-garde”: Raczymow, Hadengue, Levé
8.2 Breaking “the recursive loops of realism”: Mitchell, Hall, Home, Moore
8.3 “Crucial to the health of the ecosystem”: Amerika, Foster Wallace, Goldsmith, Danielewski, Cohen

CONCLUSION. JOYCE THE POST-
1. Countersigning Joyce’s signature
2. A Joycean postmodernism: “Rituals originating in piety”
3. Joycean anti-postmodernists
4. Revis(it)ing the Joycean tradition: “His producers are they not his consumers?”
5. Genealogies of parallax, metempsychosis, trace, forgery, and neologism
6. Joyce’s baroque error: “One more unlookedfor conclusion leaped at”

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