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Title: J. G. Farrell : towards a postmodern fiction.
Author: Lea, Daniel Owen.
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1996
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J. G. Farrell's 'Empire trilogy' is perhaps the most sustained and innovative achievement of post-1947 British imperial discourse. However, despite almost universal critical acclaim his work has remained on the fringes of academic study, as a result of readings which confine his importance solely to the field of postcolonial critiques of imperialism. It is the contention of this thesis that Farrell's work can also be read as a postmodern undermining of both historiography and the fictional recreation of history. Through a chronological study of his early and mature fictions, my work argues that Farrell developed from a realist social commentator, influenced by modernism and existentialism, into an accomplished postmodern novelist, inquiring into the validity and ideological commitment of historical representations of British imperialism. Following an introductory chapter, which establishes the principal codes through which Farrell's novels have been traditionally interpreted, chapter two examines the three early novels, suggesting their influences and highlighting the themes and motifs which are relevant to the trilogy. Chapter three interprets Troubles as a transitional novel, evincing a dependency on the stylistic techniques of modernism, but also evidencing a movement towards postmodern parody and narrative self-consciousness. The next chapter concentrates on The Siege of Krishnapur and the intertwining of history and fiction in contemporary conceptions of the colonial adventure-tale. Centred around the Indian Mutiny, the novel draws upon historical documentation as well as fictional renditions, to expose their similar roots in narrative construction and ideological partiality. Finally my thesis examines The Singapore Gri Farrell's monumental synthesis of style and content. This, his last completed novel, re-creates Singapore shortly before its fall in 1942, using a wide range of inter-discursive referents, from fiction, the cinema, drama and conventional historical documentation. Farrell underscores the artificiality of British imperialism in the tropics, paralleling it with a highly-metafictional textual self-consciousness. By freeing Farrell from the constraints of postcolonial labelling, this thesis suggests that his fiction is indicative of an intellectual and cultural zeitgeist of the 1970s, and simultaneously positions him as one of the pioneers of British historiographic metafiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature Literature Mass media Performing arts