Reality and consciousness : a study of selected novels of May Sinclair.
This dissertation considers selected novels of May
Sinclair,in the light of her declared interest in the
representat:ionN.of reality. It is written from a
theoretical position which recognises that the
reflection of reality in works of art ;s problematic,
but which nevertheless maintains that works of fiction
have some relationship with the real world. Using
Bakhtin's concept of polyphony, as developed in his
study of Dostoevsky's novels, it suggests that a novel
is more open to the realitY,:r seeks to represent, in
p~oportion to the multipl i.~..~.~f its voices.
S, ne 1air cons ide red the re."r,esenta t ion of consc iousness
to be the key element in trie representation of reality.
The first chapter explores her' representation of
consciousness in her novels, e~ploying a close formal
analysis of voice and viewpoint, and demonstrating that
even in her single consciousness novels, the
consciousness of her characters is dialogic. The
second chapter extends the study of Sinclair's
treatment of consciousness to the more problematic area
of the unconscious, demonstrating the variety of
methods she employs, and her success in leaving open to
the reader the interpretation of her characters'
unconscious minds. The third chapter is a
reader-orientated approach to the presence of irony in
Sinclair's novels, arguing that ironic gaps and signals
in the text allow the reader space to assert his/her
own voice .. The final chapter interrogates Sinclair's
representation of reality from a feminist position
which challenges the cultural stereotypes, which
inevitably construct even novels written from a
feminist perspective, paying par~icular attention to
the influence of contemporary.·psychology on Sinclair's
representation of female characters. The dissertation
.concludes 'by suggesting re.asons why even the feminist
movement within literary'st-'~ies has largely failed to
reawaken interest in Sinclair's novels. It suggests
possible lines for further research and enters a plea
for the re-publication of a wider ~ange of her novels.