Formal techniques and self/other relations in the novels of Dirk Bogarde
The thesis foregrounds the distinctive contribution Dirk Bogarde made to contemporary writing in a second career that developed in parallel to his screen commitments. It dispels the notion that Bogarde followed a familiar path as an actor who wrote books. Instead it establishes his reputation as an innovative writer whose formal technique was substantially influenced by the textual systems of cinema and the cross-fertilisation from acting to writing. In examining the formative factors that steered Bogarde towards authorship, the thesis addresses the role of performance as a generative factor in the evolution of the novels, establishing a discursive link with Bakhtinian dialogism, and specifically, transgredience as a formal imperative. Secondly, it affords a critical insight into why the major concerns with staging and performativity preoccupy his writing career. The thesis claims that Bogarde was an empirically dialogical writer whose use of camera-eye narration fostered the proliferation of competing discourses across the fiction. This formal dynamic is centred on the relationship between stages and dialogism, which incorporates the work of Erving Goffinan as a complementary critique to Bakhtinian theory with its emphasis on self-presentation. The concern with socially-constructed behaviour leads the thesis to address the associated issues of stereotyping and 'otherness', which in terms of body politics is articulated by the mono logic drive to confine the sexual 'other' to a fixed representation. Bogarde's ability to draw on cinematic and performance techniques identifies an area of expertise unavailable to most other writers. This is an unusual repository of skills to bring to writing which is why the thesis makes the claim for his singular achievement as a contemporary author. There are fruitful points of intersection to be explored in this respect with the work of Christopher Isherwood, whom Bogarde read and admired, as a basis for further research. It is hoped that the thesis will play its part in opening up new possibilities for Bogarde's writing to be re-visited by future critics.