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Title: Imperfect consummations : aspects of place and time in the short stories of Anaïs Nin, Angela Carter, and Margaret Atwood
Author: Kohlke, M. L.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1998
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The stimulus for this thesis was twofold. Firstly, the piecemeal criticism on the short stories of three writers, better known for their work in other genres, invited a more systematic investigation. Secondly, the recurring themes of place and time in the short story prompted an exploration into their integral role in constructing notions of identity. While making no claim for a comprehensive study of either the genre or the complete oeuvres of Anaïs Nin, Angela Carter, and Margaret Atwood, my intention was to establish a comparative framework, which would facilitate renewed discussion into these writers' stories as central rather than marginal to their aesthetics. The first chapter focuses on the shifting epistemological and ontological boundaries of place and self, with material aspects progressively displaced by subjective and metafictional constructions. The ideas of Claudia Becker on Gothic headwords, Brian McHale on postmodernist ontology, and Marc Augé on non-places of supermodernity are found to be particularly useful. The second chapter concentrates on the reconfiguration of temporal experience into fictional plots and the relation of subjects, particularly women, to discourse. The main theoretical framework is provided by Paul Rickoeur's work on narrative time and Mikhail Bakhtin's work on dialogics. Both chapters also invoke a wider context of short story genre criticism and feminist, postcolonist, new historicist, and structuralist theory. The stories of Nin, Carter, and Atwood are shown to offer competing formulations of identity, juxtaposing permanence with continuous change, and unity with fragmentation. All three writers trace the alienation of modern consciousness from historical place and time, issuing in self-loss and the deconstruction of the subject as a discursive illusion. I conclude that the writers' emphasis on storytelling as an intrinsic human impulse and means of communication nevertheless re-affirms the subject as a necessary fiction fundamental to human existence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available