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Title: Structures of meaning : form and the mundane in the contemporary novel
Author: Jarai, Maté
ISNI:       0000 0004 7224 897X
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2017
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In the contemporary novel, the mundane is proving addictive. The lengthy digressions and obsessive details of Karl Ove Knausgaard have hooked readers, while Brett Easton Ellis hailed Tao Lin as 'the most interesting prose stylist of his generation', while labelling his novel Taipei 'boring'. But what strategies does the contemporary writer use to arouse interest in monotony? This thesis explores the question through a new novel Illuminato, whose protagonist Florián Hal struggles to find meaning, in what he feels is a pointless existence. The novel asks the reader to explore Florián's world experientially, and focus on the repetitiveness of his daily life. Through the novel, I ask how the contemporary mundane can prompt intrigue, immersion, and engagement from readers. The accompanying critical commentary considers strategies for writing the mundane, focusing on Tao Lin, Karl Ove Knausgaard and Scarlett Thomas. It assesses the techniques and devices these writers use in place of narrative climax or dramatic action, concentrating on their use of style, structure, and their interest in questions of fidelity, realism and form. It focuses on three distinct binaries of the contemporary mundane; Tao Lin's interest in attention versus boredom, Knausgaard's depiction of memory and the present, and Thomas' contest between action and ideas. Each binary is examined with reference to the drafting and development of my own novel; in chapter one, from my protagonists' distracted narration; in chapter two, the flashbacks used to represent his past; to the use of Plato's cave allegory as a substitute for dramatic structure in chapter three. The doctoral project offers a work in dialogue with the contemporary mundane, while reflecting on its limitations, opportunities, and challenges.
Supervisor: May, William ; Smith, Rebecca ; Cobb, Shelley Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available