Magisterarbeit:Nico Zorn

From Angl-Am
Revision as of 13:55, 19 March 2008 by Nico Zorn (Talk | contribs)

Jump to: navigation, search

1.0. Introduction

(preview) Jasper Fforde is a relatively unknown Welsh author. Since 2001 he has written five books belonging to the Thursday Next series: The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, and First Among Sequels. The basic plotline of the series is a detective novel which also incorporates elements of many other genres, such as science fiction and fantasy. The most obvious element is a general preoccupation with books and bookishness, literature and the fine arts by all characters. Fforde’s novels employ strategies that are generally considered postmodern, foremost among them intertextuality and an extensive use of metafiction. Additional phenomena are the thematisation of the roles of author and reader and the relation as well as the relation between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture. These strategies have been previously employed in texts generally considered postmodern: the fictions of Jorge-Louis Borges (Fictions), Robert Coover (Pricksongs and Descants), John Fowles (The Magus), and Donald Barthelme (Sixty Stories) and many others. This analysis aims to unearth the reasons Fforde has to employ techniques of a period that is considered gone already. What reasons are there, then, for Fforde to jump onto this already crashed train? A first thesis could be that he continues the work done by the above and similar authors in the same way. A more likely assumption is that Fforde is a representative of a watered-down or ‘trivialised’ postmodernism: a postmodernism that does not predominantly aim at shocking and disturbing the reader but to create other effects, whatever those be. The avant-garde has abandoned the movement and it has become mainstream, by some maybe considered ‘readable’. What exactly are the changes then and what of postmodernism has changed? Is it a qualitative change or a quantitative one? Is there still a suggestion of deep philosophical concepts that need to explored? Have they vanished or is the approach merely altered? Especially with regard to intertextuality we should wonder which texts are thematised: are the recurring text earlier postmodern texts; are they totally unrelated to each other or can they be classified in some way? If we come to an answer here, it will be interesting to think about what this selection of texts – and their treatment – achieves. In this, we loosen ourselves from the author as effects of a text can take place only on the reader’s side. What kind of reader does read these novels, whom are they aimed at? How is the reader likely to react and is he expected to react in a certain way? As a very bookish book, pre-occupied with literature and texts, mostly fictional, we can expect the requirement of some literary education, but how much is actually necessary? As a mass market book the knowledge to decipher a text of, e.g., Arno Schmidt or T.S. Eliot seems unlikely but constant allusion to a variety of texts suggests that a mere school level education might be insufficient. We should further wonder about the reader: if philosophical dimensions are introduced, we can assume the text to reach into scholarly discussion and its aim to incorporate the reader into this dimension; a somewhat reduced option is the level of didactics in which the reader is merely made acquainted with certain ideas. To what degree the reader actually becomes involved and in how far he is led directly by the author is therefore another question. A propros author: where does the empirical author of this first person narrative stand, and what about the authors of the books in the book? At last we should not loose sight on the complete effect the book creates. Despite its seeming identity at first glance, the world of Thursday Next is different from ours. It is an easy assumption, therefore, to expect an escapist function in the text. Does Fforde present a nostalgic, perfect world for bibliophiles, a complete and working utopia? Can this be consolidated with some disturbing effects and the breach with common exceptions of fiction that we might find? We can also see a change in the technology available to the author. Since the 1980s the internet has become available as a medium to which most people have ready access. Fforde himself presents a website dealing with his fiction, announces it at the beginning of his novels with the promise of upgrades and special materials. What role do those pages play? Are they then a necessary part of the novel or just an extra like a film’s director’s cut? Do they make a closer contact with the reader? There is a Fforum [sic!] but on what level do author and readers meet? We can imagine a range from non-participation by Fforde over discussion on an equal level to authoritative answer to all reader questions.