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Dialogism In John Fowles's Fiction

Posted on:2013-09-17Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:J H YuFull Text:PDF
GTID:1365330482951890Subject:English Language and Literature
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John Fowles(1926-2005),one of the leading postwar British writers,sets up a new path for writing when his contemporaries are obsessed with the predicament of continuing to be on realist line or marching ahead along a new route of experimentalism.As an applauded existentialist author,Fowles has incisively observed the alienation of individuals in the affluent postmodern society,hence the necessity of freedom.However,when his preoccupation with freedom is transplanted to his creative activity,he writes so freely that his fiction often looks like enigma,both in the sense of thematic subject and narrative form.In three chapters,this dissertation,by adopting the framework of Bakhtinian dialogism,probes the paradoxes as manifested in The Collector,Mantissa and A Maggot,attempting to uncover the logic underlying Fowles's fictional enigma.Chapter One examines the issue of subjectivity construction in The Collector.In Western epistemology,there are two contrastive interpretations of human subject:the Cartesian rational,autonomous subject,and the emotional,instinctive subject.Either of them places its rival as its other,but neither reaches a whole sight of its self.In The Collector,the dichotomy of these two types of subject is concretized in the opposition of male and female,collectordom and freedom,and science and art.Clegg's mania for collecting is an embodiment of his obsession with science and rationality as well as detestation for all that is other.Likewise,the critique of Miranda comes from her sense of superiority over Clegg,only to strengthen their alienation.Viewed from Bakhtinian notion of other and otherness,.their confined vision results from the"surplus of seeing",each subject being unable to see the world behind his back.However,the blind spots of one person are fully exposed to others;hence the full knowledge of self cannot be acquired unless an individual is situated in a dialogic relationship with others."Being means being with",and "to be means to be for the other,and through the other." In this vein,subjectivity in Fowles's fiction is never a self-sufficient,pre-constituted entity;rather,its construction necessitates dialogic interaction between unique and unified subjects.In The Collector,Clegg and Miranda both start with a strong sense of separateness,yet,by transcending the limits of his/her self,both arrive at a new vision of self,albeit in different degrees.Chapter Two scrutinizes the degrading potential of the carnivalized sexuality in Mantissa.The conventional epistemology taxonomizes the body into high and low segments,where respectively reside spirit and lust,and which are respectively represented by man and woman.But in Bakhtinian carnival horizon,the bodily lower stratum is glorified as a site of creating and refreshing.It is in the free and familiar contact of physical organs that people remove the fence between you and me,between body and world,only to enter a new state of openness and communication.In this sense,sexuality in Mantissa is a rewarding act of "becoming" rather than the source of seduction and depravation.Moreover,the carnivalized body in Mantissa is loaded with more profound implications.The dichotomy of mind and body has granted mind the superiority over body,to the extent that ideas can presumably transcend body and exist independently.As a result,people are increasingly infatuated with all that is,metaphysical,and scientific.For this reason,Fowles's strategy of writing from a carnivalesque relation to female body is to precipitate a downward movement to the substantial life and to renew Miles's awareness of art and reality.By repositioning the role of body in Mantissa,Fowles activates a dialogue between bliss of sex and bliss of text,attempting to relieve Miles-like novelists from their anxiety of theory.Chapter Three investigates the schema of representing history as employed in A Maggot.Under the impact of paradigmatic shift of postwar historiography,Fowles basically discredits the validity of history and the objectivity of historical narratives.By hybridizing heterogeneous texts into one book,A Maggot distances itself from traditional,positivistic historical novels.When assembled together,these manifold texts of independent and unmerged voices would inevitably resist,reject and subvert each other.Moreover,since participants of the texts in A Maggot come from different ranks and different professions,this hetero-textual novel becomes an arena of hetero-social consciousnesses.In particular,when the discourses of the suppressed and the marginalized meet with those of the authoritative and the dominating,they would undercut any homogenizing system in the field of historiography in specific and in the field of culture in general.Hence in A Maggot a dialogic vision of the 18th-century England emerges in the chorus of multitudinous voices.In conclusion,Fowles's novels may vary in selection of images,narrative structures,molding of characters,and arrangement of contexts,but they are consistent in one major concern:the necessity of dialogue.For Fowles,in a society where solipsism and rationalism prevail,the coexistence and interaction of unmerged voices is the prerequisite for and the way to a full sight of subjectivity,a transgression of the established order,and an accession of historical truth in its relative sense.Dialogism is an effective means to demystify the enigma of Fowles's works.
Keywords/Search Tags:John Fowles, dialogicity, other, carnivalization, heterogeneity
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