ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERSITY
Central Tehran Branch
Faculty of Foreign Languages-Department of English
on English Literature
Analysis of Narrative in Trout Fishing in America and In Watermelon Sugarby Richard Brautigan
Dr. Jalal Sokhanvar
(در فایل دانلودی نام نویسنده موجود است)
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The present thesis, adopting a poststructuralist approach, studies the narrative in Trout Fishing in America and In Watermelon Sugar, two novels by Richard Brautigan. The study benefits from deconstructive reading as one of the main foundations of poststructuralist narratology. Displaying deconstruction of important binary oppositions in these two narratives was the main concern of the thesis. The body of the thesis, chapter three and four, each is specified to the study of one of these two binaries. In chapter three, binary opposition of reality/fictionality is studied and the researcher shows how the boundary between these two is blurred. Language is also another tool through which the said binary is challenged. Chapter four studies the binary of past/present and includes subtitles such as narrative time, parody and binary opposition of presence/absence. Parodying particular genre or particular concepts is one of the outstanding characteristics of Brautigan’s works which is apparent in these two novels as well. The parodic nature of Trout Fishing in America is shown by pointing to the different references to American history and well known concepts. In In Watermelon Sugar, metanarrative of utopia collapses down and is replaced with the narratives, each capable of suggesting new definitions for utopia. Deconstruction of this metanarrative, rooted in history, literature and religion, is produced by deconstruction of another binary opposition that is presence/absence. The act of giving voice to the silent narrative or narratives within the text, as well as paying attention to the absent narrators releases the text from the dominancy of the present narrative and makes the hidden or silent narratives emerge.
Table of Contents
- The Argument 13
- Literature Review.. 16
- Thesis Outline. 20
- Methodology and Approach. 23
- Definition of Literary Terms. 25
American literature is indebted a great deal to the Beat Generation. In fact the shift towards the postmodern fiction and poetry wasn’t possible if it were not for the Beat Generation writers. Richard Brautigan is always considered as a writer emerging from this generation. Although he never committed himself to any label or literary movement, his writings is always considered as good examples of the American novel at the period. This thesis is going to analyze two of the early and most important novels of Brautigan.
Richard Brautigan is the author of ten novels, nine volumes of poetry and a collection of short stories. According to Companion to the American Novel he is best remembered for Trout Fishing in America which is considered as “a novel that revolutionized postmodern fiction and may becompared today to works of his contemporary, Ken Kesey, and viewed as the precursor to such younger writers as Tom Robbins” (176).
According to the same source, “Brautigan was born on January 20, 1935, in Tacoma, Washington, to Mary Lula Brautigan; apparently he never met his father, Bernard F. Brautigan, and his mother reportedly also abandoned her children from time to time”(176). At the age of 21 and after being hospitalized as a paranoid schizophrenic, he left Tacoma for San Francisco and met with Lawrence Ferlinghetti who ran a bookstore and small publisher house named City Lights. This bookstore was a gathering place for young poets and writers like Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs and Brautigan was soon get influenced by their radical views about literature. The first novel he wrote was Trout Fishing in America but the first novel that was published by him was named A Confederate General from Big Sur (1965). Trout Fishing in America hadn’t been published sooner than two years later in 1967 but when it was released its sudden success among the young American readers was almost a legend. From that time on Brautigan was appreciated by his young readers for his revolutionary style but the critical success didn’t come to him till his death. This American writer committed suicide in 1984 at the age of forty-nine. It was only in late 80s that the literary critics came to conclusion about his works and labeled them as good examples of early postmodern metafiction and cross–genre works. As mentioned above, Brautigan indebted much of his fame to The Beat Generation, a generation which Random House Dictionary, quoting Jack Kerouac, defines in this way: “those who were raised among the Second World War, those who probably due to the influence of the cold war had the tendency to habits and a desire for getting rid of social and sexual tensions”. So it would be useful to follow this movement from a closer view.
The Beat Generation is a term coined first by an American journalist named Holmes. He was a friend of Kerouac and after reviewing his friend’s ideas published an article in The New York Times Magazine and introduced the term as a label for the young generation emerging from the post-war era in 1952. The term refers to a social life style inspired by careless living and drug addiction which was proper at the time and was a source of inspiration for a few young writers and poets that later were labeled as “beatniks”. These writers had a central group including three major writers, Alain Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac and William. S. Burroughs. Their main attitude in literature was rejection of fixed mainstream literary works as well as the American values in post-war era. They had been inspired a lot by the free life style of ordinary youth along with some effects from experimentation with drugs and an interest in Eastern spirituality. Jamie Russell in The Beat Generation writes:
The Beat phenomenon transformed American society. Not only was it the first expression of what we would now dub youth culture—paving the way for the hippies, punks, grungers and ravers as well as a thousand and one other styles—but it was also the first moment in Western culture when literature, music and film became cool. In other words, it was totally opposed to the boring adult world of work, money and responsibility. (7)
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