1st Edition

Penelope Fitzgerald and the Consolation of Fiction

By Christopher Knight Copyright 2017
    310 Pages
    by Routledge

    310 Pages
    by Routledge

    Continue Shopping

    Christopher J. Knight’s Penelope Fitzgerald and the Consolation of Fiction is a study of the British author Penelope Fitzgerald (1916 – 2000), attending to her nine novels, especially as viewed through the lens both of "late style" (she published her first novel, The Golden Child, at age sixty) and, in her words, of "consolation, that is, for doubts and fears as well as for naked human loss." As in Shakespeare’s late, religiously inflected, romances, the two concerns coincide; and Fitzgerald’s ostensible comedies are marked by a clear experience of the tragic and the palpable sense of a world that verges on the edge of indifference to human loss. Yet Fitzgerald, her late age pessimism notwithstanding, seeks (with the aid of her own religious understandings), in each of her novels, to wrestle meaning, consolation and even comedy from circumstances not noticeably propitious. Or as she herself memorably spoke of her own "deepest convictions": "I can only say that however close I’ve come, by this time, to nothingness, I have remained true to my deepest convictions—I mean to the courage of those who are born to be defeated, the weaknesses of the strong, and the tragedy of misunderstandings and missed opportunities, which I have done my best to treat as a comedy, for otherwise how can we manage to bear it?" The recipient of Britain’s Booker Prize and America’s National Book Critics Circle Award, Penelope Fitzgerald’s reputation as a novelist, and author more generally, has grown, since her death, significantly, to the point that she is now widely judged one of Britain’s finest writers, comparable in worth to the likes of Jane Austen, George Eliot and Virginia Woolf.

    Table of Contents

    Title Page



    Table of Contents


    Introduction: "Music at the Close

    Chapter One: The Golden Child and the Anxious Relation to Detective Fiction

    Chapter Two: The Second Saddest Story: Despair, Belief, and Moral Perseverance in The Bookshop

    Chapter Three: Offshore: "Between the Hither and the Farther Shore"

    Chapter Four: Human Voices: Voice, Truth and Human Fortitude

    Chapter Five: At Freddie’s, or "All My Pretty Ones"

    Chapter Six: Innocence: An Allegory of Fall

    Chapter Seven: The Beginning of Spring: Resisting "Irreligious Triviality"

    Chapter Eight: The Gate of Angels and the Challenge to Modern Religious Belief

    Chapter Nine: The Blue Flower and A World Elsewhere

    Conclusion: "The Gift of Death"

    Works Cited


    Christopher J. Knight is Professor in the Department of English at the University of Montana, USA.