1st Edition

Theories of Play and Postmodern Fiction

By Brian Edwards Copyright 1998
    329 Pages
    by Routledge

    328 Pages
    by Routledge

    Drawing on developments in critical theory and postmodernist fiction, this study makes an important contribution to the appreciation of playforms in language, texts, and cultural practices. Tracing trajectories in theories of play and game, and with particular attention to the writings of Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Bakhtin, and Derrida, the author argues that the concept of play provides perspectives on language and communication processes useful both for analysis of literary texts and also for understanding the interactive nature of constructions of knowledge
    Exploring manifestations of game and play throughout the history of Western culture, from Plato to Pynchon, this study traces developments in 20th-century cultural and literary theory of ideas about play in the writings of Johan Huizinga, Roger Caillois, Jacques Ehrmann, Bernard Suits, James Hans, Mihai Spariosu and Robert Rawdon Wilson. The author emphasizes post-structuralist developments with specific attention to deconstruction and reception theory and argues that deconstruction makes the most significant recent contribution to play theory in its application to language and to literature
    The work also explores the modes and effects of playforms in particular examples of postmodernist fiction. With attention to major works from Thomas Pynchon (Gravity's Rainbow ), John Barth (LETTERS , Robert Kroetsch (What the Crow Said ), Angela Carter (Nights at the Circus ) and Peter Carey (Illywhacker ), Edwards acknowledges and deconstructs such basic oppositions as play and seriousness, fiction and truth, difference and identity to explore the literature's cultural/political significance. Seeking to affirm the fiction's continuing social relevance, the readings presented in this book place play irresistibly at the heartland of language, meaning and culture.

    Part 1 Grasshopper Antics: The Playhouse of Language; Chapter 1 Foreplay; Chapter 2 Play: The Reader as Trickster; Chapter 3 Reader Response: The Reader as Chameleon; Chapter 4 Deconstruction: The Reader as Scheherazade; Part 2 Duplicity as Virtue: Playful Texts and Textualised Players; Chapter 5 The Play in Postmodernism; Chapter 6 Narcissus at the Edge: The Endlessly Diddling Play of Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow; Chapter 7 Letters to Literature: The Epistolary Artfulness of John Barth's LETTERS; Chapter 8 Strategies of Influence: Intertextual Infiltration in Robert Kroetsch's What the Crow Said; Chapter 9 Revisioning the Carnivalesque: The Cultural Combinations of Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus; Chapter 10 Deceptive Constructions: The Art of Building in Peter Carey's Illywhacker Interlude; BIBLIOGRAPHY; Index;


    Brian Edwards

    "Written in an engaging and lively style, Edward's analyses of the fiction are eminently readable... Durham's theoretical prose requires of readers an effort that is generously rewarded by the pleasure afforded by the display of complex intellectual debate." -- the Comparist
    "...quite impressive in its close and clever analyses of theories of play in the five novels." -- Choice