By Robert Boyers
Operating intentionally opposed to the grain of assumptions dominant within the modern literary academy, Boyers examines novels by means of Günter Grass, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Milan Kundera and others, arguing that it is vital to talk of personality, ethics, and philosophic objective if one is to appreciate those works. A penetrating research, Atrocity and Amnesia illuminates a few of the significant fiction of our time and makes a tremendous contribution to modern political suggestion.
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Extra resources for Atrocity and Amnesia: The Political Novel since 1945
And since it is absent, we have every right to ask about its status. Does an absent cause exist? If it is no more to be found in the past than in the present, who is to say that it has any reality at all? Isn't it customary to associate Necessity with something experienced by human beings as they move to actualize their wishes? If we believe in the absent cause, then we are, of course, required to believe that it exists, though it is "nowhere empirically present," quite as the Marxists contend.
More elusive by far is the narrator-protagonist of A Bend in the River, for Salim is at once shrewd and innocent, capable and adrift. From time to time he says things that make us wince, so readily can he be influenced to shift his ground. What had seemed at one moment a settled conviction is displaced rapidly by another, and for the smallest of reasons. Determined to look at a friend or antagonist in one way, he suddenly sees something that changes his mind altogether. Though he has the words to describe what he sees, and "reads" human motive with the skill of a practised novelist, he allows himself to drift into precincts of human relation he knows to be forbidding and ruinous, and is inclined to thematize experience in a way that underlines his distance from Naipaul.
At the same time—and here is the nub of the problem—even when he most resembles the student of life, the young man from the third world provinces entering the "real world" for the first time, the conclusions he draws seem to us terribly impressive. They have the ring of formulations we encounter in Naipaul's nonfiction. " Or consider the narrator's response to a rather high-toned party he attends, at which he hears for the first time the sonorous protest songs of Joan Baez played on a phonograph: "It was make-believe—I never doubted that.
Atrocity and Amnesia: The Political Novel since 1945 by Robert Boyers