Joseph McElroy: fathoming the field

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

Toward a definition of a postmodern genre: the field-novel.

“And the field was him,” a sentence in Plus, a novel by Joseph McElroy, warrants an inquiry into field and the novel. The novelty of McElroy’s fiction grows from the attempt to use the structure of a novel as itself a field, presenting actions which occur within fields. He displays field as aesthetic structure, and field as content of aesthetic structure. So within the novel, events which occur within a field can also be seen as themselves constituting a field. In both field as structure and as content, the hero is intelligible as a region of a field, not as a sphere or core of individuality which passes through a field in fulfillment of a destiny.

Pull Quotes: 

He makes a statement–“I can’t”–which he must believe to be true, but which he must hope will not be proved to be true. So the young man says, “I can’t,” and then he modifies that with the bootstrapping troubleshooter’s resolve: “But I will.” The “I will” is a promise to prove his own prior statement to be false. In a model of how we think now, the perplexity is that the narrator states two propositions which he believes, both of which cannot be true at the same moment.

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