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: 

Will I know more about my state? I am wild, in my haste, and I will live a new life. The letter is everywhere and I can’t answer for it. I’ll answer the letter. I can’t. But I will” (151). With these final sentences of the novel, McElroy accepts the undecidable relations between proof, with facts which are to be believed, and truth, which is upheld by faith.

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