Superfluous absence: The secret life of the author in twentieth-century literature and film
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractSuperfluous Absence examines how writers of fictional narratives imagine readers that might read their texts and use these imagined readers--and the voices they represent--as leavening agents for the fictions they produce. In this theory, writers do not appeal to these readers except as they function as language and its desire to be decoded--as they function as language's desire for itself. Ultimately, the texts of fiction reach real-life readers and Superfluous Absence traces how authors struggle with the leavening agent of the reader's voice when the reader's voice becomes an actual social presence in an actual historical moment. This struggle consists of writers trying to preserve a non-space, and readers try to turn this non-space into praxis and presence. In Superfluous Absence I trace this struggle in James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake, Samuel Beckett's trilogy of Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable and Stephen King's Misery . I also explore what happens to this reading desire when it is translated into a visual format, as is so often the case in the twentieth-century when literature is adapted into film. The test case is Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, an appropriate choice as it is a movie that tries to eradicate the linguistic in favor of the purely visual. Finally, this project is not just an objective charting of the various locations and non-locations of the writer's voice in twentieth-century fiction and film, but is also a very subjective attempt on the part of this writer to understand the presence or non-presence of his authorial voice in acts of fiction. Therefore, the author of this dissertation frequently writes autobiographically and frequently turns his critical voice into the voice of fictional narration.
Degree ProgramGraduate College