Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

1973

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English, General Literature, and Rhetoric

First Advisor

Robert Kroetsch

Second Advisor

John V. Hagopian

Third Advisor

Sheldon Grebstein

Abstract

My novel, The Tourist, is not intended to revolutionize modern literature. It is intended to assemble the myriad refractions of my experience, in their myriad tonalities, and make them whole, enduring, literary–and integral in a way that only they can be integral. It is the first finished representation (or battle ground) in my long-time struggle to amalgamate the realistic and expressionistic modes, a commitment which, for me, is not merely a literary exercise, because my imagination experiences that way (at least that part of it portrayed in this book), with few mechanical stops and transitions between memory, fantasy, and temporal reality, and that is what I desire to convey, even if my audience is limited by it. I desire to convey the vertigo, the dizziness, of some modern men (there is no universal “human condition”), who have been shaken out of, or unable to make the leap into any absolute creed or code. Thus, they face the cold wheeling universe (which I use as imagery throughout the book), or the other “destructive element” of self, a trip within to “the horror,” the hollowness, the uncontrollable, uncalibrated grounds. That is, to some extent, my condition; but my self-revelation and self-denigration go just so far. Danny Fried is my comic dybbuk of Jewish self-hatred, alienation and absurdity, no more or less than Stephen Dedalus is a somber, arty dybbuk of Joyce. It is a well-known process in spiritual autobiography to work these exaggerations out of one's self into some aesthetic container for everyone to see. But I do not claim such total separation. I do not pretend to Joyce's excellence, or to be standing up there “paring my nails,” over a closed if nervously juxtaposed set of literary universes. I have, contrarily, endeavored to accent the sense of these universes impinging upon each other and being impinged upon from outside in turn by the “wanton gods,” whose parts I play as the trickster narrator.

Thus, I unashamedly talk into my book for several reasons–all intended: 1) I have opted for closeness, rather than distance, e.g., Kurtz through Kurtz, instead of Marlow. Though many of my characters are grotesque metaphors–what else is the Russian in Heart of Darkness?–they are also refractors, like Conrad’s characters, only seen in this case through the central character. 2) I do not live in the Twenties and Thirties, when the notion of “stasis” was imposed upon literature by Pound, Joyce, the New Critics, et al. I do not have to take either their view or the Jamesian view of the integrity of the narrator and the so-called centre. Magnificent concept though I think it is, I oppose it here to achieve, as I’ve said, a sense of disjunction, vertigo, mockery–even danger. Still, the result is largely conventional. There are only two discernible voices in the book: a. Danny's mind, b. author as ironic god, chorus, raconteur. For the latter I draw primarily on the novelists and satirists of the 18th century–Lawrence Sterne is just one example–though the contemporary novel is full of crazy shifts and disembodied voices. 3) In any case, my style is Dionysian, “kinetic,” a metaphor for Danny's universe–a fragmented style for a fragmented man.

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