On the Poetics and History of a Literary Genre
Edited by Gerry Canavan
Science Fiction, Metaphor, Parable, and Chronotope (with the Bad Conscience of Reaganism)
This essay, which I consider to be an essential “socioformalist” addition to and extension of my “poetics” of SF, was written first for a conference in Spring 1984 at the Université de Nice in France, organized by Denise Terrel-Fauconier and her colleagues there, on Metaphor in SF, at a time when I was often in France. I also got waist-deep into studies of metaphor, concluding here that metaphor is not an ornamental excrescence but a specific cognitive organon; such a focus culminated in my extensive discussion of Brecht’s Life of Galileo in various essays (I lectured on it in Europe and Hong Kong 1986–88, published two essays in 1990, and brought it to a head in The Cambridge Companion to Brecht, 1994), and it has been a constant undercurrent of my work since the 80s. My conclusion was that “In any prose tale, it must be possible to verify examined aspects of the central propositions which have by means of coherence, plenitude, and novelty created the narrative universe of that tale.” In particular, I fastened – both for SF and for drama, as can also be seen in a number of M.A.s written under my supervision at that time – on the parable, not only in its ancestral short form but as the depth shape of larger literary works, and on an action developing in space-time or chronotope, which importantly involves at each step choices (and narrative agents, with which I was much concerned from the...
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