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Fictionalizing the World

Rethinking the Politics of Literature

Edited By Louisa Söllner and Anita Vržina

The book offers ten essays which explore the interaction between literature and politics. The authors investigate a variety of genres including young-adult fiction, national poetry, novels, autobiography, and performance art from different time periods ranging from the 18 th up to the 21 st century from the Americas, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Grouped in three sections, the essays focus on the relationship between fiction and identity; the creation of spaces of/in fiction; and the interplay of irony and fiction. They reveal that fiction has a fundamental potential not only to react to but also to affect and shape the world. This offers a possibility to negotiate and re-imagine the ways in which we perceive the world and position ourselves within it.
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Irony and Sincerity in A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius



This essay examines the use of proximal irony, meta-irony, and postirony in Dave Eggers’ creative memoir A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. It seeks to position the work inside a cultural context in which a conflict between irony and sincerity emerges as an important debate.


The memoir, whether we deem it to be creative non-fiction, personal narrative, life writing, or some other genre label, occupies a liminal position between reality and fiction. It displays the full range of fiction components – dialogue, plot, setting, character, and so forth – while at the same time purporting in some way to be true, that is, non-fictional. Of course, one could argue that fiction itself has always drawn from the real world in some fashion, even as early as Robinson Crusoe (1719), a novel that, incidentally, was originally marketed as a “true” story. There was also the roman à clef, which hid the identities of its real-world protagonists behind pseudonyms. The non-fiction novel, as brought to us by Truman Capote and Norman Mailer, for example, further blurred the boundary between fact and fiction, eliminating the need to hide the identities of characters based on real people. Indeed, the seeds of the current wave of creative non-fiction were probably planted during this time, during the New and Gonzo Journalism movements of the seventies. Interestingly, the memoir has also come full circle, with the appearance of falsified autobiographies, such as James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces (2003) and...

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