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Mediating the World in the Novels of Iain Banks

The Paradigms of Fiction


Katarzyna Pisarska

This book offers a detailed analysis of all mainstream novels of Iain Banks. It explores the question of mediation, the process of a semiotic (re)construction of the world on the part of Banks’s characters, with reference to the four directions of fictional worldmodelling, i.e. the four types of relationship between the individual and the world established by the author’s first novel, The Wasp Factory. In order to give justice to the extremely eclectic novelistic production of Iain Banks, the analysis of fifteen of his novels contained in the present study employs diverse interpretative «tools», fusing elements of various methodologies: structural-semiotic analysis supplemented by a mythographic approach along with psychological and gender specific theories.
Mediating the World in the Novels of Iain Banks: The Paradigms of Fiction thus develops a critical paradigm capable of uniting the extremely versatile mainstream production of this Scottish writer.
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Chapter 6. Coda: The Quarry

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Banks’s last novel, posthumously published in 2013, eludes easy categorization. On closer examination, it becomes obvious that The Quarry (2013) does not follow one particular spatial paradigm among the four models characteristic of Banks’s mainstream prose but rather fuses them all. As such, it bears a strong resemblance to The Wasp Factory, also echoing other themes and motifs which feature prominently in the blueprint novel – e.g. the father/son relationship, the secluded northern locus, the quest for the feminine, the conflict between rationality and superstition, or the real and the imaginary, and the narrative delivered from the perspective of a socially inhibited youth.

Published several days after Banks’s untimely death of cancer, The Quarry explores the experience of life lived in the shadow of a terminal disease. Its protagonist is an autistic youth who lives with his misanthropic father, Guy, a cancer victim, in a ramshackle house shaken by the activity of the nearby quarry. The plot revolves around a visit of Guy’s university friends, Hol, Pris, Ali, Rob, Paul, and Haze, now in their late thirties, one fateful weekend. Being a courtesy call paid to a dying mate, the group’s arrival is also connected with a search for an old videotape containing, as it is gradually revealed, an embarrassing porn movie which they made as students of the Film and Media Department. As the friends meet again, old grievances and uncomfortable secrets come to light, showing the flimsiness of bonds and loyalties. Contrary to Banks’s initial intention, the...

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