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Acts of Attention

Figure and Narrative in Postwar British Novels


Tamas Benyei

Postwar British novels have rarely been read in the meticulous, theoretically informed way that seems to be reserved for the classics. The objective of these readings of five postwar British novels (Evelyn Waugh: Brideshead Revisited, John Fowles: The French Lieutenant's Woman, William Golding: Sea Trilogy, Jeanette Winterson: The Passion, Ian McEwan: The Innocent) is to turn to wellknown contemporary texts with exactly the kind of sustained attention that they are usually denied. Drawing upon the insights of various poststructuralist theories, the interpretations concentrate on the entanglements of figurativity and narrative in five very different texts. By identifying and exploring the narrative tropes of remembering, seduction, Bildung, desire and initiation, the readings offer new insights into the relationship between figure and narrative, and also reveal the perhaps unsuspected richness of these novels.
Contents: Analysis of five postwar British novels (Waugh: Brideshead Revisited, Fowles: The French Lieutenant's Woman, Golding: Sea Trilogy, Winterson: The Passion, McEwan: The Innocent).