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Text/Countertext

Postmodern Paranoia in Samuel Beckett, Doris Lessing, and Philip Roth

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Marie A. Danziger

Text/Countertext: Postmodern Paranoia in Samuel Beckett, Doris Lessing, and Philip Roth analyzes the psychological and structural dynamic of three postmodern novels: Samuel Beckett's Malone Dies. Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, and Philip Roth's The Counterlife. Storytelling becomes here the dangerous activity of a guilty outsider who has come to expect hostile disapproval from all quarters. The result is a sadomasochistic confrontation between these postmodern writers and their imagined audiences: the pleasure of storytelling is linked to the pain the authors inflict upon their readers in retaliation for their anticipated disapproval. The structural consequence is «serial negation» - the constant agonistic oscillation between text and countertext, reflecting the authors' determined efforts to sidestep criticism and maintain artistic control.