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Modern Fiction and the Art of Subversion

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Jonathan Quick

The masterworks of modern fiction gained their status partly because their artistic imperfections were overlooked or read as strengths. Exploring the flawed, unfinished, and circumscribed qualities of fiction by five modernist writers, this study examines their struggles with artistic self-subversion. Both the critical tradition that gave rise to the reputations of Conrad, Joyce, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Hemingway, and the ideological reactions against it, are based on the assumption of their monumental achievements. A reassessment of their stature counters their elitist image and places them in a more sympathetic relation with the writers of postmodernism.