An Analysis of Cyclicality in the Novels In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien, S. by Jeffrey Jacob Abrams and Doug Dorst, and Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
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Postmodern fiction brings forward those qualities that stray from a direct and clear representation of the world. The qualities that are associated with postmodern fiction such as metafiction, fragmentation, anti-authoritarianism, fusion of high and low culture, irony, intertextuality, experimentation, pastiche and pluralism create stories that are fragmented, self-reflexive, unreliable, challenging, and explorable. Such narratives create reading experiences that require more participation in the process of making meaning compared to linear narratives. Calling this quality that encourages the reader to re-read the story in a narrative “cyclicality,” this thesis argues that In the Lake of the Woods (1994) by Tim O’Brien, S. (2013) by Jeffrey Jacob Abrams and Doug Dorst, and Only Revolutions (2006) by Mark Danielewski are postmodern texts which offer varying degrees of cyclicality. In analyzing the cyclicality in the novels mentioned, this study uses the framework outlined in Gerard Genette’s Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method (1983), in which Genette studies those aspects of a narrative that make it obscure. The first category he points out is the “tense” of narration and the problematization of time in relation to the text. The second is “mood” which focuses on the perspectives that narrators assume in relaying the story. The third category is the “voice” of narration and its relative position to the events in narrative, its narrative levels, metafictional qualities and the narrating person. The final category is the narrative text and the novel’s material reality. By focusing on these four categories, this thesis aims to analyze how these novels create narratives that present cyclical reading experiences.