Tension between artistic and commercial impulses in literary writers’ engagement with plot

Brown, Luke (2014) Tension between artistic and commercial impulses in literary writers’ engagement with plot. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis explores whether plot and story damage a literary writer’s attempt to describe ‘reality’. It is in two parts: a critical analysis followed by a complete novel. The first third of the thesis is an essay which, after distinguishing between story and plot, responds to writer critics who see plot as damaging to a writer’s attempt to describe ‘the real’. This section looks at fiction by Jane Austen, Henry James, Jeffrey Eugenides, Julian Barnes, Tom McCarthy and Zadie Smith, against a critical background of James Wood, Roland Barthes, David Shields and others including Viktor Shklovsky and Iris Murdoch. It then examines my own novel which makes up the second part of the thesis and looks at whether my advocacy of plot has compromised my literary ambitions, and to what extent my advocacy of plot prioritises the commercial over the artistic. The discussion is set against the extra context of my eight years working as a commissioning editor of literary fiction. It is also set against the process of being edited by a publisher who brought to bear commercial imperatives as well as artistic ones on the redrafting process. The second part of the thesis is the novel, My Biggest Lie, due for publication in April 2014.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: The second part of this thesis is published by Canongate as the novel My Biggest Lie (April 2014)
Keywords: Plot, Story, Literary Fiction, Publishing, David Shields, Henry James, Jeffrey Eugenides, Julian Barnes, Tom McCarthy, Zadie Smith
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Schmidt, Professor Michael
Date of Award: 20 January 2014
Depositing User: Mr Luke Brown
Unique ID: glathesis:2014-5158
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Jul 2014 10:51
Last Modified: 10 Jul 2014 13:14
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5158

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