Penelope Fitzgerald's fiction and literary career: form and context

Lu, Lian (1999) Penelope Fitzgerald's fiction and literary career: form and context. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The investigation of Fitzgerald's equivocal success, of the decisive change in Britain's recent cultural perspective, involves raising questions around canon-formation, the consolidation of a national identity, strategies of writing, and the politics of reading. I have found it necessary to examine aspects of theme, form, genre and context in Fitzgerald's writing, focusing successively on convention and subversion in her work. This 'doubleness' has generated the two-part structure of the present thesis, the first book-length study of Fitzgerald's work.

Part One examines the canonical literariness of Fitzgerald's novels through studying literary conventions and thematic preoccupations. It aims to elucidate Fitzgerald's fiction through the tradition of liberal humanism. The canon of English literature is more than a settled corpus, it involves a set of prescribed criteria which, I argue, is the cornerstone of Fitzgerald's literary success as a novelist, biographer, and literary critic.

Contemporary British fiction has undergone a focal sea-change seen in its preoccupation with linguistic experimentation, typographical innovation, and topical engagement with current issues. Fitzgerald's fiction is out of step with current critical paradigms, and thus tends to get caught between the canonical and the contemporary. Part Two explores the impact of postmodern approaches on Fitzgerald's fiction, and examines the ways in which age, race, gender, identity and the nation have impinged on her writing.

The scope of this study, therefore, comprises gender, writing, and the culture industry. In view of the scarcity of criticism on Fitzgerald's work, and apart from the more obvious critical concerns regarding authorship and periodisation, this thesis draws on a variety of critical perspectives in order to achieve a historical and contextual understanding of Fitzgerald's fiction and literary career in relation to contemporary British fiction.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Supervisor's Name: Anthony, Susan and Maley, Prof. Willy
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-1773
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 May 2010
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:46

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