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Intertextuality as Subversive Moral Metacomment in the Novels of Anita Brookner

Abstract : The autobiographical element in Anita Brookner’s twenty-four short novels can be taken as a starting point to explore the role played by the pervasive intertextuality. This has often been ignored or taken to be simply a form of intellectual snobbery. Although critics tend to be unanimous in praising her classically elegant, concise and controlled style, psychological insight and wit, Brookner has too often been read as a soft option and her novels as rather boring anti-feminist and resolutely pre-modern Harlequin romance for bluestockings. This article shows how, by constantly addressing the ethical question “How should my life have been lived?” Brookner’s monolithic fiction uses the numerous intertextual references to literature and to art in order to offer a philosophical reflection on subject-formation, on the power of the human subject, and on the age-old fundamental ethical dilemma of the split between self and other, which is ethics’ great issue, defined by Zygmunt Bauman as the “synchronization of individual conduct and collective welfare” (4). By bringing to light and challenging the western tradition of Cartesian dualism in its liberal-humanist version, these novels offer a resolutely postmodern reflection upon Modernity’s Christian Rationalism, that underpins an entire culture and is embodied in its literature.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - 10:24:41 AM
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Eileen Williams-Wanquet. Intertextuality as Subversive Moral Metacomment in the Novels of Anita Brookner. Etudes Anglaises, 2021, 74 (2), pp.140-154. ⟨10.3917/etan.742.0140⟩. ⟨hal-03403366⟩



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