By Robert Boyers
Operating intentionally opposed to the grain of assumptions dominant within the modern literary academy, Boyers examines novels by way of Günter Grass, Gabriel Garcia Márquez, Milan Kundera and others, arguing that it is vital to talk of personality, ethics, and philosophic objective if one is to appreciate those works. A penetrating examine, Atrocity and Amnesia illuminates a number of the significant fiction of our time and makes a big contribution to modern political proposal.
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Additional info for Atrocity and Amnesia: The Political Novel since 1945
But no sooner do they—novelist and character—think to elude the claims of the grasping present than they are recalled. "The spirit of the times was in us by nature," Corde reflects at one point. "2 To what do we belong? " This material habitat, awful though it may be, is characteristically a projection of hope. It is the basis of every serious thought we can entertain, the constantly available antidote to empty piety and false consciousness. 3 What makes it characteristically a projection of hope is its very accessibility, the opportunity it presents to each of us to take hold of it and test ourselves against it.
These we shall examine one at a time. First, the narrator. In The Mystic Masseur he has rather narrow terrain to cover. He is and is not a part of what he sees. In place of anger he inclines to acceptance, so that the satirical thrustings are felt not as actively corrective insights, but as colorings of a surface that might otherwise seem too uniform in its almost predictable simplicities. The author cares less about the narrator than about Ganesh and believes that the reader will work out for himself an appropriate relation to the ironies at issue.
That this is a political matter no reader of the novel will doubt. For why should a fellow like Bellow's Albert Corde look in the direction of science for answers to questions that are clearly social and political if he does not despair of addressing those questions politically? The immersion in politics, coupled with the refusal of political options (on the ground that they miss the point), produces an attitude that can only be called willful. Since the familiar political solutions have been tried, and conditions in the major cities continue to worsen, there must be some hard fact to show why the awful conditions won't respond to the generous treatment of enlightened liberals.
Atrocity and Amnesia: The Political Novel since 1945 by Robert Boyers