The Apothecary's Tales: a game of language in a language of games
AuthorsRobinson, Nigel John
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AbstractThe thesis shows how the novel The Apothecary's Tales manipulates narrative frames to create a 'simulachron', an unreliable virtual world, which problematises the reader's conceptions of the past. The novel transgresses the generic rules of 'historical fiction' to create a quality of 'historicity' located in the affect of alterity. This is argued to be a somatic response to peril deferred. The novel seeks to evoke alterity by defamiliarising linguistic norms. It does this principally through the use of 'diachronic polysemia' (lexical 'false friends') and intertexts to syncopate the reader continually between the disparate sensibilities of the 1ih and 21 st centuries. These sensibilities are simulated in the novel by the imbedment of sociolects and 'hypomemes', the tacit thoughtways supposed peculiar to a given milieu. To self-authenticate its fictions, the novel employs the 'parafictive' devices of a testamentary found artifact, an unreliable narrator and editor, plausible sociologuemes (social conventions) and ideologuemes (ideologies that inform behaviour), along with a density of period minutiae putatively grounded in the record. Any truth effects achieved are then ludically subverted by a process of critique in which structural units of the novel systematically parody the other. The novel is patterned in the structure of a nested diptych, of expositions contra posed in a mutual commentary, which extends from the defining templates of plot and episode to the micro levels of morphemes in polysemic wordplay. The tropes of nested framing and repetition of form and syntagm are defined in the thesis, respectively, as encubi/atio and 'emblematic resonance'. It is argued that these tropes, encoded in a fictive discourse that defies closure, provide a simulation of hermetic form that -when mapped upon the aleatory life world -can be productive of aesthetic affect. The agonistic elements of plot and incident in the novel are figured within the tapas of theatre, foregrounded by the duplicitous self-fashioning of the characters, and by the continual metaleptic shifts or 'frame syncopation' of narrative viewpoint, both intra and extra-diegetic. Frame syncopation is used advisedly to dilemmatise significations at both the structural and syntagmatic levels. The thesis contends that such contrived collisions of narrative interpretation may be the dynamic of affectivity in all aesthetic discourse.
CitationRobinson, N.J. (2009) 'The Apothecary's Tales: a game of language in a language of games'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire.
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire, in partial fulfilment requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Creative Writing)
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