Still kicking: George Saunders and ‘shadow realism’
Even as George Saunders jettisons the usual trappings of literary realism, he does so not in order to debunk authorship and authority (cf. Barthes) or to reduce a story to the language of its own telling. Rather, he reasserts the writer’s moral role, and thereby defines a space for the figure of the author. With reference to Lionel Trilling’s defence of Nathaniel Hawthorne and ‘shadow realism’ this article situates Saunders in a literary tradition which challenges reductive conceptions of mimesis. It cites examples from Saunders’ short stories and novellas (CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, 1996; Pastoralia, 2000; In Persuasion Nation, 2006), and also addresses an author-sponsored website, with attention to how Internet materials are not only a promotion of Saunders’ work, but also an extension of it. Saunders foregrounds the referential workings of language while remaining attached to a sense that language is a tool for moral questions.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Poitiers
Publication date: December 1, 2012
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- Short Fiction in Theory and Practice is an interdisciplinary journal celebrating the current resurgence in short-story writing and research. Looking at short fiction from a practice-based perspective, it explores the poetics of short-story writing, adaptation, translation and the place of the short story in global culture.
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