Brian McHale Postmodernist Fiction. Authors. Fernanda Macedo + 1 . That idea is simply stated: postmodernist fiction differs from modernist fiction just as a. This is based on Chapter 1, entitled, “From Modernist to Postmodernist Fiction: Change of Dominant” of the book: McHale, Brian. Postmodernist. Postmodernist Fiction has ratings and 12 reviews. Mattia said: Featured in my Introduction to Postmodernist Literature:

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October 22, by marina McHale begins by giving us the opinions of a few other authors on how they feel towards postmodernism.

Each of these views has its own values, but none have all the answers, and the ideal definition of postmodernism is one which does not attempt to answer every question. However, this definition cannot go the other direction and be too narrow either. It is the dominant which guarantees the integrity of the structure… a poetic work [is] a structured system, a regularly ordered hierarchical set of artistic devices. According to McHale, a text can contain more than one dominant.

If one were to go into a text with a strong feminist attitude, then the dominant would most likely be feminist to that reader. However, if a reader with an equally strong Marxist attitude approached that same text, then that reader could conceivably see a different dominant from the same text. McHale puts focus on two particular dominants, epistemological, which translates to modernism, and ontological, which relates to postmodernism.

The dominant in a text does have the ability to go back and forth from epistemological to ontological. The term McHale uese to describe this is hemorrhage. McHale uses the detective novel as a means of describing the epistemological.

In detective novels, we are given the same questions again and again, those being the who, what, where, when, and why.

And each of these questions has a definitive answer, which come with the solving of the crime. Brain on the Body and Fight Club go along with these epistemological questions in that both are texts with which we have to question the information we are getting from the narrator. With Written on the Body, we postmodeernist shown the text through a limited point of view.

Everything we are given in the text comes from the perspective of a narrator we know next to nothing about, including name and gender. This lack of reliability makes us question all the information which we receive through the narrator.


Next is ontological, which McHale correlates with the postmodern. With ontological, the focus is less on questions about the world which can be answered; instead, the world itself comes into question. Where McHale likened epistemological with detective fiction, he relates the ontological with science fiction.

In science fiction, the reliability of the world around you is not a major concern. For a story to take place in a bizarre mchalr, or to be told by a different sort of narrator, is ok with ontological. Using Fight Club again, the narrator exists in two different worlds. And as a postmoderniet, his world becomes greatly destabilized. This brings the fictional world which the character inhabits together with the real world that the author is living in. The same viction be applied to deciding whether a text is epistemological or ontological, it will differ based on the reader.

Postmodernist Fiction by Brian McHale

In the first variation, the collection of figures is allowable because they are encased by a plot device. McHale uses the party at the end of Mrs. Dalloway as an example. Another example of this can be seen at the end of the film Blazing Saddles. For the most part, the film is in a cowboy western setting, but towards the end a large fight breaks out, and spills out and you see the movie backlot. The fight also goes into the cafeteria for the movie lot. It is here that characters from all different films, cowboys, vikings, knights, as well as others are all in the same place.

Normally this would fictioj unacceptable, but because it is on a movie set, it is okay. The other kind of transhitorical party is one where this blending of worlds is not enclosed by a plot device. In this movie, the worlds of humans and cartoon characters blend naturally. There is no plot device enclosing them, it is simply how they live in their world.

All other theorists have focused on one primary issue, whether it be the concept of meta-narratives, capitalism, history, etc. All previous authors have picked single topics and worked to explain what makes them explicitly postmodern. What McHale is giving us is the idea that something does not have to be set postmoderhist stone as either modern or postmodern postmoderbist there is flexibility.

The article is a review of his focus on postmodernist fiction. Here is another review of McHale: And finally, here is a summary of the book from which the chapter we read came: Posted in Postmodernism 4 Comments.


Your presentation was very clear. What cam from your mouth reiterated exactly what is stated in your post which makes it easier to pick back up the lingo.

Postmodernist Fiction

In fact I will make it a point to. I had never actually dwelled on the construct of the word postmodernism.

Maybe this is because at the beginning of this course I clung on to the idea that postmodernism could be the predecessor to modernism or that they happen simultaneously. I know that this is a fictional setting so I can shift the dominant from the function of the machine mchals the function of the text as a whole as in comparison to the world that it the text takes place. My dominant would then be ontologically based.

Galatea would be an example of a Transhistorical party not enclosed by a plot. We assume that this kind of technology may exist in the world that Powers has created for us.

There are plots within plots in the novel. We are able to see the plot of C. But, we do not see the world that exists between Powers, Lentz, and the other characters at U being encapsulated by a plot- so that is mcchale different type of transhistorical party, right? Or, does it have to happen that I take the term literally and the parties must exist from different stages of time?

Anyway you two did a wonderful job. Not that it means a bunch coming from me, but it gave me some extra knowledge in understanding our current text. An interesting discussion is worth comment.

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Notify me of new comments via email. The Ontological- Next is ontological, which McHale correlates with the postmodern. The article is a review of his focus on postmodernist fiction Reviewed Work s: Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your poshmodernist below or click an icon to log in: Email required Address never made public.

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