The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon is a postmodernist novella, published in 1966. The protagonist is Oedipa Maas who unearths the centuries-old conflict between two mail distribution companies, Thurn und Taxis and the Trystero (or Tristero). The former actually existed and was the first firm to distribute postal mail; the latter is Pynchon’s invention.
Wittgenstein’s Mistress by David Markson is one of the strangest novels that I have read in recent times. It is a monologue by a woman who is the epitome of the unreliable narrator. There are numerous allusions o culture, both high and low. It is a bizarre book but entertaining. It also draws on feminist issues of daughters and sons who have been erased by history.
“One’s language is frequently imprecise in that manner, I have discovered.
Actually, the story of Turner being lashed to the mast reminds me of something, even though I cannot remember what it reminds me of.” (12)
“I am not particularly happy about this new habit of saying things that I have very little idea what I mean by saying, to tell the truth” (58). Continue reading
The term ‘postmodernism’ “is more strongly based on a negation of the modern, a perceived abandonment, break with or shift away from the definitive features of the modern, with the emphasis firmly on the sense of the relational move away” (3).
“The French use of modernite points to the experience of modernity in which modernity is viewed as a quality of modern life inducing a sense of the discontinuity of time, the break with tradition, the feeling of novelty and sensitivity to the ephemeral, fleeting and contingent nature of the present” (4).
Jameson: “the transformation of reality into images and the fragmentation of time into a series of perpetual presents” (5). Identifies (1984b) two basic features of postmodernism as (1) the transformation of reality into images and (2) a schizophrenic fragmentation of time into a series of perpetual presents” (42).
We should “focus upon the actual cultural practices and changing power balances of those groups engaged in the production, classification, circulation and consumption of postmodern cultural goods´(5).
Cloud Atlas (2004) by David Mitchell is a postmodernist novel that has been adapted into a film.
Postmodernist themes: different narrators and narrative techniques (journal writing, letters, mystery-novel, and interview; also newspaper clippings), simulacra and simulation, intertextuality (the stories are interconnected and mentioned), allusions (real and imaginary) to other literary works, consumerism (Sonmi narrative) and historicizing the characters.
Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel is a graphic novel memoir of the author, set in rural Pennsylvania. It focuses on Bechdel’s relationship with her father, Bruce, who was killed by a truck on July 2, 1980 when he was crossing the road. There are different versions of this story, an element of alternate endings, a postmodernist feature. The versions include that Bruce committed suicide by purposely putting himself in front of the truck, and that something startled him and he jumped backwards to be hit; he may have been startled at the sight of a snake, one that she had once seen in the woods when she was a child.
Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware is a strange story. The main story revolves around Jimmy meeting his father for the first time, unknown to his mother. There is also the history of the past generations of the Corrigan fathers who pass on abuse to their sons.
Postmodern elements. Elements in JM by Forrest Helvie in SeqArt: history through the four generations of the Corrigans, minimal narrative (panels and structure and fragmentary), capitalism (fast food restaurants and hospitals), simulacrum (Superman comes to the shop and dies by jumping from a building),
Ghost World is a graphic novel about two teenage girls, best friends Enid Coleslaw and Rebecca Doppelmeyer; both are cynical and pseudo-intellectual, and at the same time concerned and clueless about the future. The novel is set in the 1990s in an unnamed American town, filled with shopping malls, urban sprawl, and fast food restaurants. They have just graduated from high school and spend their time wandering, and criticizing the people and popular culture. They are close and entertain the idea that they maybe lesbians. They drift apart when Enid decides to go to college. Both are also attracted to their common quiet friend, Josh.