Postmodern Artistry in Medievalist Fiction: An International Study (Paperback)
  • Postmodern Artistry in Medievalist Fiction: An International Study (Paperback)
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Postmodern Artistry in Medievalist Fiction: An International Study (Paperback)

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Paperback 242 Pages / Published: 30/08/2018
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"Medievalism" in this study includes contemporary fiction set in the Middle Ages, and medieval-modern hybrids in which a modern story incorporates medieval elements. Anderson examines the role of storytelling options and rhetorical tropes in over sixty fictions, by more than forty authors, in five languages on four continents. Medievalist fiction got its "postmodern" start with Calvino, Fuentes, Carpentier, and Eco. Its momentum increased in every decade from the 1990s. Some "canonical" authors are singled out for extended review: Calvino, Fuentes, Eco, Saramago, Kristeva, Coelho, Aridjis, and Maalouf. His analysis includes authors whose medievalism gets less attention, or none, in academic criticism: Laura Esquivel, Tariq Ali, Matthew Pearl, Matilde Asensi, Ildefonso Falcones, Andrew Davison, Bernard Cornwell, Donnal Woolfolk Cross, Ariana Franklin, Nicole Griffith, Levi Grossman, Conn Iggulden, Edward Rutherfurd, Javier Sierra, Alan Moore, and Brenda Vantrease (among others). In part I of this study, Anderson discusses story-telling options that establish a rhetorical foundation for postmodern artistry: narrative conceits, genre-plurality, artistic uses of time, intertextuality, and a wide range of "medievalizing' tropes that profile the "medieval temper" in high resolution. He defines "postmodernism" as negation followed by positive assertions, and the "medieval temper" as a dissonance of conformist and rebellious responses to authority and hierarchy in medieval world orders. He includes orientalist and Mesoamerican medievalisms in the scope of his survey.

In part II, Anderson discusses the negative responses of postmodernism in five categories, viz.: four "deconstructive" tropes (deconstruction, decentering, defamiliarization, demystification); paradox; equillopence (the basis of skepticism); the "rhetoric of disappointment" (which he calls "hypallage"); and postmodern negation, which gives way to remainder-history in History of the Siege of Lisbon, which he interprets as an allegory of neohistorical composition fleshed out by Lacanian psychoanalysis.

In part III, Anderson posits four "hard problems" in medievalist fiction, on analogy to le difficolta cultivated by Renaissance artists. These are problematized subjectivity; intentional semiotics; steganography and steganalysis (the art of concealing signs and finding them); and representations of "the end of the Middle Ages." Here, chronology fails. The decline of chivalry, crudely conventional, lends itself to parody. A more nuanced approach is possible in comparisons of medieval and Renaissance art, exemplified in Tariq Ali, Amin Maalouf, Dan Brown, and with probative force in the fiction of Fuentes, Kristeva, and Sierra.

Anderson concludes with a postscript, in which he applies the "Pareto effect" to challenge the reader to wonder why authors who are demonstrably talented for artistry receive little or no attention in academic criticsm.

Publisher: McFarland & Co Inc
ISBN: 9781476673004
Number of pages: 242
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 10 mm

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