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Durham e-Theses
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Reconfiguring the Real:
Art & Aesthetic Innovation in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Axiomatic Fictions

TAN, HAZEL,YAN,LIN (2018) Reconfiguring the Real:
Art & Aesthetic Innovation in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Axiomatic Fictions.
Masters thesis, Durham University.



This study approaches six of Ishiguro’s novels –– A Pale View of Hills (1982), An Artist of the Floating World (1986), The Remains of the Day (1989), The Unconsoled (1995), When We Were Orphans (2000), and Never Let Me Go (2005) – – through a treatment of these works as novelistic works of art. It derives its theoretical inspiration from aesthetic theories of art by Étienne Gilson, Graham Gordon, Peter Lamarque, Susanne Langer, and Nöel Carroll, as well as concepts found within the disciplines of philosophy of mind (especially phenomenology), post-classical narratology (possible world theory applied to literary studies), and studies on memory as well as narrative immersion. The point of departure of this study lies in its drawing attention to and placing of greater focus on the artistic character of Ishiguro’s style –– an examination of the aesthetic construction of his novels through close readings of his novels and early short stories. The thesis focuses on the ways in which the narrative form, voice, and structuration of Ishiguro’s works flaunt and flout the analytic unreal/real fictional paradox through a signposting of their fictionality, whilst paradoxically and simultaneously, producing an intensified feeling of the real through directed formal techniques. In so doing, my study also seeks to highlight a deceptive aspect of Ishiguro’s seemingly transparent prose, to show how it harbours a subtle experimental dimension working at the formal level of his novels. The duplicitous nature of his prose, I postulate, is the source of their original quality.1 What this results in consequently, the thesis postulates, is a mode of fiction that I term “axiomatic fiction” –– fiction that deftly negotiates fictional self-consciousness at the same time that it works to maintain a seamless semblance of poetic illusion that is able to captivate and enthral readers.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:2018
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:17 Dec 2018 11:32

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