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Durham e-Theses
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The good parodist: beyond images of escape in the fiction of Doris lessing

Ridout, Alice Rachel (1997) The good parodist: beyond images of escape in the fiction of Doris lessing. Masters thesis, Durham University.

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Abstract

In her earlier fiction, Doris Leasing presents images of escape from what Cohen and Taylor term "everyday life”. These images of escape, such as the vision of the "noble city, set four-square" in Martha Quest and Martha's plunge into the muddy veld pothole in A Proper Marriage, are framed by realism. In positing an escape from 'realism'(understood as both literary form and "everyday reality") they suggest the inadequacy of realism. However, the success of these images is limited as they attempt to posit an "outside", a project which postmodernism has taught us, is bound to fail. Lessing increasingly replaces these images of escape with parody. Parody more fundamentally interrogates realism and allows Lessing to negotiate an escape whilst recognizing her implication in contemporary society. My model of parody takes its lead from Linda Hutcheon's consideration of "serious parody", as marking "the intersection of creation and re-creation, of invention and critique" (A Theory of Parody, 1985). This, I argue, is the intersection of Lessing's political and aesthetic projects. Lessing's use of parody also provides her with a useful strategy for negotiating subjectivity. I argue that whilst she questions the liberal humanist self, she does not completely reject it. She is "post-humanist" rather than "anti-humanist". Lessing's "space fiction" seems to signal a return to the project of positing an "outside" implied by her images of escape. However, I illustrate how her space fiction is equally subject to the problematic politics of parody. Just as parody "installs" a pre-existing text to "subvert" it, so space fiction "installs" the Earth in order to critique it. The "dual-codedness" of parody is, I conclude, perfect for Lessing's multiple projects.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1997
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Oct 2012 11:44

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