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What Does It Mean to Write Fiction? What Does Fiction Refer to?

Timothy Bewes

Pages 533 - 548



This publication is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons License Attribution - NonCommercial - NoDerivatives 4.0. (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)

Through an engagement with recent American fiction, this article explores the possibility that the creative procedures and narrative modes of literary works might directly inform our critical procedures also. Although this is not detailed in the piece, one of the motivations behind this project is the idea that such procedures may act as a technology to enable critics to escape the place of the “commentator” that Michel Foucault anathematizes in his reflections on critical discourse (for example, in his 1970 lecture “The Order of Discourse”). The article not only theorizes but attempts to enact these possibilities by inhabiting a subjective register located between fiction and criticism—a space that, in different ways, is also inhabited by the two literary works under discussion, Renee Gladman’s "To After That" and Colson Whitehead’s novel "Zone One". (Gladman’s work also provides the quotations that subtitle each half of the essay.) Readers may notice a subtle but important shift of subjective positionality that takes place between sections I and II.

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