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In: World War II in Andreï Makine’s Historiographic Metafiction
In: World War II in Andreï Makine’s Historiographic Metafiction
In: World War II in Andreï Makine’s Historiographic Metafiction
In: World War II in Andreï Makine’s Historiographic Metafiction
Author:

I argue that Alan Hollinghurst’s The Line of Beauty (2004) utilises comedy as a corrective to the rampant materialism and aesthetic ugliness of the Thatcher years. In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of Henry James, whose 1897 novel The Spoils of Poynton is an evident model for Hollinghurst’s novel. Hollinghurst seems to take from James his deeply ironic perception of the lives of the upper classes, and his sense of aesthetic value as embedded in economics and politics. Although both novels end tragically, they also deploy comedy as a key element of their exposé of how the social order marginalises certain groups. The Line of Beauty satirises the upper classes for their disregard for the less fortunate and their blind devotion to Prime Minister Thatcher, while also mourning the loss of a generation of gay men to aids and the concomitant cultural impoverishment wrought by a decade of Thatcher.

In: Neo-Victorian Humour

Ken film adaptation of Bram Stoker’s The Lair of the White Worm (1911) arrived at the height of the fashion for British ‘heritage films’ which represented Victorian and Edwardian culture in ways that many critics associated with Thatcherite politics. Although Russell’s film is not usually included in the heritage film canon, I argue that it offers a camp inversion of the key features of the heritage film. In the process it also opens fresh ways of engaging the heritage of Victorian culture in a postmodern context, including questions of class and gender. The strongest neo-Victorian element in the film, however, is its engagement of the Victorian fear of feminine evil and the New Woman through the character of Lady Sylvia Marsh, the film’s villain. I argue that by spoofing the conventions of the heritage film to comment on the recuperation of elements of Victorian heritage in the present the film provides an example of neo-Victorian parody as a subversive cultural tool.

In: Neo-Victorian Humour
Author:

In The Siege of Krishnapur (1973), J.G. Farrell uses black humour to depict a fictional outpost’s steady decline during the Indian Mutiny of 1857. In so doing, he ironically appropriates the conventions used in earlier British accounts of the Mutiny to critique the colonial ideologies and hierarchies that they traditionally buttressed. In order to understand how the novel undertakes this work, the essay begins by identifying how the text relishes in the social and narrative states of disorder that black humour produces. The essay further analyses how the text structures point of view in ways that metafictionally call attention to these states, in order to undermine the forms of narration and knowledge that characterise colonial discourse. The essay then turns to the novel’s depiction of animals and of dogs, in particular, to demonstrate how the text uses the interactions between canines and humans to mock the British colonial desire to bureaucratically organise, totalise, and control. Reading the novel’s dogs in this way reveals how The Siege of Krishnapur employs black humour as a neo-Victorian strategy that exposes the physical and epistemic violence intrinsic to British colonial rule in the Indian subcontinent.

In: Neo-Victorian Humour