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Wojciech Klepuszewski

Abstract

Academic fiction is generally perceived as the product of the Anglo-American literary tradition. This article attempts to show how academia is represented in Polish socialist realist fiction. The comparative analysis undertaken here aims at juxtaposing two novels, Inauguracja and Lucky Jim, both published in the same year and touching upon the theme of academia, but remaining in complete contrast, not only because of the caliber of the writers in question, but, more importantly, owing to their social, political, and literary backgrounds.

Series:

Igor Maver

Abstract

The article focuses on the recent novel by the contemporary New Zealand author C.K. Stead, Talking about O’Dwyer (1999), which represents an indictment of war per se, war as a collective madness and its consequences for the destinies of every single individual caught in it. The Second World War and the independence war in Croatia in the 1990s are minutely described and juxtaposed: as all wars, both brought to the people suffering and death and have radically changed and marked their lives and relationships. C.K. Stead suggestively writes about four locales in very different time periods, Oxford University, New Zealand, and especially Croatia and Greece, where the two described wars affecting the lives of the protagonists took place. The novel is set within the framework of campus fiction, which is significant for the development of the main characters and the plotline of the book. As the plot focuses on an Oxford don who detective-like tries to reconstruct an enigmatic event in his deceased friend’s past, Talking about O’Dwyer fuses the tradition of the whodunit thriller with the campus novel.

Series:

Rudolf Weiss

Abstract

The contribution explores the German and Austrian variety of the academic novel in its distinctness from the Anglophone and in its regional specificity. Whereas the academic novel of the Lodgean mould has not been able to establish itself in the literary field of German-speaking countries, the Germanophone university novel does create a variety of fictional formats to represent the academic world and its inhabitants. The German and Austrian texts are shaped by a particular mental disposition, and, to a certain degree, by a political agenda, most notably hierarchical thinking and criticism of university legislation and politics. Some of them foreground components and features of non-academic forms, such as grotesque pastiche, existential probing, or literary and cultural history, while others recognizably emulate sub-genres of the Anglo-American variety, as, for example, the campus novel of earlier periods or the currently popular academic mystery. As we move from the fairly ‘cleansed’ German to the Austrian academic novel we find, for the most part, humour and eroticism abandoned altogether.

Series:

Ewald Mengel

Abstract

In J.M. Coetzee’s Disgrace (1999), we are looking at South African university life from the perspective of a frustrated white university professor of English who, after the first democratic elections in 1994, has been “relocated” to the communications department and is only occasionally allowed to teach his favourite subject, Romantic poetry. Niq Mhlongo’s Dog Eat Dog (2004) portrays university life in 1994 from the perspective of a struggling black student who is not applying himself too hard to his studies but who believes that somehow or other he is entitled to make it in the new South Africa. Both novels begin as university novels, but comparable to David Lodge’s Nice Work (1988) they soon leave the ivory tower of academia and foreground other aspects of society: life on the farm in the first case, and life in the township in the second. Both pictures complement each other in many ways. Read together, the two novels create a lively portrait of the sea-change that South African universities underwent after the fall of apartheid. This sea-change seems to be the seedbed on which university fiction can grow, maybe not only in South Africa but also elsewhere in the world.

Series:

Corina Selejan

Abstract

Starting from Richard Rorty’s claim that “good criticism is a matter of bouncing some of the books you have read off the rest of the books you have read”, this paper brings together Romanian, German, English and American academic or campus novels published during the last decade in an attempt to reveal the convoluted relationships between what might still be tentatively called the “center” and the “(semi)periphery”. In an endeavor to avoid the typical pitfalls of comparative undertakings, the assumptions underwriting this cross-cultural comparison will be made explicit, starting with the by no means unproblematic issue of the choice of the novels to be discussed. The self-reflexive – metafictional and metacritical – bent of academic fiction will provide for the Ansatzpunkt of the analysis.

Series:

Dieter Fuchs

Abstract

This article focuses on David Lodge’s Small World. An Academic Romance. As the sub-title “Academic Romance” indicates, Lodge’s campus novel is informed by the pre-novelistic genre of the Romance rather than the novel. In contrast to Lodge’s well-known intertextual allusions to the Romance of the Fisher King, however, critics have turned a blind eye to the circumstance that Small World is also written in the tradition of the pre-novelistic genre of Menippean Satire – a literary-philosophical mode which features characters who are so much absorbed in their fantastic worlds of (pseudo-)intellectual speculation that they fail to cope with the praxis of everyday life. In what follows, it will be shown that the all but forgotten Menippean tradition may be considered an ancient prototype of campus fiction, owing to the fact that this literary-philosophical mode satirizes mankind’s intellecual aspirations.