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Contingencies and Masterly Fictions: Countertextuality in Dickens, Contemporary Fiction and Theory

Contingencies and Masterly Fictions: Countertextuality in Dickens, Contemporary Fiction and Theory (Hardback)

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This book establishes deconstructive dialogues between texts which are generically, chronologically and stylistically very different. Each chapter aligns one of Dickens's later novels with a work of contemporary literature and a post structuralist theoretical text. Working from the premise of Derrida's contre, the relationship developed between these texts is not so much intertextual as countertextual: each text re-enacts the procedures of its counterparts, simultaneously rearticulating and interrogating their status. In this triangular mode of reading, the contact zone between countertexts becomes the site on which new readings are generated, readings that use the ambivalent relationship between writings to mark an analogous self-difference within writing itself. This productive self difference is described as a "negotiation" of the contradictory drives of signification, a strategic management of the masterly and the contingent. This book argues that Dickens's texts perform their negotiations in an acutely strenuous manner, amplifying instability and exposing the means of literary production.

This lack of discipline proves contagious as the reader re enacts the text's spasmodic shifts between mastery and contingency. As surrogate Dickensian readers in the countertextual economy, the contemporary novel and post structuralist theory also display this instability an effect which allows this study to develop not only a theory of poetics but a poetics of theory. This dramatic self difference is not simply restricted to writing, however. In later chapters, this study examines how racial and gender identities are also marked by ambivalence, and how their instability is exacerbated after contact with a Dickensian contre. In conclusion, the work is itself submitted to a 'Dickensian' reading. The author examines how the study's own manoeuvres have been exposed through contact with many of the texts analysed within it, and how this dialogue deconstructs the ideal of academic writing.

Lauren completed a B.A at St. Martin's College (University of Cumbria) and a M.A at Liverpool University, before gaining her doctorate at Lancaster University in 2007. Her main research interests are Victorian culture, the relationship between 19th and 20th century literature and literary theory. This is her first book. In addition to her research, Lauren has also taught at Lancaster University since 2008.

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