Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilNuméros59Discipleship and InfluenceMurdoch after Postmodernism: Meta...

Discipleship and Influence

Murdoch after Postmodernism: Metafiction, Truth, and the Aesthetic of Presence in The Black Prince

Christian Moraru

Résumés

Cet essai pose plusieurs questions interdépendantes, telles que : dans quelle mesure Murdoch est-elle « notre contemporaine » ? Plus précisément, l’œuvre de Murdoch présente-t-elle un intérêt nouveau lors de la transition hors du paradigme postmoderne ? Et en supposant, une fois de plus, que cette « transition » caractérise la littérature britannique comme les autres littératures anglophones et même non anglophones du xxie siècle, l’« héritage » de Murdoch est-il substantiel à l’heure actuelle ? Est-il prêt à dépasser le succès d’estime de longue date de l’auteur et à alimenter les pratiques littéraires actuelles au Royaume-Uni et peut-être même ailleurs ? Pour répondre à ces questions, Moraru s’intéresse d’une part au roman de Murdoch, The Black Prince, et d’autre part au débat actuel sur la disparition du postmodernisme et l’apparition d’un « nouveau contemporain » après la guerre froide.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1 The end of the paragraph alludes to Josh Toth, and David Rudrum and Nicholas Stavris.

1In what follows, I would like to raise a couple of basic but intertwined questions. Thus, I ask, is Murdoch ‘our contemporary’? If so, in what sense? Is she still? If not, has she perhaps become one yet, as the greats are wont to do from beyond the grave? More to the point, does her work present renewed interest during the transition out of the postmodern paradigm, a process to which critics have been attending on both sides of the Atlantic for a while now? And assuming, again, that said ‘transition’ marks British as it does other twenty-first-century Anglophone and even non-Anglophone literatures, is Murdoch’s ‘legacy’ going strong at the moment? Is it poised to reach perhaps beyond the author’s longstanding succès d’estime and actually fuel current literary practices in the United Kingdom and conceivably elsewhere? Just so Murdoch’s fans will not hold their breath for too long, I hasten to reassure them that they will probably find my answers heartening. Let me also indicate, before I get started, that I provide these responses by taking up one of the author’s most significant fictional works, the novel The Black Prince, and subsequently a major critical, theoretical, and literary-historical issue of the new millennium, namely, the ‘passing’ and ‘supplanting of postmodernism’ in our contemporary epoch.1

  • 2 Postmodern explorations of The Black Prince have decreased substantially in the twenty-first centur (...)
  • 3 See Lionel Ruffel’s 2016 book Brouhaha, available in English as Brouhaha: Worlds of the Contemporar (...)
  • 4 I address in detail the issue of the contemporary as ‘paraperiod’ and ‘cycle’ in ‘Periodization’ (2 (...)

2As Hilda D. Spear and others have pointed out, Murdoch’s 1970s books such as The Black Prince (1973), The Sacred and Profane Love Machine (1974), A World Child (1975), Henry and Cato (1976), and The Sea, the Sea (1978) turn more emphatically to the art of writing, in particular to narrative craft as a theme of the novel itself. This and related moves determined late twentieth-century critics to put these texts in dialogue with postmodernism and sometimes to label them postmodern.2 This was hardly illegitimate at the time. As is well known, across Euroatlantic cultures and beyond during the post-World War II era, the postmodern and the contemporary became, for about two decades, all but synonymous. At the very least, the former was a pivotal hallmark if not a dominant manifestation of or inside the latter. The contemporary designated, and still does for many today, both a historical period and a certain style or bundle of defining stylistic features, most of them usually treated as part and parcel of an innovative, forward-looking, and experimental aesthetics. Granted, the meaning of the contemporary has simply exploded over the last ten-odd years, especially in French and American scholarship, so much so that it has become difficult to articulate what the contemporary is other than the ‘brouhaha’ Lionel Ruffel has influentially reported on. 3Nor is it easy, on the same ground, to distinguish our contemporary from previous contemporary moments in cultural history. For, indeed, this is what we are dealing with at the end of the day: if the contemporary is not a ‘period’, as Theodore Martin and others have claimed, that is, I maintain in turn, because it is more than one, historically settled period (Martin 2). As a period of sorts—a paraperiod, as I have dubbed it elsewhere—the contemporary washes over the post-1945 interval, schools, movements, and generations of writers, stabilizing somewhat in a few decades’ riverbed only to overflow it and continue its quest for its next temporal home, where it sheds its modernist or postmodern skin and name only to get new ones. I call this the cycle or cycles of contemporaneity.4

  • 5 On postmodern periodization and ‘peak postmodernism,’ see McHale 62–122.

3I would submit that Murdoch has participated in at least two such cycles, her reputation and influence floating with and fluctuating alongside the contemporary as defined and appreciated in the Cold War years and redefined and reappraised thereafter. The Black Prince comes on the scene toward the end of the first contemporary cycle, which was also the longest. In 1973, the contemporary period was and it would still be for about twenty years the time elapsed since World War II. This epoch’s major, twin cultural development was the incremental eclipse of high modernism and the birth of postmodernism around mid-late 1960s. I have contended on various occasions, and it bears doing so here one more time, that this contemporary started aging abruptly and the world renewed or began to renew itself once again with and at the end of the Cold War. This world-shaking event sparked off another contemporary cycle and the onset of a ‘new’ contemporary period—our contemporary. During the postmodern 1970s and even more so in the ‘peak postmodernism’ of the 1980s, to be contemporary in an aesthetically and politically insurgent fashion was, to many in the United Kingdom, United States, and elsewhere, to be postmodern or to get somehow—ironically, metafictionally, intertextually, or by some other cognate maneuver—on the postmodern bandwagon.5 Even in France, where literary critics and theorists never quite became comfortable, if not with aesthetic postmodernism per se, then certainly with the postmodern designation itself, the actual debates could not skirt, for this time period, the same problematics one came across in the British, North American, or Central-East European scholarship of those years, where the topics and theoretical parlance of postmodernism broadly understood were front and center.

  • 6 Most critics agree that Bradley Pearson’s opinions reflect Murdoch’s, at least in aesthetic matters (...)
  • 7 See Agamben and Badiou.

4They were not necessarily so for Murdoch, though—and surely not as a coveted ticket to the ‘contemporary’, to being acknowledged as such, neither when The Black Prince came out nor decades later, when the parameters of contemporaneousness were no longer principally postmodern anyway. We know this from various sources, one of them being the novel’s main hero, in this and other regards his author’s mouthpiece.6 As protagonist Bradley Pearson declares on a Nietzschean tone currently ventriloquized by Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, and others,7 ‘[m]ost artists pay little attention to their contemporaries. Those who nourish’ one’s ‘contemporaries’, he contends, ‘belong to the past. Only the vulgar are anxious when hearing others praised. One’s sense of one’s own excellence is uninvidious, imprecise, probably healthy, perhaps essential’ (Murdoch 1973, 57). Unreliable as Bradley is as a narrator, he is probably at least half-sincere here, among other things because of what he declares next:

It is not my intention to accompany this book with a commentary upon it of equal length. The story shall never be kept in ‘abeyance’. The luxury of addressing you [Loxias, the novel’s fictional ‘editor’] directly is the fulfilment of a desire which is itself one of the subjects of the book. In our long discussions of the form this work should take you confirmed the legitimacy of this ‘device’, though what comes so from the heart deserves perhaps a warmer name. (57)

5This name is love, love of art, more exactly. Because this love, when true, gushes straight out from the heart, unobstructed and undeviated, ‘art’, Bradley goes on, ‘is the telling of truth, and is the only available method for the telling of certain truths’ (57). So, for one thing, the book, as its readers will remember, is accompanied by its commentary ever so often; the story is not only held in abeyance but also ‘placed’ (mise) en abyme throughout the novel, wrapped up in an extensive metanarrative that intersects with more mainstream postmodernism on a number of levels. For another thing, though, all these postmodern protocols of form, self-awareness, and ironic stance—including the ironies aimed at Bradley himself as self-styled champion of truthfulness—are pressed into the ethical and epistemological service of truth, of a certain kind of truth-telling.

  • 8 See Karbalei 91–107. Other critics who have attended to the metafictional and self-reflexive vector (...)

6This paradox or two-pronged approach to representation—at once honoring truth and suspicious of it—has not passed unnoticed. As critic Sara Soleimani Karbalei has noted recently, allowing six narrations to compete for the trust of the reader with no success, The Black Prince is undoubtedly a postmodern metafiction which, housing many characters with a passion for writing at one time or the other in their lives, involves the reader in a playful discourse about truth and the way it is constructed. Crossing the generic borders of many literary categories (characters take it as a drama, autobiography, even a novel), it is an intensive self-reflexive novel that devotedly celebrates the moral value of metafiction.8

  • 9 In my account, truth is even more important that in the predominant readings of the novel that are (...)

7Paradoxically or not, then, both for the protagonist and for his author—and for Murdoch as a fiction writer and philosopher alike—truth is the bottom line, the conceptual linchpin of the life of the mind in the book’s storyworld and beyond.9 And yet, once again, its central position, easily noticeable in The Black Prince and elsewhere in Murdoch’ s fictional and nonfictional oeuvre, has not prevented critics from chalking up some of her works under postmodernism and, by the same token, from gauging her contemporaneity by addressing the concerns and resorting to the vocabulary of postmodern poetics.

  • 10 Mitchum Huelhs is one of the critics who have tackled ‘presence’ and the ‘turn’ to it in recent fic (...)

8Now, while Murdochian intertextuality, mise-en-abyme, and formal sophistication overall may have justified such ‘postmodernizing’ treatment, the question is whether the Murdoch of the 1970s and 1980s, ‘contemporary’ as she was deemed to those postmodern times, can still ensure her contemporaneity—or guarantee a solid posthumousness—today, at the time we are witnessing a turn away from the postmodern in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other national literatures inside and outside the Anglophone world. This is an important question because, to state the obvious, ‘postmodern Murdoch’ notwithstanding, Murdoch’s and postmodernism’s legacies are hardly one and the same. I would argue, in fact, that the ongoing shift away from the postmodern is, in a sense, a shift to Murdoch, to a certain Murdoch who thrives even amid the densely metafictional and allusive routines of the 1970s, to the thinker-writer and to some of the values so crucial to her art. The most important among those comprise, of course, ‘truth’ and its kin: ‘reality’, ‘things’ (or ‘objects’), ‘concrete’, ‘detail’, ‘ethics’ (or ‘morals’), ‘sincerity’, ‘authenticity’, ‘agency’, and other elements of what I would call, in contrast to the postmodern and poststructuralist fixation with ‘absence’, ‘lack’, ‘gap’, ‘deferral’, ‘irony’, ‘mediation’, and the like, an aesthetic of presence.10 Very roughly speaking, this aesthetic is the driver of the aforementioned post-Cold War contemporary cycle and also that which, ever more so in the twenty-first century, sets ‘our’ contemporary apart as a new moment and mode in literature, criticism, and cultural history overall. It is this aesthetic and its place in Murdoch that I would like to explore here. I will do so obliquely, by way of a couple of marginalia to The Black Prince, one of her most self-conscious works and, some say, possibly her best.

9Presence, that which appears to be materially, palpably, and verifiable present—immediate, urgent, and unambiguously here in the present, in its eloquent proximity and incontrovertible reality—has been focusing a lot of work lately in critical theory, philosophy, as well as in the arts themselves, literature included. No doubt, the term has a long and complex history. Suffice it to say here that ‘presence’ in contemporary art and criticism can be approached—rather than ‘explained’—through the Heideggerian vocabulary deployed in Sein und Zeit and elsewhere, and specifically in conjunction with Gegenwart and its etymological family, as well as with Präsenz and Anwesenheit (Heidegger 2006, 25–26). The last in the series of three is particularly important. Anwesenheit stages, throughout Martin Heidegger’s work, a bringing into presence, a presentation without representation, as it were, that which affords the presencing ‘going forth’ rather than insisting on a mimetic presentation, on the laying out of a certain representable and quantifiable truth. Whatever is is, Heidegger further glosses in ‘The Age of the World Picture,’ an ontological assertion of an object (Gegen-stand) standing over against an absence, ‘absenting’ itself out of that absence or ‘clearing’ (Lichtung) so it can just present itself (Heidegger 2013, 149–150). Conspicuously important to the postmoderns, Heidegger continues, then, to remain so to the post-postmoderns, to be their—our—contemporary in a way akin to Murdoch’s and relevant to our surrounding world itself. For the spectacular proliferation of reflection and aesthetic practices around this umbrella-term under which ‘truth’ and its terminological entourage seek shelter represents a response to developments defining the troubling but undeniable reality of our time. The dominant aesthetic and ideological paradigm of the past half-century, postmodernism, has come to the fore by dint of sophisticated textual ‘games’ with this reality and its history, whether we talk about playful-ironic treatment, differential-intertextual-quotational representations in the Jacques Derrida-Umberto Eco line, various ‘constructionisms’, ‘relativisms’, and ‘fictionalisms’ in cultural theory and literary practice, and other aesthetic approaches meant to ‘deconstruct’ what is (the world as il y a) and thereby reveal it as ideology, trace, infinite semiosis, polysemy, simulacrum, reality show, absence, and so forth.

10To be sure, postmodernism, certain forms of poststructuralism, and a vast segment of cultural and identity studies may not be reducible to this epistemological police sketch. Nevertheless, their heavily mediated, self-doubting, ironic ‘weak’ ontology does not seem best suited to capture the stronger and stronger ontology of presence embodied by the contemporary world. Postmodernism’s ‘complicity’ with the motley crew of rhetors challenging ‘what is’ and moonlighting variously as Holocaust deniers, neoliberal free-marketeers, Brexitarians, Trumpists, Berlusconians, i tutti quanti may be a stretch, but the ontological intensity, the presence set forth by the contemporary world calls for an apposite aesthetic of presence that, one way or the other, goes against the grain of postmodern aesthetics. In asserting itself, that presence expresses an urgency and an immediacy that, generally speaking, do not operate as sign, representation, or material stand-in for something else underneath of beyond it. Nor is this presence ‘reenchanting’. For it does not call on ‘us’ to ‘transcend’ it, whether toward a perpetually ebbing signified or in the opposite but otherwise cognate direction of a ‘culturally situated’ interpreter needed—again and again—to make sense of what is rendered present in this presence. Instead, deconstruction, at one end, cultural analysis, at the other, and postmodernism as a mode of aesthetic practice all around do just this: transcend presence again and again, substituting its ‘being there’—de-presencing it—in its very reading as palimpsest, intertext, language games, irony, hypothesis, and other similar, ontologically and semiotically ‘weak’ constructions dependent on the reader or viewer, on the human witness and interpreter.

  • 11 Worth are mentioning in this context especially Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht’s books on presence and inter (...)

11‘Murdoch’, however, Karbalei also insists, ‘does not want her readers to be interpreters. She wants them to be just the observers of the complexity of human psyche and the novel’s capacity for truth. That is why she lets the significance of the story multiple in the postscripts where the characters’ various interpretations block any further possibility of reading’ (Karbalei 100). This is an important point. Of late, it has been variously made, in different contexts, by critics from Bruno Latour and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht to Rita Felski and Mitchum Huehls.11 All of them are invested in a post-critique and, ugly as the term may struck some, ‘post-postmodern’ transition away from the culture of suspicion, deep—or deeper and deeper—reading, and inflationary hermeneutics and toward other ways of engaging with the work that recognize its presence as well as the work’s ability to inscribe the world’s own presence. Karbalei is, then, absolutely right: Murdoch discourages us from ‘multiplying’ endlessly—and by the same movement ever so often cancelling out—the meanings of Bradley’s acts, whether we did it in hopes to ‘get to the bottom of things’ and thereby retrieve the truth as a detective would, or to ‘deconstruct’ truth itself, the very notion that said truth or any other, for that matter, can be found out or even exists.

12This ever-suspicious, perpetually ‘disseminating’ kind of reading would be, I think, the ultimate holding in abeyance of truth, its ‘absencing’ in the very act of reading. But this is not what either Bradley or Murdoch champions. What they advocate is just the opposite: a reading that is apposite to presentifying literature and therefore a genuine presentation, a recognition of the presence the writer brings before us. This is what love, and writing as a form of love, activates or summons in the final analysis. ‘Concerning absence’, Bradley notes, ‘love has always been eloquent. The subject admits of an explicit melancholy, though doubtless there are certain pains which cannot be fully rendered. But has it ever sufficiently hymned presence?’ (201; emphasis added).

13The answer is, of course, negative. Presence can never be celebrated enough. That perfect or sufficient celebration would be the celebrated object itself. But that would only render the celebration—art, writing, and their reception also—redundant, whereas, for the author and character alike, art is necessary and, in a way, inevitable. It follows, then, that the only presentation art can make can always be tentative, imperfect, falling short, a stuttering and a procrastination rather than a flawless, completed hymn—and yet a presentation nonetheless. Needed and sought-after, this presentation is thus also a source of ‘anxiety’—Bradley’s term—an anxiety that should not be thought of, he says, as a ‘blemish’ either because ‘[i]t graces the present moment with a kind of violence which makes an ecstasy of time’ (201). Ecstasy stems from anxiety or angst, much like presence—the presence of a rock, of a lover, or of a book about love or whatever else—presents itself in lieu of, in the absence and in the ‘clearing’ opened up by Being in its eventful withdrawal.

14Here and elsewhere, Bradley’s vocabulary smacks of Heideggerianism, and for good reason. I would not call Murdoch a Heideggerian, but, when she died, she was at work on a book on Heidegger in which, as noted earlier, all these problems are addressed head-on, in these very terms (Murdoch 2012, passim). But both the issues and the terminology are Bradley’s already. I am not suggesting a Heideggerian reading of The Black Prince, either. I am simply pointing in one philosophical direction that has pursued most consequentially what I take to be of prominent concern to the author and her quasi-alter-ego, namely art as instantiation of presence, as presentation significant in and of itself, in its appearance act, as coming into being.

  • 12 Critics who have dwelled on Shakespearean intertextuality in The Black Prince, sometimes focusing p (...)
  • 13 For a Derridean reading of The Black Prince, see, however, Fiddes 91–109.

15After all, this is what we have at the core of the plot of The Black Prince. Obviously, the story revolves around the dichotomy both opposing and bringing together Arnold Baffin, the mediocre but prolific scribbler, on one side, and his friend Bradley, the truly gifted author plagued by the writer’s block, on the other—a time-honored relationship and conflict Ian McEwan, himself a self-declared Murdoch admirer, tackles with characteristic cleverness in his 2016 story ‘My Purple Scented Novel’. But what the block blocks, what it keeps in abeyance indefinitely, it seems, is the book itself. It matters less what the book to be would mean or convey once composed, how one might ‘interpret’ it, and so, plotwise—factually or literally speaking—it matters even less if Rachel has planned her husband’s mock-Shakespearean death all along and has set Bradley up as part of her cynical cover-up.12 What matters, to me at least, and in the context of this argument, is this nurturing, non-Derridean absence, if you will, in which the book—the very book we, Murdoch’s readers, are reading—tarries until it comes out and presents itself once Bradley falls in love with Julian, Rachel and Arnold’s daughter, even though that presence that rescinds the book’s non-being and cures Bradley of his authorial ailment matters, needless to say, so much more.13

16It is in this sense that, as Murdoch comments on Heideggerian Lichtung, the book’s ‘presence requires a corresponding absence’ (Murdoch 2012, 97). It is in this sense too that Julian, whose presence in the book and presence tout court make the book’s self-presentation possible, is both present and absent to Bradley. ‘I apprehended’, he writes, ‘at the same time her absolute presence and her absolute absence’ (338), and these, I might add, are both absolutely requisite to one another and, together, in their interplay, to the book itself. This is how Bradley comes, still in his own words, to ‘experience Julian’, how she just ‘was’, a ‘sort of absolute categorical quality of grasp of her being’ (222). This sheer ‘delight of her presence’, as Bradley puts it, is contagious and creative beyond deliberation and rational planning. Mobilized by ‘the intense cozening delight of her presence’ (233), he himself becomes an inspired, active presence on the verge of writing, inevitably. ‘I did not think’, he declares. ‘I was’ (232). ‘[N]ow, empowered, I would be able to create’, he tells Julian (285). He feels, in her company, filled to the brim with the ‘conception of desire’ in turn ‘fulfilled’ in his artistic conception, ‘present to [him]’ and in him, in its full ‘divine presence’, and she, Julian, in turn, ‘feel[s] complete’ (285) as well.

17Thus, prompted by Julian, the book Bradley has been trying to deliver becomes possible and its inexistence inconceivable. This is the conclusion Bradley draws retrospectively during his trial. ‘At some point in a black vision’, he remembers,

I apprehended the future. I saw this book, which I have written. I saw my dearest friend P. L. [Loxias], I saw myself a new man, altered out of recognition. I saw beyond and beyond. The book had to come into being because of Julian, and because of the book Julian had to be. It was not, though indeed time matters little to the unconscious mind, that the book was the frame which she came to fill, nor was she the frame which the book filled. She somehow was and is the book, the story of herself. This is her deification and incidentally her immortality. It is my gift to her and my final possession of her. From this embrace she can never now escape. (339; emphasis added)

18‘But’, Bradley hastens to specify, ‘I saw much more than this in the black glass of the future’. ‘And this is’, he confesses, ‘the deepest reason why I accepted the unjust judgment of the court’ (339). What he sees is the ‘big picture’, the full arc of time or, as he phrases it, the ‘much huger and more real drama of which I was the hero and the victim’, and so he also realizes that the truth of what happened to Arnold counts much less than the truth of the book or, better yet, the book as truth, the book’s sheer coming into the open and presenting itself (339). Everything that has occurred may have been, legally and otherwise, wrong, but it was meant to be, thinks Bradley, for it was necessary, and therefore, on another level, rigorously true to the book, to the story itself that led to it and triggered its coming out of the eggshell of absence, of pure potential. Once more, it matters less what the book means, who murdered whom, who lies and who does not, or even how ‘good’ Bradley’s book is. What matters is that this book has finally presented itself. But this presentation is part and parcel of a larger process, of a temporality or ontological chain of events with which Bradley cannot and would not mess with because, as he stresses, the most important link of this chain, the book, ‘has come into being as true art comes, with absolute necessity and absolute ease’ (339). Much like in Heidegger, in which Anwesenheit weaves together the past, the present, and the future, Bradley’s aesthetic has glued together discrete moments of actual time, working them into a narrative ontology that merely presents itself, no longer distinguishing between fictionality and reality. Bradley cannot contest the court’s verdict because this is a chapter of the narrative sequence, inside and outside the book at once. Wrong as it may have been, the judgment has also become true, absolutely true in a sense, much like the book itself. In presenting themselves before various audiences, they have both expanded their purview beyond the factual, the forensic, the interpretive, and the ambiguous—beyond the facts, beyond what can be proven in court and held up as evidence, and beyond what audiences can make of the judicial proceedings or The Black Prince’s competing truths.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Agamben, Giorgio, Qu’est-ce que le contemporain?, Maxime Rovere (trans.), Paris, France: Payot & Rivages, 2008.

Badiou, Alain, The Century, trans., commentary and notes Alberto Toscano, Malden, MA: Polity, 2007.

Araújo, Sofia de Melo, and Fátima Vieira, eds., Iris Murdoch: Philosopher Meets Novelist, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2011.

Dente Baschiera, Carla, ‘Re-Inventing Ambiguity for the 20th Century: The Black Prince by Iris Murdoch’, Textus: English Studies in Italy 11.1 (January-June 1998): 45–64.

Fiddes, Paul S., ‘Murdoch, Derrida, and The Black Prince’, Iris Murdoch: Texts and Contexts, eds. Anne Rowe and Avril Horner, New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012, 91–109.

Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich, Our Broad Present: Time and Contemporary Culture, New York, NY: Columbia University Press, 2014.

Gumbrecht, Hans Ulrich, Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot Convey, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2004.

Heidegger, Martin, Sein und Zeit, Neunzehnte Auflage, Tübingen, Germany: Max Niemeyer, 2006.

Heidegger, Martin, The Question concerning Technology and Other Essays, trans., intro. William Lovitt, New York: HarperCollins, 2013.

Huehls, Mitchum, After Critique: Twenty-First-Century Fiction in a Neoliberal Age, New York, NY: OUP, 2016.

Karbalei, Sara Soleimani, ‘Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince: A Valorization of Metafiction as a Virtuous Aesthetic Practice’, Brno Studies in English 40.2 (2015): 91–107.

Özyurt, Kiliç Mine, ‘Postmodern Elements in Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince’, Iris Murdoch: Philosopher Meets Novelist, eds. Araújo and Vieira, 137–143.

Lamarque, Peter, ‘Truth and Art in Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince’, Philosophy and Literature 2.2 (Fall 1978): 209–222.

Martin, Theodore, Contemporary Drift: Genre, Historicism, and the Problem of the Present, New York, NY: Columbia UP, 2017.

McHale, Brian, The Cambridge Introduction to Postmodernism, New York, NY: CUP, 2015.

Moraru, Christian, ‘Periodization’, The Encyclopedia of American Fiction, 1980–2020, ed. Patrick O’Donnell, Stephen J. Burn and Lesley Larkin. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2021.

Murdoch, Iris, The Black Prince, New York, NY: Viking, 1973.

Murdoch, Iris, ‘Sein und Zeit: Pursuit of Being’, Iris Murdoch, Philosopher: A Collection of Essays, ed. Justin Broackes, Oxford, UK: OUP, 2012, 93–114.

Muro LLorente, Alicia, ‘The Modernisation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Identity and Gender in Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince’, Estudios Irlandeses 13.2 (2018): 90–102.

Robjant, David. ‘Who Killed Arnold Baffin? Iris Murdoch and Philosophy by Literature’, Philosophy and Literature 39.1A (September 2015): A178–A194.

Rudrum, David, and Nicholas Stavris, eds., Supplanting the Postmodern: An Anthology of Writings on the Arts and Culture of the Early 21st Century, New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2015.

Ruffel, Lionel, Brouhaha: Worlds of the Contemporary, trans. Raymond M. MacKenzie, Minneapolis, MN: U of Minnesota P, 2018.

Tosi, Laura, ‘Metafiction in The Black Prince di Iris Murdoch’, Linguistica e Letteratura 18.1–2 (1993): 181–215.

Toth, Josh, The Passing of Postmodernism: A Spectroanalysis of the Contemporary, Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2010.

Vahali, Diamond Oberoi, ‘Inter-Textuality, Self-Reflexivity and Self-Consciousness in Murdoch’s The Black Prince’, Panjab University Research Journal (Arts) 21.2 (October 1990): 53–57.

Wolfe, Peter, ‘“Malformed Treatise” and Prizewinner: Iris Murdoch’s The Black Prince’, Studies in the Literary Imagination 11.2 (1978): 97–113.

Yvarian, Reza, ‘The Black Prince and Lyotardian Fable Crisis’, Iris Murdoch: Philosopher Meets Novelist, eds. Araújo and Vieira, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars, 2011, 117–123.

Haut de page

Notes

1 The end of the paragraph alludes to Josh Toth, and David Rudrum and Nicholas Stavris.

2 Postmodern explorations of The Black Prince have decreased substantially in the twenty-first century but have not come to an end. See, for instance, Mine Özyurt Kiliç, Reza Yvarian.

3 See Lionel Ruffel’s 2016 book Brouhaha, available in English as Brouhaha: Worlds of the Contemporary.

4 I address in detail the issue of the contemporary as ‘paraperiod’ and ‘cycle’ in ‘Periodization’ (2021).

5 On postmodern periodization and ‘peak postmodernism,’ see McHale 62–122.

6 Most critics agree that Bradley Pearson’s opinions reflect Murdoch’s, at least in aesthetic matters. David Robjant is a recent exception in his article ‘Who Killed Arnold Baffin? Iris Murdoch and Philosophy by Literature’.

7 See Agamben and Badiou.

8 See Karbalei 91–107. Other critics who have attended to the metafictional and self-reflexive vectors of The Black Prince are Vahali and Tosi.

9 In my account, truth is even more important that in the predominant readings of the novel that are grounded in the ‘truth of fiction’ concept (for which see, e. g., Lamarque 209–222).

10 Mitchum Huelhs is one of the critics who have tackled ‘presence’ and the ‘turn’ to it in recent fiction (Huelhs 34 and passim). His use of the concept is significantly different from mine even though we share the focus on ontology.

11 Worth are mentioning in this context especially Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht’s books on presence and interpretation: Our Broad Present: Time and Contemporary Culture (2014) and Production of Presence: What Meaning Cannot Convey (2004).

12 Critics who have dwelled on Shakespearean intertextuality in The Black Prince, sometimes focusing primarily on Hamlet, include—to list but a few—Carla Dente Baschiera, Peter Wolfe, and Alicia Muro Llorente.

13 For a Derridean reading of The Black Prince, see, however, Fiddes 91–109.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Christian Moraru, « Murdoch after Postmodernism: Metafiction, Truth, and the Aesthetic of Presence in The Black Prince »Études britanniques contemporaines [En ligne], 59 | 2020, mis en ligne le 01 septembre 2020, consulté le 28 novembre 2020. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ebc/9853; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/ebc.9853

Haut de page

Auteur

Christian Moraru

Christian Moraru is Class of 1949 Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and Professor of English at University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He specializes in contemporary American fiction, critical theory, and world literature with emphasis on international postmodernism and its post-Cold War developments and successors. His recent publications include monographs such as Cosmodernism: American Narrative, Late Globalization, and the New Cultural Imaginary (University of Michigan Press, 2011) and Reading for the Planet: Toward a Geomethodology (University of Michigan Press, 2015). He is the editor of Postcommunism, Postmodernism, and the Global Imagination (Columbia University Press/EEM Series, 2009), as well as coeditor of The Planetary Turn: Relationality and Geoaesthetics in the Twenty-First Century (Northwestern University Press, 2015), Romanian Literature as World Literature (Bloomsbury, 2018), and Francophone Literature as World Literature (forthcoming from Bloomsbury, 2020).

Articles du même auteur

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
Études britanniques contemporaines est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo Presses universitaires de la Méditerranée
  • Logo ERIH +
  • Logo DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • OpenEdition Journals
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search