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Explaining the self: A contextual study of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and Joseph Heller

Brauner, David Leon Gideon; (1995) Explaining the self: A contextual study of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and Joseph Heller. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

I offer an exploration of the work of these three contemporary novelists, focusing on the phenomenon of self-explanation - both in the sense of justifying oneself, and of seeking to define the nature of selfhood. I identify three roles in which (and against which) these self-explanations take place: as writers of comedy, as Jewish writers, and as American writers. Although these roles overlap, I treat them as distinct tor the purposes of structural clarity and contextualise them by locating them in related literary and cultural traditions. I am particularly concerned with the ambivalent attitudes that these writers display towards these roles, with the tensions between - and within - their theory and practice. The thesis is divided into three chapters, framed by an introduction and conclusion. Each chapter begins with a survey of some of the meanings attached to the terms "comedy", "Jewish" and "American" as generic labels, before moving on to a detailed analysis of a number of texts (by Bellow, Roth and Heller, and by others whose work shares these contexts) informed by these meanings. These close readings, which form the heart of the thesis, are divided within each chapter into three sections (one for each of the three writers). Though contextual rather than comparative in emphasis, cumulatively the thesis provides an evaluation of their works, both in relation to each other and in terms of their larger literary-historical significance.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Explaining the self: A contextual study of Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and Joseph Heller
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Language, literature and linguistics; Social sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10097501
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