Folklore and the fantastic in twenty-first-century fiction and Depths, a novel

Binney, Sara Helen (2016) Folklore and the fantastic in twenty-first-century fiction and Depths, a novel. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

This thesis is, and is about, fiction which reworks folkloric narrative using aesthetics and ethics which react against postmodernism. Part one is a critical essay in which I define a group of such novels written in the early twenty-first-century as 'folklore-inflected', and examine how they set themselves apart from the postmodernist fairy tale fictions which came before them. Focusing on A Summer of Drowning by John Burnside, Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child, and Patrick Ness's The Crane Wife, I show how they turn from irony to sincerity, from magic to the Todovorian fantastic, and from overt political engagement to a quieter ethics linked to the sublime and the sacred.
Part two comprises a novel, Depths, which enacts and develops many of the paradigms described in part one, for example by eschewing postmodern irony in the narrative style and focusing on characters' various attempts at authenticity. It retells the Celtic legend of the kelpie, a shape-shifting water horse which tempts people into drowning, in present-day Scotland; at the same time it is a story of a disappearance (of Iain - friend, brother, and almost-lover to the protagonists) and an appearance (of Mary, who cannot remember who she is), and their consequences for the three people they affect most closely. Following Donall, Dia, and Fay as their lives are infiltrated and their desires twisted by Mary's influence, the novel maintains a fantastic hesitation around the character of Mary, whose increasing manipulation may, or may not, have its roots in folklore.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Gillian Aldus
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2017 11:28
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2017 11:28
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/63134
DOI:

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