Bridging aspects of rhythm and prose fiction and Demi-Gods

Robertson, Eliza (2017) Bridging aspects of rhythm and prose fiction and Demi-Gods. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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My novel, Demi-Gods, begins when nine-year-old Willa meets Patrick, eleven, in 1950. Patrick is visiting
their Salt Spring Island beach house from San Diego. On the first morning, Willa follows him to the
beach, where he coaxes her into a dilapidated rowboat. Their cruise ends when she is stung by a jellyfish
and Patrick convinces her to urinate on herself. This transaction, in which Patrick asserts authority over
her body and she complies, cinches a knot of power between them. As the years proceed, this bond
thickens. It’s not until later that she realizes their relationship is essentially self-effacing. Willa has never
felt exalted under anyone else’s gaze, and Patrick has never felt as powerful. The knot of power has altered
them both.
Rather than explore my creative practice thematically, I have found it more fruitful to unpack a concept
central to the novel’s form and formation: rhythm. My thesis seeks to understand that centrality—how
rhythm initiates and sustains my writing and fiction more broadly. Before Plato emphasized the link
between rhuthmos (ρυθμός) and metron (μέτρον), rhythm signified a fluid or flowing form. The first
chapter contrasts two traditional metaphors for rhythm, rheos vs. cadentibus guttis. By tracing the
etymology of rhuthmos, I find these metaphors are not mutually exclusive. In the second chapter, I
question the metaphors we use to identify “presence” in prose fiction. I draw upon Derrida’s
deconstruction of the presence-absence hierarchy and pitch rhythm as an alternative metaphor to “voice.”
The final chapter draws parallels between my study of rhythm and Henri Bergson’s theory of duration,
with a focus on the grammatical verbal. Here, I apply the concepts I have been discussing to Virginia
Woolf’s The Waves. In its entirety, my thesis contemplates the ways in which rhythm bridges the
experience of the reader with the experience of the writer, and how rhythm calls to me personally.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing (former - to 2011)
Depositing User: Users 4971 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2017 13:47
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2020 00:38


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