England Calling: A Narratological Exploration of Martin Amis’s 'London Fields'

Scott, Jeremy (2008) England Calling: A Narratological Exploration of Martin Amis’s 'London Fields'. International Journal of the Humanities, 6 (7). pp. 59-66. ISSN 1447-9508. (Full text available)

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Abstract

This paper will explore connections between fictional narrative methodology and contemporary conceptions of Englishness by applying aspects of Gerald Prince’s (2005) conceptions of a ‘postcolonial narratology’ to Martin Amis’s “London Fields” (1989). Amis has commented that ‘it’s almost an act of will on my part trying not to be an English writer’. However, this paper will suggest that the novel under consideration here exhibits methodological tendencies which have their roots in a protracted engagement with problematic notions of English identity (principally, instability and disengagement) and that postcolonial approaches to narrative technique can lead to very interesting results, even when applied to the work of writers not typically identified with such constituencies. The central point of investigation will be the novel’s exhibition of metafictional tendencies. In “London Fields”, Amis narrates via an authorial surrogate, Samson Young, who purports to be the author of the text, yet becomes implicated in the events of the novel to the point where his actions, rather than his imagination, determine its outcome. It is interesting also in this connection that the novel is voiced by an ‘outsider’ to England, an American. Prince is intrigued by the possibility that a postcolonial narrative discourse might emerge ‘free of any narratorial introduction, mediation, or patronage.’ He also points to the significance of narratological features such as hybridity, migrancy, otherness, fragmentation, diversity and power relations. Amis’s novel exhibits all of these features, and takes the ambition of authorial invisibility to a paradoxical extreme. Voices, characters, reliability and even actantial events are brusquely ‘disowned’ by the author, resulting in a textual instability and uncertainty which, it will be demonstrated through close textual analysis, is intimately linked to England’s postcolonial condition.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Postcolonial narratology, stylistics, narrative technique, Englishness
Subjects: P Language and Literature
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > English Language and Linguistics
Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages > Comparative Literature
Depositing User: Jeremy Scott
Date Deposited: 24 May 2013 13:46 UTC
Last Modified: 29 Aug 2014 14:46 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/33988 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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