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Joyce Carol Oates: The Wonderland Quartet, Nietzsche, and Lewis Carroll

Horvath, Dorota (2021) Joyce Carol Oates: The Wonderland Quartet, Nietzsche, and Lewis Carroll. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87959) (KAR id:87959)

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https://doi.org/10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87959

Abstract

This thesis discusses the aesthetics of a mode of survival in light of the postmodern reading in The Wonderland Quartet of Joyce Carol Oates (1938- ). Oates is a prominent American critic and writer of fiction, whose texts encompass novels, short stories, poetry, and plays. Her oeuvre has been translated into multiple languages, and she holds an array of literary and other awards. Additionally, Oates has been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize five times, and has been the recipient of prestigious Nobel Prize nominations.Her writing takes on abundant influences of literary and philosophical intellectuals, mirrors her life observance and poses altering forms of her artistic imagination. What may be delineated as Oates' original literary scholarship is her ability to reflect on the cultural reception of Walter Arnold Kaufmann's Nietzsche in her fiction, while enabling her characters to decide their purposes. Echoing Nietzsche, her characters are not limited by any normative standards. The author's narrative techniques let the characters' polyphonic voices dominate the fabulation. In the context of societal margins from the 1950s until the early 1970s, the tone of The Wonderland Quartet progresses into a buoyant climax of human pursuit in its last text.Oates aestheticizes cultural experiments after the proclamation about the death of God that mould postmodern social theories of the American culture after 1950. She depicts the philosophical transition of Kaufmann's model of Nietzsche, as a shaping influence on society, into postmodern sentiment. In her fiction, Oates juxtaposes the concept of unity with the postmodern concept of decentralisation that affirms pluralism. Her fictional perspective of blurred lines between fantasy and reality is influenced by Lewis Carroll's texts that are celebrated for the element of absurdity and the images of jumbled nonsense by postmodern critics.In The Wonderland Quartet (A Garden of Earthly Delights(1967),Expensive People (1968), the National Book Award-winning Them (1969), and Wonderland (1971)), Oates' characters epitomise the cultural margins, and push their boundaries, testing their limitations and striving to go beyond them. The author celebrates the aesthetics of playful fictions that corresponds to the postmodern reading. However, her dramatisation of the power games invites an element of terror to depict the tragedy of disordered human domination. While the protagonists from the first three novels of the Quartet correspond to the postmodern appropriation of Nietzsche's ideas, in the last text, the protagonist achieves integrity, and centralises authoritative influences into his internal control, fashioning Kaufmann's model of Nietzsche.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Ayers, David
Thesis advisor: Herd, David
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.87959
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 07 May 2021 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 01 May 2022 23:00 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/87959 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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