Negotiating the paranoia narrative : the critical reception of Bleeding Edge (2013) by Thomas Pynchon
Faculty of Arts. Linguistics and Literature
Anglia: Zeitschrift für englische Philologie. - Tübingen
, p. 88-112
University of Antwerp
Traditionally, narratology has studied the production and interpretation of narratives as a process of communication involving a sender, a message, and a receiver. This article argues that the complexity of narrative creation and understanding needs a wider perspective. Taking our cue from socionarratology (esp. Arthur W. Frank, more generally Pierre Bourdieu) and cultural narratology (esp. Ansgar Nunning, more generally Stephen Greenblatt), we suggest that the creation and interpretation of narratives be studied as a process of circulation (of cultural materials such as narrative templates) and negotiation (basically between narrative habitus and literary field). As an example we zoom in on the circulation and negotiation of paranoia narratives in the critical reception of Thomas Pynchon's most recent novel Bleeding Edge. In the analysis of some 100 reviews we specify the process of circulation and negotiation as the prefiguration, configuration, and refiguration of prototypical paranoia narratives. The decisive steering factor (prefiguration) in the reviews turns out to be the authorial image; Pynchon's configuration of the paranoia plot is typically approached from the gendered perspective of characterization; and the novel's transformation (refiguration) is said to reside in Pynchon's power to force us to reinterpret reality in the light of his own brand of paranoia narrative.