Fantasising the self: a study of Alasdair Gray's 'Lanark', '1982 Janine', 'Something Leather' and 'Poor Things'
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This thesis explores the use of fantasy in Alasdair Gray's major fictions: Lanark (1981), 1982 Janine (1984), Something Leather (1990) and Poor Things (1992). The main purpose is to study the way Alasdair Gray borrows elements from different forms of fantasy - magical realism, pornography, the Gothic and science fiction - in order to explore and resolve the internal conflicts of his characters. In the introduction current definitions of fantasy are surveyed. Also explored is the concept of magical realism, as one of the objectives of the thesis is to demonstrate that some of Gray's work, particularly Lanark, presents some of the characteristics of this branch of Postmodernism. The first chapter concerns Lanark. The juxtaposition of fantasy and realism is explored in order to show the fragmentation of the self represented by the figure of Thaw/Lanark. Also paradoxes and contradictions at the heart of this work are investigated from the point of view of form and content. Of particular importance is the conflict between the individual and society. In the chapter dealing with 1982 Janine, the concept of deidealisation is introduced to show how Jock deals with the figures in his past, Scotland and himself Jock's personal conflicts and damaged psyche are explored through his pornographic fantasies. In chapter III Something Leather is compared to works by Sade, particularly their use of sadomasochistic and homosexual fantasies as a form of social subversion. Chapter IV discusses Poor Things from the point of view of how characteristics typical of the Gothic novel are parodied to explore gender issues such as the construction of female identity by a male Other. Parallelisms between this novel and Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children and John Fowles' A Maggot are also explored. In the conclusion the main concerns and obsessions of Gray's fiction are explored through a discussion of his shorter fiction.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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