The great modernist novelists aimed to create structures that would be all-embracing; on the one hand, the single place of the author’s youth or childhood would provide a metonymic image, or possible repository, of all other places (Joyce’s Dublin, Proust’s Combray, Mann’s Lübeck, Musil’s Vienna); on the other, they presented the imagination as its own hero, and countered the threatening fluidity of the encyclopaedic novel with the concentration of the narcissist. The single place set a boundary to the infinity of the imagination; the imagination universalised that place. The result was both an indulgence and a critique of the powers of imagination.


Multiple Personality Single Place Detective Story Ritual Murder Disc Jockey 
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The Art of Lying: Three Post-war English Novels

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    Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969) p. 374.Google Scholar

The Survival of Modernism: Some Post-war American Novels

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    Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (London: Gollancz, 1953) p. 382.Google Scholar
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    Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (London: Cape, 1967) p. 109.Google Scholar
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    Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (London: Cape, 1973) p. 30.Google Scholar

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© Paul Coates 1983

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  • Paul Coates

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