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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: (urth) Postmodernism (was Re: Wolfe a conservative writer?)
Date: Fri, 08 Dec 2000 17:25:12 

Alex David Groce wrote:
> Adam wrote:
> > And for this very reason, that prototypical postmodernist John Barth
> > has also adopted the _Thousand Nights and a Night_ as a model.  Not
> > to mention the postmodernist tour de force THE ARABIAN NIGHTMARE by
> > Robert Irwin (whose book on _The Thousand Nights and a Night_,
> > entitled something like THE ARABIAN NIGHTS: A COMPANION, I highly
> > recommend).
> Hmmm...  This seems to bring us back to the whole question of how to
> know postmodernism (and without the aid of a SF oracle like Damon
> Knight's finger).  Barth I will agree is postmodernist.  But notice
> that Wolfe, while he write about stories being told, telling
> themselves, etc., never (AFAIK) does the kind of metafictional
> introduction of himself that Barth does (in _Chimera_, for example).

Well, there was that one in STOREYS (iirc) about the author writing his
perfect story a word at a time; but I take your point.  But I wasn't
arguing that Wolfe is a postmodernist; I was arguing against the claim
that he is a "very conservative" writer, and the paragraph you quote was
merely an incidental point.  I really don't know if Wolfe is a
postmodernist or not, especially since I have no definition of
postmodernism, and the lines between postmodernism and modernism are
very fuzzy (which is ULYSSES?).

> Use of the 1001 Nights does not a postmodernist
> make--Proust and R. A. Lafferty are both frequent travelers to that
> territory, and Proust is a modernist and Lafferty is whatever on earth
> Lafferty is.

For what it's worth, I would say Lafferty is a postmodernist, among
other things.  I also don't think the 1001 Nights is that much of an
influence on him, aside from THE THIRTEENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD and the
short story about the genie (and maybe a couple of others I've
forgotten).  I think he owes a lot more to American tall-tale
traditions, though he draws upon all sorts of legends.

> I'll agree that THE ARABIAN NIGHTMARE and PEACE have a
> _lot_ in common (though aiming at rather opposite visions, I think).

That actually hadn't occurred to me at all.  But now I'll have to think
about it.

> What makes THE ARABIAN NIGHTMARE postmodernist rather than modernist?

It's actually a while since I read it, and while I'm sure I
instinctively pegged it as postmodernist, I would have to reread it to
tell you why I thought so.  Why do you think it's modernist?


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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