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Imagination, Irreality, and the Constitution of Knowledge in Penelope Fitzgerald's The Blue Flower
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7085-1279
2017 (English)In: Anthropoetics, ISSN 1083-7264, E-ISSN 1083-7264, Vol. 23, no 1Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

In this reading of Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Blue Flower I draw on the existential phenomenology of Maurice Natanson as well as Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy of the possible. I expand on Ricoeur’s claim that fiction may recover what history cannot account for as I make the case for imagination as a prerequisite for epistemically end ethically viable knowledge. I here use Miranda Fricker’s concept of epistemic injustice in order to show how the episteme (in Foucault’s sense) frequently deprives historical subjects of their status as “knowers,” hence refusing them their right to “be who they are” (Fricker, 5).  My reading demonstrates how The Blue Flower (in phenomenological terms) makes irreal the everyday and in doing so constitutes literature’s peculiar capacity to provide an alternate road to knowledge. I am interested in following this trajectory in terms of the fictive possibilities of the imaginary in the constitution of knowledge in literature as a cultural/linguistic space where imagination-based knowledge is constructed. I show how the irreal quality of the everyday in The Blue Flower illuminates with a sense of possibility the current of loss (of opportunity, of life, of action) underpinning the novel’s “mood.” I argue that the irreal makes for a different way of looking at loss insofar as it makes room for something else: the emergence of meaning “in spite of everything” (Kearney, 54), thus creating a scene of representation by which the sense of meaning can come into being. For this purpose, I highlight imagination rather than history, the possible rather than the actual, and ultimately, examine the epistemological significance of such an approach.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 23, no 1
Keywords [en]
existential phenomenology, the possible, epistemology, epistemic injustice, Penelope Fitzgerald, Novalis, historical fiction, imagination, irreality
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Literature; English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-154216OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-154216DiVA, id: diva2:1191864
Available from: 2018-03-20 Created: 2018-03-20 Last updated: 2018-04-18

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CiteExportLink to record
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