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The Plane of Uncreatedness: A Phenomenological Study of Anita Brookner's Late Fiction
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2001 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The investigation maintains that the late fiction of Anita Brookner exhibits an autonomous region of auto-affective experience. This region shapes the materialization of subjectivity in the artifact. The study proposes that the autonomy of the region establishes the ontological nature of Brooknerian reality as a priority of the uncreated over the created. Using Michel Henry's Eckhartian phenomenology of auto-affection as a methodological and philosophic rationale, the study begins by exploring the experience of emptiness and boredom in the late Brookner novels: Lewis Percy, Visitors, Fraud, Falling Slowly, A Closed Eye, Altered States, Undue Influence, Incidents in the Rue Laugier, Brief Lives, A Family Romance, and A Private View. After excluding extrinsic considerations by means of phenomenological reduction, the study investigates the aesthetic and ontological implications furnished by the tension in the late Brookner novel s between autonomous and non-autonomous spheres of phenomenalization. Following the terminological usage set up in the 14th century by the controversial writings of Meister Eckhart, these two spheres are identified as those of the uncreated and the created. This non-dialectical model of phenomenalization, refined in the phenomenology of Michel Henry, is used in the study for the purpose of clarifying the nature of abstraction in the late Brookner novel: it is demonstrated, especially in close readings of Lewis Percy, Visitors and Falling Slowly, that the extreme experiential reduction accomplished in the Brookner novel through ruthless abstraction of subjectivity leaves an experiential remainder which, in so far as it is a plane of emptiness or a plane of uncreatedness, is analogous to the non-figurative frontality forwarded in the paintings and writings of Wassily Kandinsky as the abstract but material origin of a realm of pure worldlessness. The study shows that the latent excitement discovered in the hidden truth of this plane is descriptively graspable in terms of an understanding of a key factor in Brooknerian real ity: the absence of transcendence. Although subjectivity's reality is firmly situated on the hither side of the world, and although that worldless sphere is essentially one of non-difference, subjective life is nevertheless crucially attuned to a sense of the contrast between two modes of non-difference: the empty and the uncreated. However, these two modes are not experienced as transcendent to each other; they are not two different phenomena, and the passing from the one to the other is not a transcending of a phenomenon but a discovery of its depth.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Acta Universitatis Stockholmiensis, 2001. , 176 p.
Stockholm studies in English, ISSN 0346-6272 ; 93
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-21953ISBN: 91-22-01918-9OAI: diva2:188480
Public defence
2001-05-05, Hörsal 5, hus B, Universitetsvägen 10 B, Stockholm, 11:00 (English)
Available from: 2007-12-18 Created: 2007-12-18 Last updated: 2016-10-20Bibliographically approved

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