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"Where the Trails All Cross": Chronotopes, Cyclic Time and Recycled Mythology in Pauline Melville's The Ventriloquist's Tale
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2013 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Pauline Melville’s The Ventriloquist’s Tale is an intricately layered novel in which the myths and folktales of the Amerindians of Guyana, as they are represented in Melville’s novel, are engaged in a dialogue with their reality. This narrative/mythical dialogue results in enactments and re-enactments of the myths and folktales, not only retelling them, but also recycling them, resulting in the Amerindians interpreting their myths and folktales nonmetaphorically. Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of settings as chronotopes, “timespaces” in which time and space are inseparable from each other and from the theme, is used to define the distinct thematic qualities of the three narrative layers in the novel. I label these three chronotopes unfixed space, the juncture, and the interior. The interior is established as the chronotope in which the enactments and reenactments of myths and folktales primarily take place, re/enactments which add yet another layer to the novel. I argue that the reason the chronotope of the interior is the nexus of these myths and folktales is largely because the Amerindians adhere to a concept of time which is cyclical rather than linear. The enactments and reenactments are then unfolded as intentionally complex and contradictory threads, which are then untangled to show how the myths and folktales are recycled in the novel. This untangling reveals how the threads interconnect, and how they can all be traced back to the narrator, the trickster deity Macunaima, suggesting he is as unbound by temporal and spatial limitations as the narrative layer of myths and folktales from which he has emerged.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 21 p.
Keyword [en]
Amerindians, myth, chronotope, cyclic time
National Category
Specific Literatures
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-100147OAI: diva2:691486
Available from: 2014-01-28 Created: 2014-01-28 Last updated: 2014-01-28Bibliographically approved

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