Provides in-depth analysis of the life, works, career, and critical importance of Penelope Lively.
In her concern for character and moral issues, in her incisive social satire, Penelope Lively is very much the descendant of Jane Austen and the Victorians; in her exploration of multiple points of view, the subjective aspects of time and of reality, she is heir to modernists T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf. What distinguishes Lively from her literary predecessors and from many contemporary British novelists is her adroitness in blending - in a prose style celebrated for its aesthetic restraint - social realism with technical experimentation. In this first book-length study of Lively's novels Mary Hurley Moran documents the author's unique place in the tradition of British letters, making the case that her work merits the serious consideration of scholars, especially those interested in the current direction of the British novel. Lively's fiction - particularly Moon Tiger, winner of the prestigious Booker Prize in 1987, and City of the Mind, published in 1991 - "belies the conventional view that the postwar British novel has reacted against the experimentation of the modernist period," Moran writes. The surface quaintness of Lively's novels, which are infused with her passion for architectural and colloquial history and can be reminiscent of "the village and vicars" school of British novelists, can be peeled back to reveal a fictional world laden with the psychological complexities of modern life: agnosticism and existential anxiety, lack of belief in an objective reality, consciousness of the tenuous nature of such constructs as language and linear time. Key to the thematic and technical composition of Lively's work, Moran argues, is her view of the subjective nature of reality and the fluidity of time, particularly the way individual memory can permeate the present. To convey the way "reality" appears to change in accord with each individual's perception, Lively employs what Moran terms a kaleidoscopic technique as she subtly shifts from one point of view to another. To communicate the potency of memory, Lively frequently breaks from the third-person narrative frame into "intimate first-person forays into the main characters' consciousnesses," revealing the extent to which people live in their memories. While the focus of Moran's study is first and foremost the thematic, narrative, and stylistic concerns of the nine novels Lively wrote between 1977 and 1991, it is informed by Lively's recollections of her own past - particularly a childhood spent in Cairo - as well as a brief examination of her children's fiction - the genre in which Lively learned her craft. Moran thus offers a thorough-going assessment of a writer who partakes of past and present, tradition and experimentation with equal pleasure.
Ch. 1. Lively's themes, style, background, and other fiction -- Ch. 2. The road to Lichfield and treasures of time -- Ch. 3. Judgment day -- Ch. 4. Next to nature, art -- Ch. 5. Perfect happiness -- Ch. 6. According to Mark -- Ch. 7. Moon tiger -- Ch. 8. Passing on and city of the mind
The information below has been drawn from sources outside of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. In most instances, the information will be from sources that have not been peer reviewed by scholarly or research communities. Please report cases in which the information is inaccurate through the Contact Us link below.