The Prose by Salinger and the Metaphysics of Gilles Deleuze

Nina F. Shcherbak, Alfredo Taunay

Research output

Abstract

Introduction. This article aims at analyzing the prose of Jerome D. Salinger ("Nine Stories" and "The Catcher in the Rye"). The main innovative element of this research is to study the prose by Salinger as an example of post-avant-garde American prose with the application of the philosophical concepts introduced by the French post-structuralist Gilles Deleuze. The benefit and importance of such research are determined by the fact that the prose developed by Salinger (especially in "Nine Stories") is characterized by a new type of narrative developed after the Second World War, similar to certain patterns observed not only in literature, but also in music and art. Methodology and sources. The research method used is coined as structural-semantic analysis. Methodology also implies the use of the main principles of the metaphysics developed by Gilles Deleuze, which is reflected in his book "Difference and Repetition", and is analyzed in scientific works on the theory of post-avant-garde art and music. Results and discussion. The fusion of the crystal-like, mirror-isomorphic structure of Salinger's prose ("Nine Stories") and fragments of the real experience rendered in his stories (such as feelings and sensations of the characters) do not even create their own "image", as I. Galinskaya writes, but manifest "a living, echoing shadow of the picture", which allows not only to interpret events, but create a special mood, sensation in the reader. In this sense, the remark of Hassan, a famous theoretician of postmodernism, is very accurate: in postmodern literature the place of "the Father God" (that is the "voice" of the reader) is occupied by the "the Holy Spirit" (that is the "voice" of the narrative beyond the actual wording). The meaning of the story (on a macro-level), as well as the pragmatic meaning of some of the statements and words (on a micro-level) lie somewhere beyond words and concepts, outside the storyline or composition, appears alongside with the predetermined structure, as if against the will of the author. Deliberate simplicity, minimal lexical workload or density, and the absence of obvious cause-effect relationships create a feeling of "trance", which makes the reader address the story again and again in an attempt to find an accurate interpretation. Conclusion. In one of Salinger's saddest cycle of stories (in this analysis A Perfect Day for Bananafish) about the fate of the post-war generation, the feeling of an otherworldly, different presence arises. A series of repetitions gives a feeling of "difference", allows for understanding how close attention to a situation gives new opportunities for decisions, actions and meanings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-43
Number of pages15
JournalДискурс
Volume6
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2020

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