The Grammar of Identity: Transnational Fiction and the Nature of the Boundary

Paperback | December 15, 2012

byStephen Clingman

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In our current world, questions of the transnational, location, land, and identity confront us with a particular insistence. The Grammar of Identity is a lively and wide-ranging study of twentieth-century fiction that examines how writers across nearly a hundred years have confronted theseissues. Circumventing the divisions of conventional categories, the book examines writers from both the colonial and postcolonial, the modern and postmodern eras, putting together writers who might not normally inhabit the same critical space: Joseph Conrad, Caryl Phillips, Salman Rushdie, CharlotteBronte, Jean Rhys, Anne Michaels, W. G. Sebald, Nadine Gordimer, and J. M. Coetzee. In this guise, the book itself becomes a journey of discovery, exploring the transnational not so much as a literal crossing of boundaries but as a way of being and seeing. In fictional terms this also means that it concerns a set of related forms: ways of approaching time and space; constructionsof the self by way of combination and constellation; versions of navigation that at once have to do with the foundations of language as well as our pathways through the world. From Conrad's waterways of the earth, to Sebald's endless horizons of connection and accountability, to Gordimer's andCoetzee's meditations on the key sites of village, Empire, and desert, the book recovers the centrality of fiction to our understanding of the world. At the heart of it all is the grammar of identity, how we assemble and undertake our versions of self at the core of our forms of being andseeing.

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In our current world, questions of the transnational, location, land, and identity confront us with a particular insistence. The Grammar of Identity is a lively and wide-ranging study of twentieth-century fiction that examines how writers across nearly a hundred years have confronted theseissues. Circumventing the divisions of conventi...

Stephen Clingman is Professor of English and Director of the Interdisciplinary Seminar in the Humanities and Fine Arts at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His first book was The Novels Of Nadine Gordimer: History From The Inside, and his edited collection of essays by Nadine Gordimer, The Essential Gesture: Writing, Politics ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:288 pagesPublished:December 15, 2012Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019965381X

ISBN - 13:9780199653812

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Table of Contents

Introduction. The Grammar of Identity1. Waterways of the Earth: Joseph Conrad - Nostromo; Lord Jim; Heart of Darkness2. Route, Constellation, Faultline: Caryl Phillips - The Nature of Blood; A Distant Shore3. Combination, Divination: Salman Rushdie - Midnight's Children; The Satanic Verses4. Vertical and Horizontal: Charlotte Bronte, Jean Rhys, and Anne Michaels - Jane Eyre; Wide Sargasso Sea; Fugitive Pieces5. Transfiction: W. G. Sebald - The Emigrants; Vertigo; The Rings of Saturn; Austerlitz6. Village, Empire, Desert: Nadine Gordimer and J. M. Coetzee - July's People; Waiting for the Barbarians; The PickupConclusion. The Nature of the Boundary

Editorial Reviews

"His book is, impressively and very topically, a reaffirmation of the importance of literary reading and therefore an implicit riposte to the infiltration of university departments of literature by the jargon and priorities of the corporate world." --Robert Spencer, Journal of Postcolonial Writing