Geocriticism and the Production of Literary Space



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This dissertation argues that examining literature through the lens of geocriticism enables a better understanding of the texts under examination while also providing key insights into the function of the texts’ narrative structure. In turn, a dynamic understanding of narrative space as the link between author and reader necessitates a reevaluation of how novels are situated within the literary world. As a result, this dissertation follows a geocritical understanding of space to attempt to simultaneously understand the unique vision of an individual text, the way that its narrative structure seeks to position its storyworld, and the resulting evaluation of the text’s literary merit. Four novels were selected because of their unique position at the nexus of factors such as their national literary tradition, breadth of circulation, and critical reception. William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! is viewed as a classic of high modernism and despite its specifically Southern world within the United States, it is claimed as part of the literary tradition of countries around the world and throughout the global South. Alejo Carpentier’s The Kingdom of This World sits at the crossroads of the Caribbean and Latin America and is seen as a precursor to the magical realism that would come to represent a burgeoning Latin American literary tradition, earning an association with the supranational region despite its more specific focus on Caribbean politics. More insular in its setting, Wilma Dykeman’s novel The Tall Woman is primarily set in a rural world of the Southern United States with elements of the novel that nonetheless entangle the insular community in the larger world, even as it is often cast as a regional or southern Appalachian work. Finally, Kateb Yacine’s Nedjma is a genre-bending novel written in French and yet seen as an attempt to forge an Algerian literary tradition alongside the nation’s birth. For each novel the salient features of the diegetic space, the narrative space, and the literary space are identified in order to demonstrate that a geocritical reading allows for these to be simultaneously analyzed, revealing insights that are often neglected when these spaces are examined individually.



Literary geography, narrative theory, world literature, geocriticism