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By M. Keith Booker

Utilizing the theoretical assets supplied through cultural critics equivalent to Adorno, Jameson, Althusser, and Foucault, M. Keith Booker examines the therapy of problems with strength and domination in smooth literature. Discussing texts resembling Virginia Woolf's The Waves, Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita, Thomas Pynchon's V., and Italo Calvino's If on a winter's evening a visitor, Booker specializes in gender kinfolk as a locus of struggles for strength in human relatives usually. He additionally will pay unique consciousness to the paintings of Samuel Beckett, analyzing the novels Watt and The misplaced Ones to discover the problems of energy and domination in an Irish cultural context.    

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Jameson thus has many positive things to say about the self-conscious artifice of modernist art, which was produced in a time when the realist paradigms of the nineteenth century were still functional in most areas of society. On the other hand, he sees the overt artificiality of many postmodernist texts as being in mimetic complicity with the contemporary order of late consumer capitalism, in which alienation is so pronounced that the world seems just as unreal as these texts. To Jameson, this phenomenon "consistently affirms the identity of postmodernism with capitalism in its latest systematic mutation" ("Marxism and Postmodernism" 373).

This Is Not a Pot: The Assault on Scientific Language in Samuel Beckett's Watt 20 2. Tradition, Authority, and Subjectivity: Narrative Constitution of the Self in The Waves 42 3. Adorno, Althusser, and Humbert Humbert: Nabokov's Lolita as Neo-Marxist Critique of Bourgeois Subjectivity 70 4. Mastery and Sexual Domination: Imperialism as Rape in Pynchon's V. 90 5. Who's the Boss? Reader, Author, and Text in Calvino's If on a winter's night a traveler 117 6. Against Epistemology in Reading and Teaching: The Failure of Interpretive Mastery in Beckett's The Lost Ones 142 Notes 161 Works Cited 175 Index 185 Page ix Acknowledgments I would like to thank various individuals who read and commented on parts or all of this manuscript, including Robert Cochran of the University of Arkansas and Brandon Kershner, Alistair Duckworth, and Al Shoaf of the University of Florida.

Thus, Nabokov's examination of this relation resonates with certain neo-Marxist critiques of modern society in powerful and interesting ways. At the same time, this resonance calls attention to Nabokov's own avowedly anti-Marxist sympathies and suggests a potential dialogue with the Stalinist terror that looms in the margins of so many of Nabokov's texts. Thomas Pynchon also explores the motif of domination in relations between the sexes in his novel V. In particular, Pynchon situates the drive for domination in sexual relations (represented in strong form by the images of rape in his text) within a constellation of power struggles that he relates to the growth of Western imperialism in the nineteenth century and of fascism in the twentieth.

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