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Title: The British aleatory novel, 1959 - 1979
Authors: Jenner, Sebastian Marc
Advisors: Tew, P
Hubble, N
Keywords: Chance;Chaos;Randomness;Experimental fiction;Aleatoric
Issue Date: 2021
Publisher: Brunel University London
Abstract: This thesis examines aleatory strategies and dynamics in an experimental strand of British fiction between 1959 and 1979. Drawing upon musicological theories of the ‘aleatory’ and unpacking the literary significance, it offers a working definition of the aleatory novel as a foregrounding of chance and complex narrative chaotics that are offered to the reader with, at least, the suggestion of requiring activation or animation. Aleatory strategies are shown to reflect a set of diverse and overlapping conceptual understandings and socio-cultural dynamics relating to a paradigm of chance in crisis. Possessing the potential to extend the complexities and contradictions inherent in the incorporation of chance within the novel and its formal qualities, aleatory novels amplify the manner by which both writers and readers conjoin perspectives in their relations with a fictional text and its representation of an emergent chaotic reality. This thesis examines the aleatory in various selected authors whose concerns are among those that retrospectively help define the experimental novelist’s view in Britain during the period. B.S. Johnson explores issues of identity and working class consciousness within innovative modes of aleatory form, aware of personal and political struggle. Rayner Heppenstall, Ann Quin, Wilson Harris, and Doris Lessing engage with aleatorical stylistics to articulate ontological instability, personal and collective trauma, and the fragmentation of grand narratives. Brigid Brophy and Eva Figes foreground issues of gender through aleatoric and ludic perspectives and various intensely personal struggles within patriarchal structures. Finally, John Fowles and Iris Murdoch indicate a popularization of complex conceptual engagements with chance within more conventional modes of writing, thus taking textual and conceptual experimentation to a wider readership. Aligned with positions of apparent marginalization, aleatory dynamics encourage readerly engagements with chance and chaos as fertile grounds for collaborative agitation against the imposition of totalizing narratives and order.
Description: This thesis was submitted for the award of Doctor of Philosophy and was awarded by Brunel University London
Appears in Collections:English and Creative Writing
Dept of Arts and Humanities Theses

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