Bowen's recesses: from realism to inter-objectivity

Edited book (chapter)


Johnson, Laurie. 2019. "Bowen's recesses: from realism to inter-objectivity." Gildersleeve, Jessica and Smith, Patrica Juliana (ed.) Elizabeth Bowen: theory, thought and things. Edinburgh. Edinburgh University Press. pp. 127-144
Chapter Title

Bowen's recesses: from realism to inter-objectivity

Book Chapter CategoryEdited book (chapter)
ERA Publisher ID1755
Book TitleElizabeth Bowen: theory, thought and things
Authors
AuthorJohnson, Laurie
EditorsGildersleeve, Jessica and Smith, Patrica Juliana
Page Range127-144
Chapter Number8
Number of Pages18
Year2019
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
ISBN9781474458641
9781474458672
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9781474458641.001.0001
Web Address (URL)https://edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com/view/10.3366/edinburgh/9781474458641.001.0001/upso-9781474458641-chapter-009
Abstract

This chapter re-orients consideration of realist elements in Bowen’s short stories by framing readings according to a series of 'recesses'. The first is as a building feature designed to conceal and display, which frames a discussion of the status of 'things' in Bowen’s writing, that is, the objects that deck out her narratives and become a focus for critical interest in her realism. The second is as a cue for the notion of receding, which I use against claims about consistency in narrative voice in Bowen’s work to argue instead that Bowen’s 'voice' can be shown increasingly to recede, leaving the subject-position in such doubt as to compel the willing reader to complete the point of view. Finally, 'recess' is used in the sense of suspension or adjournment, against claims that the 'psychological realism' created by Bowen presents a 'transtemporal subjectivity', to argue that agency in Bowen’s narratives becomes, by virtue of the points raised above, suspended, such that 'subjectivity' is itself untenable. The term I will use to describe the coming together of people and things in Bowen’s fictional universe, and indeed in her writings about the world of the blitz, is 'inter-objectivity'.

KeywordsBowen, Elizabeth; inter-objectivity; narration; realism; subjectivity; voice
ANZSRC Field of Research 2020470504. British and Irish literature
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Byline AffiliationsSchool of Humanities and Communication
Institution of OriginUniversity of Southern Queensland
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