Global space, local place: Form and transcultural tension in the late modernist novel, 1929–1947
Marley, Jason R.
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"Global Space, Local Place: Form and Transcultural Tension in the Late Modernist Novel, 1929-1947" establishes a previously unforeseen link between late modernist fiction of the 1930s and 1940s and contemporary theories of globalism. In bringing these fields together, I contend that transnational late modernist writers employ formal experimentation as a means to highlight an increasingly discordant relationship between local and global space. This discordant relationship engenders a distinct sense of "transcultural" tension that culminates in a need to more deeply consider the problematics of cultural interaction within the work of literature itself. Accordingly, I focus on several transnational, mobile late modernist writers, such as Jean Rhys, Felipe Alfau, and Vladimir Nabokov. I demonstrate how their works confront emergent problems of globalism through a unique combination of formal techniques; their fictions incorporate ellipses to indicate the psychological effects of international travel, employ metafictive analyses of shifting definitions of art and culture to analyze cosmopolitanism, and present collage and pastiche as a means to examine questions of national belonging, among other narrative techniques. In short, all of the writers I focus on use linguistic and structural experimentation to critique romanticized notions of global interaction. These fictive critiques of the problematics of globalism, I argue, forecast and prefigure modern critiques of globalization. Yet because late modernist writers hail from many different cultures and nations, they negotiate the complexities of globalism from notably different perspectives. Therefore, I focus on several global intersections of art and culture in the late modernist novel, not limited to: Caribbean, French, and British in the work of Jean Rhys; Spanish and American in the work of Felipe Alfau; and European and American in the work of Vladimir Nabokov. In surveying a wide range of cultural and national intersections, "Global Space, Local Place" provides a new account of the many ways in which late modernist fiction anticipates the repercussions of living in a transnational, globalized world.