Literature in the labyrinth: Classical myth and postmodern multicursal fiction
Muhlstock, Rae Leigh
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The labyrinth is a powerful image, turning up throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in modernist, high modernist, postmodern, experimental, and digital fictions. Some authors taking up the image of the labyrinth in the latter half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first consider it more than a mere metaphor or a setting before which plots and characters unfold; it offers instead a poetics, a way to discover, explore, and conquer labyrinths constructed of the experiences of everyday life--the city, the home, the library, the computer, the mind, even the book itself. Throughout this thesis I examine a small selection of their fictions--Michael Ayrton's The Maze Maker , Alain Robbe-Grillet's In the Labyrinth , Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves , Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose , Shelley Jackson's Patchwork Girl , Steve Tomasula's TOC , and selections by Jorge Luis Borges and Ovid--each of whom deploys the labyrinth simultaneously in the diegesis and discourse of their texts in order to discover the shifting boundaries of the page and narrative form. Non-sequential narrative techniques in the spatial, formal, linguistic, and typological structures of these fictions implicitly propose the labyrinth as a model for the unique complexities of writing and reading in the modern world, one that in fact demonstrates the very labyrinth that it describes.