The techniques of committed fiction: in defense of Julian Barnes's "The Porcupine"
AuthorsLázaro Lafuente, Luis Alberto
IdentifiersPermanent link (URI): http://hdl.handle.net/10017/6893
Atlantis: Revista de la Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos. 2000, vol. 22/1, p. 121-131
Although some critics had repeatedly trumpeted the death of English satire in the first three quarters of the twentieth century, the frequency with wich the satiric note is sounded in recent fiction is extremely significant. In a period marked by the decline of the British Empire, a greater public awareness about civil rights, the strengthening of the feminist movement, and the fall of the Berlin wall, politics still draws the attention of contemporary British satirists. Julian Barnes's novel The Porcupine (1992) is an excellent example, with its acute satire on the current downfall of Eastern European regimes. On its publication, however, this book received extensive hostile attention from critics and reviewers on several grounds, including its "uncommitted quality", its flat characters and its sombre tone. This paper seeks to dispute the negative critical response to The Porcupine by considering this novel within the tradition of British political satire and the draw attention to the author's proper use of conventional satiric strategies, such as caricature, fantasy, irony and detachment, rhetorical devices on which he relies to show the shortcomings and corruption of a Communist country in its transition to a capitalist-democratic state.
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