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Abstract:

The present dissertation seeks to critically investigatethe multiplicity of voices in Donald Barthelme’s Snow White according to Bakhtin’s premises of polyphony and dialogism. In Bakhtinian point of view, literary discourse is polyphonic, a combination of multiple voices of equal authority. This is defined in terms of his own concept of dialogism, the explicit or implicit dialogue of differently situated voices. As a result, there is a close relation between the two notions to the degree that polyphony is considered as a characteristic of dialogism. This is suggested by Donald Barthelme in his comic parable of Snow White (1967), in which the diversity of discourses, expressed through the dialogues, paves the way for polyphonic enterprise. Although the story is told from the first person point of view, almost the entire novel is conceived through dialogues, which the characters are engaged in both with themselves and other characters. This leads the various discourses to be heard equally. Investigating these discourses and the ideologies they represent through the polyphonic voices expressed in dialogic activities provides the backboneof the present dissertation.

 

Key Words: Polyphony, Discourse,Voice, Dialogue, Bakhtin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Table of Contents:

 

Dedication. i

Acknowledgement: ii

Abstract iii

Table of Contents. iv

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION.. 1

1.1. General Overview.. 1

1.2. Statement of the Problem.. 6

1.3. Objectives and Significance of the Study. 9

1.3.1. Significance of the Study. 9

1.3.2. Purpose of the Study. 9

1.3.3. Research Questions. 10

1.4. Review of literature. 10

1.5. Materials and Methodology. 18

1.5.1. Definition of Key Terms. 18

1.6. Organization of the Study. 21

 

CHAPTER TWO

BAKHTIN; WORKS and IDEAS. 23

2.1. Toward a Philosophy of the Act 24

2.1.1. Self and other 25

2.2. Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. 27

2.2.1. Polyphony. 28

2.3. Carnival in Dostoevsky and Rabelais. 33

2.4. The Dialogic Imagination. 40

2.4.1. Dialogism.. 41

2.4.2. Heteroglossia. 44

2.4.3. Hybridization. 48

2.4.4. Chronotope. 50

 

CHAPTER THREE

SNOWWHITE; THE POSTMODERN FAIRY TALE.. Error! Bookmark not defined.

3.1. Barthelme’s Art of Story-Telling. 53

3.1.2. Barthelme and Postmodernism.. 57

3.1.3. Disregard of Conventionality. 59

3.2. Why Bakhtin?. 72

 

CHAPTER FOUR

SNOW WHITE; A DIALOGIC CONSTRUCT. 78

4.1. Barthelme’s Dialogic Enterprise. 80

4.1.1. Artistic Representation of Language. 80

4.1.2. Multiplicity of Voices. 84

4.1.3. Multiplicity of Discourses. 86

4.1.4. Multiplicity of Documents. 92

4.1.5. Other Dialogic Techniques. 100

4.1.6. The Carnivalesque. 104

 

CHAPTER FIVE

CONCLUSION.. 109

5.1. Summing Up. 109

5.2. Findings. 118

5.3. Suggestions for Further Research. 120

 

Bibliography. 124

 

 


 
CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.1. General Overview
Donald Barthelme, an American author, novelist, editor, journalist and professorwas born in Philadelphia in 1931, deep in the deep Depression. He spent much of his early career in journalism till a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967 paved the way for his first novel, Snow White (1967). Soon after, he was considered one of the masters of post-war fiction working outside the realistic tradition to satirize American life. He continued teaching and writing fictions until his death in 1989.

Although Barthelme isnever known as a science-fiction writer, he has created works which are included in the Avant-Garde of cyberpunk. His world combines Samuel Beckett’s nihilism with the ecstasy of Richard Bratigan’s surrealism. Nothing is absolutely true or false in his stories. He is a philosophical author who combines existentialism with post-modernism. He does not explicitly admit his debt to these schools in the themes and contexts of his works. However, his innovative and organic style reveals his close relation to Barth, Sartre, Foucault and Derrida.

Many critics have not appreciated Barthelme’s writing due to its rejection of traditional forms and its unusual nature. Others have dubbed it extremely modern and individualistic. Come Back, Dr.Caligari, the collection of his early stories published in 1964, is acclaimed as an innovation in short story form in which he has continued his success with Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural acts (1968). Later on, Barthelmecontinued to write over a hundred more short stories many of which are revised and reprinted in Sixty Stories (1981), Forty Stories (1987) and, posthumously, Flying to America (2007). As a huge success, Sixty Storiesbrought him a PEN/Faulkner Award for fiction. He also won a National Book Award in 1972 for his children’s book, The Slightly Irregular Fire Engine; or, the Hithering Thithering Djinn. Additionally, he has produced four novels in his typical fragmentary style: Snow White (1967), The Dead Father (1975), Paradise (1986), and The King (1990, posthumous).

Barthelme’s style and thought are products of twentieth century torment. The observation of absurdity lurking beneath the surface of most conventional customs becomesthe fuel for his creative fire. He is not only praised as disciplined but also judged as meaningless. His fragmented verbal collage surrounded in constant skepticism and irony has introduced him as a postmodernist writer. Furthermore, this fragmentation partly shapes his formal originality as the narrator in “See the Moon?” states: “Fragments are the only forms I trust”(Barthelme, UnspeakablePractices,UnnaturalActs 160). Joyce Carol Oates also comments on the same notion: “This from a writer of arguable genius whose works reflect what he himself must feel, in book after book, that his brain is all fragments . . . just like everything else” (63).

Barthelme’s first novel, Snow White, is a parody based upon both Grimm’s fairytale of Snow White and Disney’s version of the story. It displays both his avoidance of the formalism of his predecessors and his innovation in voice and style. Familiar characters of childhood have been taken away to be replaced with psychologically complex paradigms of postmodernist satire. Moreover, Barthelme’s clear-cut exploration of grotesque highlighted with an extraordinary humor encounters us with the irrational world of everyday life.

Barthelme brings the fairytale story up to date. Snow White lives with Kevin, Edward, Hubert, Henry, Clem and Dan, whooccupy themselves by washing the buildings and tending the vats where they make Chinese baby food. However, they are challenged by various problems to the point that even the President is worried about them. Bill, the leader of the men, is withdrawn as his ambitions would not come true. Eventually, he is judged to be guilty and punished to death by hanging primarily because of the sin of vatricide. On the other hand, Snow White awaits a prince and takes Paul, the artist as the prince figure. Jane, whose lover is Hogo de bergerac, is the wicked stepmother figure. Hogo falls for Snow White and Jane prepares a

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