This book offers a valuable contribution to the practice of literary criticism and cultural studies by seeking to explore “transgression” as a literary theme. Based on the analyses of six representative twentieth century novels, it deals with the fictional representation of various transgressive acts, from murder and incest to forbidden love affairs and adultery. A detailed consideration of major reader-response theories establishes a useful context for the textual analyses, as the readers are encouraged to integrate knowledge about style, narrative structure, and formal interpretive strategies with knowledge about social norms and moral values embedded in each text.
Focusing on the evolving relationship between text and reader, the book exposes the potential of narrative strategies revealed in the act of narrating a story in an unconventional manner. “Broken” narratives, “unreliable narrators”, and “self-referentiality” are only some of the features discussed in the book with the aim of stimulating the readers to reflect on the narrative complexity of the twentieth century novel and to question their reading expectations.
Designed for use in small and large classes organized by Literature, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies Departments in colleges and universities around the world, this systematic, in-depth novel study aims to increase the students’ capacity to interpret challenging narrative texts, appreciate the aesthetic value of world literature, and experience the pleasure of reading beyond the limits of their own field.