Document details

A narratological analysis of D. M. Thoma`s: the white hotel (1981)

Author(s): Correia, Ernesto Domingos Camacho

Date: 2013

Persistent ID:

Origin: DigitUMa - Repositório da Universidade da Madeira

Subject(s): The White Hotel; Postmodernist english literature; Narratology; Postmodernist novel; Thomas, D. M.; D. M. Thomas's novels; .; Centro de Artes e Humanidades


“A Narratological Analysis of D. M. Thomas’s The White Hotel (1981)” originated within a seminar on British Postmodernist Literature during the first Master’s Degree in “British and North-American Culture and Literature” (2001-04) at the Universidade da Madeira set up by the Department of English and German Studies. This dissertation seeks to present a narratological analysis of Thomas’s novel. The White Hotel stands as a paradigmatic example of the kind of literature that has dominated the British literary scene in the past three decades, commonly referred to as postmodernist fiction, owing to its formal craftsmanship (multiplicity of narrative voices and perspectives, mixing of differing genres and text types, inclusion of embedded narratives) alongside the handling of what are deemed as postmodernist topoi (the distinction between truth and lies, history and fantasy, fact and fiction, the questioning of the nature of aesthetic representation, the role the author and the reader hold in the narrative process, the instability of the linguistic sign, the notion of originality and the moral responsibility the author has towards his/her work), The narratological approach carried out in this research reveals that Thomas’s text constitutes an aesthetic endeavour to challenge the teleological drive that is inherent in any narrative, i. e., the inevitable progression towards a reassuring end. Hence, the subversion of narrative telling, which is a recurrent feature in Thomas’s remaining literary output, mirrors the contemporary distrust in totalising, hierarchised and allencompassing narratives. In its handling of historical events, namely of the Holocaust, The White Hotel invites us to reassess the most profound beliefs we were taught to take for granted: progress, reality and truth. In their place the novel proposes a more flexible conception of both the world and art, especially of literary fiction. In other terms, the world appears as a brutal chaotic place the subject is forced to adjust to. Accordingly, the literary work is deemed hybrid, fragmented and open. So as to put forth the above-mentioned issues, this research work is structured in three main chapters. The initial chapter – “What is Postmodernism?” – advances a scrutiny not only of the seminal but also of more recent studies on postmodernist literary criticism. Following this, in Chapter II – “Postmodernist British Fiction” – a brief overview of postmodernist British fiction is carried out, focusing on the fictional works that, in my opinion, are fundamental for the periodising of British postmodernism. In addition, I felt the need to include a section – “D. M. Thomas as a Postmodernist Novelist” – in which the author’s remaining literary output is briefly examined. Finally, Chapter III – “A Narratological Analysis of The White Hotel” – proposes a narratological analysis of the novel according to the particular Genettian analytical model. To conclude, my dissertation constitutes an approach to D. M. Thomas’s The White Hotel as a text whose very existence is substantiated in the foregrounding of the contingency of all discourses, meeting the postmodernist precepts of openness and subversion of any narrative that claims to be true, globalising and all-inclusive.

Document Type Master thesis
Language English
Advisor(s) Costa, Dominique
Contributor(s) Correia, Ernesto Domingos Camacho
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