Extraordinary Objects, Exceptional Subjects: Magic(al) Realism, Multivocality, and the Margins of Experience in the Works of Tom Robbins.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Through a critical examination of the works of Tom Robbins, this thesis interrogates the historical evolution and appropriation of the magic(al) realist tradition. In so doing, it situates Robbins’ writing within the framework of postmodernism, and explores the ontological implications inherent in Robbins’ use of magic(al) realist concepts and conventions. With a specific emphasis on the notion of cultural consciousness, this thesis analyzes the object- oriented cosmologies embodied and espoused in three of Robbins’ novels: Still Life with Woodpecker (1980), Skinny Legs and All (1990), and B is for Beer (2009). It unpacks the ideological figuration of various textual devices evident in Another Roadside Attraction (1971) and Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976) – particularly the gendered use of unreliable narrators – and, with reference to Jitterbug Perfume (1984), relates Robbins’ appropriation of the magic(al) realist tradition to the American counterculture movement of the 1960s and 70s. Employing poststructuralist, feminist, ecofeminist, and postcolonial discourses, this thesis ultimately seeks to position Robbins’ writing within the context of a radical emancipatory politics that views (and uses) literature as an ideological space in which to challenge, reinterpret, and democratize Western metanarratives.