Subversions : The Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
'Subversions: the Discworld novels of Terry Pratchett' focuses on six of Terry Pratchett's twenty-one Discworld novels, which are representative of two different subject areas of the series: witches and the city of Ankh-Morpork's Watch. While taking a closely analytical approach to Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Guards! Guards!, Men At Arms, Feet of Clay and Maskerade, it also makes some assessments of the Discworld novels as a whole. The field of criticism specifically to do with Terry Pratchett is currently a very limited one, but a range of secondary material is brought to bear on the subjects of fantasy, fairy tale, postmodernist fiction and fiction in general. There is particular reference made to the thought of Mikhail Bakhtin and to various critical interpretations. The main concern is to develop a reading of Terry Pratchett that is informed by some of Bakhtin's wide-ranging ideas. At its initial level, the argument combines Bakhtin's emphasis on dialogue with Pratchett's personal terminology, in claiming that the Discworld novels 'dialogise the diodic'. The author of the Discworld novels coined the word 'diodic' as a child, to describe electrical connections which required a diode. Such connections were implicitly one-way; they only worked through the diode. In writing the Discworld novels he took relationships that would normally be thought of in terms which he considered to be diodic and made them work in two or more ways. This thesis contends that the Discworld novels subvert by way of the distorting lens of fantasy, parodically dialogising (or 'bringing another voice to') conventional viewpoints, in order to interrogate the idea that there can be a satisfactory unitary way of seeing.