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Christine Brooke-Rose ( - )

Related: illusion - experimental novels - fantastic literature - literary theory

A Rhetoric of the Unreal : Studies in Narrative and Structure, Especially of the Fantastic (1981) - Christine Brooke-Rose [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Christine Frances Evelyn Brooke-Rose (born January 16, 1923) is a British writer and literary critic, known principally for her later, experimental novels.

She was born in Geneva, Switzerland to an English father and American-Swiss mother. She was brought up mainly in Brussels, and educated there, at Somerville College, Oxford and University College, London. During World War II she worked at Bletchley Park as a WAAF in intelligence, later completing her university degree. She then worked for a time in London as a literary journalist and scholar.

She has been married three times: to Rodney Bax, whom she met at Bletchley Park; to the poet Jerzy Pietrkiewicz; and briefly to Claude Brooke. She shared the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction for Such (1966). On separating from Pietrkiewicz in 1968 she took a position at the University of Paris, Vincennes.

She is known also as a translator from the French, in particular of Robbe-Grillet. As of 2004 she lives in the south of France. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christine_Brooke-Rose [Jul 2006]

A Rhetoric of the Unreal : Studies in Narrative and Structure, Especially of the Fantastic (1981) - Christine Brooke-Rose

The author of this enormously expensive volume is a critic and novelist whose earlier work on Ezra Pound offered a number of valuable insights into that sometimes intransigent poet. For the past several years, she has been publishing in various theoretical journals the essays that make up the bulk of the present volume, which focuses on the various codes and mechanisms of realistic and fantastic narratives and how they interact. The book contains a useful discussion of the methodology of genre studies, some extended and insightful discussions of Henry James's The Turn of the Screw, less enlightening discussions of Tolkien and two SF works (by Joseph McElroy and Kurt Vonnegut, Jr), and a provocative concluding section on Robbe-Grillet, Sukenick, and other modern "metafictionists." ...

It is clear that Brooke-Rose has a great deal to say, and her bibliography is wide-ranging and eclectic enough to be of considerable value in its own right. Her discussions of Todorov, Hamon, and others are stimulating and insightful, but the very wealth of theoretical machinery she brings to bear often overwhelms the fictional texts she chooses to discuss. Henry James can survive this sort of processing rather well, Tolkien less so, and most popular genres of fiction not at all. As with Todorov, it often seems the theoretical construct at hand permits an artificially narrow range of texts; the texts in fact become tools of the tools ostensibly developed to elucidate them. The territory Brooke-Rose has begun to explore is worth exploring, and some of the maps she has given us are useful, but not all critics will want to spend much time there. --Gary K. Wolfe; 1982 via http://www.depauw.edu/sfs/birs/bir28.htm [Jun 2006]

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