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Dark Apprenticeships: The Novels of John Irving

Fentem, Matthew A.

German Title: Dunkle Lehrgänge: Die Romane John Irvings

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What explains readers’ continued fascination with the novels of John Irving? How does Irving blend storytelling inspired by the likes of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy with the harsh realities of the 20th and 21st centuries? Is such a thing even possible, or only a fool’s errand? Dark Apprenticeships explores Irving’s evolution as a significant American author, his overall contribution, and key motifs in his writing – which range from examinations of the art of storytelling itself, to the seemingly eternal war of the sexes, the horror of crimes intentionally or unintentionally perpetrated against children, and the unsung hardships faced by minorities of all kinds, all the while upholding the key tenets of the Bildungsroman: growth and hope. By examining in-depth five essential novels – The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, A Widow for One Year, and Until I Find You – it presents a unique portrait of the author, his personal growth, and his rightful place in the tradition of the Bildungsroman or apprenticeship novel.

Translation of abstract (German)

Diese Arbeit befasst sich mit fünf wichtige Irving-Romane - The World According to Garp, The Hotel New Hampshire, The Cider House Rules, A Widow for One Year, und Until I Find You - um festzustellen, welche Kernthemen sich wiederholen, um Irvings einzigartige Erzählweise zu klassifizieren, und um darzustellen, worin genau sein Beitrag zur amerikanischen Literatur besteht. Wichtige Aspekte sind u.a. die Behandlung und Darstellung von Minderheiten aller Art, die bewusste Auseinandersetzung mit unbequemen Themen wie Gewalt und Missbrauch, und Irvings eigene Untersuchungen zu Thema Phantasie vs. Gedächtnis, d.h., inwieweit (Bildungs-)romane der Phantasie entstehen bzw. aus Erinnerungen recycelt werden.

Item Type: Dissertation
Supervisor: Schulz, Prof. Dr. Dieter
Date of thesis defense: 12 July 2010
Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2012 10:39
Date: 2010
Faculties / Institutes: Neuphilologische Fakultät > Anglistisches Seminar
Subjects: 810 American literature in English
Controlled Keywords: Bildungsroman, Amerikanistik, Postmoderne, Dickens, Charles, Irving, John (Schriftsteller)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Apprenticeships , Tragicomic , Minorities , Violence , Growth
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