The Cosmopolitan Novel

The Cosmopolitan Novel

Berthold Schoene
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    The Cosmopolitan Novel
    Book Description:

    This highly original book explores whether globalisation might now be prompting a sub-genre of the novel adept at imagining global community.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4083-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. v-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-34)

    Ever since Roland Robertson defined globalisation as ‘the compression of the world and the intensification of a consciousness of the world as a whole’ (1992: 8), sociological research on the increasing tightening of a global web of communal interaction and interdependency has proliferated massively, prompting an equally dramatic growth in cosmopolitan theory. Arguably affecting different spheres of life (economic vs. social/cultural), globalisation and cosmopolitanisation have come to be perceived as twin phenomena working to fix, as Zygmunt Bauman puts it, ‘the intractable fate of the world’ (1998: 1). Only recently have there been any notable efforts to theorise cosmopolitical models...

    • Chapter 1 Families against the World: Ian McEwan
      (pp. 37-65)

      Written in response to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York respectively, Ian McEwan’s Black Dogs (1992) and Saturday (2005) both aim to capture the sensibility of a newly emergent Anglo-British contemporaneity. Read in combination, they disclose the bipolar bracketing of the 1990s by one joyous and one profoundly traumatic world event, a bracketing compounded by Britain’s sandwiched position, both culturally and politically, between Europe and the USA. Transporting us from middle-English Wiltshire to contemporary and historical Germany, Poland and France, Black Dogs sets out to explore what is fundamentally...

    • Chapter 2 James Kelman’s Cosmopolitan Jeremiads
      (pp. 66-94)

      No other British writer’s shift from locally specifi c concerns to global themes is as symptomatic of globalisation’s steadily increasing encroachment on ordinary life as James Kelman’s. Like McEwan’s novels, both Translated Accounts (2001) and You Have to Be Careful in the Land of the Free (2004) convey a new global sense of British contemporaneity, yet the contrast between England’s and Scotland’s premier authors could scarcely be more pronounced.

      In Kelman’s novels anonymous state apparatuses have eradicated familial comfort zones. Most characteristically, his fictions feature loners estranged and physically removed from their families. Pre-dating 9/11, Translated Accounts catalogues a plethora...

    • Chapter 3 The World Begins Its Turn with You, or How David Mitchell’s Novels Think
      (pp. 97-124)

      A curious blend of Julian Barnes’s The History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters (1989) and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Anglo-Japanese novels, with some of the time-travelling elements of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando (1928) mixed in, David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten (1999) and Cloud Atlas (2004) pioneer a new cosmopolitan modus operandi for twenty-first-century British fiction. Mitchell’s narratives do not so much break with the tradition of the English novel as subtly deconstruct, untie and defamiliarise it. They comprise acutely fragmented, yet at the same time smoothly cohesive compositions strategically broken up into small-récit mosaics of divergent perspectives that together span and unify the...

    • Chapter 4 Global Noise: Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, Hari Kunzru
      (pp. 127-153)

      Globalisation is commonly held responsible for eliminating cultural difference and replacing it with worldwide homogeneity, supposedly erasing Empire’s core–periphery axiomatic of self and other while in actual fact perpetuating, and indeed considerably exacerbating, what looks suspiciously like the same old inequalities. As Chitra Sankaran asserts, ‘globalization, though it professes to homogenize the human condition, seems actually to polarize it in extreme ways’ (2006: 106). The increasing chasm between rich and poor that splits the world is rapidly being compounded by the establishment of westernised, allegedly ‘cosmopolitan’ Third World elites inside the ex-colonies themselves. As Arundhati Roy writes with regard...

    • Chapter 5 Suburban Worlds: Rachel Cusk and Jon McGregor
      (pp. 154-179)

      There is no imagining of the world that does not commence at home, that does not crystallise out of, and remain coloured by, at least some degree of local specificity. But what if the specificity of the place within which such an imagining of the world is grounded is peculiarly – even purposely – bland and non-descript, not so much reduced to uniformity and compliance by a process of global homogenisation as simply mirroring the agglomerative and self-compartmentalised way in which in the developed world many of us have become accustomed to living? The indifference and functional artifice of suburbia leave little...

  8. Coda: The Cosmopolitan Imagination
    (pp. 180-186)

    ‘To globalize or not – that is no longer the question’ (Krishnaswamy and Hawley 2008: 15). Rather, we must ask how globalisation, whose processes involve and impact on all of us, can be turned to our advantage so that it comes to benefit humankind in its entirety. As suggested in this study, the first step might well be to imagine ourselves as belonging to something far less securely defined and neatly limitable than the nation, that is, to conceive of ourselves first and foremost as members of humanity in all its vulnerable, precariously exposed planetarity. This is where the role of...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 187-196)
  10. Index
    (pp. 197-200)