Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Fiction of Relationship

The Fiction of Relationship

Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 346
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Fiction of Relationship
    Book Description:

    "A clear and straightforward discussion of the ways in which literatures and their comparative study must depend upon the problematics of interpersonal and other relations. . . . This study will prove as useful as it is wide-ranging, and indeed, comparative in the good sense."--Mary Ann Caws, Graduate School, City University of New York

    "Here is a comparatist working at the peak of his powers. . . . Weinstein moves easily from Goethe and Flaubert to Kafka or Joyce or Boris Vian. Locating fictions of relationship `at the heart of both literary criticism and human affairs' and acknowledging his own `distinctly humanistic' concerns, Weinstein writes in an urgent tone and eloquent voice, inflecting the theme of `relationship' in every way: in its surrender to the erotic, its frenzied drive for control of the Other, in its ability to confer identity or eclipse difference. . . . When he couples texts (e.g., William Burrough's Naked Lunch and C. de Laclos's Les liaisons dangereuses), he takes risks that bear brilliant fruit. Exploring famous texts and relatively unknown ones, Weinstein infuses the traditional study of fiction with new energy."--Choice

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5964-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-2)
    (pp. 3-20)

    My title,The Fiction of Relationship, is something of a pun, and it is meant to express two fundamental notions: (1) the narrative literature of relationship, and (2) the view that relationship may be a fiction, something made rather than given, built out of belief, not fact. These two notions constitute both the ground and the horizon for the book that follows. Literature—essentially prose fiction, but also some dramatic texts—will be the material under study, but the larger thrust of my inquiry is about the mystery of relationship. To call my topic a mystery is to announce, straight...

  5. CHAPTER ONE The Fiction of Relationship
    (pp. 21-68)

    “The fiction of relationship” is, as may be suspected, a loaded term, a double entendre that signifies at once the narrative literature of relationship and also the notion that relationship itself may be a fiction. On the one hand, there is no doubt about it, we do have a body of literature that deals with the couple; at the same time, the most memorable of these texts are invariably problematic at the core, issuing from a conflicted attitude toward relationship itself: is it possible? Equally crucial: is it narratable? How can the theme of human connection be rendered in literary...

  6. CHAPTER TWO Memory and Multiplicity
    (pp. 69-118)

    It is hard to imagine the fiction of relationship without referring repeatedly to the “inner life.” Every text studied in this book has a complex (or, at least, problematic) view of that perhaps mythic realm. We have seen that the inner life carries an essential, inherent blindness with it as the price of its authenticity: to feel and know what is inside amounts to not being there outside. We have seen in Boris Vian’s work, and we will encounter in subsequent chapters, a view of the inner life that is devastatingly literal, a matter of organs and blood and cells...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Body Control
    (pp. 119-152)

    On the face of it, Laclos’ elegant eighteenth-century epistolary novel and Burroughs’ obscene Beat Generation epic would seem to make an odd couple indeed. Yet, they enjoy an exemplary status in a study of relationship, for each of them may be seen as ane plus ultraof the erotic novel; i.e. the erotic novel defined broadly as the text that focuses on the role of the body in culture: its peculiar needs, the uses to which it is and can be put, the authority it has, finally the spectrum of interactions that it either seeks or suffers. Now, it...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR Metamorphosis
    (pp. 153-196)

    Becoming other, becoming another, becoming the other, these three models of transformation run the gamut from personal change to empathy to fusion. The darker variants of such activity shade off into paranoia and dementia, but such “stretching” of the self, such alteration is usually thought of as a good thing, a way of bridging the distance that separates all living creatures. This distance is not a matter of coldness or indifference, but rather the landlocked condition of the individual mind, a mind that can know, firsthand, only what is happening to itself. How does one approach the other? Earlier studies...

  9. CHAPTER FIVE Heaven and Hell
    (pp. 197-244)

    Is anything more ambivalent than human connection? About “touch” Faulkner observed, inAbsalom,that “enemies as well as lovers know” it “because it makes them both.” Seventy-five years earlier, Baudelaire, in his poem “Duellum,” imaged love-making as a duel, a fight to the death. The linkage of bodies can signify murder or pleasure, not merely because the other’s intent is unknowable, but because allcontactwith others is, inherently, an awesome widening of experience, even, in some sense, a matter of eclipse.

    That is the physical side of it. Mentally, imaginatively, the issue is conceivably of even greater import. The...

  10. CHAPTER SIX Art and Seeing Clear
    (pp. 245-304)

    One of the oldest stories of our culture has to do with the discovery of relationship as fate. Oedipus comes to understand that nothing in his life has been either discrete or the way he has imagined it to be: the parents he thought were his were not his, the deformed ankles tell a story, the act of violence at the crossroads was itself a crossroads, he has lain with his mother and killed his father. As Teiresias angrily points out, Oedipus is a blind man in the most crucial areas of life:

    You have your eyes but see not...

  11. Conclusion
    (pp. 305-312)

    Ever since Homer constructed theIliad, we have known that literature did not begin at the beginning. Flaubert sounded the modern note, a good century ago, by pointing out the idiocy of conclusions. As some kind of distilled wisdom or bottom-line logic, conclusions are no longer in good odor. But endings are real nonetheless, in books and elsewhere, and no amount of sophistication or circular thinking will put this chapter anywhere else. What, then, do the preceding chapters point to?

    Perhaps the more appropriate question is: Do these chapters suggest something coherent, when seen together? More than anything else, I...

    (pp. 313-320)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 321-329)