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Towards a postmodern absurd : the fiction of Joseph Heller

McGill University
Publication Date
  • Heller
  • Joseph -- Criticism And Interpretation
  • Modernism (Literature)
  • Absurd (Philosophy) In Literature.
  • Philosophy


This thesis examines the entirety of Joseph Heller's career as a novelist and explores the various existential themes uniting a seemingly diverse body of work. Considering Heller's relationship to the philosophy of Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, "Towards a Postmodern Absurd: The Fiction of Joseph Heller" suggests that the novelist promotes the same existentially authentic lifestyle of revolt originally articulated by the French existentialists. Refuting the critical assessment of Heller's fiction as formless, this thesis argues that Heller deliberately structures his fiction around the concept of dejd vu in order to buttress the author's existential concerns with the absurdity of human existence. Finally, in response to the recent debates over Joseph Heller's place in the postmodern American canon, the thesis identifies the author's use of such postmodern concepts as pastiche and paranoia as a further reinforcement of the relevance of an absurdist worldview in contemporary America.

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