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'Corresponding Territory' - Space in the Poetry and Fiction of Raymond Carver

Authors
Publisher
University of York
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Disciplines
  • Literature

Abstract

This thesis advances the case for the presentation and uses of space and place in the fiction, poetry and essays of Raymond Carver. Revisiting the literary and cultural texts connecting with his work, an investigation of a range of works across his career suggests specific modes of writing that contributed to his distinctive and influential style. The structural elements of the short story tradition and cultural and social histories of architecture are considered together, to suggest ways in which Carver’s work speaks to both a domestic experience of space, and literary tradition before him. Visual charts are suggested in the analysis of a fictional mode that suppresses chronological linearity in favour of the multi-directional forms of lived space. In this investigation, new material from the publication of Carver’s unedited second collection, Beginners (2009) is introduced into the critical debate. In light of this, the stories more clearly demonstrate Carver’s actively collaborative mode, before and after that period. The thesis has particular focus on the explorations of self, space and form in Gordon Lish’s fiction and Tess Gallagher’s poetry: key intertexts for both the editing debate and Carver’s writing itself. This thesis also seeks to further the corrective rebalancing of critical attention towards Carver’s poetry, as part of his cohesive body of work. It also suggests the ways in which the poems particularly demonstrate modes that are active in all of Carver’s writing. Finally, the study suggests correspondences between Carver’s work and authors working in contemporary fiction, arguing for the continued relevance and importance of the stories and poetry, beyond their usual sphere of consideration. Consideration of the work of Richard Ford and David Foster Wallace illustrates this.

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