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David Lodge's fiction of negotiation: Re-mapping the condition of England

Purdue University
Publication Date
  • Literature
  • Modern|Literature
  • English
  • History
  • Linguistics
  • Literature
  • Philosophy
  • Social Sciences


Despite his reputation as a "campus novelist" and as a "Catholic author," David Lodge is a social chronicler of extensive scope. Always concerned with the transformations of English society, his fiction constitutes a running commentary on the condition of England as well as an evolving negotiation with postmodernist literary theory as this has influenced the structuring and style of the novel. The present study investigates the development of David Lodge's art of fiction over a span of thirty-five years, noting his stylistic innovations and stressing his pervasive social vision. It examines some key sociocultural issues in his work, such as the state of the novel, changing sexual mores, and cultural diversity, showing how Lodge often approaches these issues via paired oppositions, such as traditional realism versus postmodernism and sexual desires versus spiritual longings. In documenting and interpreting the drastic changes in English society since the fifties, Lodge adopts Bakhtin's theory of heteroglossia to negotiate among diverse or opposing beliefs and attitudes as a way of coming to terms with contemporary realities. Typically, he emphasizes the processes of social changes rather than judging the moral values of the time. As a dialogic negotiator, Lodge often feels ambivalent about the issues he examines. His fiction does not presume to offer solutions to the sociocultural problems under consideration, but suggests negotiation as an appropriate way of dealing with the complexities of contemporary life. ^

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