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Chimera - Dunyazadiad

Seminario de Literatura de Posguerra
by Mariela Catena on 1 October 2013

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Transcript of Chimera - Dunyazadiad

Chimera - Dunyazadiad
“The Literature of Exhaustion” (1967) & “The Literature of Replenishment” (1979)
Barth talked about abandoning the “literature of exhaustion” for a recognition of the essentially parodic literature of replenishment: the aesthetic recognition that everything has always already been said before and that parody “replenishes” through a self-conscious recognition that implication in a prior discourse does not entail exhaustion and inert imitation.
Chimera
1972 novel, composed of three loosely connected novellas. The novellas are Dunyazadiad, Perseid and Bellerophoniad, whose titles refer eponymously to the mythical characters Dunyazad, Perseus and Bellerophon (slayer of the mythical Chimera)

takes myths and retells them in a way that makes them relevant and contemporary

Chimera -> according to Greek mythology, a monstrous fire-breathing female and male creature of Lycia in Asia Minor, composed of the parts of three animals. The term has come to describe any mythical or fictional animal with parts taken from various animals, or to describe anything perceived as wildly imaginative or implausible.
Dunyazadiad
* Doony, kid sister to Sherry (Scheherazade)

* Original story: One Thousand and One Nights

* King and his brother practice raping and killing a virgin every night out of spite of the infidelity of both wives

* Sherry volunteers to be the next victim, telling a never-ending story to the King in order to keep herself alive

* Sherry succeeds, and she and Doony marry the brothers
Feminism
The novella can be analyzed with a feminist perspective through its exploration of relationships between men and women and equality in those relationships, and the way each gender and their respective roles are portrayed.

* "...women in literature were historically presented as objects seen from a male perspective."

Strong female characters: Sherry, Doony -> Barth's creations versus myths, scattered perspectives throughout the book.
* Intelligent, independent, self-sacrificing, loving, self-aware, sexually assertive, they help male characters find meaning within themselves.
"You know, I think most storytellers have a hand of cards. It’s not an unlimited hand of cards and they play them in different combinations."
John Barth
Postmodernism
Barth employs story-telling that breaks the "4th wall" between reader and author, blatantly discussing the meaning of the work and its structure.

* The story doesn't matter, it's the process of telling it that does
Barth acknowledges the choices he makes in the story. He inserts a copy of himself as a "genie": he has control over the story and offers the idea that all stories have already been told

- Metafiction: it is a work of fiction within a fiction; the author is not only the writer of the story, but also a character; it is a parallel novel which has the same setting, time period, and many of the same characters as the 1001 Nights, but it is told from a different perspective; there are characters who express awareness that they are in a work of fiction; it emphasizes the writing as being a creation, a construction, not the representation or imitation of reality
The author
- John Barth was born May 27, 1930, Cambridge, Maryland.
- Apart from the experimental pieces in Lost in the Funhouse, his best-known works include the novels: The Floating Opera (1956), The End of the Road (1958), The Sot-Weed Factor (1960) and The Tidewater Tales (1987), most of which parody traditional narrative forms.
- In 2001 he published the experimental novel Coming Soon!!!: A Narrative.
Intertextuality
"The frontiers of a book are never clear-cut: beyond the title, the first lines, and the last full stop, beyond its internal configuration and its autonomous form, it is caught up in a system of references to other books, other texts, other sentences: it is a node within a network." (Foucault)

- “Good lord!” the Genie cried. “Do you mean to say that you haven’t started your thousand and one nights yet?” (Barth 20)

- “The author of The Thousand and One Nights doesn’t invent,” the Genie reminded her; “he only recounts how, after she finished the tale of Ma’aruf the Cobbler Scheherezade rose from the King’s bed, kissed ground before him, and made bold to ask a favor in return for the thousand and one nights ‘entertainments. (Barth 38)
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