Desire and disruption: narrative structures in the fiction of Timothy Findley

Date

2018-06-26

Authors

Hunter, Catherine

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Abstract

The study examines the operation of narrative desire in six novels by Timothy Findley: The Last of the Crazy People, The Butterfly Plague, The Wars, Famous Last Words, Not Wanted on the Voyage, and The Telling of Lies. Narrative desire is defined as the force which generates and shapes the construction of narrative. The purpose of the study is to identify the various desires at work in Findley's fiction by analyzing such aspects of narrative structure as the beginnings and endings of the novels, embedded narratives, double-plotting and the influence of several different genres. The study takes a post-structuralist, narratological approach. The analysis reveals that Findley's narratives seem to be structured by conflicting desires. In particular, the conflict between a desire for wholeness and a desire for fragmentation seems ongoing in his work. The desire for wholeness manifests itself in such elements as coherence, closure, explanation and order, while the desire for fragmentation manifests itself in the disruption of these elements. Many of Findley's characters engage in activities which involve the creation of narrative (film-making, research, autobiography, detection) and thus it is possible to interpret Findley's own narrative structures in light of his treatment of these characters' projects. While each novel investigates the implications of narrativization in a different way, it is possible to conclude that, over all, Findley links the imposition of narrative structure to the imposition of power, and that the conflicts which disrupt his own narrative structures can be traced to a strong ambivalence toward the notion of authority.

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Keywords

Narrative desire, Narrative structure

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