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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The fictional world in four novels by Brian Moore. Harrison, Richard Terrence

Abstract

The fictional worlds of Brian Moore's four novels are, in this thesis, explored for their relation to reality and to the action and overall effect of the novels. The argument rests on the premise that the nature of the world a novelist creates affects the action which is possible in the novel and predisposes that action to certain kinds of interpretation. It also assumes that for this sort of investigation, some workable description of a fictional world can be arrived at by examining such features as the selection of detail, the ordering principles, and the language with which that world is created, as well as the narrator's position in relation to the fiction. The introductory chapter is devoted to elaborating these premises and illustrating their application to modern fiction in a general way. The next four chapters analyse the fictional worlds in Brian Moore's four novels in order of publication, marking any discernable connection they have with the action of the novels and judging their influence on the reader's interpretation of the action. These chapters examine Moore’s techniques of projecting an illusion of reality, with occasional comparison with the methods of other novelists and more frequent comparisons among the four novels, designed to trace signs of development in his techniques. Chapter Two deals with Judith Hearne, tracing particularly the fate of the aging spinster's religious and romantic impulses in a world which might be described as rhetorically, as well as spiritually, constricting. In Chapter Three, the world of dehumanized social forces in The Feast of Lupercal is examined together with the failure of the Belfast schoolmaster Diarmuid Devine to offset these forces with any strong human qualities or values transcending the claims of social expedience. A large part of Chapter Four, dealing with The Luck of Ginger Coffey, Moore's only novel set in Canada, is concerned with developments in the author's techniques. Its fictional world is found to be larger, and to accommodate more of the individual humanity of his characters. Greater reliance on representational techniques has also affected the depth and range of interpretation of his fiction. Chapter Five, on Brian Moore's latest novel, An Answer from Limbo, is less a study of development than of innovation in the author's methods. The effect of first-person narration is examined, and the complication of the fictional world by the development of three distinct perspectives on the action, corresponding to the three main characters. The concluding chapter summarizes the similarities in the fictional worlds of the four novels, and attempts a general characterization of Moore's techniques of presenting an illusion of reality, relating them to the overall effects of his fiction. The differences traced in the earlier chapters are also drawn together in an effort to find some pattern of development in the changes. On the basis of this one characteristic of his fiction, Brian Moore is finally compared with other novelists as a means of estimating his position in the stream of modern fiction.

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