The last decades have seen a revival of fragmentation in British and American works of fiction that deny linearity, coherence and continuity in favour of disruption, gaps and fissures. Authors such as Ali Smith, David Mitchell and David Shields have sought new ways of representing our global, media-saturated contemporary experience which differ from modernist and postmodernist experimentations from which the writers nevertheless draw inspiration. This volume aims to investigate some of the most important contributions to fragmentary literature from British and American writers since the 1990s, with a particular emphasis on texts released in the twenty-first century. The chapters within examine whether contemporary forms of literary fragmentation constitute a return to the modernist episteme or the fragmented literature of exhaustion of the 1960s, mark a continuity with postmodernist aesthetics or signal a deviation from past models and an attempt to reflect today's accelerated culture of social media and over-communication.
Contributors theorise and classify literary fragments, examine the relationship between fragmentation and the Zeitgeist (influenced by globalisation, media saturation and social networks), analyse the mechanics of multimodal and multimedial fictions, and consider the capacity of literary fragmentation to represent personal or collective trauma and to address ethical concerns. They also investigate the ways in which the architecture of the printed book is destabilised and how aesthetic processes involving fragmentation, bricolage and/or collage raise ontological, ethical and epistemological questions about the globalised contemporary world we live in and its relation to the self and the other. Besides the aforementioned authors, the volume makes reference to the works of J. G. Ballard, Julian Barnes, Mark Z. Danielewski, David Markson, Jonathan Safran Foer, David Foster Wallace, Jeanette Winterson and several others.
About the Author
Wojciech Drąg is Assistant Professor at the Institute of English Studies, University of Wroclaw. He is the author of Revisiting Loss: Memory, Trauma and Nostalgia in the Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro (2014) and co-editor of War and Words: Representations of Military Conflict in Literature and the Media (2015) and Spectrum of Emotions: From Love to Grief (2016). In 2018, he received The Kosciuszko Foundation fellowship at the University of Utah.
Vanessa Guignery is professor of contemporary British and postcolonial literature at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon in France. She is author of Seeing and Being: Ben Okri's "The Famished Road" and the editor of "The Famished Road" Ben Okri's Imaginary Homelands and of a special issue of Callaloo on Ben Okri. In 2022, she edited a special issue of the journal Études Anglaises on contemporary Nigerian literature.