Memory as a Category of Fiction: The Receptive Potential of the Novel “The Raw Shark Texts” by Steven Hall

Aliona Matiychak

Abstract


The article deals with the immersive novel “The Raw Shark Texts” by Steven Hall in the aspect of genre metamorphism. This approach allows to trace how genre matrices (horror, thriller, adventure etc.) transformation and in particular the combination of fantasy and science fiction with both psychedelic and real images facilitates the creating of an immersive reality in the novel. The article analyses how the alternative conceptual worldview helps the protagonist to recreate the chronicle of his self-identification after the loss of memory as a consequence of psychological trauma. Human knowledge, experience and communication as well as his individual mind, ideas and thoughts are perceived by the protagonist’s dual personality as an aquatic environment inhabited by conceptual fish. His fear of the conceptual shark feeding on his memory generates distinctive psychedelic hydro-text in the form of specific narrative structures. The discreteness of narrative accents the protagonist’s distraction and is used by the author as a literary imitation of his psychical instability (dissociative amnesia).

The interrelation of the novel’s homophonic title with the Rorschach’s Psychodiagnostic (Inkblot) Tests, that are used to examine a person's personality characteristics and emotional functioning, is investigated. The idea that interpretation of Inkblot Tests results can be highly subjective allows drawing an analogy with Hall’s graphics in “The Raw Shark Texts” which bring up multiple associations and allusions. These author’s innovative graphic installations stimulate multileveled communication with a reader. Rich receptive potential (comprising metamorphosed genre and narrative structures of the novel with numerous literary and cinematographic allusions) allows examining this hypertext narrative fiction both as an original intellectual and psychological testing of the reader.


Keywords


Steven Hall; genre metamorphism; psychedelic hydro-text; immersive novel; hypertext narrative structure; anthroponomical game

References


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Panko J. Memory Pressed Flat into Text: The Importance of Print in Steven Hall’s The Raw Shark Texts / Julia Panko // Contemporary Literature. – Vol. 52. – No. 2. – Summer 2011. – Р. 264297.

 

Pressman J. The Aesthetic of Bookishness in Twenty-First-Century Literature / Jessica Pressman // Bookishness: The New Fate of Reading in the Digital Age. – Vol. XL VIII. – No. 4. – Fall 2009.

 

Schillinger L. Play it again. Remainder by Tom MacCarthy / Liesl Schillinger // The New York Times Sunday Book Review. February 25, 2007.

 

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