Centre for Continuing Education

Philosophy of Fiction Course: The Novel Part II

Philosophy. Study the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence.

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The 19th Century novel was primarily representational; its purpose was to describe or reflect the world, but in the Modern novel language is also understood as forming ‘reality’. The Modern novel responds to ideas in the new sciences; behavioral sociology and psychology. The theory of the unconscious was of great interest to the Modern novelists, particularly the mythic/‘primitive’ structure of our passions and desires.

Thomas Mann’s monumental novel The Magic Mountain will be one of the works we will study on this topic. For Mann the central paradox of Modernism is the historical loss of the mythic and its rediscovery in the unconscious. Through the early part of the 20th Century the novel tackled issues such as social/political analysis: The Great Gatsby (1925) by Scott Fitzgerald and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954). This philosophy course will also look at Postcolonialism (V. S. Naipaul) and Post -postcolonialism: Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan – a sumptuous, contemporary Indonesia novel. The final three weeks will be on the rise of the Australian novel, and we will conclude with some contemporary Australian Indigenous works: Bitin' Back by Vivienne Cleven (2001), Benang (1999) by Kim Scott the first Indigenous novelist to win the Miles Franklin Award (2000).

Aims

This philosophy course is designed to:

  1. Give the student an understand of the emergence of the Modern novel and its development through to the contemporary period.
  2. Introduce the philosophical concepts in the Modern and Contemporary novel.
  3. Teach the student analytical skills in the interpretation of literature.
  4. Introduce the student to some fine works of literature for their knowledge and enjoyment.

Content

This philosophy course will cover the following content:

Introduction

  • The rise of the Modern novel.
  • Parting company with traditional Realism.

Concepts in the Modern Novel

  • Science and Magic.
  • Between the ‘real’ and the ‘relativity of knowledge’.
  • The Modern social/political experience.

The Unconscious

  • One of the seemingly impossible tasks of the Modern novel was how to represent the unconscious in the conscious space of language.
  • Our focus work will be Thomas Mann’s monumental novel The Magic Mountain (1924).
  • For Mann the central paradox of Modernism is the historical loss of the mythic and its rediscovery in the unconscious.

The American Novel

  • The Great Gatsby (1925) by F Scott Fitzgerald and Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929).
  • The symbolic structure of fiction must accommodate its own contemporary world, for an American like Fitzgerald it is the motor car in Gatsby which symbolises the “vast carelessness of indifferent violence”.

The Social Experimentation Novel

  • The Novel is a prime site to explore different social/political structures, one of the examples we will use on this issue will be William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954).

Postcolonial Fictions

  • Postcolonialism explores ideas of metropolitan alienation, race and the problems of speaking in a ‘universal voice’. V. S. Napaul’s experiences in 1950’s London express both the disorientation and hope of this time: "I was at the beginning of that great movement of people that was to take place in the second half of the 20th century."

Post- Postcolonialism

  • Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan is a beautifully written work of history, satire and tragedy in Indonesia today.

The Fictionalization of Australia

  • Miles Franklin My Brilliant Career (1901) Patrick White Tree of Man (1955).

Australia Coming of Age

  • A. B. Facy A Fortunate Life(1981).
  • Helen Garner’s latest work Everywhere I Look (2016) is a rich and philosophically complex collection of essays and stories.

The Australian Indigenous Novel

  • Bitin' Back by Vivienne Cleven (2001) Kim Scott Benang (1999) First Indigenous novelist to win the Miles Franklin Award (2000).

Intended Audience

This philosophy course is suitable for personal interest learners: university students, adults and active retirees.

Delivery Style

This philosophy course will be delivered as an interactive lecture where questions and discussions are facilitated wherever possible.

Recommended Reading

  1. Thomas Mann’s The Magic Mountain (1924)
  2. The Great Gatsby (1925) by F Scott Fitzgerald
  3. Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury (1929)
  4. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies (1954)
  5. Beauty is a Wound by Eka Kurniawan
  6. Miles Franklin My Brilliant Career (1901)
  7. Patrick White Tree of Man (1955)
  8. A. B. Facy A Fortunate Life(1981)
  9. Helen Garner’s latest work Everywhere I Look (2016)

Features

  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion