The narrative structure of the Serbian postmodern novel : the disintegration of the narrative subject and re-construction of the narrator figure

2017-03-01T05:54:00Z (GMT) by Orlic, Milan
This research establishes the key typological characteristics of the modern Serbian 20th century novel, exemplified by the works of three major representatives of the Yugoslav/Serbian literary canon, who span the periods of Yugoslav/Serbian Modernism and Postmodernism: Ivo Andrić, Miloš Crnjanski and Borislav Pekić. The typology, based on a multiplicity of features, which include narrative structure, genre, historical context – literary, philosophical and socio-political – maps the poetics of the Serbian postmodern novel as an evolution from and apotheosis of the literary innovations of Serbian Modernist poetics. This process of evolution is traced on the basis of the works of Andrić, Crnjanski and Pekić, who span a creative period between the first decade of the 19th century and late 1980s in Serbian literary production. Although much work has been done on the theoretical and historical definition of Yugoslav/Serbian Postmodernism, there is still no systematic study of the typology of narrative features which focus on the historical function of the relationship between, on the one hand, the Narrative Subject and the Narrator Figure and, on the other hand, the narrative structure of the Serbian postmodern novel. In other words, there is yet no Structuralist study of the poetics of Serbian Postmodernism. This is the gap which the present thesis aims to fill. The Structuralist analysis of representative works of Andrić, Crnjanski and Pekić, which is the core of this typology, is focused on the narrative structure of their novels and related innovative genres. The evolution of the Serbian postmodern novel is traced by means of this structural analysis as a process of the disintegration of the Narrative Subject and the re-construction of the Narrator Figure. The Narrator Figure as a term used in this thesis does not imply any figurality in the construction of the narrator. The term “figure” is used as an abstract term, not intended to evoke connotations of “someone” in or “trousers” or that is with characterological features, even if the function of this Narrator Figure may imply a “person” such as an “editor”. The Narrative Subject is considered a feature of the Modernist texts, while the Narrator Figure is a substitution for the Narrative Subject in postmodern texts. This is the evolution in the narrative structure of the Serbian novel from Modernism to Postmodernism. The gradual transformation of the Narrative Subject, which appears to carry the burden of the structure in Andrić, and Crnjanski’s (early 20th century) Modernist works, into a Narrator Figure in Andrić’s and Crnjanski’s and Pekić’s postmodern works, has been traced by means of a close to the text analysis of the structure of the novels of these three writers at various stages of their poetic production. The Narrator Figure in the mature Serbian postmodern novel, exemplified by Pekić, functions as an Editor and Interpreter of Found Manuscripts or documents, thus relinquishing any claim to being an oracular figure like the traditional omniscient narrator. Moreover, his function can be taken over by any other character who is part of his narrated story. This disseminated or fragmented Narrator Figure determines the open novel structure of the postmodern Serbian novel, whose main innovative feature is the Embedded Text and intertextuality as key components of the new postmodern poetics. The overall aim of the thesis is to acquire a critical insight into the typological features of Serbian 20th century prose in the context of European and world Postmodernism, with special emphasis on the postmodern poetics and postmodern condition of Yugoslav/Serbian literature.