The Crafting of Chaos: Narrative Structure in Margaret Laurence's "The Stone Angel" and "The Diviners"

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In this study of the Canadian novelist Margaret Laurence, recent narratological models provide the theoretical framework for a textual analysis that aims at complementing previous thematic critiques. The chief focus is on The Stone Angel and The Diviners, which the conclusion then presents in the context of the other novels in Laurence's Manawaka cycle. Consideration of the published works is rounded off with genetic comparison of the novelist's typescript drafts and an evaluation of the manuscript notes kept in the archives of McMaster and York Universities.
The central structural principle of The Stone Angel is its dovetailing of past and present scenes. Temporal arrangement, reflecting the frequency and duration of Hagar's memories, reveals the hold of memory over the central character and her attempts to suppress her fear of mortality. Hagar-as-narrator manipulates character-presentation and description to her own advantage. In a basically oppositional structure, her need for control is reflected in the neat ordering of the narrative. The verbal texture of the novel serves to establish a value system that insists on the superiority of imported culture over Western Canadian forms.
The Diviners shares a number of narrative similarities with The Stone Angel, but the latter's formal rigidity has yielded, by the time Laurence writes her last novel, to the concept of multiplicity - characters, time planes, perspectives and narrative voices (including metafictional commentaries). Textual coherence is secured via narrative strategies (including typography, generational paradigms, repetition, parallelism, intertextuality, and tropological patterning) that render the novel readable and present experience as ordered in a time of cultural flux and personal crisis.
 

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Contents

An Overview
11
THE STONE ANGEL
21
Sequential Ordering
30
Modes of Characterization
40
Tragic and Comic Modes
57
Towards a Canadian Voice
68
The Genesis of the Novel
75
THE DIVINERs
83
A Life Examined
93
The Quest for Identity
104
Multiple Voices
147
In FactualityFact versus Fiction
161
THE MAN AWAKA CYCLE
175
WORKS CONSULTED 195
197
Critical Theory
210
Copyright

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