Braided strands of meaning : Mavis Gallant's language
Miller, Katherine Marion
Master of Arts
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This thesis grew out o£ the difficulties in classifying Gallant’s fiction. Critics, when examining the works of Mavis Gallant, have tended to use a thematic approach: the themes of exile, fractured human relationships, and the importance of memory in recreating the past have all been described as unifying features of her work.* The critics' reliance upon this particular approach has meant that the way in which Gallant uses language to construct her fiction has been relatively neglected. As Barbara Godard writes: "Obsessed with thematic analysis and the national scene, critics failed to evolve a vocabulary and concepts for discussing the construction of literary reality, for exploring the technical means of achieving what Barthes calls the 'reality effect'" (76). Godard's study, which develops a semiotics of irony through an analysis of Gallant's irony, takes the first step in addressing this critical deficiency. In this thesis, I would like to continue along the path Godard has illuminated. Through an exploration of the r structure of two of Gallant's texts, this thesis wil examine the way in which Gallant uses language itself to undercut the 'reality effect' created by language.