Wintersemester 20005/06 Contemporary Novels in English

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Wintersemester 20005/06

Contemporary Novels in English


Beginn: 25.10.05

Di 10-12
R12 T03 F86

Seminar Literary Studies

Modul VI
LP/LGr, L1/LHRGe, L2/LgyGe, LB/LBK, MA bzw. HS2 (WP)
Teilgebiete alte LPO: B 3 sowie MA Lit 7

As a companion class to the Ringvorlesung on 20th-century Anglophone Novels the seminar will offer detailed readings and analyses of novels from four continents:

  • Africa: Ben Okri, The Famished Road

  • North America: Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace

  • India: Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh

  • Australia: Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda.

Paperback editions of these novels will be available at the local bookshops.

Students will be well-advised to start reading the novels as soon as they possibly can.


  1. Programme

  2. Margaret Atwood

  3. Peter Carey

  4. Ben Okri

  5. Salman Rushdie

  6. General Bibliography

  7. Assignments

  8. Critical Essays
  1. Programme

Oct 25 Introductory

Nov 08 Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda (I)

Nov 15 Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda (II)

Nov 22 Peter Carey, Oscar and Lucinda (III)

Nov 29 Ben Okri, The Famished Road (I)

Dec 06 Ben Okri, The Famished Road (II)

Dec 13 Ben Okri, The Famished Road (III)

Dec 20 Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh (I)

Jan 10 Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh (II)

Jan 17 Salman Rushdie, The Moor's Last Sigh (III)

Jan 24 Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace (I)

Jan 31 Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace (II)

Feb 07 Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace (III)

  1. Atwood, Margaret


Margared Atwood was born in Ottawa, Canada, in 1939, the second of three children. He father was a forest entomologist. Part of her early years Atwood spent part in the bush of northern Quebec, where her father undertook research. In 1946 Atwood's family moved to Toronto. She was eleven before she attended school full-time. Atwood graduated from Leaside High School in 1959. She then studied at the University of Toronto. She won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship, and became a graduate student at Radcliffe College, Cambridge, Massachusetts, receiving her M.A. in 1962. Atwood continued her studies of Victorian literature at Harvard (1962-63, 1965-67), reading for Ph.D., but interrupted her studies in 1967 after having failed to complete her dissertation on 'The English Metaphysical Romance'. She worked for a market-research company in Toronto and taught English at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver (1964-65). She has held a variety of academic posts and has been writer-in-residence at numerous Canadian and American universities.

While working as an editor at the Toronto publishing house Anansi in the early 1970s, Atwood published her controversial study Survival, A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972). Later she returned to the theme in Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (1995). Atwood has been politically active in PEN and in Amnesty International. She has lived years on a farm near Alliston, Ontario, with the writer Graeme Gibson and their daughter. The Blind Assassin earned Atwood the Booker Prize, Britain's top literary award for fiction, in 2000.


The Edible Woman

Surfacing (1972)

Lady Oracle (1976)

Life Before Man (1979)

Bodily Harm (1981)

The Handmaid's Tale (1985)

Cat's Eye (1989)

The Robber Bride (1993)

Alias Grace (1996)

The Blind Assassin (2000)

Oryx and Crake (2003)
Survival. A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972)

Days of the Rebels 1815-1840 (1977)

Strange Things: The Malevolent North in Canadian Literature (1995)

Negotiating with the Dead. A Writer on Writing (2002)


Davey, Frank, Margaret Atwood: a Feminist Poetics (The New Canadian Criticism Series),

Vancouver: Talonbooks 1984

Howells, Coral Ann, Margaret Atwood (Macmillan Modern Writers), Basingstoke: Macmillan 1996

Nicholson, Colin (ed.), Margaret Atwood: Writing and Subjectivity. New Critical Essays,

Basingstoke: Macmillan 1994

Rosenberg, Jerome H., Margaret Atwood (Twane's World Authors Series. 740 Canadian Literature), Boston: Twayne Publishers 1984

Staels, Hilde, Margaret Atwood's Novels. A Study of Narrative Discourse (Transatlantic Perspectives. 4), Tübingen: Francke 1995

  1. Carey, Peter


Peter Philip Carey was born in 1943 in the small town of Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia. From 1948 to 1953 he attended the local Bacchus Marsh State school but was then moved to the elite private school Geelong Grammar as a boarder. In 1961 he began studying for a science degree in Chemistry and Zoology at Monash University, Melbourne, but a serious car accident, coupled with a lack of enthusiasm for his studies, led him to abandon the course. From 1962 to 1963 he worked for an advertising agency in Melbourne. Here he met writers Barry Oakley and Maurice Lurie, who introduced Carey to recent American and European fiction. In 1964, Carey married his first wife, Leigh Weetman. The impact of conscription for the Vietnam war along with the conservatism of Australian society at the time led Carey to Europe in 1967. He lived in London from 1968 to 1970, working in advertising copywriting. In 1970 he returned to Australia and began writing the stories which made up his first book The Fat Man in History (1974) whilst simultaneously writing two other unpublished novels. He worked part-time as an advertising copywriter in Melbourne, before separating from Leigh Weetman and moving to Sydney in 1974 to work for Grey's advertising agency.

The Balmain district of Sydney where Carey lived was associated with avant-garde writers, artists and intellectuals who were part of a challenge to what Patrick White famously described as “the dreary dun-coloured offspring of journalistic realism” generally associated with Australian fiction at the time. The changing cultural climate of the late 1960s and early 1970s saw a liberalisation of attitudes in the arts, coupled with a new Labour government in Australia in 1972. A newly-formed Literature Board subsidy to Queensland University Press led to the foundation of their innovative Paperback Prose Fiction list which launched Carey's first book along with volumes by David Malouf and Rodney Hall.

In 1977 Carey joined an alternative community in Yandina in the rain forest north of Brisbane, spending half his week working in advertising in Sydney and the rest of it living as a hippy, writing his second volume of stories, War Crimes (1980), as well as his first published novel Bliss (1982). His career in advertising blossomed when he and a friend established their own agency. This gave Carey some degree of freedom from the pressures of having to make a living solely from writing, leaving him at liberty to follow a distinctively innovative path in his novels. Illywhacker (1985) was the first of Carey's large-scale novels and is an epic vision of twentieth century Australia, simultaneously celebrating its uniqueness and exposing its “beautiful lies” through the comic extravagancies of its narrator, the 139 year old compulsive liar Herbert Badgery. It was Carey's next novel, however, the historical Oscar and Lucinda (1988) which really established his international reputation when it won the Booker Prize, the Miles Franklin and two other awards.

In 1985 Carey had married for the second time and, after selling his share in the McSpedding-Carey agency in 1988, the year in which he was also elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he and his wife, theatre director Alison Summers, moved to New York where he has remained, teaching creative writing at New York, Princeton and Columbia Universities as well as writing. Jack Maggs (1997) dramatises the colonial legacies existing between England and Australia by refashioning the story of Magwitch from Dickens' Great Expectations. This novel won Carey a Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1998 as well as a third Miles Franklin award. Carey's latest and very well-received novel is his re-telling of one of the most famous of Australian stories, the life of outlaw Ned Kelly in True History of the Kelly Gang (2001), an audacious and utterly individual appropriation and recreation of a national icon, indicating that he has lost none of his drive to take risks with his fictions. (Adapted from Bruce Woodcock (07 July 2001); the complete article is copyright to ©The Literary Encyclopedia.)


Bliss (1981)

Illywhacker (1985)

Oscar and Lucinda (1988)

(Oscar and Lucinda was adapted as a film by Fox in 1997, directed by Gillian Armstrong and starring Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett.)

The Tax Inspector (1991)

A Letter to Our Son (1994)

The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994)

The Big Bazoohley (1995)

Jack Maggs (1997)

True History of the Kelly Gang (2000)

My Life as a Fake (2003)
The Fat Man in History (1974)

War Crimes (1979)

The Fat Man in History, and Other Stories (1980) – also published as Exotic Pleasures, 1981)

Collected Stories (1994)


Beer, Gillian, "The Reader's Wager: Lots, Sorts and Futures," Essays in Criticism 40/1990, 99-123.

Brown, Ruth, "English Heritage and Australian Culture: The Church and Literature of England in Oscar and Lucinda", Australian Literary Studies 17(2)/1995, 135-140

Huggan, Graham, "Is the (Gunter) Grass Greener on the Other Side? Oskar and Lucinde in the New World," World Literature Written in English 30.1/1990, 1-10.

Huggan, Graham, Peter Carey, New York: Oxford University Press 1996

Lamb, Karen, Peter Carey. The Genesis of Fame, Pymble/Australia: Angus & Robertson 1992.

Petersen, Kirsten Holt, "Gambling on Reality: A Reading of Peter Carey's Oscar and Lucinda", Australian Literary Studies 15(2)/1991, 107-116

  1. Okri, Ben


Poet and novelist Ben Okri was born in 1959 in Minna, northern Nigeria, to an Igbo mother and Urhobo father. He grew up in London before returning to Nigeria with his family in 1968. Much of his early fiction explores the political violence that he witnessed at first hand during the civil war in Nigeria. He left the country when a grant from the Nigerian government enabled him to read Comparative Literature at Essex University in England. He was poetry editor for West Africa magazine between 1983 and 1986 and broadcast regularly for the BBC World Service between 1983 and 1985. He was appointed Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College Cambridge in 1991, a post he held until 1993. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1987, and was awarded honorary doctorates from the universities of Westminster (1997) and Essex (2002).
In 1991 Okri was awarded the Booker Prize for Fiction for his novel The Famished Road (1991). Set in a Nigerian village, this is the first in a trilogy of novels which tell the story of Azaro, a spirit child. Azaro's narrative is continued in Songs of Enchantment (1993) and Infinite Riches (1998). Ben Okri is a Vice-President of the English Centre of International PEN, a member of the board of the Royal National Theatre, and was awarded an OBE in 2001. He lives in London.


Flowers and Shadows (1980)

The Landscapes Within (1981)

The Famished Road (1991)

Songs of Enchantment (1993)

Astonishing the Gods (1995)

Dangerous Love (1996)

Infinite Riches (1998)

In Arcadia (2002)


Cooper, Brenda, "The West African Magical Realist Novel: Syl Cheney-Coker's The Lat Harmattan of Alusine Dunbar, Ben Okri's The Famished Road and Kojo Laing's Woman of the Aeroplanes", in: Lokangaka Losambe (ed.), An Introduction to the African Prose Narrative, Pretoria: Kagiso Tertiary, 1996, 209-242

Cooper, Brenda, Magical Realism in West African Fiction. Seeing with a Third Eye (Routledge Research in Postcolonial Literatures. 1), London: Routledge 1998

Fraser, Robert, Ben Okri: Towards the Invisible City (Writers and Their Work), Tavistock/UK: Northcote House Publishers 2002

Moh, Felicia Alu, Ben Okri: An Introduction to His Eraly Fiction, Enugu/Nigeria: Fourth Dimension Publishing 2000

Quayson, Ato, Strategic Transformations in Nigerian Writing. Orality & History in the Work of Rev. Samuel Johnson, Amos Tutuola, Wole Soyinka & Ben Okri, Oxford: James Currey 1997

Wright, Derekl, "Pre- and Post-Modernity in Recent West African Fiction", Commonwealth Essays and Studies 21(2)/1999, 5-17

  1. Rushdie, Salman


Salman Rushdie was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) on 19 June 1947. He went to school in Bombay and at Rugby in England, and read History at King's College, Cambridge. After graduating, he lived with his family who had moved to Pakistan in 1964, and worked briefly in television before returning to England, beginning work as a copywriter for an advertising agency. His first novel, Grimus, was published in 1975.
His second novel, the acclaimed Midnight's Children, was published in 1981. It won the Booker Prize for Fiction, and in 1993 was judged to have been the 'Booker of Bookers', the best novel to have won the Booker Prize for Fiction in the award's 25-year history. The critic Malcolm Bradbury acclaimed the novel's achievement in The Modern British Novel (Penguin, 1994): 'a new start for the late-twentieth-century novel.'
Rushdie's third novel, Shame (1983), which many critics saw as an allegory of the political situation in Pakistan, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. The publication in 1988 of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, lead to accusations of blasphemy against Islam and demonstrations by Islamist groups in India and Pakistan. The orthodox Iranian leadership issued a fatwa against Rushdie on 14 February 1989 - effectively a sentence of death - and he was forced into hiding under the protection of the British government and police.

There followed a book of essays entitled Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991 (1991); East, West (1994), a book of short stories; and a novel, The Moor's Last Sigh (1995), the history of the wealthy Zogoiby family told through the story of Moraes Zogoiby, a young man from Bombay descended from Sultan Muhammad XI, the last Muslim ruler of Andalucía. The Ground Beneath Her Feet, published in 1999, re-works the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in the context of modern popular music. His novel Fury, set in New York at the beginning of the third millennium, was published in 2001. Salman Rushdie is Honorary Professor in the Humanities at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. His latest novel is Shalimar The Clown (2005). (Abridged from:


Grimus (1975)

Midnight's Children (1981)

Shame (1983)

The Satanic Verses (1989)

Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990)

The Moor's Last Sigh (1995)

The Ground beneath Her Feet (1999)

Fury (2001)

Shalimar the Clown (2005)
Imaginary Homelands. Essays and Ciriticism (1991)

East, West (short stories, 1994)

Step across This Line. Collected Non-fiction 1992-2002 (2002)


Ball, John Clement, Satire & the Postcolonial Novel : V. S. Naipaul, Chinua Achebe, Salman Rushdie (Literary Criticism and Cultural Theory), New York: Routledge 2003

Banerjee, Mita, The Chutneyfication of History : Salman Rushdie, Michael Ondaatje, Bharati Mukherjee and the Postcolonial Debate (American Studies. 95 ), Heidelberg : Winter 2002

Brennan, Timothy, Salman Rushdie and the Third World : Myths of the Nation, Basingstoke Macmillan 1989

Cundy, Catherine, Salman Rushdie (Contemporary World Writers), Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press 1996

Deszcz, Justyna, Rushdie in Wonderland : Fairytaleness in Salman Rushdie's Fiction (European University Studies, Series 14, Anglo-Saxon Language and Literature. 405 ),

Frankfurt am Main: Lang 2004

Didur, Jill, "Secularism beyond the East/West Divide: Literary Reading, Ethics, and The Moor's Last Sigh", Textual Practice 18(4)/2004, 541-562

Dutheil de LaRochère, Martine Hennard, Origin and Originality in Rushdie's Fiction, Bern: Lang 1999

Engel, Henrik D. K., Die Prosa von Günter Grass in Beziehung zur englischsprachigen Literatur : Rezeption, Wirkungen und Rückwirkungen bei Salman Rushdie, John Irving, Bernard Malamud u.a., (Kölner Studien zur Literaturwissenschaft. 10 ), Frankfurt am Main: Lang 1997

Fletcher, M. D. (ed.), Reading Rushdie: Perspectives on the Fiction of Salman Rushdie (Cross Cultures. 16 ), Amsterdam: Rodopi 1994

Glage, Liselotte (ed.), "The Decolonizing Pen". Cultural Diversity and the Transnational Imaginary in Rushdie's Fiction, Trier: Wiss. Verl. 2001

Goonetilleke, D. C. R. A., Salman Rushdie (Macmillan Modern Novelists), Basingstoke: Macmillan 1998

Grant, Damian, Salman Rushdie (Writers and Their Work), Plymouth: Northcote House 1999

Harrison, James, Salman Rushdie (Twayne´s English Authors Series. 488 ), New York: Twayne 1992

Hartung, Heike, Die dezentrale Geschichte : historisches Erzählen und literarische Geschichte(n) bei Peter Ackroyd, Graham Swift und Salman Rushdie (Studien zur anglistischen Literatur- und Sprachwissenschaft. 16), Trier: Wiss. Verl. 2002

Hirsch, Bernd, Geschichte und Geschichten : zum Verhältnis von Historizität, Historiographie und Narrativität in den Romanen Salman Rushdies (Anglistische Forschungen. 300 ), Heidelberg: Winter 2001

Kuortti, Joel, Fictions to Live in: Narration as an Argument for Fiction in Salman Rushdie's Novels, Frankfurt am Main: Lang 1998

Weldon, Fay, Sacred Cows: [a Portrait of Britain, Post-Rushdie, Pre-Utopia] (Chatto Counter Blasts. 4 ), London: Chatto & Windus 1989

  1. Please, remember

  1. When you write a critical essay or an assignment, never forget to list all the texts and internet-sources you have consulted – in alphabetical order and with all the necessary bibliographical data The MLA style sheet will tell you how to arrange your bibliography.

  2. Within your own text (essay, assignment) literal quotations from the texts you have consulted have to be clearly marked – e. g.: "…" – and you will have to add the source plus page references in footnotes or endnotes. An inclusion of your source in the bibliography is not enough!

  3. When you summarise or paraphrase an argument from the sources you have consulted, it is again absolutely necessary to add the relevant bibliographical data plus page references in footnotes or endnotes.

  4. Remember, if you don't do this you plagiarise – which means: you take words or ideas from another person's work and use them in your work, without stating that they are not your own!!

  5. Remember, plagiarism is an offence!!

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