Cultural Implications of Popular Fiction: A Reading of Jeffrey Archer's Select Novels

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Content: CULTURAL IMPLICATIONS OF POPULAR FICTION: A READING OF JEFFREY ARCHER'S SELECT NOVELS Thesis submitted to Pondicherry University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English by MANU C. SKARIA Under the guidance of Dr. H. KALPANA Associate Professor, Department of English DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH PONDICHERRY UNIVERSITY PUDUCHERRY February 2015
Dr. H. Kalpana Associate Professor Department of English Pondicherry University Puducherry 605014 Tel No: (0) 091-0413-2654481 Email: [email protected]/[email protected] CERTIFICATE This is to certify that the thesis entitled, "Cultural Implications of Popular Fiction: A Reading of Jeffrey Archer's Select Novels" submitted to Pondicherry University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in English is a record of original research work done by Mr. Manu C. Skaria during the period of his study 2009-2014 in the Department of English, Pondicherry University, under my supervision and that the thesis has not formed the basis for the award of any Degree/ Diploma/ Associateship/ Fellowship or any other similar titles before.
Place : Puducherry Date : 19/02/2015 Countersigned:
Dr. H. Kalpana (Research Supervisor)
Prof. N. Natarajan Head, Dept. of English Pondicherry University Puducherry, India.
Manu C. Skaria Ph.D. Student Department of English Pondicherry University Puducherry ­ 605014 DECLARATION I hereby declare that the thesis entitled, "Cultural Implications of Popular Fiction: A Reading of Jeffrey Archer's Select Novels" submitted to Pondicherry University in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Award of the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in ENGLISH is a record of original research work done by me, under the supervision and Guidance of Dr. H. Kalpana, during the period of my study 2009 - 2014 in the Department of English, Pondicherry University and the thesis has not formed the basis for the award of any Degree/ Diploma/ Associateship/ Fellowship or any other similar titles before.
Place : Pondicherry Date : 19/02/2015
Manu C Skaria
Note on documentation
II Jeffrey Archer and Bestsellers
III Reading the Individual in Archer
IV Reading the Social in Archer
V Reading Cultural Implications in Archer
VI Summing Up
Works Cited
Acknowledgements Thanks is too inadequate a word to signify my feeling of indebtedness and gratitude to my research supervisor and guide, Dr. H. Kalpana, who stood by me through all these years providing constant support, inspiration and advice; I would have lost my way without her. She taught me perseverance and focus by being a model. Apart from academic guidance, she ensured the emotional wellbeing of us grad students with a little help from her loving family that always kept their doors open for us. My doctoral committee members, Prof. N. Natarajan and Dr. C. Aruna, helped the research with critical insight and warm cooperation. This research would not have been possible without my teachers of literary and critical theory who inspired me to study English literature at every step of my higher studies. I thankfully remember Dr. G. Mathew (Mar Ivanios College, Thiruvananthapuram), Dr. Ganesh Krishnamoorthi, Prof. V. Rajagopalan (Madras Christian College, Tambaram) and Prof. N. Natarajan (Pondicherry University). The Head, faculty members and office staff of the English Department, Pondicherry University always managed to smile at my sight and made me feel at home these last six years. Prof. N. Natarajan, Head of the Department of English, and faculty members over my stay here: Prof. Sujatha Vijyaraghavan, Prof. S. Murali, Dr. Bhaskaran Nair, Dr. Clement S. Lourdes, Dr. Nikhila Haritsa, Dr. T. Marx, Dr. Binu Zachariah, Dr. K. Reshmi, Dr. Vishakha Devi, Dr. Ujjwal Jana and Dr. Lakhimai Mili, have helped me academically and personally. My gratitude to them is infinite. ii
The present and past office staff of the Department of English and Dean`s office were always willing and working to facilitate administrative help. I remember them all with gratitude. There have been Vice-Chancellors, Registrars, Deans and unseen and unknown members of administrative staff, security personnel and non teaching staff who made my stay in Pondicherry University possible; my thanks to them. My fellow research students ­ some of them are doctors` now ­ Sujaritha, Chandra, Parimala, Lahiri, Soukarja, Shanthi, Rajeesh, Nishna, Gayathri and Athira had been helpful individually and as a group in the research and also in various other stuff` that researchers do. I also remember with pleasure the companionship and support offered across the years by the research scholars Yashpal, Nancy Marie, Arun Dharmadathu, Neepa Sarkar, Vivek, Sarina, Maria Lisa, Athira, Jyotsna, Prashanta Das, Prashant Chottu Sethi, Ramesh Maneli, Lois, Harish, Subbu and Hemanth. There are several other friends who came, left and stayed through my stay in the university and made my life rich and cheerful. Ashna Jacob, Teena Achu, Sneha Satheesan, Jisha Koshy and Helle Malmborg have played their role in the successful completion of this research. I can never forget Aparna Nanda, Sreepoorna Arumughan, Kavithaa Rajamony, Tresa Abraham, IDM Surya Kiran, Manimozhi, Dheebika, Ajay Bhaijaan, Anik, Uday, Rishi, Asim, Ajith, Richa, Rajeshwa, Abhishek, Ramesh Kambattan, Mrinal, Linkon Mondal, Raju Parghi, Sunil Paul, Jayapradaban, Jayesh G, Pushia P, Jerome K Jose, Pratheesh C Mammen and Dada who laughed with me, indulged me and often fed me. I am indebted to my late friend, Arati Chandra, who convinced me that my future is in academics and made me fall in love with Pondicherry. iii
My family: Appa, Amma, Aachi, Santh and Chachan, and my sister`s in-laws, always supported me emotionally even when I had given them reasons to complain. This research would never have been possible without them. iv
Abstract The thesis is entitled Cultural Implications of Popular Fiction: A Reading of Jeffrey Archer`s Select Novels` and divided into six chapters: Introduction; Jeffrey Archer and Bestsellers; Reading the Individual in Archer; Reading the Social in Archer; Reading Cultural Implications in Archer; and Summing Up. Chapter I ­ Introduction The introductory chapter examines the background and scope of the current research. Canon formations and academic exclusion of genre fiction, existence of popular canons, differentiation made between literary and popular fiction and the pop-shift` in the latter half of the twentieth century are discussed. The rootedness in life of all literature is reiterated to validate the significance of popular literature in academic pursuits. The chapter attempts to logically propose that popular fiction, or at least some works of popular fiction, could be read and processed differently to look at the diverse and sometimes formulaic representation of various aspects of life. The chapter briefly explains the choice of Jeffrey Archer as a representative of popular fiction and also based on the lack of academic scrutiny on his literary works till date. Four novels of Jeffrey Archer have been selected for study after an extensive reading of all the novels by the author. The selected novels are Kane and Abel (1979), First Among Equals (1984), A Matter of Honour (1986) and As the Crow Flies (1991). The introductory chapter sketches the form and chapter division of the thesis. It also outlines the objectives of the thesis; the key objectives are: to recognize the role of Bestseller Novels in general and Archer`s novels in particular in the v
dissemination of culture and to highlight the significance of the study of Popular Fiction in academic curricula. In that process, it tries to closely read and explore the significance of the representations of individuals and societies, keeping in mind the identity of the novels as popular fiction and to identify and survey the cultural markers that contribute to cultural production. The introductory chapter also delineates the chapter division of the thesis. Chapter II ­ Jeffrey Archer and Bestsellers The second chapter introduces the author and his works in detail. Jeffrey Archer is a British author who has to his credit eighteen novels, three plays, three prison diaries and six short-story collections till date. He was active in politics and played key roles in the conservative party structure and governance, before he was convicted of perjury and sent to prison in the year 2001. The chapter gives an overview of his works and stresses the select novels` identity as best-sellers. Various sources suggest that Archer`s works had sold over 350 million copies till date. The market of his works indicates its appeal among the mass of readers, its place in a popular canon and its scope as the location of cultural performance. The chapter further discusses the relevant theories and literature reviewed. Ken Gelder`s significant work, Popular Fiction: The Logics and Practices of a Literary Field forms the basis of the distinction perceived between literary fiction` and popular fiction` and is a source of various possible approaches in engaging genrefiction with academic scrutiny. Literary fiction is often perceived as serious, reflective and introspective as opposed to popular fiction that is construed as trivial, fantastic and escapist. The creative and reading processes of the two categories are also differentiated. The formulaic and industry oriented practices of popular fiction are in vi
itself a process worth analysis as it has economic and political significations. It was found that the science, horror, western and spy subgenres of popular fiction are represented in academic researches while the success-story` type that Archer specialises in has not evolved itself to form a genre in itself or a subgenre; and it usually gets categorised under other heads. To appreciate and critically interrogate the cultural contextualisation and connotations of the select novels, various approaches of literary criticism and cultural theory were studied. The chapter then formulates the methodology of the current research after discussing the significant theoretical practices extant in the field of research in popular culture and literary studies. The methodology employed in the research consists of various approaches like structural analysis, close reading and thick description in a socio-cultural context. The various readings of the novels are done so as to isolate and highlight the operation of types, representation of cultural artefacts and narratives on social and individual aspects related to history, war, patriarchy, capitalism, etc. in the novels. Chapter III ­ Reading the Individual in Archer The characters in the select novels are rich in cultural markers that contribute to, and are often in sync with, popular imagination. This chapter, reading individual aspects, focuses on the perception and representation of an individual realm within the select texts. The characters are read to identify commonalities that point to generic representation and to analyse the cultural markers present in them. The protagonists are often crafted such that their character radiates a heroic charm and through their action evolves into heroes` of massive proportion. The identity of the select novels as popular fiction and success stories puts the spotlight on the protagonists with whom a vii
reader often identifies and contrasts himself/herself, which involves a certain amount of hero worship and self-critique. The attributes of the hero scattered across the action of the novels are brought together in a structural study to isolate and identify heroic elements. This activity throws light on Archer`s or his perceived societies` expectations from a hero and to an extent the fandom`s expectation of their hero. There are various theories that analyse the category of hero` and hero-worship from different perspectives. Archetypal criticism explains archetypal hero as an expression of personal and collective unconscious. The various heroic elements and characteristics shared by heroic figures across mythologies, religions and epics probably reflect the operation of a collective fantasy, shame and admiration. Various individual commonalities shared by Archer`s heroes are collated and interpreted in the chapter. Chapter IV ­ Reading the Social in Archer The fourth chapter attempts to read possible discourses on social systems, constructs, experiences, characters and proclivities that are repeatedly portrayed across the novels in various ways. The readings in the chapter are divided into various sections titled after the constructs or characters on which the novels discourse upon obviously or otherwise. These sections read and analyse discourses on tradition and heredity, nationalism and patriotism, war and army, history, capitalism, patriarchy, politics and democracy, morality, religion, etc. A perception of discourses and narratives, originating from the perceived social characters, institutions and constructs, could help one comprehend the role of such discourses in forming, altering and propagating images of and responses to nations, races, societies and individuals. viii
The impact of this cognition process could vary individually, while contributing to the imagination and performance of cultures. Chapter V ­ Reading Cultural Implications in Archer The sixth chapter attempts to explore the cultural aspects in the texts under study. For this purpose, the discourses explored in previous chapters are also used along with the textual pointers that contribute to any discernible cultural discourse. The perception of hero and the appeal of a success story are contextualised for interpretation. The space for identity created by languages and accents, as represented in the novels, is discussed in detail. The depiction of cultural artefacts and intertextuality which include the representations of various art forms like literature, music, theatre, films, paintings, sculptures, etc. in the novels are also examined in the chapter. Chapter VI ­ Summing Up The conclusive chapter sums up the work done in the thesis. It enumerates the findings of the previous chapters and reiterates the cultural significance of the selected novels. It also offers avenues for further research. ix
Note on Documentation The parenthetical citation of primary sources viz. A Matter of Honour, As the Crow Flies, Kane and Abel and First Among Equals is denoted with the abbreviated forms AMoH`, ACF`, K&A` and FAE` respectively, for easier comprehension. In all other instances, the Modern Language Association style-sheet prescribed by MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (seventh edition) is followed. x
Chapter I Introduction Research in English literature has outgrown conventional perceptions along with the emergence and evolution of literary theory and its effects on literary criticism, and has come to interrogate political, economic and cultural contexts and significances of texts among other things. The advent and proliferation of what is today called cultural studies opened up a multitude of avenues for critical exploration based on each practitioner`s perception of culture. Chris Barker, in the introduction to The Sage Dictionary of Cultural Studies, attempts to codify the idea of culture which is central to cultural studies: ...culture as constituted by the signs, meanings and representations that are generated by signifying mechanisms in the context of human practices (xvii). He further elaborates on the construction and consequences of such representations and matters of power involved in such signifying patterns (xvii). These ideas are central to the current thesis, as it attempts to explore critically selected popular novels of Jeffrey Archer, the English author famous for his bestsellers. Four novels of Jeffrey Archer have been selected for study after an extensive reading of all the novels written by the author. The novels were selected so as to represent various sub-genres of popular fiction like spy thriller, political thriller, vendetta and success story among the author`s novels. The selected novels are: Kane and Abel (1979), First Among Equals (1984), A Matter of Honour (1986) and As the Crow Flies (1991). The thesis is exploratory in nature since a critical assessment of the author`s novels has not been done before in known academic circles. Before discussing in detail the texts or the author, this introductory chapter attempts to chart the background on which the research is based. 1
As mentioned already, the emergence of cultural studies has enabled the study of popular culture and various structures associated with it and the current research on popular fiction, though a literary study, is facilitated by the logics and practices of cultural studies. Cultural studies as a discipline is deeply indebted to the pioneering work of the Birmingham Centre and Richard Hoggart intended the Birmingham Centre to be interdisciplinary but also for literary studies to be the key element in it. The idea of cultural studies as a sort of political intervention` was inspired by the works of Stuart Hall who succeeded Hoggart as director at the Birmingham Centre. The seriousness of cultural studies for Hall was in its political aspect (Milner and Browitt 6-7). Hall`s account of and interest in popular culture is also rooted in political or social intervention. is one of the places where socialism might be constituted. That is why popular culture` matters. Otherwise, to tell you the truth, I don`t give a damn about it (487). The view of popular culture and the sites of its representation and manifestation as significant led to extensive research and exploration into such. Popular fiction is one of those sites, the study of which was often considered insignificant. Cultural Studies works with a positive conception of popular culture by which it is both valued and critically analysed. Cultural studies rejects elitist notions of high-low culture or the critiques of mass culture (Barker, Theory 55). As an interdisciplinary mode of enquiry, cultural studies opened up the limits on research prescribed by traditional and academic literary canon and the critical traditions that took root from it. Across the ages in literary critical tradition, various minds had applied themselves in aptly defining literature. A consensus of the various ideas emanating from this line of thought could not be forced. But it is generally agreed that literature is a reflection of life. Even in those literary works that spring forth from un-reined 2
flights of fancy, one can notice that the creative process and the resultant products were deeply rooted in life ­ its experiences and emotions. This rootedness in life of literature could be seen as the basis of its (literature`s) varying influences across ages, civilizations and cultures. In one of the influential works on the art of the novel, Henry James says: The only reason for the existence of a novel is that it does attempt to represent life (30). In The Art of Fiction`, James brings up the debate between the fictional and realistic aspects of fiction, and gives the novelist a standing as that of a historian: implies that the novelist is less occupied in looking for the truth (the truth, of course I mean, that he assumes, the premises that we grant him, whatever they may be) than the historian, and in doing so it deprives him at a stroke of all his standing room. To present and illustrate the past, the actions of men, is the task of... the writer... (31). By negotiating on the space of a novelist and a historian, Henry James points at the significance of a novel outside the elementary features like plot, character and literary devices and to a larger context outside the text itself. Even in her rejection of the then conventional forms of writing fiction, Virginia Woolf emphasizes on the primacy of life and reality in fiction. But she accepts the elusive nature of reality in its representation (8). In the conclusive part of Modern Fiction` she writes: The proper stuff of fiction` does not exist; everything is the proper stuff of fiction, every feeling every thought; every quality of brain and spirit is drawn upon; no perception comes amiss (12). The flexibility of subject matter in fiction is highlighted here. Yet again, such proponents of the elevated status and flexibility of novel, in their critical works, were addressing canonical works predominantly and much attention was not bestowed upon genre fiction or what is called the popular fiction. 3
The linguistic turn of literary criticism in the twentieth century and various theories that sprouted from it facilitated the divergence of criticism of fiction, and any form of literature for that matter, in various directions. Some theories, in effect, nullified the liberal humanist view on literature with their stress on language and philosophy; which according to Peter Barry shifted the focus from history and context (33). Such critical methods emphasised upon the structure, point of view, speech-act process, etc. in novels and further dwelled on the acts of writing, reading, interpretation etc. The emergence of New Historicism, Postcolonial theories, feminist theories, Queer theories, etc. brought back the focus upon history and context from linguistic pondering and interpretative acts (Barry 33). Literature as well as criticism- the difference between them being delusive- is condemned (or privileged?) to be forever the most rigorous and, consequently, the most unreliable language in terms of which man names and modifies himself (DeMan 140). Though Paul DeMan focuses on literature as a language, in the statement mentioned above, in his celebrated essay on the vertiginous possibilities of referential aberration (136), he contextualises it by accepting it as a mode of expressing human experiences. Literature being the device with which man names and modifies himself points to the fact that literature is linked to contexts, and further history; since naming and modifying are acts that are temporal as well as spatial. Consequently, many works ignored hitherto in academic circles breached into the space of being objects of literary criticism. From mere cataloguing of genre/popular fiction, criticism started to engage popular texts and discuss its contemporaneity and cultural significance. Literary and theoretical elitism had to be encountered even in the realm of mainstream academics to reach this particular step. A typical example of this would be the case of Latin American literature, as narrated 4
by Gustavo Pellon, which is pragmatically deep rooted in social and historic incidents and issues: A more serious problem arises from criticism informed by the deconstructive method. Intelligent deconstructive readings (of which we fortunately have various examples in Spanish American criticism) seldom fail to illuminate the text and teach us something about its underlying tensions and contradictions, and they certainly raise our awareness of the complexity of the process of writing and the process of interpretation. Nevertheless, the deconstructive method`s cavalier attitude toward the problem of referentiality and its dismissal of the concept of interpretive validity have often encouraged critics of Latin American literature to indulge in often brilliant, creative, and entertaining free-associations of dubious heuristic value. The lack of sociohistorical contextualization in such readings is particularly glaring in the case of a critical practice that is brought to bear on a literary corpus such as that of Latin America, which one could argue is consciously defined by its problematic discourse with its society and history (81-82). The author`s claim here is not an isolated opinion about a literary corpus specifically linked to a land/space with a turbulent history and social issues. The emergence of New Historicism and Postcolonialism which foregrounds context and history is evidence that it is not an isolated opinion. Is any body of literature removed from social and historical contexts when one starts to look at it as created and consumed in space and time? The answer should be in negative, for that space and time automatically contextualises it. Still, an observer could find that the body of fictional works or novels prescribed in the syllabi of 5
academic institutions all over the world mutually excludes a huge number of fictional works produced across ages. It is impossible to include every novel in the curriculum, but one could expect it to be more representative. While acknowledging the path breaking and revolutionary turn of events in the literary academic scenario, it is to be pointed out that the creeping in of a sort of academic elitism, which often sidelines multiple concerns as insignificant, could thwart the wholesome growth of criticism as well as literary studies. The question that is asked here is whether any particular text or group of texts could be taken out of the equation of academic study of literature and if such exclusion happens, what informs that action and how the norms of selection of texts are set. These questions constitute the study of literary canon. The exclusive phenomenon in curricula is far more drastic than it appears, for it (the curricula as well as the exclusion of texts) influences the minds that have the power to define literature. Earl R. Anderson, in the forum of PMLA suggests, May be canon is just a synonym for curriculum (1442). Critics have dwelt deeply on the power of canon in establishing a standard, and thus a division in literary efforts, and also on the relationship between curricula and canon: Though some of us continue to speak of great books, as if humanism were still a living movement instead of one more classroom subject, we all know in our hearts that literature is effectively what we teach in departments of English; or conversely, what we teach in departments of English is literature. Within that closed definitional circle, we perform the rituals by which we cast out unworthy pretenders from our ranks and induct true initiates, guardians of the standards by which all song and story ought to be judged (Fiedler and Baker 73-74). 6
The basic question that informs the formation of any literary canon could be the simple one stated by Fiedler and Baker, viz. the standards by which songs and stories ought to be judged. Are there any universal standards, so as to validate a universal canon of literature? The answer should be no`, since standards and yardsticks are as abstract as definitions of literature are. Discussing Terry Eagleton`s notes on literary canon, Neil Randall suggests: When Terry Eagleton writes that the literary canon has to be recognized as a construct, fashioned by particular people for particular reasons at particular times (Eagleton, 1983, p. 11), he is saying, of course, that the composition of the canon is the result of value-judgements that are historically variable and which have a close relation to social ideologies (p. 16). But even if we object to Eagleton`s ideological interpretation of the canon, we can scarcely object to his assertion that the canon is an historical construct, and that it is subject to reconstruction as times, tastes, and values change (184). Even as the stability or rather consistency of canon formation is problematic, Randall accedes that literary canon still exerts authority for various reasons (185). But this does not deny the presence of canons in worldwide literatures. Ironic as it sounds, canons ­ in plural ­ were ever present and could not be done away with, since it fundamentally represents human preferences. Earl R. Anderson tries to delineate four basic discourse modalities that corroborate with the various modes of formation of canons; viz. extensional-distributive, extensional-collective, intensional-distributive and intensional-collective (1443). The solution to the exclusive nature of a canon could only be the existence of other canons ­ a multitude of canons ­ which at the same time strengthen and weaken the validity and stature of other canons. 7
Being certain of the formation and existence of multiple canons, one can look into the issue of academic exclusion of various texts as non-canonical. With the emergence of movements against social and economic exclusion, class rooms of English literature have also opened up to some of the so-called non-canonical texts. Such texts are not yet deemed canonical but commands quite significant a role in representing subordinated cultures as well as texts. John Guillory writes in Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation: It has seemed necessary to many progressive critics to present certain texts by minority authors as intrinsically noncanonical, as unassimilable to the traditional canon. The separatist strategy follows from the same basic assumption of pluralist canonical critique as the integrationist, that the process of the inclusion or exclusion of texts is identical to the representation or non-representation of social groups. In the context of curricular revision, the category of the noncanonical loses its empty significance as merely the sum total of what is not included in the canon, and takes on a content specified by the contemporary critique: the noncanonical must be conceived as the actively excluded, the object of a historical repression. But paradoxically, the most surprising aspect of the current legitimisation crisis is the fact that the noncanonical is not what fails to appear in the classroom, but what, in the context of liberal pedagogy, signifies exclusion. The noncanonical is a newly constituted category of text production and reception, permitting certain authors and texts to be taught as noncanonical, to have the status of noncanonical works in the classroom...It is only as canonical works that certain texts can be said to represent hegemonic social 8
groups. Conversely, it is only as noncanonical works that certain other texts can truly represent socially subordinated groups. (Guillory 9) This observation throws light on the evolution of the connotations of the term canon` from that of an autotelic, totalitarian statement to a mere category. Multiple canons, consisting of noncanonical texts which act as another canon, bring repressed sensibilities to the fore. The current research on popular fiction takes these critical opinions on multiple texts and canons to another level, by applying these notions to popular fiction. Academic elitism can turn a blind eye to the texts outside traditional canon, but there is something outside the classrooms that sustains literature and publishing industry ­ the mass of readers. What is read most by the mass gets included in the popular canon ­ the existence of which, according to Jean Francois Botrel, could easily be established than explained: For the people, even the illiterate, there can be another more pragmatic way of conceiving the literary and aesthetic canon. This canon is concerned with the existential rather than the essential, with practices themselves rather than values in themselves, and does not aspire to theoretical abstraction that is valid everywhere and for all the time... (29). Botrel points at the traditional concept of the test of time while acknowledging the lack of validity everywhere and all the time. The dynamics of academic syllabi in perpetuating the validity of some literary texts could not be ignored here. The popular is often non canonical and hence their value in perpetuity is questioned. Could this be inverted by representative inclusion of popular fictional works in syllabi? It is yet to be answered, but steps to acknowledge the presence of popular canons in criticism could ensure that these texts are not lost to further study on the 9
ground of intellectual triviality. Most traditional critical perspectives ignored popular fiction though the genre thrived illustriously since the Victorian age. It could be observed that the most popular of literary works alone were immortalised` with publication or preserved for posterity before the institutionalisation of literary studies and the advent of cheap and mechanical reproduction of texts. For example, Shakespeare`s plays received popular acclaim and were then studied; and not vice versa as in the case of many a mainstream literary masterpiece these days. The current thesis tries to venture outside literary canon and study some texts that, with the status of bestsellers, are part of what could be called popular canons. The popular, the product for mass consumption and the taste of the mass are often considered inferior; and there have been theoreticians and thinkers who considered these entities as constructed keeping in mind the vested interests of dominant classes. Adorno and Horkheimer coined the term culture industry to denote this very idea. In the article titled Culture Industry Reconsidered Adorno states: To the detriment of both, it (culture industry) forces together the spheres of high and low art, separated for thousands of years (12). This statement indicates that there is a conception that there is something in art that categorises it into high and low, and that it has been existing for thousands of years. The veracity of this statement could not be proved conclusively for it is a matter of perception. By basing a theory that analyses popular arts and tastes on a subjective divisive discourse, it capitulates its stature and validity. In the aforementioned article, Adorno suggests a differentiation between the art that springs from the masses and the art that is imposed on the masses. Culture industry` is the term they (Adorno and Horkheimer) coined for the latter. Such a division of popular arts and tastes (as by the mass` and for the mass`) could not be considered a 10
watertight compartmentalisation. Only further study of popular arts and culture can prove that point. All the art consumed by the mass is not representative of their social reality. But still, the consumption of it proves that there is something in it that appeals to the mass. Pornography is often cited as an example for something that is consumed in large scale but could not be regarded as works of art deserving serious critique. Pornography appeals to the, Freudian, basic instinct of man (and woman?), and hence the popularity. But, can all popular art forms be considered similar to pornography, as appealing to one or more specific instincts that civilised world tries to repress (if so, what would have been the fate of revenge tragedies?) and be categorised in an offhanded manner as not deserving critical inspection? Recent advance in the study of the erotic is another step in the evolution towards a more inclusive nature of researches in mainstream academician. The researcher is of the opinion that no human instinct can be removed from the range of (at least) literature. For instance, a cultural hegemony of capitalist class imposed on the mass through the construct of popular arts, culture and tastes could be analysed only by an assessment and analysis of the popular culture and literature and not by excluding it from academic inspection. It can be argued that Adorno and Horkheimer were theorising on the phenomena of academic exclusion of popular works of art, though it was based on their belief in Marxist ideology. But they, in a way, validated and conferred a low status on the popular by imposing an intellectual standard, which is not far different from the imposing of bourgeois sensibility that they accused the capitalist classes of. Such intellectualisation standardises the stigma attached to the production and consumption of popular culture and art. Paul Lopes, while discussing stigma and 11
popular comics, emphasises the ill-effects of stigmatisation. Stigmatization is a qualitatively greater and different level of subordination than low status....Stigma is not simply a matter of taste, although that distinction remains, but a matter of discrediting forms and individuals as lacking in some fundamental way and often deserving of immediate intervention (412). Resistance to such standardisation and stigmatising could be taken up by academicians, but ...the positions of academic scholars often blind them to both the existence and power of stigma in culture (Lopes 411). Yet, researches and studies in the field of genre/popular fiction are gaining currency. Ken Gelder, in the ground-breaking work Popular Fiction: The Logics and Practices of a Literary Field, offers a view of the workings and features of this unique literary field. In his own words, the work attempts to ...turn[ing] an eye to the actual diversity of the field (formulaic as some aspects of it may be), as well as its cheerful affirmation of features that certain other forms of cultural production (like Literature) might either repress or envy, or both (1). It could be noted that popular fiction is placed on a parallel ground with literature as a cultural production and at the same time a differentiation from Literature is enunciated just as traditional academic concerns would like it to be. From this step, Gelder goes on to define the field of popular fiction as one that is governed by rules and practices widely different from that of traditional Literature. This obvious gulf between Literature and popular fiction could be the creation of academics as the popular and literary in English literature was institutionalised by the emergence of academic study of English literature. However, it has come to pass that the discourses on this field is essentially non-conformational with traditional literature. This could change with the academic pursuit of the study of popular fiction, even if it places these two in drastic opposition to each other. 12
Gelder affirms that his book, while speaking up for the reputation of popular fiction, is not taking an anti-Literature position (11), but rather is outlining the preexisting conceptions of the differences between both and reaffirming those differences. He does not, in this process, strip the reader of his/her discernment in their choices, but portrays the choice and reading process as deliberate actions. It is simply one way of noting that Literature deploys a set of logics and practices that are different in kind to those deployed in the field of popular fiction. Readers, of course, may very well move from the one to the other, since reading interests can at times be flexible and adaptable. But in doing so, these different logics and practices are surely registered, which means that Literature and popular fiction will necessarily not be read or processed` in the same way (11-12). Drawing from various critics, philosophers and existing practices, the field of popular fiction is defined as one that is influenced by the logic of the market place` while literature is governed by creativity and originality`. According to Gelder, Literature is construed as an autonomous entity with scope for authenticity and creativity while popular fiction is cognisant of the readers and their entertainment to vouch for large scale production and distribution (13). Popular fiction is a kind of industrial practice (Gelder, Popular 15). It is on this notion of industrial practice that the ideological positions on popular fiction are being taken by Gelder. He interprets various critics and authors to outline the vital differences between the authors, texts, readers, creative processes, reading processes and marketing of Literature and popular fiction. Much literature is reviewed and analysed in this process, but the outcome yet again indicates the 13
presence of a negative dismissive discourse regarding the stature and praxis of popular fiction. So the ideological position on popular fiction in dominant discourse is still problematic and deeply rooted in the perceived features and functions of the field. To answer properly the question of what ideological functions are served by popular fiction means that one must deal with precisely the features...ascribed to popular fiction...: its role as entertainment`, its selfidentification as a form of industrial production or manufacture`, and its commercial and merchandizing potential. These features have made it commonplace to regard popular fiction derisively as capitalism`s most perfect literary form. It is as if popular fiction is pure ideology`, simply a matter of commerce, nothing more or less than a product` ­ whereas Literature (so the argument goes) is more complicated, resisting ideological reduction, disavowing its commercial identity, able to criticize rather than capitulate to capitalism, enmeshed in nothing less than life itself (Gelder, Popular 35). It is evident that a study of popular fiction could not conform to such elitist ideological positions completely; but that is not to ignore the commercial identity of the artefact of popular fiction. From the middle ground between value judgements, one can look at this cultural representation as a field with its own logics and practices. This can be done by reading and rereading, and processing its semiotic spaces; much in the same way as it is done with Literature. This again is a tricky situation, as popular fiction is often perceived as intended to be read and processed differently in comparison with Literature. The question that should be asked here is whether to take into account the preconception of intended reading? Gelder examines the attributes of the readers of Literature and popular fiction, which are widely different and 14
sometimes quite opposite in features. A quote from J. Hillis Miller is used in Gelder`s text to derive and underline the conceived differences in the practices of the types of readers: Good reading...also demands slow reading...A good reader is someone on whom nothing in a text is lost, as [Henry] James said a good writer is in relation to life: Try to be one of those on whom nothing is lost`... Such a reader pauses over every key word or phrase, looking circumspectly before and after, walking rather than dancing... Slow reading, critical reading, means being suspicious at every turn, interrogating every detail of the work, trying to figure out by just what means the magic is wrought. (122) The reader of Literature is depicted as one who is contemplative, critical of the reading material and close to life; and conversely the reader of popular fiction is distracted, or reading for distraction, uncritical and removed from life, made to occupy some fantasy space elsewhere (Gelder, Popular 37-38). Gelder is of the opinion that this ideological differentiation is often stereotypically cited and re-cited by advocates of Literature consciously or unconsciously. He also discusses the ideas of other critics on the gendered perception of this othering` (38). This supposed distinction between the types of readers could not be universally valid, as the reading processes are influenced by textual and contextual attributes. Harold Meisen studied the influence of textual attributes in the choice of reading material statistically and suggests that the readers of romance novels have more in common with readers of literature than is usually assumed(53). Though the observation might be out of context with the discussion of reading practices of readers of Literature and popular fiction, it points at their perceptive and discriminative 15
capacity and, much importantly, vindicates the critical faculty of the readers of both kind. Gelder concurs with this idea while accepting the basic differences in the reading process of Literature and popular fiction: ...readers of popular fiction may very well be leisured, fast, believing and enchanted consumers. But this is not to say that they are unthinking`, uncritical or even undiscriminating. Indeed, just like the reader of Literature, they may also be people upon whom nothing is lost`. Although popular fiction is indeed usually read quickly rather than closely`, its minutiae are nevertheless registered and responded to in all sorts of ways... (Popular 38). So it could be safely assumed that the preconception of intended reading need not always be the point of reference in closely or critically reading popular fiction. Another feature of popular fiction which could not be ignored in a discussion of its features and scope of critical appreciation is its genre related identity. The entire field of popular fiction is written for, marketed and consumed generically: it provides the primary logic for popular fiction`s means of production, formal and industrial identification and critical evaluation (Gelder, Popular 40). In examining a work of popular fiction, a certain amount of consideration needs to be given to the generic identity of the text. This is, in a way, related to the horizon of expectations in reading a work. For example, a crime thriller or a murder mystery is not processed/read the same way as a romance fiction or science fiction. While literary fiction`s generic distribution is avowedly non-existent or at least invisible, popular fiction embraces its generic identity which is almost always visible (Gelder, Popular 42). Gelder lists eight primary genres in popular fiction, viz. romance, crime/spy 16
fiction, science fiction, fantasy, horror, western, historical popular novel and adventure novel (42). Many of these genres are subdivided into various sub-genres for popular fiction aficionados. Each of these genres is obviously rich in works and sales. As mentioned earlier, the generic identity could not be dissociated from the text while studying it; even so, these tales could be studied and analysed rigorously like Literary fiction`. Gelder`s work discusses the genres of romance, science fiction and crime thriller and offers critical examination of popular novelists like John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Anne Rice, Jackie Collins and J. R. R. Tolkien. It is a model on which further research could be based upon. There are other numerous critical works and approaches on popular fiction, especially science fiction. Such works pave the way for a better comprehension of the dynamics of the field and critical understanding of the influences of popular fiction. Literature`s rootedness in life and thus its cultural implications, theoretical standpoints in the study of popular art and the usual academic exclusion of popular fiction make the field of popular fiction apt for further exploration. As mentioned earlier, such an endeavour can throw light into the dynamics of production and consumption and logics and practices of popular fiction. In spite of the common perception in academic circles, it is the contention of this thesis that popular fiction, or at least some works of popular fiction, can be read and processed differently to look at the diverse, and sometimes formulaic, representation of various aspects of life. The plot, language, ideologies, discourses and various other cultural pointers in popular fiction can be scrutinised in such a reading so as to analyse the cultural implications and academic and theoretic significance of such texts. In this validation, the current 17
research attempts to read and critically analyse some of the bestseller novels of Jeffrey Archer. It aims at contextualising the discourses in the select texts in contemporary cultural milieu. The key objectives of the thesis are: To closely read and explore the significance of the representations of individuals and societies, keeping in mind the identity of the novels as popular fiction To identify and survey the implications of cultural pointers dispersed in the texts under study In this process, the thesis also attempts: To recognize the role of Bestseller Novels in general and Archer`s novels in particular in the dissemination of culture To highlight the significance of the study of Popular Fiction in academic curricula The thesis is divided into six chapters. The first chapter is introductory and deals with the literary and theoretical background leading to the study of popular fiction. It delineates the platform on which the research is conducted and states the aim of the thesis. The second chapter entitled Jeffrey Archer and Bestsellers` introduces the author and the select texts. The select texts are introduced and relevant literature is discussed to outline the core chapters. The third chapter, Reading the Individual in Archer`, reads the individual aspects of characters in the select texts, especially of the heroes. The realm of the individual is culturally significant as it forms the basis of sets of values/principles on which a character thinks and acts. The inherent, and often obscure, discourses on the individual ­ values and principles ­ 18
have a huge impact factor considering the reach of popular fiction. The fourth chapter, Reading the Social in Archer`, attempts critical readings focussing mainly on the social aspects discussed in and underlying the texts. Discourses on war, nationalism, history, capitalism, etc. are read. The fifth chapter, Reading Cultural Implications in Archer`, explores the cultural markers scattered over the texts and attempts to interpret discursive formations in such representations. The concluding sixth chapter sums up the thesis. 19
Chapter II Jeffrey Archer and Bestsellers With the general background charted in the introductory chapter, one could proceed to the works under study. The identity of the novels under study as bestsellers and these being a part of the works of a bestselling author necessitates a brief introduction to Jeffrey Archer and his works. The chapter further ventures to formulate the approach of the research and delineate the structure of the core chapters; after briefly surveying existing trends in research on popular fiction and the tools that could be useful in this particular research. The official website of Jeffrey Archer gives a brief account of his early life, education and political and writing career: born in London and brought up in Somerset; education at oxford; being the president of University Athletics Club there; election to Greater London Council; election to the parliament from Louth in 1969 at the age of twenty nine; investment in a Canadian company called Aquablast which went insolvent and consequent bankruptcy and resignation from the House of Commons; and the attempt at writing novels to repay his creditors and the success of the first novel and the subsequent publication of eighteen novels, three plays, six short story collections and three prison diaries. The website also mentions his charity fundraising works, the campaign for Kurdish Relief, being made a Life Peer in 1992, selection as the official Conservative Party candidate for the post of Mayor of London in 1999, the withdrawal of candidacy after being charged with perjury and conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, the sentence for four years imprisonment and release in 2003 (biography). However, the official site`s biography does not use the word convicted` and rather use the word sentenced`; neither does it mention the 20
libel case which he won against Daily Star which reported that Archer had paid a commercial sex worker for sexual services and led to his resignation as the Deputy Chairman of Conservative Party. This case later led to his downfall again as it became the source of his perjury trial in 1999 (Jeffrey Archer The biography channel website narrates the same biography in a darker tone with the heading A political chancer and arch fabricator, (and writer of Kane and Abel) he is the public figure that we most love to hate. The brief account is as follows: Archer`s mother was a journalist and his father a convicted fraudster and bigamist. He attended a private school in Somerset. Archer gained a diploma from Oxford department of education, but it is alleged that he gave false academic qualifications to get on the course. He was successful in university athletics and briefly represented Great Britain at running. Archer married Mary Weeden in 1966, and the next year he entered politics with a seat on the Greater London council. In 1969, he won a by-election for the Conservatives, but five years later he was forced to resign when he was declared bankrupt, after a fraudulent firm, in which he had invested, went bust. In 1976, Archer published his first novel; it was not appreciated by the critics, but sold extremely well, as have his other novels, from which he has since made a fortune. He has also written a play, 'The Accused', which starred himself. In 1985, he was appointed deputy chairman of the Conservative party. Then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, was warned he was an accident waiting 21
to happen. In 1986, he resigned after it was reported that he paid for sex with a prostitute. However, he sued and was awarded Ј500,000 in damages. He was awarded a peerage in June 1992. Archer won the Conservative candidacy for London mayor in 1999, but was forced to stand down after reports that he persuaded a former friend to lie to court in the 1987 libel trial. He was suspended from the Tory party and a perjury investigation began. He was arrested in 2000, and committed to stand trial on five counts, including perjury and perverting the course of justice. He was found guilty in July that year. (Jeffrey Archer These narratives, from three different websites, emphasize the fame/notoriety of the author and the popular interest in the author`s life; which is reflected in first line of the biography in the author`s official website: It has often been said that Jeffrey Archer`s own story would make an international bestseller. The first novel of Archer, Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less revolves around four characters` attempts to extract money from a fraudster who cheated them in the stock market through shady deals and a shell company, could be read against the author`s experience of near bankruptcy and fall in political career as a result of his investment in the Canadian company Aquablast (he turned to writing this novel to repay his creditors as mentioned before). The ups and downs in Archer`s career and personal life is reflected in his novels as almost all of them are tales of a hero striving for financial and personal success against immense odds, facing tragedies and sacrifice. Hence, the biography of the author facilitates the construction and evolution of a brand name for the author`s novels. The essay, ShakespeareTM: myth and biographical fiction, discusses the construction of Shakespeare as a brand name and suggests ...attaching 22
an author`s name (and image) to a text (or product) predisposes us to interpret it in a certain manner, to classify it with certain texts (or products) and not with others, to expect it to have certain qualities, themes, ideas, or formal traits (Lanier 93). Similarly, Piatti-Farnell emphasizes the cultural significance of a brand name by calling it a cultural podium and agent of conduct that pre-structures actions and responses from the consumer (190). In Archer`s case the interaction of the biography with consumers, marketing devices and other cultural agents could be interpreted as constituting a cultural podium` which pre-structures a particular variety of responses as well as anticipation of themes, ideas or formal traits` from the readers that allows the classification of his novels into celebrations of success against odds. As already noted, it is not the biography of the author alone that contributes to the construction of such a brand name; the formulaic repetition of the themes, ideas and formal traits` in the novels also contribute to the anticipation of the readers and the evolution of the brand name. Hence, it is necessary to survey the repetitions of such to comprehend and analyse the cultural space occupied by the novels under study as a brand and its interactions with the readers. Archer`s novels are eighteen in number. The official Archer website claims: Now published in 97 countries and more than 37 languages, Jeffrey Archer is firmly established, with international sales passing 270 million copies. He is the only author ever to have been a number one bestseller in fiction (eighteen times), short stories (four times) and non-fiction (The Prison Diaries) (biography). With pirated paperbacks and eBooks, the readership could be considered even bigger. It is to be noted that all eighteen of his novels were bestsellers at one point of time or the other. The eighteen novels are: Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less (1976), Shall We Tell the President (1977, revised in 1986), Kane and Abel (1979), Prodigal Daughter 23
(1982), First Among Equals (1984), A Matter of Honour (1986), As the Crow Flies (1991), Honour Among Thieves (1993), The Fourth Estate (1996), The Eleventh Commandment (1998), Sons of Fortune (2002), False Impression (2005), A Prisoner of Birth (2008), Paths of Glory (2009) and the ongoing seven part saga Clifton Chronicles` of which four are already published: Only Time Will Tell (2011), Sins of the Father (2012), Best Kept Secret (2013) and Be Careful What You Wish For (2014). Apart from these novels, he has authored two collected volumes of short stories (1997 and 2011), the stories of which were published earlier under six short story collections named A Quiver full of Arrows (1980), A Twist in the Tale (1988), Twelve Red Herrings (1994), To Cut a Long Story Short (2000), Cat O'Nine Tales (2006) and And Thereby Hangs a Tale (2010); three plays: Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1987), Exclusive (1989) and The Accused (2000); three Prison Diaries, Volume I: Hell (2003), Volume II: Purgatory (2004), Volume III: Heaven (2004); and two screenplays for Paths of Glory and False Impression. Many works of popular authors like Louis L`Amour, Clive Cussler, Tom Clancy, Dan Brown, Daniel Silva and P G Wodehouse were read along with Archer`s works to form an insight into the often formulaic` and industry oriented` practices and representations in various genres of popular fiction. Joyce G. Saricks, in The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, categorises various genres of popular fiction into four categories based on their appeal: Adrenaline Genres`, Emotions Genres`, Intellect Genres` and Landscape Genres`. Adrenaline genres` includes Adventure`, Romantic Suspense`, Suspense` and Thriller` genres. Emotions genres` is comprised of Gentle Reads`, Horror`, Romance` and Women`s Lives and Relationships`. Intellect genres` includes Literary Fiction`, Mysteries`, Psychological Fiction` and Science Fiction` while Landscapes genres` includes 24
Fantasy`, Historical Fiction` and Westerners`. Though many authors transcend genres and establish themselves as brand names and many works overlap the above mentioned genres, the classification is still useful in research since such categorization equips a researcher with what to expect and look for in a particular text under a genre. Archer`s novels could be categorised under Sarick`s set of adrenaline genres. All the eighteen novels of Archer were read for the purpose of research and after extensive reading it was found that the later novels tended to resemble and/or repeat themes, plot structures and characters from earlier novels and hence, the research intends to concentrate more on the earlier works which formed the base of the Archer brand name to analyse representations and search for cultural pointers. Further, among the earlier novels, four novels, A Matter of Honour, First Among Equals, Kane and Abel and As the Crow Flies, were identified as representative of spy thriller, political thriller, success/vendetta/adventure stories among Archer`s works. The core characteristic of plot that facilitates the classifications of his novels into spy`, political` or vendetta` stories are repeated multiple times in later novels (though all his novels could be categorised as success stories`). A Matter of Honour narrates the story of Adam Scott who is bequeathed by his late father a letter that sends him on a quest of his father`s past and a fortune. It gets complicated as two powerful nations and their allies are enmeshed in a hunt for the same object that Scott is in search for: a hidden treaty in a Rublev painting that could make the United States of America concede the state of Alaska to the Soviet Union. The entailing adventurous journey takes him across Europe, murders, torture and the restoration of his father`s and his honour and patriotism. First Among Equals recounts the story of four ambitious men, Simon Kerslake, Raymond Gould, Andrew Fraser and Charles Seymour, and their journey from the backbenches of English parliament 25
to the ultimate prize which only one of them would succeed in getting: the Primeminister post. Kane and Abel is an epic story of the lives and rivalry of William Lowell Kane and Baron Abel Rosnovski (Wladek Koskiewicz). William inherits a banking firm and takes it to newer heights despite personal tragedies, while Abel survives a tragic childhood and imprisonment to travel across Europe to reach the USA and build a hotel empire of his own. The back cover of the novel says: A memorable story, spanning sixty years, of two powerful men linked by an allconsuming hatred, brought together by fate to save ­ and finally destroy ­ each other. As the Crow Flies tells the story of Charlie Trumper and his journey from the streets of East End to the House of Lords as Lord Charles Trumper of Whitechapel. Charlie, the grandson of a street vendor, is spurred by love, ambition and revenge as he tries to build on Chelsea Terrace the biggest barrow in the world, where one can buy anything. The publication of Clifton Chronicles` and the response of various readers to it in online market spaces, after the inception of the research, validated the researcher`s conclusion that the later novels tend to be repetitive in key characteristics. While it reaffirms the brand character of Archer`s work, fulfils the anticipation of a fandom and excites newer readership, there were a number of readers who were not excited by the latest instalment of Clifton Chronicles`, Be Careful What You Wish For (2014). The following are four samples of reviews on the product from the online market space, Flipkart`: super another amazing book from one of the worlds best author , the book kept me engaged from start to end , didnt feel like putting it down once i piked it up 26
rhetoric new oil in the old lamp same theme in new plot its getting a big lengthy and now no 5 is coming are u kidding me jeff ps : disappointed with jeffery archer Old wine in a new bottle I`m a big fan of Jeffrey Archer, but this book has disappointed me thoroughly. There is nothing original in this volume. His plot structures follow the same pattern: Powerful characters manipulate the share market to get on each other, they speak the same language (the author` tone is perceptible in every single character--male or female--smart and full of wit), and politics thrown in for adding useless pages. I`ve read all his books, admired his style, but this one would be the last for me. I`m ready to sell all his books and add new, if anyone is interested. Serial Killer While other authors are trying to fit in more in an individual book, Archer claims that 4 volumes are not enough for him to finish this series and the number may stretch to 7 volumes... and none of these is a stand alone kind book.. this is nothing but cheating.. and the plot line is becoming more and more predictable.. I now wish I'd waited and bought all volumes together (at high discounts) maybe a couple of years after all had been released.. anyway that is the strategy i plan to adopt now... Pre-order prices over on-line sellers has come down from rs 320 to below rs 27
250 - within a week of launch...(and earlier volumes available at rs 149/-) .. such blatant disregard of readers is not expected from an author like Archer... would suggest to refrain from buying this volume... (best if your local neighbourhood library can issue these books..).. its not worth buying from your pavement vendor at reduced prices.. so keep away... (reviews) While some reviewers found it repetitive and cheating, some others found it unputdownable` just like the tagline of many a bestseller proclaims. This validates Ken Gelder`s argument that the ...readers of popular fiction may very well be leisured, fast, believing and enchanted consumers. But this is not to say that they are unthinking`, uncritical or even undiscriminating. Indeed, just like the reader of Literature, they may also be people upon whom nothing is lost` (Popular 38). This also points to the variations in the signification of a popular fiction brand being influenced by the temporal locus of the reader in the reading of a specific text as part of a corpus of that brand (of Archer`s novels in this case). In order to further analyse the selected texts, some of the existing researches on popular fiction were consulted. Clive Bloom`s Bestsellers: Popular Fiction since 1900 and John Sutherland`s Reading the Decades: Fifty Years of the Nation's Bestselling Books were pioneering works in that they catalogued a wide range of popular fiction and bringing to light some forgotten authors and works. Other pioneering works of critique of popular fiction are Anatomy of the Spy Thriller: 18901930 by Bruce Merry, Thrillers: Genesis and Structure of a Popular Genre by Jerry Palmer, Cover Stories: Narrative and Ideology in the British Spy Thriller and Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working-Class Culture in America by Michael Denning and Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy, and Popular Literature by Janice Radway (Schneider-Mayerson 23-24). The Bloomsbury Introduction to 28
Popular Fiction edited by Christine Berberich and The Formulas of Popular Fiction: Elements of Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Religious and Mystery Novels by Anna Faktorovich are recent additions to the critical works on popular fiction. Ken Gelder`s Reading the Vampire is an example of concerted approach to critically processing vampire stories. The critiques of a plethora of vampire stories evolve around the representation of vampires as fundamental urges located beyond culture and simultaneously as meanings grounded in culture and as a mode of negotiation between both. He ascribes the longevity of vampires to this simultaneity. It also shows how the vampire stories reproduce various anxieties and fascinations of their times (Vampires 141). The representations are here contextualised in historic and cultural milieu to locate signifying patterns and such an exercise could be done with the representations in selected novels too. The Horror Reader edited by Gelder, among theorising on and validating the field of horror, traces a rhetoric of horror and its everyday deployment that facilitates cultural construction of evil/good, monstrous/normal, what should be seen/hidden etc. (1). The rhetoric of success underlying the select novels could be analysed through the representations in it to find any culturally significant value systems or patterns emerging/evolving in it. Ken Gelder`s Popular Fiction: The Logics and Practices of a Literary Field and Scott McCracken`s Pulp: Reading Popular Fiction are two notable and recent theoretical works that directly deal with popular fiction. Gelder posits popular fiction in opposition to literary fiction to delineate its production, marketing and consumption, but McCracken is more focused on the three elements ­ the world, text and reader ­ involved in the cultural production or signification of popular fiction. While Gelder treats popular fiction as an autonomous system with the necessary 29
apparatus, McCracken gives attention to the readership/audience and the cultural space occupied by popular fiction genres and its interaction with readers. What is of more interest to current criticism is the relationship between a particular audience (or coalition of reader groups) and a particular text or genre. Questions of cultural value posed in this way refuse the abstract categories of high and low, good and bad. Instead, we need to ask about the kinds of values a particular audience has vested interest in creating or sustaining. We need to know what kinds of social conflicts are being played out through the assertion of one set of values over the other. (McCracken 5) The creation and/or sustenance of values and the social conflicts played out in that process could be read in various sub-genres of popular fiction, and also in the success stories of Archer. The work Research Methods in Cultural Studies acknowledges the importance of narratives in cultural research: Stories are central to the ways in which people make sense of their experience and interpret the social world. In everyday life and popular culture, we are continually engaged in narratives of one kind or another. They fill our days and form our lives. They link us together socially and allow us to bring past and present into relative coherence. (Pickering 6) Further the book stresses that narratives could be regarded as cultural resources which people use in various ways to locate themselves in society and interpret that society in which they locate themselves; the whole process enmeshed in links of self and other, past and present (Lawler 47). Considering the novels under study as the author`s narrative on a perceived world represented in the text, it can offer valuable social commentary on the text, its perceived world and a reader. 30
Clifford Geertz and Victor Turner, in their approaches to symbolic anthropology, stress the cultural significance and operation of symbols. Turner applies an investigative and interpretive method in his analysis of symbols to reveal multiple layers of signification of those. Geertz is more focused on the reception of symbols within a cultural space and believes the context could not be divorced from a ritual or symbol (Dicks 39-43). Both of these approaches could be integrated into the study of the novels so that interpretations of the cultural markers and the context in which it is used could be studied to comprehend better their contribution towards the imagination and performance of culture. From these examples it could be decided that a textual analysis, of representations and cultural markers within the select texts, could be done profitably by contextualising those and identifying signifying patterns, underlying rhetoric, value systems and social conflicts. The text as well as the reading process creates a new narrative each time it is read and hence a universal aesthetic of popular fiction or a grand theory about cultural agency in popular fiction could not be reached at; and such an attempt would be profoundly mistaken (Hall 486). But what it could do is locating the possibility of a reading that addresses the aforementioned patterns, rhetoric, systems and conflicts and using it as a cultural resource. Pickering, while discussing research methods of cultural studies, mentions textual analysis and close reading as two tools heavily used in researches in cultural studies (1). The current research, being a literary study essentially, could use these tools effectively for the aforementioned purposes. Close reading of select novels and the description of what it entails is similar to thick description`; even though thick description was envisioned as a tool for ethnographic study that sorts winks from twitches and real winks from mimicked ones or makes sense of strange signifying patterns (Geertz, Interpretation 16). Since the select texts could be considered 31
narratives, discourse analysis is also a possible tool in research. It could also facilitate the contextualisation of discourses within the narratives of the texts. To conduct discourse analysis means that the investigation of language is required to go beyond the boundaries of the syntactic or semantic form of the utterance. While aware of the lexico-grammatical resources of the languagesystem, we shall also be interested in their functions within the utterance as well as the utterance`s functions within its context. (Barker and Galasinski 63). The aforementioned tools are often overlapping and together they could offer a critical commentary of the novels under study and its cultural implications. Since the focus of the research is on cultural implications and the way in which a reading of the select texts sorts signifying patterns to reach underlying discourses, rhetoric or narratives, the structure of the research should address the factors involved in it. Culture could be conceived as two-pronged, as the meaning making process involves individuals and the world they inhabit. The representation of the individual realm and social structures, systems and constructs could hence be studied using the tools mentioned earlier. The significance of the symbolic and symbolic systems in the expression of individual and social systems of a culture is stressed by cultural critics (Geertz, Negara 295); thus a corpus of symbolic systems or texts` become part of the cultural pointers in the novels. These representations and pointers are often misconceived or neglected in the pace of the story, but are critical in the underlying structure of the discursive capabilities of these texts. Dominic Strinati, while reading James Bond novels, says that a structuralist analysis could highlight those factors that go into the structure of popular texts and negotiate with its operation 32
(87). A detailed reading of these representations and cultural pointers form the basis of the three core chapters of the thesis: individual, social and cultural in Archer. The characters in the select novels are rich in cultural markers that contribute to, and are often in sync with, popular imagination. The first core chapter, reading individual aspects, focuses on the perception and representation of an individual realm within the select texts. The characters are read to identify commonalities that point to generic representation and to analyse the cultural markers present in them. The protagonists are often crafted such that their character radiates a heroic charm and through their action evolves into heroes` of massive proportion. The identity of the select novels as popular fiction and success stories puts the spotlight on the protagonists with whom a reader often identifies and contrasts himself/herself, which involves a certain amount of hero worship and self-critique. The attributes of the hero scattered across the action of the novels are brought together in a structural study to isolate and identify heroic elements. This activity throws light on Archer`s or his perceived societies` expectations from a hero and to an extent the fandom`s expectation of their hero. There are various theories that analyse the category of hero` and hero-worship from different perspectives. Archetypal criticism explains archetypal hero as an expression of personal and collective unconscious. The various heroic elements and characteristics shared by heroic figures across mythologies, religions and epics probably reflect the operation of a collective fantasy, shame and admiration. Various individual commonalities shared by Archer`s heroes are collated and interpreted in the chapter. The next core chapter attempts to read possible discourses on social systems, constructs, experiences, characters and proclivities that are repeatedly portrayed 33
across the novels in various ways. The readings in the chapter are divided into various sections titled after the constructs or characters on which the novels discourse upon obviously or otherwise. These sections read and analyse discourses on tradition and heredity, nationalism and patriotism, war and army, history, capitalism, patriarchy, politics and democracy, morality, religion, etc. A perception of discourses and narratives, originating from the perceived social characters, institutions and constructs, could help one comprehend the role of such discourses in forming, altering and propagating images of and responses to nations, races, societies and individuals. The impact of this cognition process could vary individually, while contributing to the imagination and performance of cultures. The third and final core chapter attempts to explore the cultural aspects in the texts under study. For this purpose, the discourses explored in previous chapters are also used along with the textual pointers that contribute to any discernible cultural discourse. The perception of hero and the appeal of a success story are contextualised for interpretation. The space for identity created by languages and accents, as represented in the novels, is discussed in detail. The depiction of cultural artefacts and intertextuality which include the representations of various art forms like literature, music, theatre, films, paintings, sculptures, etc. in the novels are also examined in the chapter. 34
Chapter III Reading the Individual in Archer Unconsciously we all have a standard by which we measure other men, and if we examine closely we find that this standard is a very simple one, and is this: we admire them, we envy them, for great qualities which we ourselves lack. Hero worship consists in just that. Our heroes are men who do things which we recognize, with regret, and sometimes with a secret shame, that we cannot do. We find not much in ourselves to admire, we are always privately wanting to be like somebody else. If everybody was satisfied with himself, there would be no heroes (Twain 263). The selected fictional works are deemed representations of actions and thoughts, individual and collective. As discussed before, the reading of the material is broadly divided into three categories: representation of and implications at an individual`, social` and cultural` level. This chapter deals with the individual level and reads the representation of characters, their attributes and attitudes and responses to each other, keeping in mind the identity of the select material as popular fiction. Within that identity, and in the position of these novels as success stories, the construct of the hero comes into focus, for the successes celebrated by the novels as well as the readers are those of the heroes. Similar to the repetition of plots that produces the Archer brand name (as mentioned in chapter two), the heroes of Archer novels also share many characteristics. While analysing Bhabha`s idea of stereotype and its repetition, Jarrod Hayes concludes: It is only through the constant repetition or discursive deployment of stereotypes that colonial discourse can remain effective and productive, producing 35
the discrimination that keeps the colonizer in power (235). Looking at the repetitive representation of heroic attributes in the novels in this context, Archer`s heroes could translate to colonizers and the readers the colonized; and the effectiveness and productivity of the hero, and in turn the novel, dependent on the smothering recurrence of the principles, attitudes and attributes of the hero which become stereotypical. But Bhabha`s as well as cultural studies` narrative on stereotype is often contextualised in colonial/postcolonial power dynamics and the idea of stereotype itself is linked with negative connotations in its operational dynamics of differentiation and self identification (Barker, Dictionary 188). The possible operation of positive stereotypes` in social and work environment and the drastic changes in meaning the introduction of a positive stereotype into a social context could bring about have been studied by various anthropologists involved in stereotype boosting` (Shih et al 145). While operating like a colonizer, Archer`s heroes could also be operating as a positive stereotype, hence the popularity of the novels. The repetition of characteristics of the heroes across the novels under study and its appeal to the readers could also be explained by the archetypal nature of those characteristics. Eminent psychologists like Toni Wolff, Emma Jung, Esther Harding, MarieLouis von Franz, Jean Shinoda Bolen, Jennifer Woolger, etc. have discussed and expanded the concept of archetypes from the time Jung had explored it (Odajnyk 21314). In the context of hero archetypes, which is significant to the current study, Joseph Campbell explores its multicultural manifestations, variations and psychological interpretations and effects in the work The Hero with a Thousand Faces. ...Freud, Jung, and their followers have demonstrated irrefutably that the logic, the hero, and the deeds of myth survive into modern times. In the 36
absence of an effective general mythology, each of us has his private, unrecognized, rudimentary, yet secretly potent pantheon of dream. (Campbell 2). The popular hero is often a figure that excites and is in sync with that pantheon of dream; to which we might look up to and be secretly ashamed as Mark Twain suggested. The mass appeal of such heroic figures could also be explained with the transpersonal and multicultural dimension that Jungian concept of archetype is ascribed with. Throughout history, the hero has appeared in many forms but always seems to share certain characteristics. These include a miraculous but humble birth, early proof of superhuman strength, and a rapid rise to prominence or power with the specific purpose of doing battle with the forces of evil. (Carducci 140) The examples given for such heroes include Hercules, King Arthur, Superman and Luke Skywalker (Carducci 140). Archer`s heroes in the novels under study are not exactly similar to Hercules or King Arthur or such archetypes. To trace such archetypes that correspond to heroes of popular fiction, one needs to explore further the development of the concept of archetypes in recent times. Carol S. Pearson, a leadership studies expert, has investigated it further in the best seller` works The Hero Within and Awakening the Hero Within to identify the hero archetypes that operate within human narratives and how people could use these archetypes and its manifestations in self-realization and better living. As mystic as it sounds, it throws light into how the hero figures of stories could possibly communicate with readers and audience; and consequently explains the appeal of many a popular novel across 37
multicultural audiences. Interestingly, Pearson enumerates the various perspectives from which an archetype could be experienced and one of those is an academic or rationalist perspective that may conceive of archetypes as controlling paradigms or metaphors, the invisible patterns in the mind that control how we experience the world (6). The twelve hero archetypes that she considers to be significant to humanity are the Innocent, the Orphan, the Warrior, the Caregiver, the Seeker, the Destroyer, the Lover, the Creator, the Ruler, the Magician, the Sage, and the Fool; each of which is touched upon by the stages of a hero`s journey and the psychological development of human beings (Pearson 5). Archer`s heroes also conform to most of these stages of the hero`s journey. Reading the select novels to find out the essence of Archer`s hero provides a set of principles, attitudes and attributes which are constant across those heroes. The repetition of these across novels and characters creates a narrative of normalisation which sets the standard for the reader to look up to or be secretly ashamed`. The type` of hero in Archer or a typical Archer hero` is visible in a collation of heroic attributes spread across the texts; and this chapter is an attempt at that collation that could help identify and study Archer`s hero and thus explore the ideal individual in Archer`s texts and the fandom. The focus here in the reading process to codify the attributes of the hero, other heroic characters and sometimes as a corollary the villains, is to delineate generic representations that produce the image of the hero for readers and to locate and interpret any other discourse that stems out of the image of the hero. The collation and analysis is possible through close reading of the texts for and extensive description of the smothering recurrence of these individual attributes that go a long way in the social imagination of a hero. 38
The attributes of the hero in Archer`s fiction could broadly and roughly be categorised, for the convenience of study, into physical, intellectual, moral and contextual based on the available material within the texts that conforms to the qualities that go into Pearson`s conception of the twelve hero archetypes. These attributes and its repetition could be read as controlling paradigms or metaphors` that helps a reader experience the world as Pearson suggests and also as signifying patterns that contribute to the imagination and performance of culture as theoreticians of cultural studies perceive (Pearson 6; Barker, Dictionary xvii). Physical The physical prowess of the hero in the select novels is often linked with various other narratives involving war, drudgery, education and sports. Overall, there is a stress given to physical fitness, though all heroes at one point of time or the other rue their lack of fitness. The ability to perform sexually is also important in Archer as many heroes go through a patch where they discover their sexuality and learn from others or train themselves in the art of lovemaking just like they all train to be physically fit. There can also be found narratives on looks which could be categorised under this section. In AMoH the hero Adam Scott is portrayed as physically fit and athletic. He was an Inter-Services Cross-country race champion and middleweight boxing champion who also played rugby and squash during his military training period (16). Adam Scott repeatedly remembers his military training and its effects on him during various instances of his pursuit of the secret painting and escape from the Russians. Adam groaned as he stripped for the shower. He was ready for his morning game of finding out how long he could last under the freezing jets. ... Once 39
you survive the first thirty seconds you could stay under for ever, the instructor had assured them. Adam emerged three minutes later, satisfied but still damning the PTI from whose influence he felt he would never escape. (47-48) The past military training has become an everyday exercise or a habit for Scott, the benefits of which he realises only later on, as the novel progresses. While trying to join the foreign office later, he encounters again another version of his old physical training instructor. For the next hour the sergeant major chased, kicked, harried and badgered Adam until he finally collapsed in a heap on the floor, incapable of lifting an evening paper. ... Up, sir, the instructor bellowed. Adam unwillingly got to his feet as quickly as his tired body would allow. Don`t tell me, Sergeant Major. It`s the recovery that proves fitness, not the speed, they said in unison. (136) Scott`s training seems to be a standard military one in this narration and it sets a standard for the reader. All this training helps Scott as he tries to weave his way through Europe with the villains in pursuit. In a matter of minutes he had lost the pursuing police, but he still ran on ... He stopped in the shadows and waited, taking in great gulps of air. After about three minutes his breathing was back to normal and he 40
marched straight into the hotel (172-73). There is a multitude of similar instances in the novel that stresses the need and significance of physical fitness. In ACF Charlie Trumper joins up at Whitechapel Boys` Club early in his childhood and develops his boxing skills (18) which he later puts into good use while facing Captain Guy Trentham during his military training days. Charlie defended himself well, using the ropes and the corner as he ducked and dived, remembering every skill he had learned at the Whitechapel Boys` Club. He felt he might even have given the captain a good run for his money if it hadn`t been for the damn man`s obvious advantage of height and weight (49). The narration of Charlie`s military training during First World War is similar to the one Scott receives in AMoH. For the next two hours they carried out what the sergeant-major described as drill. The snow continued to drop unceasingly from the sky, but the sergeant-major showed no inclination to allow one flake to settle on his parade ground.... Twenty minutes was the time allocated for lunch... After another two-hour session on the now freezing parade ground they were released for supper.... Good, said the corporal because we`re always gentle with you on the first day. (43-45) The rigour of military training is not a solitary occurrence in ACF or the other novels of Archer. Charlie rues his lack of fitness when he rejoins army during Second World War (389), but trains hard and was given his own platoon to knock into shape (390). It conveys a sense of necessity of military training for the youth to face life with discipline, focus and perseverance. For the heroes it is a process of fine-tuning themselves for the great things they are to achieve later in life. When Charlie succeeds later in his ambition of building the biggest barrow in the world in the West End, he 41
goes back to the Whitechapel Boys` Club, rescues it from ruin and renovates it. ... I watched the next generation of East End boys and girls swimming, boxing, weightlifting and playing squash... (627). In FAE, the stress on physical training and fitness is not as prominent as in the other novels in which war is a prominent backdrop; but still one among the four protagonists aiming to be the Prime Minister of England is depicted as a fitness freak`. You eat like a pig and look like a rake. I don`t know how you manage it,` grumbled Andrew over dinner one night. He played regular games of squash and swam three times a week to keep his own heavy frame in trim (59). Andrew is represented as extremely conscious of his physique; on another occasion, while talking over phone to the Prime Minister`s office, he drifts into thinking of his diet and exercise regimen: He must have put on half a stone; it would have to be four games of squash this week and no more wine at lunch (75). If not military training, physical exercise and sports in educational system is highlighted in FAE. Another protagonist Charles Seymour, as part of his Eton education is narrated to have out-rowed his brother on the river and nearly killed him in the boxing ring (2). Andrew Fraser, during his college days itself, was athletic as well as eloquent. Although Andrew was destined to be no taller than five-foot-nine it was also widely accepted that he was the most complete scrum-half the Academy had produced... (8). It is to be noted that Archer`s heroes are not represented as unbelievably strong or exquisitely built as some of the antagonists in these novels, but as achieving a level of physical fitness and endurance through training and hardwork. Another case in point would be Abel Rosnovski (Wladek) in K&A. He is anxious about his physical deformities as a child and works hard to balance it off. 42
Sometimes as he lay awake at night he would finger his naked chest and tears of self-pity would flood onto the pillow.... Wladek put time aside each night to do physical exercises. He did not allow anyone to witness these exertions... Through sheer determination he learned to hold himself so he appeared taller. He built up his arms with press-ups, and hung by the tips of his fingers from a beam in the bedroom in the hope that it would stretch him. But Leon continued to grow even taller, and Wladek was forced to accept that he would always be a foot shorter than the Baron`s son... (45) During his entry into United States of America as an immigrant, Abel is anxious to hide the limp he sustained from the gulag in Siberia (211). While trying to get himself enlisted for fighting in the Second World War he finds his physical condition abysmal again as the recruiting officer declares him plain unfit (450). He responds to it in character by enrolling himself in a gymnasium the very next day. For three months he worked every day on reducing his weight and improving his general fitness. He boxed, wrestled, ran, jumped, skipped, pressed weights and starved (450) and finally got into the reserve list of army recruits. William Kane, the other hero of K&A, is not represented as too interested in physical exertion but is forced to be physically fit during university education to keep up with his good friend Matthew Lester who is a fitness and rowing enthusiast (250, 252). Along with the repeated insistence on physical fitness, the ability to perform well sexually is a factor that Archer attributes to his heroes. Quite like physical fitness it is shown as a quality attained by hardwork and practice and all these heroes are ridiculed one time or the other for their inability to satisfy their partners; which spurs 43
them on to get trained in love-making. It is a process of discovery and exploration for the heroes and their previous inexperience in sex is represented as quite unsuitable for their heroic image. In K&A, Abel on his voyage to the United States of America realises for the first time about a sexual relationship from his friend Jerzy (George Novak). We have twelve more days on this awful old tub, and by the time we reach America, I intend to have had twelve women,` boasted Jerzy. What can you do with twelve women?` asked Wladek. Fuck them of course.` Wladek looked perplexed. Good God,` said Jerzy. Don`t tell me the man who survived the Germans, escaped from the Russians, killed a man at the age of twelve and narrowly missed having his hand chopped off by a bunch of savage Turks has never bedded a woman?` He laughed so loud that a multilingual chorus from the surrounding bunks told him to shut up. (203) After this experience Abel attempts to have sex with Zaphia twice in the ship and though she is accommodating, he is not able to perform; which makes Zaphia ask whether it was the first time he was making love to a girl (205, 208-09). This repeats years later when he is fixed up with a girl named Clara by George. She is not satisfied and tells him so. ...You may be the smartest thing the Plaza has seen in a bad year, but in bed, I can tell you, you`re a non-event`... Tell me, have you ever persuaded any girl to go to bed with you a second time?` (238). This accusation provokes Abel into action as he searches for sexual information in books, movies and other available resources and finds nothing new. Then he turns to an understanding prostitute named 44
Joyce who accepts to teach him the art of sex for a much higher fee than he was paying for a BA from Columbia (241). Abel listened carefully as she told him how to treat a lady... When will I know I`ve made it?` he asked her one evening. You`ll know, baby,` replied Joyce. If you can make me come, you can make an Egyptian mummy come.` ... Abel listened carefully and followed her instructions to the letter, to begin with, a little too mechanically.... one afternoon about three weeks and $110 later, when to his surprise and delight Joyce came alive in his arms.... Finally she cried out sharply, clung on to him and then relaxed. When she caught her breath, she said, Baby, you just graduated top of the class.` (241-42) The other protagonist of K&A, William Kane`s education in such matters is also narrated in a parallel way. He is also introduced to sexual knowledge by his best friend Matthew Lester (218) and after a disastrous first experience (225) submits to the seducing wife of his housemaster in school. As Abel gained knowledge and experience from Joyce, Kane gains it from Mrs. Raglan during a week when Mr. Raglan was away. It`ll be better tomorrow, William. Don`t forget Rags is not back until Saturday.` ... 45
Mrs. Raglan remained in William`s mind until lights out the next day. That night, she sighed. On Wednesday she panted. On Thursday she moaned. On Friday she cried out. On Saturday morning, Rags Raglan returned from his conference, by which time William`s education was complete. (229) The narrative in K&A is comparable with the one in ACF where the inexperienced Charlie Trumper is fixed up with a barmaid by his best friend Tommy Prescott during his military training days in First World War. His inexperience is illustrated in the incident after which the barmaid exclaims, If you`re the best lay the platoon has to offer, I can only hope that the Germans win this bloody war (56). The magnitude of sexual ability is stressed here. His further sexual education is not portrayed as he settles down later with the only woman in his life. But his son Daniel`s sexual education in Sydney from a university student from Perth, Jackie, is narrated. As in the cases mentioned earlier, Daniel is inexperienced too and takes Jackie`s help after their terrible first experience. Daniel spent most of the next three days in bed being tutored by a secondyear undergraduate from the University of Perth. By the second morning he had discovered just how beautiful a woman`s body could be. By the third evening Jackie let out a little moan that led him to believe that although he might not have graduated he was no longer a freshman. (443) The academic tone used in the heroes` sexual experiences at first is noteworthy. They are depicted as eager to learn and excel. In the other two novels under study the idea of sexual education is absent, but there are various sexual encounters listed which leave the readers in no doubt about their sexual abilities. In 46
FAE, Raymond Gould who reaches the post of Prime Minister in the race with the other three protagonists has a series of sexual adventures, one of which blooms into a serious extra-marital affair (68-69, 137, 145, 198) even though he was earlier mentioned to be short-sighted and not athletic (6). Meanwhile, the anti-hero in FAE, Charles Seymour is portrayed as being cheated upon by his first and second wives (182, 264-66, 435) which points to his incapability in sexually satisfying them. In AMoH, the girlfriend of Adam Scott`s best friend Lawrence attempts to seduce him but he does not give in (54). Archer`s heroes invariably possess the ability to please or satisfy their partners in bed. The repeated insistence on that ability definitely deploys a discourse that differentiates between those who can and cannot do it. But as is obvious in the excerpts above, this difference is illustrated as a bridgeable one. As in the case of physical fitness, sexual ability is shown achievable by training and hardwork. While the heroes` physical attributes in the novels standardizes certain qualities and abilities, the narrative almost always points to the achievability of this standard by a common reader. Intellectual The intellectual attributes of the heroes in the novels under study could be read closely to decipher patterns that form a normative discourse. All heroes are intelligent, often shrewd, and visionary. Apart from umpteen examples of their intellectual capabilities, scattered all over the novels that celebrate the successes and adventures of these heroes, their ability to learn from experiences and circumstances outside and within formal educational structures is highlighted. Their intelligent hardwork is always rewarded just as retribution is guaranteed for villainous acts; and the 47
significance of their education from experiences is enhanced since such illustrations are repeated many times over the novels. Adam Scott (in AMoH) while hunting for a job after his military career is depicted attending a number of interviews where he is aware of his lack of university qualification. But in the foreign office, he thinks he has a chance of getting at least a field job because of his military experience (18). Later on while pursued by the Russians and on their torture table, his military knowledge and battle experiences in the Malayan jungle against the Chinese come to his aid (188, 220, 250, 251, 263, 279, 326-27). What differentiates Adam Scott from other well qualified and experienced characters in the novel is the wise and judicious application of the knowledge and information from his previous experiences and observations on the experiences of others. This particular quality is pre-eminent in most of the other heroes in the novels under study. Though he dropped out of school, Charlie Trumper (ACF) learns the tricks of the trade and other valuable insights about selling fruits and vegetables by joining his granpa` and his barrow on the pavement and also by watching some other shops in the East End (11, 15, 25, 28). After serving in the First World War, when he starts afresh a business in Chelsea Terrace, he puts all his earlier experience into use. It was only after the last customer had left that Becky was able to properly take in the changes Charlie had already made to the shop. Up all night, wasn`t I? he told her. Removin` `alf-empty boxes and unsaleable items. Ended up with all the colourful vegetables, your greens, all soft, placed at the back; while all your `ardy unattractive variety you put up front. Potatoes, Swedes, turnips. It`s a golden rule. 48
Granpa Charlie- she began with a smile, but stopped herself just in time. Becky began to study the rearranged counters and had to agree that it was far more practical the way Charlie had insisted they should be laid out. And she certainly couldn`t argue with the smiles on the faces of the customers. (126) Charlie`s growth from a small barrow boy in East End to the owner of the entire Chelsea Terrace is aided by his business acumen and the support of Becky. With my cunning and your diligence are Charlie`s exact words to Becky regarding how he was going to fulfil his life`s ambition (145). The narration of the novel is in such a way that in every deal and move that Charlie makes, a reader finds his shrewdness and vision. His stress on the gaining of knowledge from observation does not cease even after he crosses a fair line of success in his ambitions. He observes the layout and business practices of Bloomingdale`s and Marshall`s on his trip to America to put them into advantageous use in Chelsea (376, 379). During Second World War he puts into use his business experience to procure and transport food materials to various parts of England as Churchill`s trusted lieutenant. The narration here is replete with examples for his cunning, skills of observation and judicious use of resources (396-411). This aptitude for observation balances his lack of formal education. Even before he received any formal higher education, he had adopted Henry Ford`s maxim For every minute of action, there should be an hour of thought` as his guiding principle (144). But he does not ignore formal education, the chance for which had been non-existent to him earlier, as he proceeds to attend night classes for years to procure a degree from the University of London (369). Neither does he ignore the cultural training which was essential for him to be successful in elitist London. He is shown as constantly improving his 49
language, accent, etiquette and tastes suitably for a life in the West End with the help of his aristocratic friend Daphne Harcourt Browne (142, 144, 145, 157, 193, 284, 285, 290); which prompts Daphne to say that her Charlie Doolittle was the social discovery of that decade (142). Charlie`s wife Becky is also from East End but had the opportunity to afford a formal education, which she pursues to receive the degrees of BA and MA from the University of London (221, 367) during a time when women pursuing university education was frowned upon (134). Though she owned with Charlie an auction house, she joins Sotheby`s to gain experience about and insights into the functioning of auction houses (224) before taking over her own auction house at Number 1, Chelsea Terrace (363). The stress on practical experience in the novel is thus recurrent. Without Becky`s diligence and clever investments, Charlie`s dreams would have been thwarted. An uneducated East End boy who somehow survived three battlefields in First World War was not exactly well qualified to take on the capitalist market of elite London; it is Becky`s wise and purposeful support and the application of the knowledge from his experiences that guide him at first. His ability to shrewdly observe a situation and come out on top is depicted a multitude of times as he buys shop after shop in Chelsea Terrace, goes on to serve his country during Second World War, and be a member of the House of Lords. All four protagonists of FAE, Raymond Gould, Simon Kerslake, Andrew Fraser and Charles Seymour, are projected as academically brilliant, discerning and shrewd (2-9). Readers are left in no doubt of their intellectual capabilities as they journey from maiden speeches (30) to defining moments in the parliament (454). All of them learn from their mistakes and clearly cast the impression of a clever, 50
discerning and insightful leader, except Charles whose zealous shrewdness often lands him in trouble. Their wives, Joyce, Elizabeth, Louise and Fiona, are also depicted as integral parts of their political careers where their sagacity and decision-making propel their husbands into advantageous positions in their race to No.10, Downing Street. The depiction of the hero`s education and intellectual development as a result of life experiences is more prominent in K&A. William Kane, though wealthy, had lost his father in his childhood and this compels him to assume many responsibilities as the head of the family (56). Early in his childhood itself he was academically brilliant and searching for competition (58). As a seven year old he starts investing his pocket money and doing business (57). His taking advantage of the match-label collection craze in school to invest five dollars to make a net profit of fifty-one dollars (60) is just an early indication of his business acumen which becomes abundantly clear to the readers later on. Though some of his investments do not give returns as expected, he learns from his mistakes and develops innovative ideas to make money. By the time he is eleven he is shown as investing in the share market and beating Dow Jones Index with a shadow investment programme (65). Some of his early finds, such as Eastman Kodak and Standard Oil, went on to become national leaders. He also backed Sears, a mail-order company, convinced it was a trend that was going to catch on. By the end of his first year he was advising several of the masters, and even some of the parents. William Kane was happy at school. (65) 51
This sagacity is getting etched deeper in a reader`s mind with each step that William takes as he works for Kane and Cabot`s Bank and at Lester`s Bank later. He financially backs Abel, realising his potential, without letting him know when the bank denies any help (328); which later turns out to be a sound investment. He is also shown as anticipating the Great Depression and constantly advising his bank to get out of the share market and to invest in immovable assets (282). Archer does not leave a reader in any doubt regarding William Kane`s shrewdness and vision. The other protagonist in K&A, Abel Rosnovski (Wladek) starts his life in exact opposite conditions as compared to William Kane, but ratifies Kane`s personal doubt whether it was an advantage to be disadvantaged (50). Plucked out from a dead mother in a forest by a trapper`s son, Abel`s first education was all about survival along with his many foster brothers and sisters in the trapper`s cottage (3, 12, 14). His brilliance at the local school leads to his further education, as a competitor for Leon, from the two instructors at the Baron`s castle (26). His shrewdness is evident even as a child as he strikes a bargain with the Baron to whom his foster father would not dare ask a question (26). This, in a way, anticipates his shrewdness in striking bargains with Davis Leroy for profit sharing (248) and with a fundraising agent of Kennedy`s presidential campaign for Ambassadorship to Poland (583-84). But on the way to reach that stage in life, he puts into use all the wisdom he gains from the harsh experiences he had to face during and after First World War. The lessons at the Baron`s castle (46) and later in the dungeons at the Baron`s feet (69) are not lost on Abel even after forging a business empire in the United States of America and abroad, as is evident in his plot to comeback to Poland as an Ambassador (583-84). But the lasting lessons of his life had been taught by the 52
experiences as a refugee from Siberia across Russia and Turkey to the US. This is asserted repeatedly by Archer in the narration of the novel. On his transport to Siberia, he is depicted as quick in learning the languages of fellow prisoners and eager to find tutors from among them (89-90). On the escape train from Irkutsk to Moscow, his perceptive nature helps him learn valuable lessons and earn a sheepskin coat from a gambling match that went on there. He had learned two lessons: never gamble when the odds are tipped against you; and always be ready to walk away from a deal once you have reached your limit (109). Later on in life he is portrayed as being cautious and reticent for his advantage as situations demand, as a result of the experiences in Russia and Siberia (285-86). This caution is evident when he instructs his lobbyist Henry Osborne to be strictly legal in their operations even if it was unethical (477). He did not neglect formal education when he was a waiter during his early days in America as seen in his attempts to be fluent in English and studying economics in his spare time. He is depicted as working towards a degree from Columbia University while learning the manners of the rich and working out why they were different (23435). Florentyna, Abel`s daughter is also portrayed as academically brilliant and as eager to learn from experiences just like her father (539). She is the protagonist of another novel by Archer, The Prodigal Daughter, which portrays her growth to the first female president of the United States of America. A reading of the intellectual capabilities of the heroes of the novels under study reveals several commonalities: perceptive nature, education from experience, ability to use any situation to advantage, farsightedness and often academic brilliance. Another factor that could be added to this list of intellectual capabilities is the heroes` ambition; for their concretely ambitious nature is repeated within and across novels. AMoH, as a thriller, offers not much scope for the portrayal of ambition as it deals 53
mainly with just one month of adventures in the protagonist`s life. ACF has a definite narrative of Charlie Trumper`s evolving ambitions. Though his Granpa wanted him to find a position in the city, as a child all (he) wanted to do was join Granpa on the barrow (14). While his granpa still thought that Charlie was too good to be a barrow boy for the rest of (his) life (14), owning his own barrow becomes the next step in Charlie`s evolving ambition as a teenager (22). On his attempts to buy one for himself he comes across a barrow that has the words The Biggest Barrow in the World on its sides (22); this initiates an obsession within him to build the biggest barrow in the world. On his visit to the West End one day with his sister Sal, Charlie`s aim in life gets clarity. While Sal is uncomfortable with the posh Chelsea area because of its incongruity with the place they call home in East End, Charlie declares One day I`m going to own a shop in Chelsea` (33). Meanwhile, his partnership with Becky at the outbreak of First World War was progressing and his ambition of becoming a millionaire by the time he was forty is only rivalled by Becky as she wanted to be one much earlier than that (34-35). The War takes him away from business to battlefields and the partnership comes to an abrupt end; but Becky`s shrewd investment of their capital in a shop in Chelsea with the help of Daphne puts Charlie`s life and ambitions back on track (93). As he expands his base from the fruit and vegetable shop on Chelsea Terrace to any shop available on market there (192, 357, 407), the readers encounter a hero with long term plans of owning all shops in Chelsea Terrace to build the biggest departmental store in the world. 54
Marshall Field is a department store in Chicago, where you can purchase anything you could ever want for the rest of your life. What`s more, they have two million square feet of selling space all under one roof... Are you suggesting that we should purchase Marshall Field in exchange for 147 Chelsea Terrace? I asked ingenuously. Not immediately, Colonel. But if in time I was able to get my hands on every shop in Chelsea Terrace we could then carry out the same operation in London, and perhaps even remove the first line from their advertisement. I knew I was being set up so I duly asked what the line proclaimed. The biggest store in the world, Charlie replied. And how do you feel about all this? I asked turning my attention to Becky. In Charlie`s case, she replied, it would have to be the biggest barrow in the world. (252-53) The novel is as much about Charlie`s evolving ambitions as about his long, passionate and hazardous journey towards the fulfilment of those ambitions. FAE, portraying four protagonists` race to the prime-minister`s post of England, is obviously dotted with a narrative of passionate and competitive pursuit of ambition. Charles Seymour, who does not last till the end in the race because of his villainy in the pursuit of ambitions, is depicted as fiercely ambitious from childhood itself and competing with his brother and any other peer at Eton and Oxford (1-2). After losing the title of Earl, as he was born nine minutes later than his brother (1), Charles takes inspiration from the similar case of Winston Churchill to forge his ambition in life. 55
...but for an accident of birth Churchill would have been the ninth Duke of Marlborough. Here was a man who had dominated the world stage for three decades and then turned down every hereditary honour a grateful nation could offer, including the title of Duke of London. From that moment Charles never allowed himself to be referred to as the Hon` again: his ultimate ambition was now above mere titles. (3) The other protagonist Andrew Fraser who does not last till the end of the race, but plays a vital role in deciding who wins it, is pictured as discerningly ambitious from childhood. Being born in a family with immense political clout and Conservative background, he aims to represent his constituency from the Labour party (9). His ambitions are shaped and mellowed by his priorities which are not always political (28, 48, 58, 253); this makes him a dissonant voice in the political horserace. Still he states his ultimate ambition clearly: It`s Downing Street...that I want to live in (59). Simon Kerslake and Raymond Gould, the characters who fight the final round to be the Prime Minister, have many characteristics in common and ambition is one among those. Both of them are from middle class families that struggled to provide them with education. But both of them are represented as wise in their choices and their choices are tempered by their goals in life. Simon Kerslake, after the death of his father, had to struggle to keep up with his aspirations. He was not offered a place at Oxford for graduation as he wished for; but he refuses to join Durham University citing Future Prime Ministers aren`t educated at Durham (4) and Cambridge as there was no political tradition (4). He works his way into getting a place at Oxford reminding the readers of his determination in backing up his ambition. Mrs. Kerslake 56
was not surprised when her son went on to be President of the Oxford Union. After all, she teased, wasn`t it just another stepping stone on the path to Prime Minister ­ Gladstone, Asquith . . . Kerslake? (5). Raymond Gould is also depicted as being sure and well-planned about his ambition and publicly stating it as early as when he was twelve. the time he had reached the last page the packed hall was still, and after he had completed the final paragraph he received the first standing ovation of his career. Twelve-year-old Ray Gould left the stage to rejoin his parents in the body of the hall. ... Even when Ray was seated the applause continued, so he too lowered his head to stare at the title of his prize-winning essay: The first changes I will make when I become Prime Minister`. (7) It is not by accident that Raymond Gould enacts his plans in the essay even before he becomes Prime Minister and it makes a reader conscious about the gravity and earnestness with which this hero pursues his ambition. In K&A the ambitious nature of Kane and Abel are elaborately portrayed. While the ambitions of the protagonists are solid and unwavering in FAE and ACF, Abel`s ambitions evolve along his journey from the trapper`s cottage to the world outside. After his first introduction to wealth at the Baron`s castle, his objective turns into being around richness and grandeur. ...the three short months he`d spent in the Baron`s castle had introduced him to a far more exciting world. He would have rather been a servant at the castle than master at the cottage (29). As he moves on from prison to prison during First World War, his foremost aim is plain survival (98-106). But once he escapes from the Siberian gulags and Russia into Turkey, the memories 57
of Baron`s castle spurs him on to aspire for a better life in Poland which turns impossible in the aftermath of the war (173). After much thought, he plans his future. Wladek began to feel that he could never return to a land peopled by such ghosts until he had made something of his own life. With that single thought in mind he set his heart on emigrating to America (200). While he gains education and advances himself in America, he keeps on renewing his ambition. When he is a junior waiter serving the rich and affluent at the Plaza, he serves at a party celebrating William Kane`s and Matthew Lester`s acceptance to Harvard University. He realized for the first time in his life exactly what he hoped to achieve. He wanted to be thought of as an equal by the Williams of this world (233). As mentioned earlier, he keeps renewing his ambition. After his initial success in forging a hotel empire he declares: I intend to be to America what Cesar Ritz was to Europe... (373). Not content with his financial success, he starts working towards a better future for Poland and a return to his homeland (495). He aims to return to the land of (his) birth as (his) adopted country`s senior representative (600). In comparison with Abel who journeyed through wars, nations and continents to financial success, Kane had it easy as he inherited that financial success at birth. So any evolution of ambition is absent in his character; but still he inherits his father`s ambition. Williams father Richard expected his son to become president and chairman of Kane and Cabot on merit (55). The death of the father pushes William into a fierce pursuit of that objective. Anything his father achieved, he was determined to better (56). He does better it when he leads Kane and Cabot to a merger with Lester`s and becomes the chairman of a bigger bank than his father`s. As an old man, William`s personal aim was only to transfer the inheritance of that ambition from his father to his son: I only want to complete my term as chairman 58
and see Richard take my place. That will be quite enough (619). But he fails on that count as his son had other pursuits. The striking parallels in the intellectual capabilities and fierceness of ambition of the heroes of the novels suggest a necessity of these faculties. These success stories normalize the pre-requisites for a successful life as much as defining success and happiness in life. As mentioned earlier regarding the physical attributes of the heroes, Archer leaves open the possibility for a common reader to achieve these heroic standards. Moral Morality or ethics is a concept dependent on cultures and civilizations. Though a universal standard could not be reached at, there are interacting systems of morality and its instruction which enables a reader to judge an action or thought as right or wrong across several cultures; just like a character is being judged hero or villain. The reading for the moral standards of the hero does not ponder over the validity of such judgements but attempts to find out similarities and repetitions in the moral fibre of these heroes, so that a picture of the standards set could be deciphered. The reading endeavours to string together acts, thoughts or character traits which might be considered ethical or unethical fairly commonly. AMoH, as the title suggests, deals in a way with the idea of honour in the actions and adventures of Adam Scott. His father had set high standards for him to live up to (10). He is described as gentle to everyone he came across (13); and his mother attests his father`s and his high standards of morality which had brought them to their present sad state (13). His father also acknowledges his trust in Adam`s discernment as he leaves Adam to make the correct decision regarding the German 59
officer Goering`s letter in his last will and testament (26). But Scott is quite modest about his religiousness, and as corollary morality, as he realizes that he no longer believed in God ­ except when he was ill, frightened or in an aeroplane (184). He is also shown as an advocate of gender equality which he indicates by sharing his inheritance equally with his sister rather than taking a bigger part as his father`s will dictated (14). He resists the sexual advances of Carolyn, Lawrence`s girlfriend, as he is loyal to his friend (40). As his adventure progresses, readers realise that he is a trustworthy friend (228) and a humane person (374). He is morally courageous enough to hold on to his patriotism and self-belief under torture and temptation from the Russians (329-334). The narrative on honour revolves around his standing by his friends and country, even when there was a possibility of doubt as to their involvement in endangering him in a foreign land, and deciding to not collaborate with the Russians to clear his father`s name (337). There are also other characters whose integrity and loyalty are portrayed (291, 317). Charlie Trumper in ACF is a hero whose morality is dependent on who he is dealing with. His integrity and moral courage is stressed in his testimony against Captain Guy Trentham; and his assertion of friendship with Tommy not affecting his judgement in that testimony (69). He is introduced to the readers through his Granpa`s advertisement: Charlie Trumper, the honest trader, founded in 1823 (14), a line that is used to signify his identity throughout the novel. He is shown as loyal to his friends even if it meant danger and hardship (69, 82), speaking and practising gratitude (301, 627), modest about his achievements (389). His down to earth nature is highlighted through other characters` account of him (595). But a reader`s image of Charlie`s good nature often revolves around his love and courage to accept and marry Becky who is carrying Guy Trentham`s child and thus saving her from social stigma (183). 60
He is a loving father to Daniel, which Daniel acknowledges with love and respect when he finds out the truth about his parentage (450). After Daniel`s death Charlie takes under his wing unknowingly the other orphaned offspring of Guy Trentham, Cathy, which makes her say I wish you were my father (618). Archer highlights Charlie`s heroic good nature by representing him as taking care of the villain`s offspring and thus positioning him in contrast with the villain who did not care for his kids. Charlie is not as saintly as these descriptions suggest in his business dealings with those who he considers to be an obstacle in his path. This is seen in his shrewdness in acquiring shop after shop exploiting the owners` and society`s instabilities (192, 355). His devious plan of employing servants ousted from Mrs. Trentham`s household to gain access to information regarding his enemy makes Becky exclaim: You`re an evil man, Charlie Trumper, that`s for sure (305). There is a glorification of cunning in the narration there. He tricks Syd Wrexall and an uncooperative Mr. Simkins into selling the shops under his consortium to Charlie before Mrs. Trentham could acquire it (405-07) and into skipping the paperwork for imported rice (401-02) respectively. He manages to imprison a man, during war, to blackmail Nasim Calil for the import of rice to feed the nation (399). Despite these ethically questionable acts, he fits the role of the hero because of the presence of a formidable villain character in Margaret Trentham before whom Charlie`s vices are exonerated and even glorified. Her introduction itself overshadows the villainy of Guy Trentham whom the readers posit till then as the villain of the novel. She is portrayed as judgemental, proud, insulting, snobbish, irritating, pretentious and querulous (131139) and as the novel moves on it becomes obvious that she would go to any length to 61
defend her selfish and vain interests. In the backdrop of Mrs. Trentham, Charlie`s hero image is secure. FAE portrays a variety of ethical stands of protagonists ranging from Charles Seymour`s ruthless behaviour towards those who he considers a danger to him to Simon Kerslake`s respectful dealings with even his antagonists. Charles Seymour indulges in actions that, though not strictly illegal, could still be considered unethical. Bribing (81, 425), blackmailing (158, 206), lobbying against his peers while pretending to be friendly (174-75, 212, 234-35) are some actions that often vilify Charles in the minds of readers. Archer makes it obvious that these actions do not profit him ultimately, by representing a sort of poetic justice being dealt to him. By the time he relents from such tactics and evolves personally (440), he is rewarded with a fairly successful end to his political career. Charles is a villain and hero at the same time, but the end of the narration of his story clarifies Archer`s position on the values about his hero. Simon Kerslake, unlike Charles, is depicted as consistently moral or ethical. He is portrayed as principled and unprejudiced in his actions (305), apologetic for even unintentional failings of his principles (106, 366), loyal towards his friends even if it means his ruin (246, 250), willing to make sacrifices for a greater good (389) and as possessing the moral integrity to stand by his principles even if it would be the end of his greatest dream (426). Though he does not become Prime Minister, he is portrayed as having a happy family life and successful political career; which in a way provide signification for his moral stands throughout the novel when his family life is contrasted with that of Charles Symour`s. Andrew Fraser is depicted as a man of priorities, standing up for what he thinks is right (9, 28, 48, 215). He is portrayed as a champion of the downtrodden (185) and as innately compassionate (286). But he 62
has his failings too as seen when he stands by and accepts unethical help from his father in an election during troubled times (348). Raymond Gould is portrayed as principled and conscientious about his ethical stands. He is depicted as humble and possessing the moral integrity to stand by his principles even if it results in the antagonism of his own party members and loss of status and power. ...I have many failings but I`m not a coward and I`m certainly not so self-seeking as totally to desert any principles I might have (99). He is appreciative of his competitors and unprejudiced regarding their errors in judgement (105-06). But these principles do not hold him from cheating on his wife and having extramarital affairs (253-54). It could be contented that it is a personal choice, but his decision to change his life in every way and be loyal to Joyce later on (361) points towards his redemption as well as his failure to put his principles into action in personal life. Raymond becoming the Prime Minister in a narrow victory over Simon Kerslake could be interpreted as Archer`s hero being a man of principles as well as failings, and also being one who has the courage to acknowledge and rise over the failings to attain redemption. The ethical narrative on the characters of Andrew Fraser and Charles Seymour also represent this mixed attitude towards morality and ethics in the novel. K&A has parallel outlines of morality and ethics for the heroes as Kane and Abel battle to seek revenge against one another. The defining virtue or vice of both the protagonists is the passion with which they seek vengeance. Their vengefulness comes from an inherent sense of right and wrong, as they visualise each other as having wronged them. It could be said that Kane inherited his morality along with the money. His father is his model and he adamantly follows his father`s rules and 63
regulations. He declares to Alan Lloyd, the then chairman of his late father`s bank, regarding the confidentiality of the investments by the family trust: ...when I control the trust it will be a rule that I like my father, will never break (156). This obstinacy, as Alan Lloyd predicts, leads to calamity when Abel unknowingly commences hostilities towards his benefactor Kane. Kane does not believe in God just like his father (19, 643), but follows traditions and customs tenaciously. It is these customs and traditions that form Kane`s codes of social conduct and personal life; in short Kane inherited the perceived Massachusetts Brahmin morality without their God (19). He learns charity from his grandmothers and makes it a habit (58, 198). His determinate following of the inherited codes of conduct makes him judgemental and fair in his dealings (262). Kane is pictured as following these codes of conduct all his life except in the case of his enemies whom he considered as in the wrong. When Abel starts plotting Kane`s ruin with the help of Kane`s stepfather Henry Osborne, Kane attempts to make peace (480); and as Abel does not relent, he follows the path of vengeance with the same obstinacy with which he followed his rules and even rejects Abel`s peace offering (567-68). The novel makes it clear that Kane is an honourable man and he finds peace only by the time he relents in his animosity and hatred. Abel`s moral code is rooted in his experiences, as he does not believe in a God that sanctioned all the tragedies he witnessed in childhood (334). He believes in the material world instead, from which he draws his codes of social conduct and personal life. He declares that rewards for a man`s work in the world ought to be delivered in the world itself when he plans to reward George by making him the president of Baron Group for his constant friendship and loyalty (596). He is charitable towards those who are less fortunate than him (445) and he is grateful and loyal to those who 64
were kind to him like the stationmaster`s wife in Russia (125) or Davis Leroy in America (327). His loyalty to Leroy forces him to take over the responsibilities of his business after Leroy`s suicide, even when he had an easy way out in the form of the offer from David Maxton (324). His consideration of real action in war as nobler than office work (456, 465) is a reflection of the material basis of his ethical code. His concepts about bribery as an essential evil and respectability of money are rooted in this same morality (609). When his wife does not keep up with his ambitions and pursuit of status and money, he loses interest in her and starts sexual liaisons with other women (370, 444, 489). This material morality makes him pursue revenge with passion; just as he does not forget those who were kind to him, he does not forget the ones who inflicted pain. This leads to his misunderstood conflict with Kane and forms the plot of the novel. The ethical code of the heroes in the novels under study reveals that their morality is mostly circumstantial. Though it sometimes coincides with the accepted social norms in the background of these novels, it is obvious that the deviations from those social norms are based on their lived experiences. While a western Christian morality informs the narrative of these novels, the principal characters` interpretation and practice of it suggests a convenient bending or blatant denial of the same in personal pursuits. An analogy would be that they are law abiding citizens mostly but the spirit of the law is often not followed. This being repeated in the heroes could inform a reader that any idea of rights and wrongs are just a convenience when it comes to personal affairs and a mode of judgement about others. Such an attitude makes the shrewd trickery in Charlie Trumper heroic and Margaret Trentham villainous. It could also be interpreted that this laxity of the heroes regarding ethical codes suits the identity of these novels as popular fiction since the norm set here could 65
appeal to the mass of readers; they could strive to be and admire being law-abiding, but it is alright to ignore the spirit of the law. Contextual The way the heroes of the novels react to and approach incidents and circumstances forms a major part of the image of the hero. The reading here focuses mainly on character traits that appear heroic in a context and looks for repetitions of it across the novels. There are various instances of the heroes responding to crises, setbacks or deaths of loved ones; their responses providing the readers with the core of their characters. Adam Scott`s adventurous quest across Europe in AMoH is in response to a letter bequeathed to him by his father in his will. The letter offers him a chance to clear his father`s name and remove the stigma that a rumour of fraternizing with the enemy had cast on his father and himself, stunting the military careers of both (17). Moreover, it offers him a chance to earn the capital required to overcome his family`s current financial troubles (26). Scott undertakes a hazardous journey to carry his family and its honour out of the current slump, ignorant of the consequences awaiting him. The readers are already aware of or anticipating the significance of his quest at that point in the novel. The crisis he is involved in is greater than mere personal and financial troubles as the object of his quest could render the United States of America a pawn on the Russian chessboard (7). His audacity and persistence in seeing his quest through, even after being faced with the monumental odds of the secret services of three countries and the police of other two chasing him across Europe, constructs his image as a hero of international significance. Fortitude in the face of a crisis is a common factor he shares with the other heroes of Archer. 66
Charlie Trumper (ACF) works his way through two World Wars and an astute and scheming antagonist on his journey from East End to West End in life. He is faced with physical, financial and moral crises along the way. The examples of Charlie`s fortitude are numerous. After his father`s death in Passchendaele during First World War, a seventeen year old Charlie decides to leave his business ambitions and enlist to exact revenge against the Germans (36-38). Everyone considers his decision foolish (36, 102) since he had started a business partnership which was beginning to be profitable (35); or since he could have escaped military duty since he was not eighteen yet; or because most young men who went to war in the novel never returned (36). This shows his courage and determination at a time when he was orphaned. Charlie`s dedication and hardwork during military training gets him promoted to the post of Lance Corporal (53); later his courage, honesty and integrity in the battlefield and outside leads to his promotion to Corporal and Sergeant (69, 84). He took part in two frontal attacks, battle of Lys and the second battle of Marne (66, 70-80), and was relieved of field duty perhaps because no man had been known to survive three charges on the enemy`s lines (84). Charlie`s experience of war makes him wish for a return to England and normal life after his first battle (66), but he persists in his military career till he is discharged. He is said to have grown from a boy to a man physically and mentally in the span of his service during First World War (85, 88) and the image of the hero also grows with it. His service to the nation during Second World War is depicted as more heroic than the first. If his father`s death made him enlist the first time, the German air raid that demolishes his fruit and vegetable shop makes him take up arms a second time (388). His rise from the post of a Corporal to Sergeant during his service as an instructor to new recruits reminds the readers of his first war and heroics (390), but 67
his role in the second war becomes more heroic as he is called up by the British Prime Minister Winston Churchill personally to organize the procurement and distribution of food supplies during the war (393-96). The personal involvement in a nation`s destiny is reflected when Archer makes Churchill say: In short, Trumper, I need you (395). He is entrusted with a key responsibility and his response to it is seen in his reply to Becky when she asked what the Prime Minister had wanted; Someone who can deliver fruit and veg on a regular basis (396). The answer mirrors his confidence and pride and he tackles the situation with much skill and dedication. His tackling of tough situations in positive and innovative ways, as in recruiting women drivers and land girls to remedy the shortage or workers (397-98) and procurement of rice as a substitute for potato to contain its shortage (398) demonstrate the rise of a merely successful capitalist to a man of national importance. When he gets knighted for these services and become Sir Charles Trumper (422), the hero image reaches a pinnacle. But these services to nation are only one side of the story as the main plot revolves around his evolution as a businessman who built, protected and passed over to the next generation a successful business enterprise. There was a stroke of luck, in the form of Becky`s investment with the help of Daphne, in acquiring his first shop (93). But from then on, Charlie works really hard to pay off the loans and to procure more loans to acquire more shops (176-180). The company formed with Becky and Sir Danvers Hamilton becomes just a foreshadowing of Charlie`s business enterprise (254). While neck deep in debt, his business skills help him keep his company afloat and develop further. Within a month I knew the name of every regular customer who patronised the shop, and within two I was aware of their likes, dislikes, passions and 68
even the occasional fad that each imagined must be unique to them.... it didn`t take long to realise that an apple was an apple whoever wanted to take a bite out of it, and Chelsea Terrace was no different from Whitechapel when it came to understanding a customer`s needs: I suppose that must have been the moment I thought about owning a second shop. Why not? Trumper`s was the only establishment in Chelsea Terrace that regularly had a queue out on to the street. (281-82) The success of the first shop is replicated in each successive shop that he bought with the help of bank loans. The exploitation of difficult times to expand his business shows his ability to tackle tough situations to his advantage, as seen during the general strike (357) and Second World War (407). His ambition of building a store covering the whole Chelsea Terrace is delayed only by financial crunch and the vengeful antagonist Mrs. Trentham. With his usual cunning and a little outside help he realises the dream, though he had to go public to raise the funds to materialise it (452, 523, 526-27). His clever tackling of Mrs. Trentham`s threats and blows and the enthusiastic resistance of the take-over bid from Nigel Trentham further heighten his heroic image. Another common factor many of the heroes of Archer share is their response to the death of loved ones which could be interpreted as heroic. He faces the deaths of his Granpa, father, best friend Tommy Prescott and his son Daniel. The shock and impact of Granpa`s death is described in his words: Until that moment I never realised anybody I knew could die (24). As a child he takes heart and continues to sell fruits and vegetables on the street just like his grandfather (25). The death of his father in the battlefield spurs him to enlist and exact revenge on the Germans (38), 69
while the murder of Tommy Prescott makes him realize the horror of a war in which victory is only a political nicety and he vows never to forget his dead ones, the father and his best friend, or the enemy (82). But the biggest tragedy in his life is the suicide of his son Daniel. The only occasion, in a turbulent life, that breaks him down is Daniel`s death. I couldn`t sleep for three days. On the fourth morning...I attended his funeral service at Trinity Chapel. I somehow survived that ordeal and the rest of the week... I stood next to Becky as the choir sang Fast Falls the Eventide. My mind drifted as I tried to reconstruct the events of the last three days and make some sort of sense of them.... Later, I visited the morgue and identified the body, thanking God that at least Becky hadn`t experienced that ice-cold room as the last place she was alone with her son. (613) When he finds out the role of Mrs. Trentham in instigating his son`s suicide, it infuriates him. But he retains a sense of calmness that prevents him or Becky from doing anything irrational (616). Meanwhile Daniel`s fiancйe, the orphan Cathy, is in a state of psychogenic amnesia as a result of the shock (615). In response to Daniel`s death, Charlie takes interest in her well-being just like he would do for his son. ...just the thought of her lying there alone needing our love gave us something else to worry about other than ourselves (616). He immerses himself in work and being the father Cathy never had (618). He helps her back to being normal and gives her enough work to occupy her time once she returns to health. When Cathy is thrilled with the progress of her work, Charlie thinks that Daniel`s tragic death might be finally behind them (624). The evolution of his responses to death, from being shocked to being 70
vengeful, ends with his finding solace in loving and working. This evolution itself becomes heroic with the background of other characters plights, as in Amy Hardcastle`s deterioration and later death as a consequence of the death of a loved one (477). In FAE all four protagonists face harsh situations with courage and determination as they are portrayed in their journeys from back benches to the front benches of the parliament. Each election and the campaigns preceding it represent their hardwork and dedication towards their goal (57,118, 190, 217, 358, 399, 402, 462). Raymond Gould, the son of a butcher, had to struggle through his childhood to balance his lack of athleticism and poor eyesight with academic brilliance attained through hardwork (6). Though there are times when he feels envious of the other protagonists` more obvious talents, he proceeds to tackle it with his intellect and absolute hardwork. Each night Raymond could be found in chambers writing page after page, checking then re-checking his proofs, and often referring to the piles of books that cluttered his desk. When his Full Employment at any Cost? Reflections of a worker educated after the Thirties was published it caused an immediate sensation. ...suggested in The Times that...a politician of rare honesty and courage. He found himself a regular topic of conversation at political dinner-parties in London. (50) He backs himself in the competition by his work ethic to propel himself to spotlight (65). He keeps this work ethic and diligence consistent as seen later in the IMF conference where he gains the spotlight with his scholarly conduct and becomes the Secretary of State for Trade in England (269-70, 273). His consistent scholarly work 71
in the race is seen towards the latter part of his career when he is made Chancellor (402). His heroic image gains national significance as he presents his first budget which reflects his vision and scholarship and declares: then Britain can hope to be a more equal and just society. We intend to create a generation in which class is as outdated as the debtor`s prison, in which talent, hardwork and honesty are their own reward, a Socialist society that is the envy of the East as well as the West. This budget, Mr Speaker, is nothing more than the architect`s plan for that dream. (412) Raymond`s evolution to a hero of national importance is culminated in his election as the Prime Minister of England from among the protagonists in the novels (466). Simon Kerslake is the protagonist who loses by a narrow margin to Raymond Gould in that race; but that does not taint his image as a hero. Simon has shown immense audacity and determination in pushing himself into the race from as early as his childhood; which often made others look at him as pushy and arrogant (3, 40). His sincerity towards causes and people is depicted when he apologises for his error in judgement regarding Raymond Gould (106). As Simon and Charles campaign for electing the party leader in opposite camps of the same party, Simon is defeated at first despite his hardwork (38-41). That defeat relegates him to the back benches while others move forward. His response to that defeat is heroic. Simon Kerslake had sulked for about twenty-four hours after Maudling`s defeat for the leadership. He then decided to turn his anger and energy towards the Government benches. It hadn`t taken him long to work out that there was a fifteen-minute period twice a week when someone with his skills of oratory could command notice. 72
...and many of his interruptions reached the political column of the daily newspapers the following day. (51-52) He works hard at the Ministry of Housing and Local Government (109) and later as an Under Secretary at the Home Ministry (122). This same determination and hard work is seen in his responses to losing his seat by reconstitution of constituencies and failing to find another seat because of Charles Seymour`s plotting and lobbying against him (196, 207). He procures a seat later and supports Margaret Thatcher to party leadership and becomes the Minister of State of Northern Ireland in the Margaret Thatcher government (228, 299). His taking part in a Parliament session to save his life`s work on Ireland after he was bedridden as a result of the terrorist attack on him forms an endearing image of a committed political leader (323) and raises his heroic image to international significance. His elevation to Privy Councillor and Minister of State of Defence (325) and the role in planning and execution of a rescue mission of the crew of a hijacked HMS Broadsword (370-396) further enriches his heroic image. Charles Seymour`s heroic image is tainted with villainous acts; but he manages a successful political career ultimately. Though he won the spotlight by supporting Edward Heath for party leadership and landed the post of junior spokesperson (41), his victories are marred by personal problems. His heroism is seen in overcoming these problems to keep fighting for his goals. He becomes a shadow minister for Housing and Local Government (62), a Party Whip (124) and advances through the ranks as he uses each of these posts to his advantage and his competitors` disadvantage. When he was left out of the government, he responds by working hard to gain a post in the next ministerial reshuffle (303). Despite many factors ­ of his 73
own making and otherwise ­ working against him, his career culminates with the post of the Speaker of the House of Commons (440). His tenacity in the pursuit of his goals despite many pitfalls outlines his image as a hero in FAE. Andrew Fraser offers a contrasting image of a hero in FAE as he rises through the ranks to become a key deciding factor in the race between Raymond Gould and Simon Kerslake. He prioritizes his love and family above his political career and ambition which often stunts his career advancement (58). He chooses not to accept the invitation of the Prime Minister to be the Minister of State for Defence to nurse his ailing wife; but relents at his wife`s insistence (253). The endearing image of Andrew is built upon these prioritizations that he makes. His response to the left wing insurgency in the Labour Party, loss of Labour seat, and joining the new Social Democratic Party (343) to win against the Labour candidate from Edinburgh Carlton with a stroke of luck (356) forms a narrative of heroic image. His heroic image is also built on his responses to the deaths in his family. When he loses a child at birth for the first time, he is portrayed as supportive of his wife and focusing on her well-being (72-73). When that happens again he is broken. Andrew collapsed on the bench in the corridor and didn`t speak for several minutes. How`s Louise? was all he could eventually manage. ... Andrew thumped his leg until it was numb. He stopped suddenly. I`ll tell her myself, he said quietly and remained on the bench, tears coursing down his cheeks. (93) He tries to cheer up his wife and make her take it easy despite the incident weighing heavy on his heart (94). Eventually, they get a son, Robert, with whom they share 74
idyllic family moments (195-96), but he dies in an accident while playing football with Andrew (244). This cruel fate pushes his wife Louise into a state of shock and despite the severe injuries sustained in his effort to save his son, Andrew nurses his wife till she regains health (253). As mentioned earlier, he decides to sacrifice a lucrative political position to be with his wife in her depression. He works hard through personal tragedy and regrets (255) and later on adopts a black girl Clarissa to bring Louise back to normal life (286). His courageous and compassionate conduct when faced with the death of his son translates into a heroic deed in FAE. Andrew Fraser thus becomes a hero different from the other ones in the novel but similar to the protagonists of the other novels under study like Charlie Trumper, William Kane or Abel Rosnovski. William Kane`s image as a hero (K&A) is one of a focussed capitalist who strives to take his father`s bank to newer heights. He is shown as hardworking and meticulous at all his endeavours from an early age: St. Pauls also entered William`s name as its candidate for Hamilton Memorial Mathematics Scholarship to Harvard, and William worked single-mindedly towards that goal every waking hour (217). Matthew Lester and Kane are reported to have become the most respected personalities in the university as a result of their work and charisma (252). This spirit of working with a purpose is shown as a habit with him over and over again. He works earnestly with Kane and Cabot`s bank with the purpose of becoming its youngest chairman, but loses out to Tony Simmons in a casting vote situation (351). Kane had guided the bank through the years of adversity and Great Depression with his innovative vision when so many other financial institutions went bankrupt (282, 293, 298). Even though he is disheartened by his defeat and thinks about resigning from Kane and Cabot`s, he decides not to make any rash action (359). But he finds his 75
love and life partner during this time and gets married (366). When he was offered the post of the chairman of Lester`s Bank and it turns out into a tough fight within the director-board, Kane`s audacity and business relations secure him the chairmanship (414-432). The heroic image of Kane reaches its pinnacle when he manages a merger of Lester`s with Kane and Cabot`s to take both banks to unprecedented levels of success and to become the chairman of one of the largest financial institutions in America (438). He enlists in the army when America entered the Second World War (440) and his heroic action in the battle of Remagen where he gets shot thrice and almost dies while trying to warn a company of an ambush makes him a war hero in a reader`s mind (467). But Kane`s most heroic act is his support of Abel, without letting him know about it, at a time of financial trouble which would have been Abel`s ruin (341). Apart from these events that glorify the heroic image of Kane there are his responses to the deaths of his loved ones which, as mentioned earlier, has become a repeated characteristic of the heroes in the novels under study. When he first hears about the sinking of Titanic as a six year old he thinks that his father on board could not die (54). His state of denial shifts to one of intense mourning which he wanted to carry on all his life (56). But upon his grandmothers` advice he decides to deal with his sorrow and loss in a different manner. He learned to live with his sorrow without ever complaining, and from that moment on he threw himself steadfastly into his work at school, satisfied only if Grandmother Kane seemed impressed. At no subject did he fail to excel, and in mathematics he was not only top of his class, but far ahead of his years. Anything his father had achieved he was determined to better. (56) 76
He retains this attitude about facing death throughout his life. He takes his grief as a source of energy to work harder and move on with life while keeping the memories of the dead alive (419). When his mother dies as a result of a shock during pregnancy, he feels helpless (193). He blames Osborne for her death and expels him from his house (194-96). His intense hatred for Osborne turns into vengeance but he desists doing anything irrational. To come out of the grief from the death of his mother, for whom he was already an estranged son, he involves himself more with the working of the bank (197) and builds a children`s wing for Massachusetts General Hospital, as was her wish, in her memory (198). When Grandmother Kane dies when he was twentyone, William is narrated to have wept for the first time since his mother`s death. He was depressed for a while but comes out of it stronger (254). William missed the shrewd observations he hadn`t fully appreciated in his grandmother`s lifetime, and arranged a funeral she would have been proud to attend. ... Her death drove William to work with even more purpose during his final year at Harvard, and he dedicated himself to winning the university`s top mathematics prize in her memory. (254) While he takes energy from the grief caused by deaths around him, it puts his life in perspective too. While working harder to overcome grief, it reminds him of the joys and priorities of his life. When his wife Kate faces some complications during her pregnancy he thinks: How unimportant being chairman of the bank now seemed, compared with the thought of losing Kate. When had he last said to her, I love you`? (376). When he comes to know about his best friend Matthew Lester`s fatal disease he once again realizes that money could not buy everything (386). The perspective he gains from these experiences tempers his unbridled pursuit of money and ambitions 77
and probably starts his evolution into a more humane person. The passage leading to the death of Matthew and how Matthew responds to the Kanes` concern for him is one of the most moving narrations in the novel (389-93). William is affected badly by it despite knowing already that Matthew`s days were numbered. When William returned to the bank he found it difficult to get back into any sort of normal routine. He would get up and start to head towards Matthew`s office for advice or a laugh, but Matthew was no longer there. It was weeks before William could accept that the room was empty. ... William lost all interest in banking, even in Kane and Cabot, as he went through months of remorse over Matthew`s death. He had always taken it for granted that he and Matthew shared a common destiny, that they would grow old together. ... Then one morning she woke to find him sitting on the edge of the bed, staring at her. She blinked at him. Is something wrong, darling?` No. I`m just looking at my greatest asset, and making sure I never take it for granted.` (394) While Matthew`s father Charles Lester was shattered by the death and saw no more purpose in life (393), previous experiences and the habit of gaining perspective from his tragedies help William overcome the grief once again. When he almost dies in action during Second World War it once again reveals his appreciation of his fortunes, family and the past (464). As an old man who had survived two heart attacks, he mellows down into a more loving father and better person as he forgets vengeance and hatred (619). His life in pursuit of ambition and money is punctuated with deaths and near-deaths that reveal his sensitive and compassionate nature which also helps 78
his image in a reader`s mind evolve into a more humane and endearing hero than just a success machine`. Abel Rosnovski`s image as a hero in K&A is rooted in his hardwork and success in the rags to riches` story of his life. His escape from Europe to America itself is interspersed with narratives of heroic actions and incidents. He is assisted by numerous acts of kindness (103-04, 106, 110-12, 165, 168, 173), but his audacity and will to survive is impressive as mentioned earlier in a quote by Jerzy Novak in this chapter. His leadership, as a teenager, of the prisoners in the dungeon amid an air of hopelessness during the First World War is the first instance where his heroic will to survive is portrayed (66-73). It is depicted again as the prisoners trek towards Siberian gulags (89-91). His years in Siberia (98-106), escape from Siberia to Moscow (10612), journey from Moscow to Odessa (141-43) and voyage to Turkey (150-51) build up his image as a hero with the display of inordinate amounts of will-power and audacity. His rise from a meat-packer`s shop (233) to the nickname of Chicago Baron (372) is a result of his hardwork and confidence. He believes that study and experience could enable a man to overcome any setback (239). He thrives in difficult circumstances and leads his fledgling business to be built into a strong empire. With America still in the grip of Depression, Abel was becoming more than a little apprehensive about the future of the Baron Group. Two thousand banks had closed during the past couple of years, and more were shutting their doors every week. Nine million people were unemployed, which at least meant that Abel had no difficulty in finding experienced staff for all his hotels. (369) 79
Using situations to his advantage has become a part of his business tactics which depicts his inventiveness. He is shown as deeply interested in the fate of his motherland (495-97, 583-84) and plots a return to Poland as the American ambassador (584). Further charm is added to his heroic image as he does his part in the Second World War. His does not want his contribution to American war efforts to be limited to donations to the Red Cross. He places the New York Baron Hotel at the army`s disposal to be used as its headquarters (452). Not satisfied with that he continually tries to enlist and finally gets assigned to the duty of feeding a division of the army in Africa (454). But his desire for real action leads him to volunteer as a stretcher-bearer in the frontline during an emergency in Remagen where he rescues a near dead Captain Kane unknowingly. Abel didn`t allow the potato peeler to rest for a moment during the two-mile trek to the field hospital. He wanted to give the captain every chance to live (462). Like Charlie Trumper, Andrew Fraser, William Kane and Adam Scott, Abel also faces the deaths of his loved ones heroically. But unlike other protagonists, he responds to it by being motivated into a fierce revenge mentality towards the ones responsible for their deaths. His attitude is often justified in the novel as the circumstances of the deaths are narrated in such a manner that it could inspire vengeance even in a reader. The death of his friend and the Baron`s son, Leon, while attempting to save Abel from the blow of a German soldier is the first one that deeply troubles him (51). It is followed by the death in the dungeons of the Baron who left everything he owned to Abel and passed to him his silver family-band. It is only after his death that Abel realizes that the baron might have been his father (73). But it is the third death that transforms Abel forever, when his sister Florentyna was raped and killed by Russian soldiers amid his futile and heroic efforts to save her. 80
Wladek counted as sixteen soldiers raped his sister. ... He wept again as he carried her dead body back up the bank. ... He made a little cross with two sticks, and placed it at the head of the grave. He then collapsed on the ground and immediately fell asleep, not caring if he ever woke again. (77) By then, he had lost everybody he cared for in life and these deaths could definitely have emotionally scarred the twelve year old boy. There is no scope for a personal response towards these deaths as he is a captive of the Russian army. But the emotional scarring could be seen in the way he reacts when a Smolenski prisoner, in the same carriage to Siberia as Abel, attacks and kills a prisoner in Abel`s group. He kills the Smolenski ruthlessly with a bayonet, stabs him repeatedly and throws the body out of the carriage (88-89). The ruthless way in which Abel reacts to anybody who inflicts pain on him or on those who he cared for begins there. This is repeated when he religiously seeks vengeance on Kane as he holds him responsible for Davis Leroy`s suicide (307). Leroy, who believed in Abel`s business acumen, was the first rich man to treat him as an equal in America. The extent of Abel`s affection for Leroy is revealed only after his suicide and the vengeance it sparks represents the passionate and heroic way in which Abel cares for his loved ones. But the way he reacts to the death of his loved ones becomes heroic only when the backgrounds in which he faced these situations are considered. The novel justifies his aggression and adds a contrasting example to the group of responses to the deaths of loved ones by the heroes of the novels under study. The perception of the hero in Archer`s fiction often points to the attainability of heroic status by a common reader, which suggests an economic politics. The reading of the attributes of the hero helps in identifying type-bound/generic representation, as 81
is apparent in the chapter, its operation on readers and the cultural factors that go into the perception of heroic behaviour. These attributes when gathered together looks overwhelmingly similar and consistent, but these are not often comprehensible as generic representation for many readers as these are scattered over the texts, entrenched in the storyline and submerged in the primacy of entertaining plots. The key attributes that construct the heroic image of the protagonists of the novels under study are: Physical fitness and strength Sexual virility Intelligence, ability to learn from experience and observation Ambition Selfishness Cunning and hardwork, and Tenacity to overcome setbacks and tragedies. In general terms, traditional masculinity has encompassed the values of strength, power, stoicism, action, control, independence, self-sufficiency, male camaraderie/mateship and work amongst others (Barker, Theory 312). Comparing the key attributes of Archer`s hero to the traditional perception of masculinity, these could as well form the image of the brand: the masculinity of the hero and his success. Reading these heroic attributes as representations of masculinity itself could become problematic in that such a reading perpetuates such a concept of masculinity. But interpreting the representation of masculinity involved in the novels as a traditional masculinity that often marginalises other masculinities (that are at odds with 82
traditional perception) could identify that power dynamic in operation in the novels ­ in the representation of the hero and in the acceptance of it by the readership. ...cultural critics in the fields of feminism, gay/lesbian and queer studies have endeavoured to destabilize normative social roles, challenging thereby the logic of patriarchy itself. Within cultural studies, critics have focused on the ways in which media and cultural texts and cultural practices construct and disseminate representations of men and maleness, and the role these representations play in negotiating notions of the masculine in society. (Mikula 120) So it could be interpreted that the representation of maleness/masculinity in Archer`s heroes is a significant normative discourse; it could be read further by contextualising it in modern representations of masculinity within popular culture. There is/has been a dominant narrative of masculinity in crisis (hegemonic masculinity in decline) in media representations and cultural discourses after 1950`s and as recent as 1990`s (Baker 65; Beynon 19). The white-Western-North Americanmiddle class crises of masculinity represented in contemporary cinema (Edwards 121); representation of traditional masculinity alongside masculinities in crises in Hollywood detective films and the positioning of a perceived crises in masculinities and its backlashes (Gates 50); representation of Italian masculinity in crisis in 1950`s and later Italian films and media (O`Rawe 7) etc. are all much discussed. While O`Rawe considers the representation of crisis as a period signalling a productive future that could recode perceptions of masculinity (8), some others attributed it to historic changes brought about by demobilization after Second World War in the work and domestic spaces of Western white male (Cohan xii). Some others read the 83
representation of the crises as a lamentation of paradise lost` since a definitive masculinity is neither universal nor real and also as a crisis in representation precipitated by various cultural reasons (Mallan 15). What is to be noted is that Archer`s heroes inhabit the fictional world of the times mentioned above; demobilization after war is a constant across most heroes except in FAE and would play significant roles in the plot and characterization (as would be charted in next chapter). Archer`s generic representation of a traditionally masculine hero ­ sometimes in self-doubt, but always working hard towards that masculinity ­ is to be posited in the abovementioned cultural scenario for contextualisation; then the representations become both a negation of any crisis in masculinity and a reaffirmation of faith in traditional masculinity and patriarchy. This reaffirmation of faith in traditional masculinity could be read in most of the popular archetypes of heroes or phases of heroes` journey charted out by Pearson also. Among the Innocent, the Orphan, the Warrior, the Caregiver, the Seeker, the Destroyer, the Lover, the Creator, the Ruler, the Magician, the Sage, and the Fool (Pearson 5), Archer`s heroes are in conformity with all but the Fool in one context or the other. Hence the image of the brand: the masculinity of the hero and his success. In the novels under study, the heroic behaviour is rooted in the hero`s hardwork to overcome difficulties, whether it is physical, intellectual, moral or contextual. Their successes are usually the most important part of the stories but, keeping in mind the identity of these works as popular fiction, their success is a given. So the obstacles and villains, along with the generic attributes and responses discussed, become key factors in the perception of the hero and operate at a subconscious level in self identification and othering. Further cultural implications involved in the perception of the hero in Archer shall be discussed after reading the representations, and discourses 84
emanating from such representations, of the social structures in which the hero operates. 85
Chapter IV Reading the Social in Archer The protagonists` generic attributes across the novels under study were read in order to outline an idea of the essence of the hero, which forms a normative discourse that differentiates a reader from the hero and at the same time helps the reader to identify with and strive to be like the hero. Locating the hero and other characters within perceived social contexts in the texts could help interpret the social aspects of culture in the novels. The various critical, feminist, and poststructuralist theories that have so profoundly influenced cultural studies have made discourse ­ talk and text ­ the site of meaning, social organization, power, and subjectivity. In this view, social structures and social processes are organized by institutions and cultural practices such as the law, the political system, the church, the family, education and the media, each of which is located in and structured by a particular discursive` field or discourse. (McCall and Becker 13) Though discourses are often conceived as naturally occurring text and talk in discourse analysis and cultural studies (Barker, Dictionary 55), the representation of social structures, processes, organizing institutions and cultural processes` in the novels under study forms a discursive field since such representations could be deemed entwined in the fabric of cultural imagination and performance. Moreover, representation raises questions of inclusion and exclusion and the narratives originating from representations often reveal the power dynamics operating in social and cultural structures (Barker, Theory 271). Representations can serve 86
pernicious interests of cultural oppression by positioning... and sometimes be sites of resistance against hegemonies (Hammer and Kellner xxxi). But the idea of representation` itself has been problematised by various thinkers like Heidegger, Derrida and DeMan in terms of delegation, depiction, presences and absence (Barnett 13-17). Representation is possible because pure representation is impossible, and this is not only because representation as mimesis is ruined by its dependence on difference, but more fundamentally because representation reveals there to be no pure anterior identity waiting to be restored to presence. (Barnett 16) In the case of reading popular fiction, the reading processes are different, as Ken Gelder states, and the representations in the novels under study are often read as fiction without the expectation of a pure anterior identity waiting to be restored to presence`. Moreover, the reading process often relates to the representations in a spatial, temporal and cultural locus that the reader identifies with, which is neither pure nor universally accessible. There could be many societies or nations behind the representations in the novels under study, but for an efficient and better reading it would be profitable to hold the social narratives read to be pertaining to the author`s cognizance and imagination of those societies or nations. But the role of such discourses in forming, altering and propagating images of and responses to nations, races, societies and individuals could not be denied. The representation of society and social constructs in the novels thus becomes a part of cultural imagination and performance in multitudinous ways dependent on the reading processes but considerably limited by textual pointers; which again points to the discursive capabilities of the texts. 87
Hence, this chapter attempts to read the discourses and narratives originating from the representation of social systems, constructs, experiences, characters and proclivities that are normalized, and sometimes scorned, by repeated portrayal across the novels. The reading focuses on the repeated employment of such portrayals and attempts to analyse it by contextualising those representations as possible signifying patterns in a reader`s cultural milieu. This is possible by the collation of textual material and analysis, as was in the case of individual aspects/generic representation of the hero. A reading of the novels under study with these considerations in the background was able to single out discourses, on the social aspects mentioned above, in the narratives on the following: Tradition ­ Heredity Nationalism ­ Patriotism History War ­ Army Capitalism Patriarchy Others discourses (morality-religion, politics-democracy) Tradition - Heredity Traditions and heredity in Archer`s fiction often represent practices, habits and characteristics passed on to characters and society from others; and are often matters of social pride and shame. These often encompass individual and collective responses to situations, systems and individuals. The novels could be read to analyse and interpret discourses on traditions and heredity. In AMoH the heredity of the hero and the villain are depicted and through their actions, they are illustrated as following that 88
set pattern. Adam Scott is the son of Col. Gerald Scott, DSO, OBE, MC (11), a decorated army veteran of Royal Wessex Regiment reported to have been a brilliant tactical officer with a courageous war record (15). Adam is said to have inherited his father`s physical features as well as his morality. His mother, according to Adam is a saint and a daughter of the Regiment who never complained (10). The grandfather who supported Adam`s education was also a decorated army officer, Sir Pelham Westlake (16). From this background and parental influence, Adam sets out on his adventure to restore his father`s and family`s honour and secure a fortune; and in the process he serves his nation and its ally, the United States of America, with courage and honour to foil a Soviet plot. His father`s honour was tainted by rumours of aiding a German war criminal, Hermann Goering, to commit suicide before being executed. The consequences of that rumour affect Adam Scott`s military career also ­ when he joins his father`s regiment according to the family tradition ­ since he gets overlooked for promotion and is denied chances of advancement without any offer of a reason (17) In his father`s words the imagined sins of the father are inevitably visited upon the next generation (25). A conversation between two agents of western intelligence services underline the representation of the socially accepted view of the strength of heredity; ...If the father would side with the Germans during a war, why shouldn`t the son side with the Russians in peace? Like father, like son (240). He faces the stigma of that rumour from even those who are perceived as allies (417). But Scott follows the traditions` and high standards` set by his father to exonerate the family honour of the rumours and acts patriotically (428). The significance of tradition, heredity and parental influence is made obvious in the introduction and actions of the hero. 89
The villain of AMoH Alexander Petrovich Romanov also carries a narrative on heredity; but unlike in the case of Scott, his father and grandfather are considered traitors by Russian standards. His father was a soldier who refused to join Communist Party and was sent to jail after several reports of anti-State activities supplied by his son (32). Romanov`s grandfather was a wealthy landowner killed by the Red Army during the first revolution (32-33). The Revolution had taken place between the princely grandfather and the reluctant comrade father (33). Though Romanov is a child of the State as KGB chairman Zaborski notices (32), his similarities with the ambitious grandfather is repeatedly highlighted by Poskonov, the chairman of the Gosbank (66, 69). Though Romanov sent his father to jail, he is not reluctant to take the same path that led both his father and grandfather to their death (97, 99, 237, 421). As the novel comes to an end, he follows his ambitions to death like his father and grandfather while Scott serves his country honourably like his father and grandfather. The idea of tradition and heredity is further stressed in the portrayal of five generations of Bischoffs (110) and three of Daumiers (149) as trusted Swiss Bankers, and in the RAF pilot who wanted to outdo his father who had been a Second World War veteran (283). The idea of heredity and tradition are highlighted repeatedly in ACF also. Charlie`s is shown influenced mainly by his grandfather (11, 12 14, 16, 23, 126, 206) whose profession and ethics he considers as a fortune (639) and strives to take it to newer heights (618). He borrows the identity of his trade from the grandfather`s trademark ­ Charlie Trumper, the honest trader, founded in 1823 (14) ­ which is repeatedly used in the novel (93, 297). The idea of the year in the trademark tracing back a century shows the significance of tradition too, as explained to Becky by her father: ...the sort of people who live in the East End like to know you`ve been around 90
for some time (113). Becky is also shown as being influenced by heredity and her father`s traditions (98-102). Despite his father being a reckless drunkard, Charlie is proud of him when George Trumper enlists to fight in the First World War (20) and Charlie chooses to join Royal Fusiliers later, just like his father did, ascertaining the pride in tradition (37). The idea of heredity is consistently repeated in other characters also: Tommy Prescott is a small-time crook and the son and grandson of professional pickpockets (44); Daphne is from an aristocratic family (202) and takes pride in it and behaves accordingly throughout the novel in spite of her close association with Charlie; her boyfriend and later husband Percy`s aristocratic heredity and his adherence to traditions is also stressed repeatedly (218, 223). The future plans for Percy and Daphne`s children are based on the idea of tradition and heredity: Still trying to get Clarissa married of to the right man, and Clarence into the right regiment.` Nothing less than a royal duke for one and a commission in the Scots Guards for the other is my guess` (453). The idea of hereditary and traditional values and systems being associated with the idea of right`, as in right regiment or right man, could be seen as Archer`s or his society`s preoccupation with the validity of tradition. Through Daphne, heredity`s influence on nobility is declared in the novel: She is a snob of the first order. Becky`s heart sank. Second daughter of a baronet, who was created by Lloyd George... Second generation, of course. They`re always the worst. Daphne checked the seams on her stockings. My family have been around for generations, don`t you know, so we feel we haven`t an awful lot to prove... (124) 91
This argument of Daphne is vindicated by Margaret Trentham by being a snob, and that influence of heredity could be seen in the depiction of the villains as Guy Trentham`s or later Nigel Trentham`s villainous behaviour and actions could be interpreted as an extension of Margaret Trentham`s villainy. The only variation in the narrative on heredity or tradition is when Charlie overcomes the limitations of his birth to become a successful capitalist and Lord Trumper of Whitechapel (725). But one of Charlie`s dialogues asserts and inverts at the same time the idea of heredity; Ah, but I had the advantage of birth (655). In FAE, the narrative on tradition mostly revolves around Charles Seymour. His aristocratic lineage in the introduction as the son of an Earl (1) is stressed again as he is portrayed as reading about his ancestors in history classes (2). The business skills and tradition infused by this lineage is revealed when he says: but my grandfather instilled in me at an early age the belief that if one took care of the pennies the pounds would take care of themselves (200). Charles`s respect for that lineage is evident in his preservation of the spot, despite the cost, that his grandfather had used as parking space for his coach (33). Charles` wish to continue in the traditions of generations of his family underlines this idea (206). The social value of traditions in Charles` perception is reflected again in the passage choosing Clive Reynolds as his temporary successor (231), his misgivings about Margaret Thatcher leading the Tory party (221), his voting against the Queen`s retirement (454) and the stances he take as the speaker of the House of Commons (443-44). The social acceptance of Charles` views on tradition and heredity is represented by the author in the comment: the right son of Bridgewater was sitting on the board (34). As seen earlier, the narrative maintains that upholding traditions is the right thing to do. 92
The depiction of tradition and heredity in FAE is not limited to the characterization of Charles Seymour alone. Andrew Fraser`s political heredity is portrayed in his introduction and the father-son comparisons (7, 117). Simon Kerslake`s views on tradition is represented in his choice of schools and colleges with political tradition and precedent (4) and his perception of Tory tradition is represented in the passages where he supports Reginald Maudling over Edward Heath (38, 40). The Tory partiality towards individuals with patrician background is stressed through Simon`s comments (408). The best example of a discourse upholding values of tradition would be the image of Tom Carson. Tom Carson cared nothing for convention and even less for keeping to tradition and made no attempt to avoid controversy in his maiden speech (28-29). He is considered the enfant terrible` of the house in the early part of the novel and a nuisance and shame towards the end (149). The image of Tom Carson and his positioning as a shame could be linked with his disrespect to tradition and heredity; and as a corollary upholds its significance and value, despite the obvious question of how he managed to get elected continuously just like the protagonists. In K&A, as interpreted in the section on the ethics and morality of the heroes, Kane inherits his father`s ambitions, desires and morality. Though the father dies early in the novel, the tradition he set becomes obvious as Kane grows up and the novel progresses. The obvious symbols of heredity for Kane are the Grandmothers Kane and Cabot. They are constant guides who wished to retreat or progress to the role of chorus (18), but are forced by the death of Kane`s father to take on the father`s role (54). They appear in intervals until their death and instil in him the values and traditions they must have already instilled in his father. This spotlight on tradition becomes obvious when a son is born to William Kane. He wires the rector at St. 93
Paul`s to register a seat for his son twelve years later (377) exactly like his father had done twenty-seven years before when he was born (19). The memory of the dead watching over Kane is said to be protecting him from going far wrong (419) and it is the traditions and values of the dead that is represented by these memories. When William Kane`s son Richard throws out all the old furniture from Red House when he came to stay there, he keeps his grandfather`s chair intact (536); which could be seen as another instance of symbolic respect to the old ­ as seen in Charles Seymour preserving his grandfather`s parking lot. In Abel`s case, he hates his foster-father though he is affectionate of the mother and sister. He takes pride in the discovery that he is not the real son of the trapper. He was secretly pleased to discover that, untouched by the meanness of the trapper`s blood he came from unknown stock, containing with it the germ of the spirit that would make all things possible (31). This thought is justified when he realizes that he could be the illegitimate son of the Baron (73). Thus, Abel`s heredity gets linked with the Baron, inherits the family silver band (73) and learns the early lessons of the history of his land and his family from the Baron (46, 69-70). Wladek`s final lesson each day was on the family of the Rosnovskis. Again and again he was told never tiring of the tale ­ how the Baron`s illustrious ancestor... (70). These lessons become his own family history along with the revelation during Baron`s funeral. He is shown detesting his peasant name Wladek (214) and on entrance to the United States of America he inherits the Baron`s name through the silver band and becomes Baron Abel Rosnovski. His knowledge of Poland is limited to the lessons he had received as a child in the castle from Leon`s instructors and later from the Baron in the dungeons, but his Polish heredity and the castle he inherited is depicted as a major influence on 94
him (174, 447, 481, 495, 515, 584). Later on, Abel`s heredity and the traditions he set are depicted as being followed by his daughter Florentyna (539, 542). These narratives on tradition and heredity construe a sort of fatality in the transmission of virtues and vices through generations. In Archer, generally, the good breeds the good and the bad breeds the bad as is obvious from the examples analysed. It represents a form of exogenetic or exosomatic heredity and allows exogenetic` or exosomatic` transmission and evolution of character as Peter and James Medawar talks about (95-96). Such representations foreground class-bound characters and could incite class-bound expectations from the readers; and this could subtly affect cultural imagination. Abel`s shame in being the son of a trapper and his delight at the realization of being an illegitimate child of the Baron in K&A encapsulates that idea. The narrative also posits tradition as a structure of wisdom that needs to be preserved. The narrative on tradition and heredity running through the novels seems to be parallel, consistent and repeated. This forms a subtext that could give a critical reader a picture of the significance of heredity and tradition in Archer`s imagination/perception of the societies represented in the novels and its possible discursive impact on a reader`s cognition of the societies and nations represented. Nationalism ­ Patriotism Nationalism or patriotism could be defined simplistically as the idea of supporting one`s country and culture. The terms have come under scrutiny in critical circles and are used currently under various connotations. Anthony D Smith notes down the most important meanings and associations that has accumulated to the word nationalism; a process of formation, or growth of nations, a sentiment or consciousness of belonging to the nation, a language and symbolism of the nation, 95
a social and political movement on behalf of the nation and a doctrine and/or ideology of the nation, both general and particular (5-6). Among these categories, a sentiment of belonging to the nation` and language and symbolism of the nation` are evident in all the novels under study, while doctrine or ideology of a nation` is evident in the case of representations of USA or USSR. In this section, the reading of the novels focuses on narratives on such perceived nationalisms and patriotisms ­ the social construct of nationalism or patriotism and the representation and the repetition of it in the texts ­ which could normalize the ideas and sometimes be hegemonic. In AMoH, there are several instances of pride in a nation, its history or culture. The main idea of Scott`s honourable conduct revolves around his taking sides with his country on an issue of international importance ­ where legality points in one direction and perceived ethics in another. Scott`s patriotism as the hero of the novel gains significance in contrast with the behaviour of the villain Romanov, who plots to amass wealth while serving the country contradicting the socialistic precepts of his motherland. It is ironic that Romanov sent his father to jail to gain an unquestionably patriotic image (32). Meanwhile Valchek`s patriotism crumbles under personal tragedy (285) and Scott is only more determined to serve his country and friends despite personal loss (200). Scott, an ex-military man, is shown as looking forward to serving his country in the Foreign Office (79). An unapologetic othering of Soviet Union is visible in this cold war era novel. The English pride in being able to help the United States of America as well as shame in not being able to do so more often is depicted in the narration: Harold Wilson hadn`t needed to explain that he didn`t get that many transatlantic calls from Lyndon Johnson seeking his help (193). The same sentiment is repeated again from 96
an American perspective: Nice to have the British coming to our rescue for a change, said the President (306). The idea that the United States of America and England are allies and friends is established in this narrative. The British diplomacy is lauded using Lyndon Johnson and the USSR ambassador to England berating it as fair play diplomacy (304, 415). Another example of English pride and patriotism being lauded through mockery could be seen in the Mustard Foundation president speaking pompously of the English Mustard. British is best after all, I always say... (253). The mockery arising from his pomposity gives way to an appreciation of his patriotism as he mentions doing his bit for the country and helps Scott, as a fellow British soldier, escape from Switzerland to Dijon in his rented car believing the lies of a NATO army drill (254-58, 274-75). The efficiency of the British administrative system is praised in the depiction of the dedicated work of the Foreign office, in spite of having a mole among their ranks (203). The mention of Royal Philharmonic Orchestra touring across Europe (220, 243-44), the British cycling team taking part in an event in France (369), the Horse Guards Parade (291), the picture of a young Queen Elizabeth (291), a toast to Winston Churchill in France (295) and mentions of various regiments under British army and the Union Jack (320-21, 325) are also symbols of British national pride. The RAF pilot who was ordered to rescue Scott from Dijon introduces himself to Scott during a shootout at an abandoned hangar near Dijon. Only a British officer could shake hands in such a situation, thought Adam, relieved if still terrified (278). The national pride regarding British bravery in the narrative is evident. The incidents or symbols that point towards a narrative on nationalism are sometimes an integral part of the story and sometimes not; but it is evident that an image of British national pride, courage and efficiency is portrayed in the background of AMoH. 97
In ACF the narrative on British nationalism revolves around the narration of two World Wars in which Charlie Trumper takes part. His enthusiasm to aid his country at a time of war could be a reflection of the fervent nationalistic tendencies of a generation faced with war. The display of new recruits getting ready in Edinburg castle for various battlefields in Europe is one of patriotism and national pride (4154). Moreover, the overall narrative of industrialised and modern Britain providing opportunities for a poor barrow boy from Whitechapel to become Sir Charlie Trumper and later Lord Trumper of Whitechapel is a representation of the perceived greatness of a nation with equal opportunities for all. This is stressed in the aristocratic dismay at the idea of a new Britain represented in Daphne`s father`s comment: Didn`t know girls could get degrees, my father said. Must all be part of that damned little man`s ideas for a new Britain (202). There is an underlying pride and affection in the narration regarding the emerging new Britain as well as the reforms of the little Welshman, Lloyd George. A Britain that is the promised land for immigrants is shown in the Jewish refugee from Hamburg, Ben Schubert, and Cathy who describes London as an exciting city in 1947 (381, 585). The British love for traditions, history and courtesy is stressed in Mr. Salmon`s comment on the British respect for queues and history (113). The respectful treatment of the United States of America and the role of America as an innovative and technically advanced generation of England are obvious in the passages that narrate Charlie`s journey to and through America and his admiration for America, its business practices and techniques (297, 375-79). The deference to royalty interspersed in the narration of the novel is a symbol of national pride in royalty and its traditions. By making the characters mingle with royalty ­ as Percy does along with Becky and Charlie (222-23) ­ Archer creates an air of awe and importance for the events in the novel as well as celebrates the deference 98
afforded for the King and Queen. The celebration of the silver jubilee of King George V and Queen Mary is another theatrical display with a discourse on nationalism and patriotism since the royal couple is an accepted symbol of the nation. There were coloured posters and pictures of the royal couple in every shop window, and Tom Arnold ran a competition to see which shop could come up with the most imaginative display to commemorate the occasion (373). The readers could get involved in that celebration of royalty and the empire along with the characters of the novel. The hours of waiting passed quickly as Charlie made friends with visitors who had travelled from all over the Empire. When the procession finally began, Daniel was speechless with delight as he watched the different soldiers from India, Africa, Australia, Canada and thirty-six other nations march past him. When the King and Queen drove by in the royal carriage Charlie stood to attention and removed his hat, an action he repeated when the Royal Fusiliers marched past playing their regimental anthem. Once they had all disappeared out of sight, he thought enviously of Daphne and Percy, who had been invited to attend the service at St. Paul`s. (374) The empire that was considered oppressive and hegemonic in many colonies gets submerged in the celebration of general euphoria and national pride in this narration. The discourse becomes successful in erasing the oppression and highlighting the greatness of the empire where sun does not set when it involves readers in identifying with the hero and thus making them take part in such celebratory emotions. There are other similar historic` occasions which symbolize British national pride as in Charlie`s meeting with Winston Churchill (393), the description of Churchill as a man who practises what he preaches (393), the accession of Edward VIII (393), the abdication of Edward VIII for his love, the accession of George VI (379), the 99
engagement of Princess Elizabeth (453) and the accession of the princess as Queen Elizabeth (625). The narratives on history and narration of history in the novels are dealt with later in the chapter. But the significance of these narratives and narrations in stressing national pride is obvious and could be considered as a narrative on nationalism and patriotism. Similar narratives on nationalism and national pride could be seen in FAE and more so as it deals with British national politics. But America`s spirit and perpetual innovation are also applauded through Raymond`s thoughts (256). Most of the narration of national pride about England in the novel revolves around the actions and concerns like the Irish issue or the entry into European Union (128, 305, 132). The historical victory in Falklands war is also mentioned (346). Andrew`s speech concluding his views on the entry into European Union brims with national pride; Britain has for a thousand years written history, even the history of the world. Let us decide with our votes whether our children will read that history, or continue to make it (149). Similar sentiments are voiced ­ England`s role in deciding the fate of other nations ­ when Simon speaks for the support of his Irish Charter (324). England being a good host for immigrants is visible in the narration of the Libyan Ambassador`s affinity for staying in England rather than Libya (385). The most important fictional crisis that illustrates the unity of the nation is the hijacking of HMS Broadsword by Libyan pirates in the novel. The image of efficiency of the English armed forces in the planning and execution of a successful rescue mission is an event of national pride that gets compared with Falklands and legends of Entebbe (377, 393) The national support that Simon receives as the minister in charge of the mission is portrayed: Simon was touched that the crowd applauded him all the way to the front door of No.10... Simon was surprised by how many of the normally 100
cynical journalists called out, Good luck and Bring our boys home (378). The image of a nation standing together and steadfast during a time of crisis is represented here; the nationalistic narrative in it is obvious and it is only stressed by the description of the reception the heroes of the mission receive later (396). The national symbolism is heightened when the Queen is narrated as calling Simon to congratulate him and the crew involved in the mission (395). The mention of the queen and the royal family is repeated in FAE. The long passage on the State opening ceremony of a government by the Queen is packed with the details of the ceremony, attire and other paraphernalia of the participants, entrance of the Queen, the crown, and the majesty of English democracy (124-26). The Queen opening a section of Heathrow airport is also mentioned and the attempt of Raymond to dress like the Duke of Edinburg on that occasion adds to the national symbolism of royal family as well as the deference towards even the styles of royalty (288). The comment of Kate, regarding the status and royal treatment afforded to Raymond as a minister ­ that only the Queen could get used to it (281) ­ reaffirms the British admiration of monarchy. Prince Charles and Lady Diana are mentioned and their wedding is reported as one of national significance eclipsing the personal and national crises that the heroes and the nation were facing (318, 338). Princess Diana is later mentioned again as she is narrated as unveiling Charles` ancestor`s portrait done by Holbein in the National Gallery on behalf of the nation. A nation that takes pride in its ancestry, artistic proclivities and royal tradition is depicted. A perceived pride in royalty, its symbolism and the significance of the protagonists are reflected in the invitation for the four protagonists to the Speaker`s dinner celebrating the sixty-fifth birthday of the Queen (454). By narrating the queen`s intention to retire (454) and the portrayal of King Charles III later (464-65), Archer portrays an England of the new 101
and the old. A wishful anticipation for bringing in a new future and at the same time adhering to the tradition of monarchy is reflected in the narrative. Similar to ACF, FAE also mentions other national icons like Churchill and Margaret Thatcher and their successful leadership of the country evoking a sense of national pride and patriotism (377, 380, 387, 381, 392-93). The discourse on national pride and patriotism in K&A is concerned mainly with the United States of America, Poland and England although the protagonists are not from England. There are mentions of America owing England, especially in the context of Second World War. Kane says: Britain`s not a baseball team Tony; it`s a nation of people to whom we owe our entire heritage...` ... If Hitler puts so much as a foot on British soil, America will enter war the same day, whatever our Ambassador in London says` (436). Mention of Winston Churchill as a symbol of England is another constant across novels under study and K&A is not an exception as Churchill is mentioned along with Eisenhower, though he is not applauded in this instance (465). William Kane`s father, Richard Kane, wishes to have an heir and a spare like the British royal family (20) and the underlying narrative adds to the instances of deference to British monarchy in the novels under study. William Kane is depicted as having been brought up by a nurse from England on a regimen that would have gladdened a Prussian cavalry officer (32). The significant role of the English nurse is restricted to one line in the novel, but reflects a differentiation in discipline and dedication between nations in England`s favour. The mention of educational institutions and cultural attractions in England on William`s visit to England forms a narrative of English pride in these institutions and their heritage (360). Even when the British are mocked for chauvinism or presumptuousness in the novel, it is in an 102
affectionate way suggestive of a deep friendship between America and England (59798). Abel`s rescue by a British diplomatic officer in Turkey and the narration that follows forms a narrative enhancing the image of Britain: On the door were the welcoming words BRITISH CONSULATE. Once inside the building, Wladek began to feel safe for the first time (166). The sentiment is repeated when it is narrated: He was sorry to be leaving the British Consulate. It was the only place in which he`d felt safe for years (172). Abel`s Polish heredity forms the base for a narrative on Polish nationalism and pride. Abel learns with pride the history of Poland and its heroes like King Jan Casimir and Tadeusz Kosciuszko from the Baron at the castle and later in the dungeons (46, 69-70). Though he never experiences life as an adult in Poland, the idea of Poland and Polish nationalism was strengthened in him by Baron`s stories as well as the German and Russian oppression he faced. When he escapes from Russian gulags to Turkey, the Polish consul in Istanbul sends him to America since a return to Poland was impossible then; but he reassures him: You will always be Polish, Wladek ­ no one can take that away from you, wherever you settle (174). The nationalism in the consul`s words is one of an oppressed nation and its resistance. It is reflected in Abel`s concerns about Poland and in his attempt to return there as the ambassador of America (447, 481, 495-96, 584). Again, America`s national image is boosted in the context of the novel as a land of opportunities for immigrants. The New World is portrayed as instilling hope in Abel since the whole of Eastern Europe was trying to escape and start afresh in the New World (200). The discourse on America as the nation of opportunities and success disseminates a sense of national pride and it is emphasized in the story with 103
the immense financial success that Abel achieves in America. This is the only country on earth where you can arrive with nothing and make something of yourself through hardwork, regardless of your background (452). This comment from Abel reflects the pride in America as a nation as well as its economic ideology of capitalism. The narratives on nationalism in the novels under study reveal certain trends other than the demonstration of a character`s patriotism or nationalistic feelings. The narrative takes shape through the representation of iconic individuals from history, with whom the characters sometimes interact, like Churchill or Margaret Thatcher and around national symbols and individuals associated with it. The extensive use of British royal family across novels in imaginative capacity as well as in historic narration encapsulates a national symbolism and the deference to royalty afforded by the society perceived by the author; and the submersion of it in fast paced action in the novels normalises that respect. The detailed description of some events in these stories creates a sense of awe or admiration through a sort of theatrical display/spectacle with national signification and symbolism. At some points, the narratives of nationalism of England and the US undermine other nationalisms. The normalization of patriotism and national pride and the signification of nationalism in artefacts, icons and structures suggest a social need to mimic or perform these trends. History History is a cultural artefact often looked at as the essence of the past. It is often conjectured in opposition to fiction (Hamilton 6). Archer fictionalises history and historicises fiction employing characters from history, interweaving fact and fiction. Herman et al suggests the significant role of narrative in the cultural field of 104
memory and its ability to explain temporal processes makes it a powerful agent in memorial practices (91). Moreover, a story/narrative could resonate with the contemporary historical condition of a reader and prompt him/her to attach special meaning to that narrative (Cohen xi) and makes such narratives culturally significant. The reading of the novels in this section focuses on the depiction of historic events and personalities and the entwining of fact and fiction. Social response to histories could be observed in such depictions and respect for histories and historic deeds could be seen defining the societies depicted in the novels under study. Narration of a historic event and a narrative on perceived history are differentiated and such narrations are read for any underlying narratives. Mere reports of historic incidents are often not included in the examples stringed together in the section ­ if contextual significance in the story or a narrative or commentary on that history is absent ­ but the imaginative representation of historic individuals and anticipation of future events involving them are included. In AMoH, historic heads of states like Leonid Brezhnev, Harold Wilson and Lyndon Johnson, of USSR, USA and England respectively, are mentioned as the novel is divided into five parts entitled The Kremlin Moscow, 10 Downing Street London SW1, The Whitehouse Washington DC, The Kremlin Moscow again and an epilogue. The mention of these historic characters and power centres enhances the international significance of Scott`s adventure, as a Soviet plot to reclaim Alaska is foiled by Scott. The story of the novel is entwined with historic characters and events and it is often difficult to differentiate fact from fiction. Hermann Goering`s escape of execution by suicide after Nuremberg trials which is an accepted fact forms the germ of the story. It is fictionalised as the hero`s father is implicated in helping Goering 105
commit suicide and the novel progresses as a consequence of Goering`s gift of the Tsar`s icon of St. George and the Dragon to Col. Gerald Scott (24). The fact behind the Soviet claim on Alaska, a hidden treaty in the Tsar`s icon or the incidents surrounding it could not be verified. The possibility of a treaty and a Russian claim are supported by the historic precedents of Port Arthur which was returned to China by USSR in 1955 and the possible repeat of it in Hong Kong in 1999; which the British had to hand over to China after the novel was published. Thus historic facts are efficiently used by Archer for the verisimilitude of his fiction and at the same time reflecting a certain popular respect for the social construct of history. When Scott asks Lawrence whether there is a chance of a quick profit made from a small investment, he replies: Can`t manage it at the present time, old chum ­ not now ­ Harold Wilson has announced a standstill in wages and prices (AMoH19-20). The dialogue reflects the economic condition of the nation and the efforts of the government in tackling inflation. This narrative`s point of interest is not in the historicity of the action but in the snide way in which Lawrence replies, reserving a little amount of sarcasm for Harold Wilson`s efforts. Another occasion with a narrative on history is when Scott watches the news that reports Mrs Gandhi facing open revolt in her cabinet and he wonders whether Britain could ever have a woman Prime Minister (82). While pointing towards a traditionally patriarchal political system of England, it also points towards a radical change in it too since any informed reader would remember the Margaret Thatcher government that would come to power within a decade. The novel written later than that uses the advantage of the possibility of reflection on the past as future. When Sir Morris says that Harold Wilson do not receive that many transatlantic calls from Lyndon Johnson seeking help (193), it reflects the technological and diplomatic superiority of the US in 1966 as 106
compared to a past when it was just a colony of England or the shift of the world political power centre from London to Washington and also the close ties the countries enjoy in a global scenario. This narrative on the shift of power centre is repeated when the same sentiment is declared from an American perspective (306). In ACF, the major narrations of history and discourses on history revolve around the two World Wars. Since the discourses on war are dealt with separately in this chapter only the narrations on war with historic connotations or contextual significance are examined here. The incident of locating Charlie`s birthday using other pointers and the reign of Queen Victoria is narrated in the beginning of the novel and initiates the entwining of history and fiction (11). The common man`s perception of history is reflected in the narration of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who nobody at East End had heard of, and its consequences. ...we only found out how serious it was when a lot of young lads who had worked in the market began to disappear off to the front to be replaced by their younger brothers ­ and sometimes even sisters (18). The role a historical war played in a common Englishman`s life is depicted again when a German immigrant among the traders there, Mr. Shultz with a toothless grin, was never seen again as he was interned (19). The narrative indicates a certain amount of illogical inconvenience caused in a boy`s life by the First World War. The battle in which Charlie takes part, the second battle of the Marne, is declared by the Prime Minister as the greatest victory in the history of the war (82); but Charlie who lost his best friend in that battle and witnessed thousands of dead men fails to be cheered up by that declaration (82). This suggests the heavy loss of lives behind it and the superficial nature of a historic victory. 107
The progressive changes in society brought about by Lloyd George`s term as Prime Minister is reflected in Daphne`s father`s comments on education of women and suffragettes (202). The patriarchal views of Cambridge University and the more egalitarian approach of London University is commented on when Cambridge is fictionally accused of not acknowledging Mrs Bradford`s degree in 1939, while Becky was awarded a degree by London University in 1921(419). Charlie`s support of Churchill`s political views during the time of Union strike in 1926 and the declaration of those who would strike as foolish represent a political and capitalistic bias (353). His disappointment with Neville Chamberlain is also a comment on history suggesting that the Second World War could have been averted if the political and financial might of England was used earlier. The other piece of news Charlie followed on front pages was the rise to power of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. He could never understand why the Prime Minister, Mr Chamberlain, didn`t use a little street sense and give the man a good thump on the nose (380). The ability of retrospection in narration of history is used to enhance the portrayal of practical knowledge of the hero as well as to comment on history. This and the political bias in the narrative on historic events are repeated when Charlie is depicted as more confident of the future when Churchill takes over from Chamberlain as Prime Minister in May 1940 (386). The narration of Churchill as practising what he preaches (393) is another occasion of manipulation of historic individuals that suggests a bias or propaganda of national pride. The silver jubilee celebrations of King George V and Queen Mary (373), as mentioned in the section on nationalism and patriotism, forms a narrative on national pride using a historical occasion along with mentions of Poet General Wavell (390), the Festival of Britain (510) and events involving Edward VIII, George VI (379) and the Princess and later Queen Elizabeth (453, 625). 108
Further, fact and fiction gets entwined when Percy meets the King at Becky`s graduation ceremony and chats with him (220), just as when Charlie meets Churchill (393, 412), Daphne meets Calvin Coolidge, the then Vice President of USA, on her honeymoon tour across the globe (264), Mr Baverstock on the Trumper`s board gets compared to famous attorney F E Smith (470) or when an article on Trumper`s is written by famous English journalist Vincent Mulchrone in The Daily Mail (495). This interweaving of fact and fiction, as mentioned earlier, provides verisimilitude for the fiction and at the same time transfers to the characters the status and respect afforded to historic figures in common social perception. Various Prime Ministers of England from 1964 to 1984 are mentioned in FAE as the story crosses the present in 1984, the year of its publication. The devaluing of pound on 18 November 1967 is mentioned in the novel as the cabinet decision being made two days earlier (97). The issue is discussed in the lead up to the event and the main protagonist of the novel Raymond Gould is portrayed as resigning his post as Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Employment over his stand against the decision (99). The narrative obviously is against this historic decision and it adds to another example of retrospection on history and the use of it to highlight the vision of a protagonist. Andrew`s joke that King George III lost America for us (357) seriously implies that the independence of America was a mistake or that England should have had a better co-operation with the American Colonies. The historic issue of the problems in Ireland, the sending of English troops there in August 1969 and the clashes between Protestant extremists and the IRA is mentioned in the novel (128). The mention of the historic assassination of Airey Neave by a car bomb by the IRA(298) and the, fictional, consequent increase of security for Simon and the ghastly explosion (316) that he survives form a narrative of condemnation of such terrorist 109
acts by the IRA. Simon comments to Ronnie that there are no easy solutions for the problem (136). The narrative on the historic Irish question is centred on Simon`s views about it. Inch by inch he worked to try to bring the Catholics and Protestants together. Often after a month of inches he would lose a yard in one day... Given time, Simon believed, a breakthrough would be possible ­ if only he could find on both sides a handful of men of goodwill. (305) While narrating the toughness of a permanent solution for the militant tendencies in Ireland, it suggests that it is not impossible to be solved and blames it on the lack of goodwill of parties concerned. The question of England`s entry into EEC is also discussed in detail and portrayed as a vital political and economic issue (132, 149, 150, 158). The introduction of radio broadcast of proceedings in the House of Commons in 1978 is mentioned (287) and television broadcast anticipated (443); the narration that follows is a signification of the role of media in the effectiveness of democracy. The mention of Falklands crisis in 1978 and Margaret Thatcher`s role in recapturing the islands (346) is a narration of history as well as a narrative on Thatcher`s iron will and efficiency. Other snippets of history are delivered in the mentions of the Queen inaugurating the underground extension to Heathrow Airport (288), yoking together technological advancement and history, or the engagement of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer (338), suggesting the national importance of the royal family. Archer`s narrative on the Queen`s retirement at sixty-five and the succession of King Charles III (454, 465) is one of historic anticipation as well as desire. The interweaving of fact and fiction are plenty; the most noteworthy involves 110
the comparison of Raymond and Clement Attlee (367) and the anticipation of Col. Gaddafi of Libya being a troublemaker for the West (370). In K&A, history is ever present with the political and economic events constantly narrated in the background as the protagonists chase their ambition and revenge. While it is in the background, the attitude of the characters towards historic incidents attains a personal note in K&A, as seen when William Kane`s father reads the newspaper after his son`s birth The Boston Red Sox had beaten the New York Highlanders ­ other people would be celebrating. Then he saw the headline on the front page: the worst earthquake in the history of America. Devastation in San Francisco, at least four hundred people dead ­ other people would be mourning. He hated that. It would take away from the birth of his son. People would remember that something else had happened on this day. He turned to the financial pages and checked the stock market: it had fallen a few points; that damned earthquake had taken nearly $100,000 off the value of his holdings at the bank... (8) The narrative affirms at introduction itself that the protagonists are not indifferent to history. While the narration of history serves as a marker of time in the novel, it also involves the fortunes of the protagonist as would be revealed later in the novel. The craft of the author could be seen in using a historic earthquake and the subsequent fall of stock market to foreshadow the future actions of William Kane which would minimise the family shares in Kane and Cabot`s Bank through a merger with Lester`s. 111
Baron`s history lessons for Abel about Tadeusz Kosciuszko aiding George Washington , Polish struggle for independence (46), King Jan Casimir repulsing the Swedes and Prince Radziwill`s character (69-70) in the castle and later in the dungeons under Russian imprisonment is a narrative on the historic pride of the Poles and their helpless state in the beginning of twentieth century. Matthew`s jokes about William advising President Harding on the nation`s fiscal problems and calling Charles G Dawes a posturing fool (185) is a narrative on the administrational lapses of Harding and the influence of Nobel Laureate Dawes in that administration. The elections of Calvin Coolidge (250) and Herbert Hoover (281) as the Presidents of the United States of America, the consequent soaring of stock market, the later Wall Street Collapse and the Great Depression that followed are narrated; and through facts and fiction the adverse economic scenario and its possible reasons are reflected (297299). The subsequent election of F D Roosevelt as US President and its implications for financial institutions and economy (345, 379) and his political and diplomatic stances during Second World War (436, 445) are mentioned. The election of Truman as US President is narrated as a surprise (495) and there are suggestions in the text that his administration was one with scandals and scandal-mongering (528). Eisenhower (534) and Kennedy (592) becoming US presidents and their immense popularity are suggested. The fate of Poland in Stalinist Russia in the thoughts of Abel and speech of others discourses on Russian oppression and Polish pride (481-82, 495). The authorial voice narrating the old Islamic traditions being swept away in Turkey and Mustafa Kemal being the name on everybody`s lips (199) is a congratulatory narrative applauding the modernisation of Turkey. It also shows a certain pleasure in the shift in Islamic traditions. The mentions of Prohibition in the 112
novel (245, 316) suggest popular discontent with the Act and also people finding easy ways to sidestep it. Facts and fiction get entwined in K&A when JP Morgan and AJ Lloyd attends William`s baptism (19), Richard Kane drowns with the Titanic (53), William`s mother listens to Sigmund Freud`s lecture in Boston (126), Abel serves at the table of Ellsworth Statler in Plaza hotel (243), Al Capone dines at Abel`s hotel (284), the founders of MGM and CBS comes to William for financial backing (276), Anton Cermak and Abel meets (369), John Nance Garner attends Charles Lester`s funeral (399) and General Patton praises Abel (456). A desperate need to be connected politically and economically to the wellestablished could be seen in many of these interweaving of fact and fiction rather than the mere signification of a hero or a character as politically and economically affluent. It could also be seen as an attempt of re-writing history as seen in a desire for Queen Elizabeth to retire and hand over the throne to Prince Charles; which suggests a popular or individual sentiment against Queen Elizabeth or an esteemed expectation about the character of the queen that would force her to retire. The narration of history in the novels often provides political and economic background, verisimilitude to the story and signification for characters and at the same time implies a popular admiration for history and its narration. Historic narration in the novels under study grants more importance to the economic and political aspects of it; though it does not ignore cultural or social histories. The most important function of such historic narratives in the novels could be interpreted as the advocacy of fame and individual contribution to national and international histories as a yardstick of one`s success in 113
life and the reaffirmation of a linear, uncomplicated past, a sort of fossilization of memory. War ­Army Janos Laszlo, in the context of narrative social psychology, emphasizes the influence of war narratives on populace by commenting: The more significant the Second World War is in collective memory, the more willing people are to risk their lives for their nation (46). The representation of wars in fiction could hence be linked to memory dependent on the cultural locus of a reader. Most societies represented in the novels under study are portrayed as facing or having faced wars. All protagonists except the ones in FAE go through military training and battlefields. The narrations on wars and related structures could be read to decipher the social perception of it or the attitudes requested of the readers about wars. Often such perceptions are read in relation to nationalisms, ethnicities and ideologies, but the attempt here is also to read the wars as an experience that the heroes and perceived societies go through and as the representations of the responses demanded of them about these experiences. In the novels under study war is treated as a historical background that enabled the heroes to serve the country and glorify` themselves, often by being proud about their contribution; but more importantly as collective and individual experience. Narratives of British war experiences after the 1930`s, in fact, bear evidence of two, often contradictory ways of representing the war. Much of the wartime language of work and service proved to be quite durable, offering different gender ­ and class ­ specific perspectives that could be quite positive. In tension with this view of experience, however, was the soldier`s story of disillusion and devastation, loss and useless sacrifice. (Watson 266) 114
This ambivalence in the responses towards war, is present in the novels under study, is portrayed in individuals, but the English and American societies that experienced it as a collective are often represented as being proud and patriotic. In AMoH the social experience of war and related structures are represented through the experiences of Adam Scott. Though he does not take part in any war, other than the diplomatic war ­ between USSR and USA with England in the middle ­ and its real shadows, during the time period in the novel, constant reminders of the battles he fought and the experiences gained from it are referred to. In the Malayan jungles he fought against waves of Chinese soldiers, was held prisoner by the Communists and endured torture and solitude that no amount of training could have prepared him for (17). These experiences and the tenacity it bred in him help him endure the hardships of his current adventure. The narrative of Communists as enemies is an experience from that war and that posits Scott against the Russians even before his girlfriend is killed or before he gets involved with the adventure in the novel. Adam Scott`s father taking part in Second World War and Nuremberg Trials signifies Germans and Nazis as enemies (22). Goering, Hess, Speer, Doenitz and Hitler automatically become the enemy images for those readers who identify themselves with Scott. This narrative gains strength when Scott`s father and even Scott face social stigma after mere rumours of fraternization. When Scott`s father says that he could leave it to Scott to make the correct decision (26), it includes this taking sides too. While trying to hitchhike his way to Dijon, Scott remembers how easy hitchhiking had been when he was a cadet in uniform (239). The perceived social respect for soldiers is evident here. Jim Hardcastle, the mustard man who saves Scott 115
on his way to Dijon represents this respect afforded to men who protect with weapons a nation or an idea. The impact of Scott`s lie of being a NATO soldier on Jim is proves that perception (254). Jim`s pride in having done his bit for the country in a battlefield (254) suggests a natural duty to take part in the military actions of one`s country, though Scott looks down upon Jim`s contribution. The formation of identity of one as having contributed to the army of a nation is repeated in a nameless character who guides Scott inside Sotheby`s when he concludes that the man must have been a military trainer earlier (103). While it touches upon the class distinctions in army and fragility of ideas like honour, the major narrative on the experiences of war and army service in AMoH point towards the identity formation of self and enemy and the perceived social respect originating from such identifications. The military efficiency of Britain is portrayed in the narration of Falklands crisis and the hijacking of HMS Broadsword in FAE (346, 386, 393-94). It adds to national pride while, as mentioned earlier, chalking out the enemies. The narration of background drama while HMS Broadsword was hijacked represents the priority given to military action over diplomatic action. While Charles Seymour leads the diplomatic action faction, Simon Kerslake works for a rescue mission with the navy (378-394). The image of Charles as a scheming antagonist for the earnest Simon Kerslake could influence a reader to side with Simon on the issue; and as the narration progresses it is made obvious that a naval rescue is the brave thing to do than negotiating with pirates. The idea of military action or war as the brave thing to do is a normalizing narrative repeated across the novels. The representation of popular respect bestowed on the heroes of the mission and the minister who led it is a signification of the soldieridentity of the protagonists of the mission. 116
The most important narrative on war and its experiences in FAE is centred on Raymond`s fight for the redemption of war bonds and the better welfare of warwidows and pensioners. This fight is prompted by his early childhood experiences with his grandmother who was a war-widow. Ray`s close proximity to the old woman who had lost her husband in the Great War at first appeared romantic to him. ... Soon, however, his grandmother`s stories filled Ray with sadness, as he became aware that she had been a widow for nearly thirty years. Finally she became a tragic figure as he realised how little she had experienced of the world beyond that cramped room in which she was surrounded by all her possessions and a yellow envelope containing 500 irredeemable war bonds. (5) Later on Raymond takes up the case of Mrs Dora Benson, the widow of a First World War veteran with a Victoria Cross living in abject poverty, and forces the government to look into the matter of war bonds (363-67). The narrative, while focusing on the lack of support for soldiers and their widows from the administration, advocates the need of better welfare schemes and pensions for them. This is only an extension of the regular narrative in the novels about soldiers and the respect they receive; as in this case it stresses on the respect they should receive. The poverty of Mrs Benson becomes a special case as she is the widow of a decorated soldier. As the romanticism of a war observed from a distance gives way to the experience of perceived realities after it, the narrative demands admiration and material translation of that admiration. In ACF, two World Wars are narrated and Charlie Trumper takes part in both. The narrative on war reflects the glory, honour, futility and despair of war. The mention of young boys from East End disappearing into battlefronts of First World 117
War in Europe without knowing the reasons or political background of it (18) indicates the experience of war by common man bound by ideas of duty and honour to take part in it. It could be interpreted that the reasons of war are not important, the significance of it being taking part in the action for the country. The narrative on honour and duty is repeated when Charlie`s father and later Charlie enlist (20, 36), or when Charlie feels guilty about not taking part in the war (26). Charlie enlists a second time during Second World War just like the first time without any coercion or demand (388). Charlie takes the bombings in London and the destruction of his shop as a personal affront. A narrative on collective as well as personal duty towards war efforts is obvious here. The hero`s act of courage becomes the strongest narrative on the honour in taking part in a war. As a reader journeying with the hero, one encounters many stories about battlefields ­ Ypres, Somme, Passchendaele, (21, 25, 34) ­ from newspapers and others even before finally reaching the battlefields of Lys and Marne along with Charlie (66, 71). War as a collective effort in a massive scale is suggested here in which duty continually prods one towards the victory of the nation, where one moves from second hand experiences of it to firsthand experiences. Charlie`s experience of the war and its air of hopelessness firsthand horrify him (61). The horrors of trenches and frontal attacks are narrated. If you reached the wire there were two ways of dying; if you reached the German trenches, a dozen. If you stayed still, you could die of cholera, chlorine gas, gangrene, typhoid or trench foot that soldiers stuck bayonets through to take away the pain (64-65). In his first battle at Lys, Charlie gets injured and his patriotism deserts him as he wishes his injuries would be sufficient to get him back to England (66). But he comes back to the battlefield with renewed energy strengthening the narrative on honour and duty in war. The second battle of Marne 118
sees Charlie losing his best friend and facing death all around him (70-80). The narrative on the horrors and futility of war gains strength here. Later that afternoon the duty sergeant allowed him an hour off to dig the grave in which they would bury Private Prescott. As he knelt by its head he cursed the men on either side who could be responsible for such a war. Charlie listened to the chaplain intone the words, Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, before the last post was played yet again. Then the burial party took a pace to the right and began digging the grave of another known soldier. A hundred thousand men sacrificed their lives on the Marne. Charlie could no longer accept that any victory was worth such a price. (81-82) When the prime minister declares that the second battle of Marne was the greatest victory in the history of war (82), Charlie feels unable to cheer along with his comrades. Though Charlie was goaded on when his father lost his life in Passchendaele (36), Tommy Prescott`s and a hundred thousand other men`s death at Marne breaks him down. The narrative on the horrors of war also breaks down as Charlie starts feeling guilty again for having to leave the battlefield with a relatively lesser loss of a toe while most others lost eyes, limbs and life (84). The implication of the narration that war is honourable and hero is duty bound to serve the country acknowledging the horrors and futility of war, relegates the experience of those horrors and futility as secondary to the experience of honour in serving ones nation. The mention of the war making a man out of a boy in Charlie`s case emphasises this interpretation (85, 121). The narrative on the respect bestowed on soldiers is repeated various times with the depiction of a thankful nation treating them as special. This is apparent in the 119
narration after Charlie is relieved of combat duty; when in one day he is insulted thrice for not being in uniform. Vendors raising the price of things for, or older men looking down at, those who are not in uniform (88) is evidence for the stigma with which society perceive men who are not soldiers. The night sleeper from Edinburgh was full of men in uniform who eyed the civilian-clad Charlie with suspicion, as a man who hadn`t yet served his country or, worse, was a conshi (87). Another example for this attitude is the difference in attitude towards Charlie`s father before and after enlisting in army (12-13, 20). The futility and horrors of war are narrated but undermined by an overarching discourse of duty and honour towards the country and the social stigma towards not helping the country in need. In K&A the eagerness of the protagonists to join war is repeated as both Kane and Abel sign up in the army during Second World War (440, 448). Wars become a constant historic background in the novels for the heroes to take part and glorify themselves (480, 482). None of them lose their lives in war but face mortal dangers to come out of the experience with pride. Abel`s generous gesture of leaving the New York Baron hotel under Army command to be used as headquarters (452) and his and Kane`s desire for real action in the front (456, 465) is a narrative of glorification of the roles played in war. Regular soldiers who put their life in danger are suggested as heroes in the protagonists` desire for real action. In the introduction of the villain Henry Osborne, Anne enquires about his arm in a sling whether it was a war wound. His reply that it was just a skiing accident could be interpreted as a negative introduction suiting the character of a villain, stigmatising the lack of contribution to war efforts (79). The social response to war efforts is seen in Abel`s description of New York full of young men in khaki or navy blue (448). This illustration of social response to war normalises a citizen`s duty towards a nation in war. 120
In the Baron`s castle young servants disappear one by one during First World War and Abel and Leon as children could not work out the reason (47). Common man`s experience of war is narrated here. When a little Wladek declares that he was not afraid of Germans or Russians (49), his identification of enemy is formed. Further incidents prove the futility of Baron`s hope that the war would not be the end of Leon`s and Abel`s childhood (49) as Abel witnesses the death of everyone he cared about at the hands of various enemies (51, 73, 77). The Russians and Germans are not just identified as enemies now; that identification is reaffirmed by experiences. This experience is enlarged by his years under Russian guards and in the gulags. This makes him say during Second World War: Killing some Germans is what I plan to do. The bastards didn`t get me the first time around... (448). The significance of experiencing war firsthand is stressed again in K&A as the hearsay about battlefields of Anzio and Monte Cassino (455) leads Abel to real action in Remagen where Kane is already lying wounded (459). The horrible and futile image of war is still narrated but it is submerged by a general euphoria about victory. Once again the streets were filled with young people in uniform, but this time their faces showed relieved elation, not forced gaiety. Abel was saddened by the sight of so many men with one leg, one arm, blind or badly scarred. For them the war would never be over, no matter whatever pieces of paper had been signed on the other side of the world. (472) Despite these horrors and the scars that would not heal, war is narrated as a necessary stance one needs to take in life against enemies. A badly wounded Kane wakes up months later and the first question he asks when he could speak is who won the war? (470). The question sums up the narrative on war in the novels under study: 121
despite the horrors, sacrifices, scars and thoughts of futility, victory is all that matters and one needs to do whatever ought to be done to win that war for the nation as well as oneself. As Noah McLaughlin concludes about the narration of war in French cinema, The ultimate message may be a double edged sword: despite the isolating terror and trauma of modern warfare, you are not alone; but your every action (or inaction) has consequences for your fellow human beings (53). The ambivalence in the narration of wars visible in the representation in the novels of its horror and honour could be interpreted as a textual dialectic which in turn reaches a linear conclusion/synthesis, through the plot and protagonists, of the need of patriotism during war. Reduction of the complex texts of memories and war into an emotional response to nationalism/patriotism negates the ambivalence already represented and that negation is possible since the narrative on war is subsumed in the plot of the novels and the journey of the hero to glory and success. Capitalism Capitalism is a system in which goods and services, down to the most basic necessities of life, are produced for profitable exchange, where even human labour-power is a commodity for sale in the market, and where all economic actors are dependent on the market. (Wood 2) This definition of capitalism stresses the significance of products, profit and labourpower; which are signified in the success stories of Archer, as hardwork /labourpower` propels the heroes to financial success/profit. Jeremy Gilbert advocates the need for cultural studies and its practitioners to take an anti-capitalist stance in the lines of the New Left in the essay Cultural Studies and Anti-Capitalism (181-199). 122
Chris Barker also speaks about capitalism as a complex mode of exploitation and aligns with Marxist views of it (Dictionary 19-20). But Philip Jenkins in the foreword to Wealth and Justice: The Morality of Democratic Capitalism says: Capitalism is the triumphant success story that dare not speak its name (ix). This sentiment of not daring to speak the name is brought about by a general and constant criticism of capitalism in moral terms. Archer`s novels under study seem to adhere with Jenkins` view on capitalism as it often justifies the greed and selfishness suggested by the moral critics`, as it often depicts such vices` as heroic. This reading of the novels under study attempts to decipher the narratives on capitalism deployed through the illustration of work and market ethics, profit and rewards, capitalism and capitalist enterprises. It also endeavours to bring out the characteristics of capitalism represented and repeated in the novels under study. The intense competition in a capitalist market is suggested in the following passage from AMoH depicting the changes in trends and businesses in a street: The street had been transformed from the one he had known as a young subaltern. Boutiques had taken the place of antiquarian bookshops. Record shops had replaced the local cobbler, and Dolcis had given way to Mary Quant. Take a fortnight`s holiday, and you couldn`t be sure anything would still be there when you returned, he reflected ruefully. (56) Scott`s rueful thoughts are just passing ones as he too is a part of a society that has embraced capitalism as opposed to the Soviet Union whose legal claim the western intelligence agencies and Scott, inadvertently at first and consciously later, are trying to scuttle. Scott`s adventure might be one of honour as he strives to clear his father`s honour and avenge his murdered girlfriend; but the main motivation for him to 123
embark on that journey was money. It is suggested that he would not have started the adventure if the icon would have fetched only ten to twenty pounds instead of twenty thousand (107). The difference in the economic structure and ideology of the West and USSR and the identity created by it is stressed in Zaborski`s comment on Romanov`s plan to make the Swiss banks cooperate with them (62). But the continual representation of the lack of infrastructure and amenities in the Soviet Union and the Soviet characters` envy at and desire of those (31, 75, 88, 109, 112, 113, 404) suggest in the novel a natural superiority of Capitalist economy and its social structures. This is stressed again when the sheer opulence of Poskonov`s office reminds Romanov that money still remained the most important commodity in the world ­ even in the Communist world (64). The possibility of a morality and ethics emanating from capitalist ideology is suggested in Poskonov`s plan to make the Swiss banks cooperate with the Soviet enquiry (68-69). It is suggested that a tainted image that would affect business would often prompt the Swiss banks to act with integrity. Petrova accuses the Swiss banks of doing shady trade in art works looted and deposited there by the Nazis during Second World War (51). The veracity of this accusation could not be affirmed, but the novel dismisses it as a myth and supports the Swiss banks regarding the matter. ...that is another of the great myths perpetrated by the poor. In fact, when the banks have been unable to discover the rightful owner of any treasure left with them they have handed it over to the Swiss Red Cross for auction (52). Since the veracity of this is also impossible to confirm, the dismissal of it as a myth perpetrated by the poor sounds like capitalist propaganda. Using the villain of the novel to make the declaration that boosts the image of Swiss banks is tactful as he has nothing to gain from a lie about the Swiss at that point in the novel. 124
ACF narrates a successful capitalist venture as it follows the rise of Charlie Trumper from a barrow boy to the chairman of a successful company. Charlie who could sell blocks of ice to Eskimos (204) is a reflection of a money-minded society. Charlie learns his business tricks and practices from Granpa Charlie (15-16). It is shown that the prudent use of money to make more money and the pride in owning` had been inculcated in Charlie from a young age as Granpa Charlie teaches him not to invest in anything new during a war and how to treat his assets (18). When Charlie wanted to have his own` barrow for his fifteenth birthday, despite Granpa Charlie`s barrow being good enough for Charlie to take over (18), it is only an early indicator of Charlie`s eagerness to own` more. His ambition to own the biggest barrow in the world (23) is reflected in his amassing of wealth later. A fifteen year old Charlie pays two quid and six pence for his new barrow and promises to pay back the rest before Christmas and in the deal learns about reputation, tradition and investment (23). The whole novel is a repetition of this process; Charlie`s buying shop after shop in Chelsea Terrace on bank loans and paying it back in time (176-80). The idea conveyed by Charlie is clear: more shops more profit. The novel is not just about investments and profits; it also portrays how the rich live, their tastes, mannerisms and problems. Business ideas of advertisement, reputation, deadlines, etc. and its significance are repeatedly portrayed through incidents and dialogues (14, 113, 279, 358, 362, 627). Daphne`s support of Charlie and Becky in their first shop, though because of her friendship with Becky, is portrayed as an investment as she insists on a four percent interest on her capital and ten percent of profits from the fourth year onwards if the capital had not been repaid by then (110). The representation of personal relations in terms of investments and profits could be interpreted as a mode of capitalistic 125
narrative. This narrative is repeated when the activist against Trumper Towers, Mr Simpson, withdraws his objection against the Towers when the source of funding dries up; it is narrated: Every man has his price... (491). Charlie`s problem with going public and expanding his capital for more profit is his dislike for other people telling him how to run his business; which is recurrent in the narration of the novel (529-30). This lack of concern about others` opinions could be construed as another characteristic of capitalism and Charlie that makes both successful. Whenever Charlie overcomes this attitude about other people meddling in his business, it is only because of the profits it might bring. The thirty six shops in Chelsea terrace, even before owning them, are thirty six different ways of making money for Charlie (144) and that image of it being sources of money interests him deeply. His plan to buy an auctioneers house to put Becky`s art degree to some use (192) is another reflection of this tendency. Mr Sneddles, an old man who is not interested in selling his bookshop as it is the only reason for him to carry on after his wife`s death, is treated like an obstacle by Charlie. Charlie wants to buy the shop and let Sneddles run it if that were Sneddles` only problem for selling. He calculates that that way Sneddles could earn some money, Charlie could charge a rent and most importantly, it would automatically fall into (his) hands the moment he dies (192) and the perception of people in terms of profit is repeated here. The common principle of Charlie`s acquisitions is explained to Col. Danvers Hamilton when faced with the problem of Syd Wrexall, the chairman of the Shops Committee that was formed to resist Charlie`s monopoly in Chelsea Terrace: ...No one can expect to go through life without facing a moment of crisis. The secret will be spotting Wrexall`s when it comes and then moving in quickly (258). The predatory nature of capitalism is visible in this narrative although it might appear 126
heroic to many; and that nature is repeatedly visible in his acquisitions during Second World War and Union Strike (407, 357). What appeals as heroic in Charlie is his ability to foresee crises and overcoming it. Despite these concerns, Archer portrays an ideal form of capitalistic establishment in the words of Cathy: For the first time in her life Cathy felt she was part of a family, because Rebecca Trumper was invariably relaxed and friendly with her staff, treating them as equals. Her salary was far more generous than the bare minimum she had received from her previous employer, and the room they gave her above the butcher`s shop at Number 135 was palatial in comparison with her hideaway at the back of the hotel. (589) The narrative illustrates Trumper`s as ideal in comparison with Cathy`s previous employers, but by doing that it accepts the exploitation in capitalist economy and society. Narratives on capitalism or capitalistic societies are very few in FAE as compared to the other novels under study. Still there is a recurrent display of brand names, images of wealth and the power it brings, and the motif of rewards. The only capitalist protagonist in FAE is Charles Seymour; Simon Kerslake also makes a onetime investment in Ronnie Nethercote`s company. Charles Seymour`s ability to select winners is illustrated in his backing of Mexico over Poland in the issue of a loan: The great difference between the two countries can be gauged by their attitudes to repayment. Mexico might not want to repay, but Poland won`t be able to, so why not limit our risks and back Mexico? If it comes to litigation 127
I`d prefer to be against someone who won`t pay rather than someone who can`t (34). A judgement is passed on Poland and Mexico characteristically based on their financial abilities. A capitalist worldview in which the poor get marginalized and poorer is evident here. Even when a voice is allowed against any capitalistic structure, it is modelled such that it would be easy for a reader to dismiss it. Tom Carson`s accusation of the ministers in the House as puppets of the capitalist system (29) sounds thought provoking, but the portrayal of his character as a conspiracy theorist and shame for the house does not help any of his similar arguments. The narrative that capitalistic societies create more opportunities that help overcome class struggles is underlined in the character of Ronnie Nethercote who impresses Simon by the not inconsiderable empire he`s built over... ten years even after being from East End (73). Ronnie is portrayed as a loyal and trustworthy example of a capitalist who pays back Simon generously for the near bankruptcy Simon had to face for investing in his company (248, 250, 291). This example advocates a positive side of capitalism and negates Elizabeth`s misgivings about having to sell one`s soul for money (73). Though Elizabeth`s thoughts could not be dismissed, the narration of the novel does not give scope for any such misgivings to thrive. The continual narrative of hardwork and reward in the novel is also capitalistic in nature and promotes the idea that competition brings out the best. In K&A examples of capitalist enterprises and structures is evident as the novel, in a way, implies that capitalist system alone could give opportunities for a penniless immigrant like Abel to be rich and powerful. The idea of being rich and powerful as central to one`s success in life is also quite capitalistic in nature. Abel`s 128
proclamation about his past and present during Second World War is as telling about American economic system as it is about national pride. I was born in Poland. I saw my home taken by the Germans, my sister raped by the Russians. I escaped from a Russian labour camp, and was lucky enough to reach the safety of these shores. ... This is the only country on earth where you can arrive with nothing and something of yourself through hardwork, regardless of your background.` (452) The differentiation made here is clear; this is the only country... While not stating it overtly, the differentiation does suggest that the social security and equality provided by capitalism in America is more credible than the countries mentioned, all of which had or still has socialistic economic, political and social structures one time or the other; the safety of these shores... The suggestion that hardwork would be rewarded by wealth and social security is what makes America a promised land for immigrants like Abel. A similar narrative is evident in the debate on the motion Socialism or Capitalism for America`s Future` in Harvard where William Kane and Matthew Lester speaks for capitalism and Leland Crosby and Thaddeus Cohen speak for socialism (257-60). More than any argument made on the theme in that instance, the narration of the debate is noteworthy. Leland Crosby rants against capitalism with overstressed, near hysterical points, while Matthew speaks well to the point and charms his listeners by appearing to be the incarnation of liberal tolerance. The argument or discussions on the theme of the debate is absent while the manners of the two opening speakers get stressed. Thaddeus Cohen appears a better personality as he conveyed a moral earnestness that made a failure to support those less fortunate 129
than oneself seem to be irrational. The key word is seem, which suggests to the readers that it might not be irrational. Cohen concludes his speech admitting the excesses of the Left and affirming that there was no alternative to socialism if the lot of mankind was ever to be improved. Again, the arguments made are omitted and only the conclusions are narrated. For William Kane it seems a logical attack on Cohen`s presentation is impossible. He concentrated first on refuting some of Crosby`s outrageous claims, then attempted to counter Cohen`s arguments with a declaration of his faith in the American system to produce the best results through competition, both intellectual and economic (258). This declaration of faith is attempted to be vindicated throughout the novel, through Abel and Kane, as they compete and work harder to be the best in their business. When Crosby in his counter-speech attacks Kane personally and accuses his bank of exploiting mine workers, supporting dictatorships in Latin America and bribing the Congress to crush the small farmer, the narration suggests an injustice done to Kane rather than taking it as an accusation against capitalist structures and its operations. This is stressed when Cohen apologises for Crosby`s rants and exhortation to exterminate all capitalists. If the debate proves anything, it would be a bias in its narration towards capitalism. The tricky way in which the force of argument is transferred on to the manner of the speakers, suggesting the dictatorial tendencies of socialist political structures and the hope and good faith in humanity and hardwork of capitalism, proves that bias. A narrative equating socialism with violence becomes more evident when Cohen apologises for it. Later on in the novel Cohen transforms into a capitalist and admits as much: ... I`m afraid I`m now an unashamed capitalist as well (480); suggesting to the readers that moral earnestness in socialistic ideas would lead one naturally to capitalism. This mirrors the differentiating narrative in 130
Abel`s declaration of the safety of these shores. There are innumerable other instances in K&A where capitalistic system and its characteristics are illustrated. But the main illustration remains the story of Abel`s growth from a waiter in a hotel to the owner of an international hotel empire. The novels under study celebrate power and financial success, especially in the case of Charlie Trumper, Abel Rosnovski and William Kane, in a way suggesting to the readers that capitalism and related social and political structures are naturally better and harbingers of development, success and happiness. It also justifies a morality that stems from capitalism that condones the exploitation of the weak, as seen in ACF, and sometimes glorifies the ability to do that. Patriarchy Patriarchy could be any social or cultural system in which the hierarchy of authority is controlled and dominated by males (Knauss xii). Amanda Lotz, while analysing the representation of masculinities in popular TV series, points out the possible danger of failing to notice the operation of ideologies in a text if the focus is solely upon identifying features of a definite hegemonic masculinity or patriarchy in particular texts (39). She advocates for the foregrounding of hegemonic narratives and the operation of masculinities that are presented as natural, and that receive support within that narrative as acceptable or preferred; hegemonic masculinities are often idealized in narratives or connected with characters that are heroic or positioned for viewer identification (40). As seen in the previous chapter, the brand of success stories under study espouses generic masculine hero figures. So the reading in this section attempts to identify instances of patriarchy and related structures and resistances against it in the novels to find and read any narratives regarding it 131
originating from the novels. This could help outline the social character of the perceived societies regarding patriarchy. Though the time periods represented in the novels could influence the social representations, the narration of it could reveal contemporary social trends interacting with the old in the form of resistances and denials. Thus the reading attempts to identify and record the gender equations in the representations and the deployment of any discourses based on gender. In AMoH, Adam Scott`s father Gerald Scott does not leave his savings equally among his son and daughter, though he could easily have done so. Adam was unable to prevent a small gin spreading across his face. Even in the minutiae of his final act, father had remained a chauvinist (9). The narration suggests a life-long tendency of male chauvinism in Gerald Scott, and since his morality and life is repeatedly acknowledged by others to be one of high standards (10, 13, 59) it could be concluded that male chauvinism is not looked down upon or considered politically incorrect in the latter half of twentieth century in the perceived societies in AMoH. Adam Scott, as a hero, tries to rectify Gerald Scott`s last act of chauvinism by sharing his inheritance with his sister so that both of them would get equal parts (14). In the narration it is obvious that he is conscious of the act as his contribution to women`s rights, but his sister responds to it by hurling a dishcloth at him (14). This could be because of the meagre amount in the inheritance or of her interpretation of Scott`s act as disrespectful of the father; whichever way it suggests her habituation to patriarchy since it is Scott, and not her, who takes the initiative. It also suggests further chauvinism in it that the man has to take the initiative for equality rather than the woman in a habituated environment. 132
Sir Morris` D4 meeting in the Foreign Office witnesses another act of male chauvinism as he is reported as having rarely acknowledged the existence of his secretary Tessa (196), though she had served him so loyally for fourteen years (193). The normality of chauvinism seen above is repeated here as a respectable knighted gentleman considers it hard to even acknowledge the existence of his secretary in his salutation to a meeting; and patriarchy at home and work environments are represented. Tessa`s act of not caring about these and doing her job faithfully for fourteen years reflects either her habituation to the social attitude or her independence from the need of any male acknowledgement. Romanov`s attitude towards Petrova and her murder is another narration that suggests male chauvinism (109, 122). But his image as the villain in the narration makes it look abnormal while it normalises such instances in the protagonists. The continual representation of women waiting to be ravished by male characters or being in desperate need of male company (40, 53, 231, 257, 275, 347, 358) suggests a social education necessitating the primacy of men and sex in life. The normality of objectification of women could be seen in Scott using the prostitute Jeanne as a distraction for his operation in Louvre Museum (353). Robin Beresford is different from other female characters in AMoH as she is depicted as not being over-awed by Scott`s adventures or scared to find an accused murderer sleeping in her room (207, 209, 220). She is also the one who shows any courage to confront Romanov when he brow-beats everyone in the touring coach as part of his enquiry about Scott (243). Though she threatens Romanov with violence from forty men on the coach to push Romanov out, it is narrated that she knew not one of the forty men on that coach would have lifted a finger against Romanov (244). Her disrespect for Romanov`s masculinity and understanding of the masculine 133
facade of the forty men on the coach narrates an understanding of male psyche and taking advantage of it. Her lack of appreciation for the applause she receives for her brave act suggests either independence or frustration at not being supported by the men around her (244). Her difference creates an impression on Romanov as he would never forget the girl with the man`s name (247). Her male name, as she explains, is a result of her father`s desire for a boy (208) and her independence might be a result of the frustration from that knowledge. But the male name itself suggests patriarchy and her independence suggests resistance towards it. She becomes the woman in Scott`s life later on and this could be interpreted as a narrative prioritising resistance against patriarchy. Narratives on patriarchy or resistances to it could be read in the narration of the relationships between protagonists and their wives and girlfriends in FAE. Joyce, Kate, Elizabeth, Fiona, and Amanda are all sources of narratives on patriarchy and resistance. There is a narrative on the image of optimal women for men of those times in the narration of camaraderie between Louise and Andrew. Although Louise was only five foot three she was so slim that she appeared far taller, and her short black hair, blue eyes and laughing smile had many tall men bending down to take a closer look (59). Louise`s Intellectual Skills and adaptability are also mentioned (59) in this narrative that normalises female physique as an object of desire and signifies a certain standard of beauty. Her work for her husband in the constituency (64) is repeated in Joyce, Elizabeth and Fiona (24, 35, 36, 39, 60). There are various other instances portraying the support of the wives in the husbands` career. Though this narrative could be interpreted as the significance of women in the success of men, the sacrifices they have to make for it and the spotlight on their husbands represent their role as merely secondary. 134
Though Elizabeth had to sacrifice her job to be a politician`s wife, she does not want the influence of her husband`s name to secure another less taxing job; which portrays her identity as an independent individual who made a personal choice to support her husband rather than being a mere supportive wife. This idea of personal choice is seen in Joyce too as she ignores Raymond`s sexual liaisons with Kate out of her love for him (289). Joyce`s life is dedicated to the career of her husband and it is an injustice that Raymond goes back to her only after Kate leaves (311-12). When he realises that Joyce had already known his indiscretions and offers to move out of his life so that he can get married to Kate, he decides to change his lifestyle and be a dedicated husband (360-61). Though it sounds heroic and represents a sort of martyrdom, the narrative posits Joyce as dependent on Raymond`s decisions to take her or leave her. Fiona is in sharp contrast with Joyce as she seeks her life`s happiness in Alexander Dalglish when Charles` career takes him away from her (266). Though she professes her love for him and asks him to forgive her sexual promiscuity, she leaves him when she understands that her husband would not be moved (275-76). There is an obvious independence in Fiona and the narration positing her and Charles as villainous in contrast with the heroic image of Joyce and Raymond undermines her independence. Similarly, Amanda`s image of a reckless spendthrift living in sexual debauchery, conveyed through the gossips of other characters, vilify her. Her point of view about the matter is nearly absent and her role in the novel as a sort of divine retribution against Charles undermines her individuality in the narration. Elizabeth`s comment that some women lose their men to the strangest of mistresses is an affectionate pat on Simon`s dedication to his career (340), but it still represents a loss and the dependency signified by that loss. The narration of the novel attempts to 135
represent an image of man and woman working together to raise a family and build a successful career. Despite the fact that it is the men`s career that is getting built and the individual choices made by the women, the narration gives away a patriarchal mentality which depicts female as optimally positioned behind their men and vilify female independence and transforms it into an object of male gaze: He also knew that liberated women didn`t wear bras (339). The narration of ACF could be read closely to find instances of patriarchal narratives. Charlie`s acquisition of Number 1 Chelsea Terrace, an auctioneer`s shop, is mentioned with the usage Trumper`s, nee Fothergill`s suggesting the change of ownership and name. Though the usage could merely mean a change of name, the metaphor of marriage involved in it may be hard to overlook. The circumstances involved in this particular marriage offer glimpses of patriarchy as Fothergill was forced to give up the shop for a lesser profit than he had expected it to fetch. There is love for the shop from Charlie`s side, but it is an acquisition for pride and profit. The idea of possession and treatment as an object, of women/wives is just a corollary of the metaphor used here. There is another occasion where Charlie`s interest in paintings is compared to a love affair that was to prove as costly as any woman (284). The use of costly suggests treatment of women as objects again and points to an inherent patriarchy in the narration or narrative style and, may be, the author if he was not doing it conscious of a target audience that is perceived as patriarchal. The mention of Jessica Allen as the only thing that Charlie took from the War Office when he left after Second World War is another instance that could be added to the evidence of male hegemony in narrative style (411). 136
In ACF the society is represented as predominantly patriarchal during the early half of twentieth century with changes happening as time progresses. Becky finds it impossible to obtain a bank loan to invest in a shop for Charlie and she is incensed when her identity as an independent woman is questioned by a bank manager with the suggestion that he would be only too delighted to do business with her husband if she ever got married (167). Come up against the world of men for the first time, have we? asked Daphne (167). Daphne`s comment on Becky`s anger suggests the predominance and normalcy of patriarchy in the perceived society of the novel. This is reaffirmed when Daphne`s father comments about Becky`s studies that he did not know that girls could get degrees (202). His blaming it on suffragettes represents the dissatisfaction of a patriarchal society with the reforms happening at that time in the field of gender equality. But the effect of such reforms could be seen in the independence of Becky and Daphne. The midwife of Becky`s delivery is another representation of female awareness of their position and mentality towards patriarchy. A boy, I`m afraid, said the midwife. So the world is unlikely to be advanced by one jot or tittle. You`ll have to produce a daughter next time, she said smiling broadly (196). Her opinion of Charlie is also in the same vein: Useless, I know. Like all men (196). The narrative of ACF is laudatory of female awareness of their position and their independence, while accepting the influence of patriarchy on them. Charlie posing as patriarchal in dealing with Fothergill, mentioning wives as trouble and strife (361) to make a chauvinistic Fothergill identify with him and to make it seem as if they were on the same boat, represents the peer pressure involved in the persistence of a patriarchal tradition. The role of administration and social establishments in its propagation and sustenance is represented in the refusal of Cambridge University to acknowledge Mrs Bradford`s degree and denial of 137
Wrangler`s Prize to her on account of her sex, or the lack of acknowledgement of her war efforts from the government while her husband gets knighted (419, 422). In K&A there are lesser instances of patriarchal narratives as compared to the other novels in study; but it is not absent. Outside the delivery room of his wife, Richard Kane`s thoughts are about the son to be born; never occurred to him, even for a moment, that the child might be a girl ... how important it was that his firstborn be a boy, a boy who would one day take his place as president and chairman of the bank (8). The idea that only a man can run a bank and be a worthy heir comes naturally for Richard Kane. His insistence on having a son influences his wife Anne also, as she is relieved when she finds out after delivery that she had a son and not a daughter (16). Richard`s treatment of Anne and her suppressing her wishes for the fear of disapproval from Richard are indicators of the patriarchy inherent in the domestic life of the times represented (19, 33). Anne`s further life after the death of her husband, son`s estrangement caused by his disapproval of her love and lover using her for her money, are all depictions of her suffering in a patriarchal society which she escapes only by death (94,132,188, 192). The role of Zaphia as Abel`s wife is depicted as below his expectations. He loses interest in her as she does not have the drive and ambition matching his (370). As the novel focuses more on Abel`s perspective, Zaphia`s individuality and choices get marginalised in the narration. She leaves Abel when she finds out about his disloyalty, illustrating her independence (489). Abel, while getting ready to have sex with Melanie, hopes that all he read about women being fascinated by powerful men were true (486); which suggests a deployment of social and cultural discourse on power and men and its influence on 138
women. Abel`s disdain with Melanie after he had sex with her (486-87) could imply his vengefulness towards her for snubbing his marriage proposal years before or his use of women as sexual objects; the latter could be a safe assumption since he continues to have several sexual liaisons outside marriage (489). The use of female body as advertisement to sell products could be seen in the character Maisie who is the laziest salesgirl in Bloomingdale`s. As long as it was behind a counter at which men could spend money, Maisie was an asset (543). Though her role in the novel is as a contrast for Florentyna`s skills and talents, she symbolises the exploitation of women by capitalism. A reading of the novels to find patriarchal narratives reveals that the perceived societies in the novel are predominantly patriarchal, using women as objects of desire and subjugating female choices and identity. There are instances in the narration that suggest a predisposition towards male chauvinism, in spite of the depiction of resistances towards patriarchy. The novels under study altogether as a cultural artefact repeats that predisposition as these success stories are all about men and their deeds. Another novel of Archer in which there is a strong female protagonist is The Prodigal Daughter which depicts the rise of Florentyna Kane to be the President of USA. But her actions in it are quite similar to Abel`s in K&A and other male heroes in the other novels under study; the pursuit of money and power by male heroes repeated by a protagonist with a female name. The only female character in the novels under study that has a big impact on the story or plot is Mrs Ethel Trentham in ACF; but she is the villain. Other Discourses Other narratives apparent in the narration of the novels under study include discourses on social structures like politics, democracy, religion, morality, etc. Since 139
these narratives are not as repeated and normative as the ones already dealt with, the readings of these narratives are combined together in this section. Adam Scott is mentioned as a lapsed catholic who turns to god only when he was anxious or helpless (AMoH 184). Established religion does play a role in his life, but it is secondary to the ethical standards set by his father (AMoH 10). The novel does not mention where these standards take root from, but it is made obvious in the narration that the Soviets have a different code of conduct from the Englishman Scott. Poskonov`s comment that the Swiss banker Bischoff was honourable according to western standards suggests a difference in those standards (AMoH 75). In FAE also there is no mention of religiousness or religion; there is no mention of morality either. In ACF Charlie`s thoughts drift to god twice as he thinks before a battle whose side God was on, and once after Tommy dies in a battle (65, 82). This shows the presence of religion in the social structure surrounding him as represented by Father O`Malley in his childhood, but he is shown going to a chapel or church only twice: once chasing a German soldier in First World War and once for his son Daniel`s funeral (73, 613). Similarly in K&A, William`s father`s attitude towards the idea of god is mentioned: he regarded the Almighty as little more than an external bookkeeper whose function was to record the births and deaths of the Kane family (19-20). This attitude is also inherited by William Kane. Abel`s idea about god and religion is transformed by his harsh experiences and borders on atheism (51, 165, 334, 635). He thinks about god when Zaphia takes him to church instead of a date (334). But the female characters, especially the ones depicted as weak and dependent could be interpreted as religious: Anne, Zaphia and especially Helena, the trapper`s wife who brought up Abel (19, 334, 5, 10). The narration shows that the major characters think of god only in helplessness, need or emotional duress while the weaker characters are often depicted 140
as religious. This is a narrative suggesting that religion is needed only for the weak and helpless. The presence of religion and religious structures is accepted in narration and dialogues, but the role it plays in the major characters` life is often negligible or not focussed on. The characters` morality and ethics are already discussed; but there could be a morality in operation in the narration and reading of all the novels under study which helps a reader to identify the hero and villain or the heroic and villainous. The hardwork and reward pattern in most of these novels could be extended to the idea of morality too, as the heroic or good deeds get rewarded while the villainous or bad get punished; there are of course relaxations in this rule for heroes. Though there is extensive narration of politics and democracy in the novels under study, there is not much repetition across novels. FAE being a political thriller provides most of the narratives on politics and democracy. But it could be interpreted that democratic and political structures in the background are a given in the heroes` societies across novels. Generalisations regarding the nature of politicians to score a point or to be pleasing to people for their own advantage is mentioned in AMoH (292). But a differentiation is made between Western politicians and Russian ones by the authorial voice, with the Russians being grim and resolute in public and private and the Western politicians two-faced (AMoH 363). In ACF there is not much narration on political systems or democracy other than Charlie`s continuous support of Churchill and the criticism of Chamberlain (380). There is also a narrative on the oratory of politicians, regarding victory and First World War as the war to end all wars, being wrong (84, 87). The same is said in an American context about Roosevelt, comparing him with Harold Wilson in K&A (437). There are also comments on Truman (528), Eisenhower, Nixon (537) and various other Presidents of the United States of America and a narrative on the exploitation of capitalists by politicians using 141
temptations and threats in K&A (583). But these comments on individuals might not be suitable to be interpreted as a narrative on political or democratic systems. Politics and democracy, like religion, is a backdrop to the other issues discussed in the novels under study; except in FAE. In FAE, the general image portrayed of politicians is one of earnestness and integrity. Though Charles Seymour`s some tactics are positioned as questionable and unethical, he is also hardworking and capable when it comes to his duties as a politician. There are characters like Jock McPherson, Tom Carson or Alec Pimkin whose characters are painted grey, but generally the depiction of politics and politicians in the novel suggest sincerity and hardwork. There are deployments of popular stereotypes about the duplicity and self-interest of politicians, but in a joking and affectionate way, when Louise compares her baby son to politicians: He never stops shouting at everyone, he`s totally preoccupied with himself and he falls asleep as soon as someone else offers an opinion (133); or when Andrew teaching his son how to feint a football pass that sends the opponents one way while he can go another elicits a comment just like politics from Louise (202). The attitude of politicians looking at everyone as a possible vote or any event as canvassing is also narrated in the Raymond`s visit to a football stadium to kill thirty thousand birds with one stone, or in the mention of ministers publicising their visits to war ships (176, 385). Narratives on personal priorities proving fatal for political careers and the real world being different from the House of Commons are also seen in FAE (64, 203). The lack of time for domestic life of all the protagonists is symbolised in Elizabeth`s comment that some women lose their husbands to strangest of mistresses (389). The comment hints at the protagonists` dedication to their duties as representatives of the people. Any suggestion of financial motive to be in politics is denied through the character 142
and thoughts of Simon Kerslake (63). There are also narrations differentiating British politicians from their American counterparts suggesting a lack of ethics in the Americans (116, 141). There is also a narrative praising British democracy comparing it with the administration of Gaddafi in Libya (373-74). In short, the narrative on politics and democracy in FAE reassures the readers about the integrity and competence of the perceived British politician, politics and democracy. This could be read differently considering Archer`s political career, the identity of the novel as popular fiction and the target audience. Stories are central to the ways in which people make sense of their experience and interpret the social world. In everyday life and popular culture, we are continually engaged in narratives of one kind or another. They fill our days and form our lives. They link us together socially and allow us to bring past and present into relative coherence. (Pickering 6) As mentioned earlier, a perception of the discourses and narratives originating from the perceived social characters, institutions and constructs in these stories` under study could help one comprehend the role of such discourses in forming, altering and propagating images of and responses to nations, races, societies, social structures and individuals. The significant interpretations from the collation and of material and analysis of narratives in the novels include the presence in the novels of: The conceptualisation of tradition as a structure of collective wisdom that needs to be preserved and the discriminating idea of class-bound and exosomatic transference of values, virtues and vices through generations The suggestion of a social need to mimic or perform nationalisms and patriotism that could sometimes be hegemonic 143
An advocacy of fame and contribution to national history as a yardstick of success and the perpetuation of a one-dimensional history A reduction of the complex texts of memories and war into an emotional response to nationalism/patriotism The suggestion that capitalism and related social and political structures are naturally better and harbingers of development, success and happiness The justification of a morality that stems from capitalism that condones the exploitation of the weak and glorifies the ability to do that A hegemonic patriarchy in language and narration despite posing to advocate gender equality The conceptualisation of religion as the domain of the weak and helpless and the reaffirmation of a pattern of reward and punishment, and A reassurance of the integrity and competence of British politics and democracy and the consequent othering. Such narratives lie beneath the action of the plot, subsumed in the pace of the story. Its repetition often goes unnoticed and its impacts often unregistered. 144
Chapter V Reading Cultural Implications in Archer According to Clifford Geertz, the capacity for the symbolic and the reliance on the symbolic are defining aspects of human species. He emphasises the significance of the symbolic and symbolic systems in the expression of individual and social systems of a culture (Geertz 1980, 295); thus a corpus of symbolic systems or texts` are identified as part of the cultural markers in the novels. Paul Willis, in Symbolic Creativity, maintains that symbolic texts, or symbolic commodities as such, are not end products or destination of cultural affairs; but are stages in and catalysts of cultural affairs (242). Moreover, ...readers do their own symbolic work on a text and create their own relationships...There is a kind of cultural production all within consumption (Willis 243). A reading of cultural markers and interpretations then offer an example of this symbolic work and the processing of cultural material. Sprinkled over the celebrations of success in the novels are the representations of some cultural texts that characterise certain ways of imagining cultures. The representation of such cultural markers could be problematised with the debate of delegation, depiction, presence and absence`, as mentioned in the previous chapter. Narrations of and discourses on cultural ideas, forms and entities like language and identity, literature, arts, music, paintings, movies, theatres, brands, newspapers, magazines, etc. are read in this chapter to chart the cultural universe represented in the novels. These interpretations are often a complex production emerging from the interaction of the reader`s cultural positioning with the cultural representation in the texts. Since this chapter attempts to explore the cultural aspects in the texts, some of the discourses identified and interpretations formed in the previous chapters are also 145
used to locate further cultural implications. The readings of the previous chapters charted the normalisation and othering in the representation of heroes and societies and interpreted various discourses originating from such representations. The perception of individual and social aspects discussed earlier contributes to a reader`s cultural repertoire, interacting with and altering cultural horizons along with the cognition of similarities and differences with the self; in somewhat similar lines to the description of reading processes by Iser and Husserl (Holub 89-90). The impact of this cognition process as well as the similarities and differences could vary individually, while still contributing to the imagination and performance of cultures. A narrative on languages and accents, and identities arising from it, is apparent in the novels under study. In the search for security, people who speak the same languages are irresistibly drawn together (Snyder 21). This search for security in the identity created by languages is evident in several nationalisms and the representations of it in the novels under study. But that identity creates differences also and the novels represent that tendency too, especially in the representation of accents within English speaking communities and nations. Adam Scott, while being hunted by the KGB, waits at an abandoned hangar near Dijon for a pick up by English forces, in AMoH. In Scott`s experience, it is the marauding Russians who turn up first on such picking ups; but this time he hears a Scottish brogue which makes him run out of his hideout into a waiting plane, temporarily escaping the Russian ambush (278). The Scottish accent is depicted as creating an identification of solidarity and homeliness in him that evokes trust. This could be seen in his identification of Yorkshire accent of the driver of the car who gives him a lift to Dijon (252). Similarly, on another instance, he identifies the two 146
men chasing him as American with their usage limey bastard (379). On another instance, an Englishman tries to converse in French with him in stressed English, mistaking his identity for French in a Paris car-park; and Scott plays along to steal his car (311-12). Conversely, a differentiation is evoked by the half French-half English sentences of the French prostitute who picks him up outside Soviet Embassy in Paris (350-51), and her sentences become fully English and Scott`s with attempts of French as they build trust and work as a team (357-58).The depiction of the progress of a companionship and identification as a team-mate using languages is significant as companionship is shown transcending languages and cultures. In ACF, Charlie`s East End identity is emphasised with his cockney accent represented by words like `cept, `rithmetic, `un, etc. (13) and he is seen speaking in a similar fashion till his cultural education involving accent and vocabulary (among other things) from Daphne is complete (144, 145, 193, 285, 286). According to Daphne, Charlie`s accent encumbers his social advancement (168); which illustrates the role of language in the identification and propagation of class differences. Even after the cultural education from Daphne he goes back to his East End accent whenever he is serving a customer from East End or when he wants to make others identify with him and gang up with him as a man from East End or as an underdog, thus distancing himself from the people socially perceived as elite, for his advantage (147, 268, 361, 398, 652, 663). His use of East End accent to differentiate himself from the elite involves the idea that they are snobbish and idle class and involves more social discourse to it than mere differentiation (125). His explanation about his accent to the lawyer in Australia is evidence of a sense of equality he brings in a personal way with the use of his accent: I only save that for special people Mr. Roberts. The Queen, Winston Churchill and when I`m serving a customer on the 147
barrow. Today I felt it necessary to add Melbourne`s chief of Police to that list (655). In the same novel, Guy Trentham is seen affirming his elite identity by his speech in King`s English (74). Mr Salmon`s Jewish identity is stressed in Becky`s memories of him strewn with Hebrew words and usages like mensch, saychel, levoyah, etc. (99-101). Usages like tea leaf, holy friar and grasshopper for thief` liar` and cop` respectively by Charlie, Kitty and Mike Cooper show glimpses of cultural markers of East End in language use (255, 256,384, 653). Australian identity is differentiated and stressed with usages like fair dinkum, bushwacker and pom which amuse Daniel, while the English usage full of beans confuses an Australian Cathy (440, 592). Though the social hierarchy involved in various accents is stressed, English is shown as a uniting factor as soldiers from various parts of England babbling in different accents unite to fight for England (41). Accents representing social distinctions is present in FAE also as salespersons` English is characterised with the use of modom for madam` (25, 278). Raymond`s use of his Yorkshire accent, which he does not employ in the House of Commons, in a football stadium for the purpose of making the people identify with him is quite similar to Charlie Trumper`s use of accents in ACF (176). The differentiation and unity brought about by accents is stressed in the speech of the Scottish MPs to Andrew: Every Scottish tone from a Highland lilt to a Glasgow growl was represented in the voices (202). Elitism is also suggested in the Oxford English used by naval officers (386). Similar narratives could be observed in K&A also. A young William Kane`s American identity is stressed by the usage swell and he is amused and confused by 148
British English and its accent while in England: Why don`t you talk like us?` he demanded, and was surprised to be informed by his mother that the question should more properly be put the other way around, as they` had come first (39-40). The narration represents the identification of us` and differentiation of them` for William and initiates the education of cultural and political history and differences. The cultural significance of accents is made apparent. Abel`s realization of the significance of the ability to speak English and his attempts to learn the language and practice it without Polish accent (233-34) is a contrast with his fumbling English in Turkey (167-72) and represents the role of English in the social advancement of immigrants. The Baron saying grace in Latin points to the privileged status accorded to that language and at the same time differentiating the Baron from the ordinary folk around (47). When Zaphia`s Polish accent warms Abel (331), it is the emotional cognition of a collective identity signified by an accent. The use of language by Archer to portray personal traits could be seen in Anne hating the private detective Ricardo repeating the usage of course over and over again and finally saying of course herself; it suggests her gullibility or the ability to accept irritating people in her stride ­ both pointing to her marrying a poseur like Henry Osborne (139-40). The narration of the novels reveals the significance of languages and accents in identity formation and othering, class segregation, personal characterization and the exploitations of such. It also shows awareness of the cultural power of languages by the representation of it as a unifying factor across certain diversities and as potent tool in the construction of cultural and political histories. Being true to the brand image of the novels, language is also represented as being used as a tool of social and financial advancement and success. There is also a hegemonic discourse of English being the language of success in the West or the societies represented. 149
Similar to the implications of language is the references to literature, movies, music, theatre, paintings and similar art forms in the novels under study. These art forms as cultural artefacts that engage the perceived societies could represent a canon and the narratives that stem from that canon formation could also be studied along with the narratives in the novels on such texts. Professor Brunweld in AMoH, during his internment in the Pentagon after validating the authenticity of an old treaty document, considers it a blessing to be away from his demanding students and chattering wife and have enough time to settle down and read the collected works of Proust (236). The prerequisites of this reading process are similar to what Ken Gelder describes as the preconception of serious or literary reading as opposed to reading of popular fiction (37-38). Professor Brunweld, an academician, being represented as a reader of Proust could be interpreted as delineating certain views about readership ­ of Proust and popular fiction. When Scott is under torture from the Russian professor he recites the names of the thirty-seven plays of Shakespeare, which were drummed into him when he was a reluctant student, to take his mind away from the torture (330). His assertion that The Noble Kinsmen is a play that the traitor Colonel Pollard might not have heard of in Shakespearean canon is an assertion that Scott is a real and patriotic Englishman unlike the traitor (341). These two instances could be seen as the narration of Shakespeare`s primacy in the established literary academics, England`s indebtedness to Shakespeare`s legacy and possibly the perception that knowledge of Shakespeare is a touchstone of being a true Englishman. There are two other allusions to literary classics, HG Wells` Time Machine and GB Shaw`s Pygmalion, when Jeanne`s travel through three centuries of paintings in the Louvre museum is joked about as time travel (355) and when the pilot, who rescues 150
Scott from Dijon and gets killed later by Romanov, is mentioned as taken away from watching the movie My Fair Lady with his wife that night (280). Hollywood is mentioned in relation to Romanov`s looks suggesting a certain standardisation of handsomeness or beauty (36); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra is mentioned as playing Mozart, Brahms and Schubert representing highbrow musical tastes (205); the identity of Royal Philharmonic Orchestra of Great Britain as ambassadors of art across nations is portrayed (243-44); Londoners` affection and London`s fame for theatre is emphasized (147); Beatles` song Yesterday` being hummed by Scott is mentioned suggesting its popularity and representing aptly his condition in the context of the novel (381); Elvis Presley, Peter Sellers and Mia Farrow`s celebrity status (208, 312, 44) and the movie Exodus being screened in Paris are mentioned (195). The mentions of paintings and their worth are aplenty in AMoH. There are various passages mentioning the Nazi looting and burning of paintings during Second World War (49-50). A pastor at a Lutheran church explains to Scott about the valuing of paintings: with all art, the value of any object varies from one extreme to the other without any satisfactory explanations to us mere mortals (102). Adam wondering what sort of people could afford to spend such sums on works of art regarding a painting by an artist not known to him named Jackson Pollock being sold for eleven thousand pounds reflects a common man`s sentiments regarding the functioning of sale of paintings (105). The cultural appreciation of a painting and subsequent monetary value attached to is suggested as unfathomable and the narrative points to complex cultural dynamics at work that makes a work of art popular and precious. As the novel revolves around the painting St. George and Dragon` by 151
Rublev, there are several mentions of it. Goya (10), El Greco, Titian, Rubens (42), Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Picasso (49), Renoir (50), Degas, Jackson Pollock (105) Rembrandt, Constable (231), Bacon, Hockney, Courbet, Fragonard, Watteau, Murillo, Van Dyck, Poussin, Raphael, Caravaggio, Michelangelo (315) and Ward (428) are the painters mentioned in the novel. The paintings mentioned are Trois Baigneuses` by Picasso (105), The Cornfields` by VanGogh (151) andThe Last Supper` by Giovanni (354); there is also a mention of a statue of Winged Victory of Samothrace (354). These mentions represent a rich artistic heritage of Europe and it immersed in fast paced action of the novel becomes cultural pointers that could influence a reader`s perception of art and culture of the societies represented in the novels. In ACF also Archer follows the rich representation of literature and other cultural forms as seen in AMoH. Mr Sneddles engrossed in William Blake and his favourite war poets in his old bookshop that does not have any customers is a repetition of the reading process mentioned with regard to Profesor Brunweld in AMoH (ACF 114, 323, 476). A performance of the fashionable playwright George Bernard Shaw`s Pygmalion is mentioned capturing the cultural essence of the time and suggesting the popularity of the author and the play (123). It is mentioned again when Mrs Trentham refers to it snobbishly as a frightful play by that social playwright who was influencing them all and breeding bad manners (210). Daphne`s allusion to Charlie as her Charlie Doolittle points to the play again (142). The cultural significance of Shaw in the first half of twentieth century is asserted and repeated in and over the texts. Sir Raymond Hardcatle`s admiration of a modern author Henry James along with Dickens and Blake is again a representation of the literary trends of the times (467). Similarly Shakespeare or allusion to Shakespeare is a constant in the novels under study and represents Shakespeare`s legacy to English culture as 152
mentioned before; in ACF King John is mentioned in reference to Daniel`s understanding of the word bastard` (417), the allusion to which would be easy to understand only for readers familiar with the work. Charlie quoting Congreve represents his progress in education as well as a pointer towards the popular misquoting of the lines: ...Heav`n has no rage, like love to hatred turn`d, Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn`d` (307). Daphne`s comparison of Charlie to Trollope might be a pointer to his daily routine of hardwork, but the popular hero being compared to a popular author suggests further cultural connotations as it could be interpreted as a lack of proper acknowledgement for both in literary circles (359). The Jewish immigrant Ben Schubert`s escape from Germany is compared to a John Buchan novel (381). The reference to Buchan is interesting as he was famous for his political career as well as literary career as an author of adventure novels and spy thrillers, quite like Archer. The identity/image of Buchan`s novels as adventurous and thrilling is reaffirmed with the comparison. This intertextuality highlights and creates a cultural niche for popular authors like Buchan who are long forgotten by literary studies. Other authors and works mentioned are Emile Zola (485), Tennyson (627), Through the Looking-Glass (362) and performances of La Boheme (122) and Tonight at Eight Thirty by Noel Coward (440). Actors like Sir Henry Irving (179), Douglas Fairbanks (121), Charlie Chaplin (282), Cyril Ritchard, Madge Elliot (440) Clark Gable (441) and Greta Garbo (586) are also mentioned, reflecting the celebrities and popular tastes of the time. Music of Frank Sinatra (517), Bach (601), Elvis Presley (626) and a movie West Side Story (630) are mentioned. Many of the performances mentioned in ACF, like Pygmalion or Tonight at Eight Thirty are watched on dates and throughout and across novels, artistic performances ­ theatre, concert ­ and visits to museums are 153
usually connected to courtship and dating. The repetition of this across novels implies a cultural performance of the ritual of courtship involving performances of art. Soldiers singing songs together on their journeys or gatherings is also a cultural performance represented on three occasions in the novel; they sing Land of hope and Glory (39), It`s a Long Way to Tipperary (57) and the British national anthem (61). Charlie`s response to Becky`s mention of Mozart and a date involve questions like Mozart. Do I know `im? and Do you like this fellow Mozart? (120). This incident is, of course, before his cultural education from Daphne and later becoming a connoisseur on paintings. The incident implies a highbrow or elite nature of Mozart`s art and the people who know Mozart, and Mozart is alien to Charlie`s East End culture which is perceived as lowbrow. Since Becky, who is also from similar backgrounds as Charlie, is unsure of Mozart and promises to introduce him to Charlie as Guy Trentham had introduced Mozart to her (120); knowledge about Mozart`s music points to a cultural education that Charlie and some readers undergo while the incident pleases the vanity of some other readers. Knowledge of highbrow or elite art as a category of identification of elitism suggested in this instance could be extended to the mentions of most other works of art. Charlie`s cultural education from Daphne is narrated vividly pointing at various aspects of the elitist culture they covered. She taught me so much about the world of my new customers and even took me on trips to clothes shops, picture houses and to West End theatres to see plays that didn`t have any dancing girls ... I only drew the line when she tried to get me to stop my Saturday afternoons watching West Ham in favour of some rugby team called Quinns ... it was her introduction to the National Gallery and its five thousand canvases that was to start a love affair... (284) 154
Quite similar to the instance of Mozart, the narration depicts a demarcation between highbrow and lowbrow culture as some differences are highlighted. Charlie is made to observe and mimic what the perceived elite society does, wears, watches and enjoys; not just their accent and etiquette. This stresses the implications of cultural differences and its significance in overcoming social barriers. The elitism that is often sneered at by themselves is what the protagonists strive for. Charlie`s love affair with paintings and the acquisition of an auction house swell the repertoire of paintings and sculptures mentioned in the novel. His affection for the Van Gogh painting Potato Eaters` and subsequent ownership, sale and receipt as a gift familiarises the readers with the artist and the painting (364, 429, 435, 505, 721). A Bronzino painting of Virgin Mary and Child also gets mentioned several times as it is a key part of the story (87, 119-20, 215, 292, 511, 514). The painters or sculptors mentioned are Luini, Michelangelo, daVinci, Bellini, Caravaggio, Bernini (97), Raphael (125), Canaletto (227, 506), Renoir, Monet, Picasso, Constable (284), Holbein, Reynolds (293), Rembrandt (308), Wyeth, Remington (379), Courbet, Pissarro, Sisley, Sickert (596) and Bernard (597). The paintings mentioned or sometimes described in detail are Apples and Pears` by Courbet (453), St. Francis of Assisi` by Giovanni Battista Crespi, St. Mark`s Basilica` by Canaletto (512, 592) and Devil Eating Children` by Goya (601). FAE has a lesser amount of literary or other art works mentioned as compared to the other novels under study. George Orwell`s 1984 is alluded to as Simon is described as not scared of the big brother` in the year 1984 (368). The licentiousness of American films is mentioned once in connection with Charles` idea of bribing members of the House of Commons with sex (141). Since a portrait of an ancestor of 155
Charles painted by Holbein is a part of the story, the artist`s name is cited several times (280, 320, 429). Other painters who are cited in the text are Hogarth, Goya, Brueghel, Rembrandt (34), Courbet (74), Landseer, Constable, Van Dyck, Murillo (280) and Warhol (331). Warhol is mentioned as a contrast to Holbein, comparing their traditions of painting and stressing the idea of Holbein`s art as highbrow. The cultural landscape of art works mentioned in K&A is slightly different from the variety mentioned in the other novels as the social setting is the USA and not England. Scribner`s, a bookshop on Fifth Avenue, is repeatedly mentioned as the lair of books on most subjects (239, 553). A one-sentence mention of two authors in K&A is a significant narrative on the local and cult appreciation of a native author and the high esteem in which the other foreign author is held in literary circles: That was until she discovered he was the holder of an economics degree from Columbia, and had read Kafka as well as Fitzgerald (284). The role of books and paintings in making one appear sophisticated and intellectual is also seen in Melanie`s surprise at the number of books in the shelf and pictures on the wall at Abel`s apartment, who she thought of as just another first generation Polish immigrant (290). American journalist J Gunther`s Behind the Curtain and economist J K Galbraith`s The Great Crash 1929 are also mentioned in a similar way, suddenly transforming the salesgirl Jessie Kovats` (Florentyna Rosnovski actually) identity for Richard (553). Popular fiction and culture of 1940`s is reflected in the mention of Gone with the Wind as America`s new bestseller (392). Other authors cited are literary giants like Mark Twain (470) and Dr. Johnson (487). Shakespeare, the author mentioned in all novels under study except FAE, and his Twelfth Night is alluded to in a mention of Orsino and Viola (544). Performance of Richard III with Laurence Olivier in lead role in England (579) and the mention of Old Vic`, Albert Hall` and the opera` (360) could 156
reflect the rich theatre culture in London of those times as well as the legacy of Shakespeare on English speaking world, as seen already in AMoH and ACF. The fame, work or celebrity status of artists and performers like Rudolph Valentino (185, 235), John Barrymore (237), Greta Garbo, Errol Flynn (239), Douglas Fairbanks (241), Sinatra (448), Henry Fonda (498) and Laurence Olivier (579) are mentioned. 1922 Broadway hit revue Make it Snappy is alluded to with the mention of the then latest hit song Yes, We Have No Bananas; reflecting popular culture and the different and new tastes of the youth when it is mentioned by a teenaged William to the horror of his grandmother (221). The music of Mozart and his piece Eine kleine Nachtmusik performed by Chicago Symphony Orchestra are cited in a way emphasising Abel`s European heritage and Mozart`s influence on Europe (289-90). Sinatra (448), Casals (502), Bach and performances of New York Philharmonic (558) are the other mentions from music. The significance of cultural and art performances in courtship is repeated and stressed in K&A as in ACF (547, 550-51, 558). The painters and paintings mentioned are Manet, Monet, Matisse, Picasso (281) Sickert (360) and Edward Hopper (502). The real or perceived difference in tastes of American and English populace is clearly demarcated in the depiction of the cultural and artistic landscapes in ACF and K&A, despite the common mentions like Manet, Monet, Picasso, Mozart, Bach or Shakespeare. Archer`s preoccupation with paintings and the artistic heritage of the West is obvious in the novels. There is an apparent demarcation between highbrow and lowbrow art and culture in the depiction of these cultural artefacts; and the knowledge of such categorisation and the category is depicted as forming an elite identity, one of sophistication and intellectuality. But it is to be noted that popular 157
choices, culture and canon are not excluded in the depiction, as in the allusions to and mentions of John Buchan, Gone with the Wind or Yes, We Have No Bananas. Social function of art forms is represented and repeated in the narration of courtship and dating across the novels. A composite cultural landscape of the perceived communities thus become evident and the rich narrative on such landscapes could add to the cultural imagination and performance by the readers; as evidenced in the study of children`s` drawings of fruit trees by LL Adler: She concluded that although pictures may reflect local experience and personal attitudes, they also mirror existing global social value systems. Since apple trees grow mostly in modern` or westernized` countries, the almost global appearance of apple trees in children`s drawings can be seen as a symbol of the spread and appeal of Westernization and modernization; an appeal that filters down through the media and popular culture even to childhood culture in non-westernized countries. ... In other words, children (and perhaps adults, as well) will often draw what is culturally desirable and acceptable instead of, or in addition to, simply reflecting their personal environment and the experiences they have had. (Weber and Mitchell 19) This example is a considerable pointer towards the capability of the images of particular cultural landscapes and art forms depicted in popular fiction to interact dynamically with other cultures. Another cultural marker in the novels under study is the extensive mentions of newspapers. Archer`s novel The Fourth Estate that deals with newspaper empires and their rivalry is a significant narrative on the role of newspapers, or mass media, in cultural imagination and propagation. Pertti Alasuutari, in Rethinking the Media 158
Audience, emphasizes the role of news media in transference of cultural material. He upholds the awareness of audiences that news` is often manipulated, but affirms the role of news-media a sort of forum or marketplace where cultural exchanges happen (89-91). Various types of newspapers, as in their orientation towards economics, international politics, dissident groups, popular culture, propaganda, etc., are mentioned in the novels suggesting variegated sites of cultural transferences and representing the heroes` involvement and interest in those spheres. Relating to news and newspapers often gives the impression of attention to detail and also helps to posit the fiction in a time period. This could also be seen as a tactic to connect to the cultural orientation of the readers. For example, the mention of Indira Gandhi and Ashes scores in newspapers in AMoH does not play any other role in the plot. These mentions of news-media mainly cover newspapers from England, USA, Australia, Scotland and Russia. Similarly, there are constant mentions of magazines too. The difference in identity and nationalism of Washington Post and Pravda is stressed AMoH. (70). The role of media in creating, sustaining or ruining a public image and its sway in democratic politics is repeatedly focused on in FAE (82, 249, 349, 416, 421). Daphne`s cultural education of Charlie becomes complete only with the inclusion of newspapers into his curriculum. On Daphne`s further insistence I started reading two daily newspapers ... I began to discover who was who and who did what, and to whom (ACF 284). The significance of the knowledge of who is who in Charlie`s elite society and the role of newspapers in providing that signification as well as knowledge is apparent here. This idea is repeated in K&A when Abel uses newspapers purely for his education of English and later economics (234-35). The role of newspapers as a daily presence in the characters` lives and its potency in cultural education is stressed. 159
The repeated insistence on brand names instead of things is another feature of the novels under study and suggests the view of these things` as products and typify a capitalist market. Reference to brand names is employed to effect a differentiation between the elite and the mundane often. Thus, a car becomes a Mercedes or Morris depending on the character or situation. The signification of status on a thing or product` is repeatedly made obvious in the novels, suggesting a normalcy of looking at things that way. A reification of abstract ideas like power or identity in solid objects could also be seen across the novels. The role of theatrical displays of symbols in public is also recurrent, especially about wealth and nationalism as discussed earlier. Apart from the representation of cultural markers, the inferences and interpretations from textual analysis charted in the previous chapters could also be deemed texts of a symbolic order. The essence of the hero in popular fiction could be seen as a symbolisation of fantasies of perceived societies and reading communities. The capabilities and actions of the hero thus becomes a performance of cultural imaginations of one or several ideals of these communities. Such ideals symbolised in the novels are already discussed. The category of villain is significant in the conception of the category of hero, as they often appear to be binary opposites. In the context of analysing Action Man`s construction as a hero, Jonathan Bignell stresses the play of valued terms in a system of binary oppositions (242). Through this play of binary opposites, it is often understood that the hero is only as big as the villain. The contribution of villains` in Archer towards the conception of the heroes is worth examining in this context. Romanov in AMoH symbolises a lack of patriotism as he has an eye on the fortune his grandfather had deposited in the Swiss bank; which in principle is against 160
the code of conduct or laws of his country. While it becomes a narrative on the human predisposition towards the accumulation of wealth, it also points to a difference; a difference between the hero and the villain. That difference prioritises patriotism over treason. Another difference between Romanov and Scott is Romanov`s pleasure in killing (177). He kills Heidi, a taxi driver, Petrova, Valchek and Alan Banks and attempts to kill Scott. This difference prioritises non-violence over violence. Such prioritisations could be seen in the other novels under study too. Guy Trentham`s character in ACF highlights Charlie`s chivalry and loyalty, as Guy is depicted as a serial womaniser who cheated Becky into having sex with him. His mother Margaret Trentham`s actions against Charlie are spurred by vengeance and snobbishness as Charlie fights his way out of each of her blows; and this prioritises reconciliation over vengeance. Simon Kerslake`s integrity and fair competition is highlighted by the representation of Charles Seymour`s shady tactics and antagonism. Similarly, Henry Osborne`s opportunism and profligacy in K&A brings into spotlight Kane`s and Abel`s earnestness and industry. It could be argued that these prioritisations of binaries are the basis of the social perceptions of the hero. It could be true in the contexts of the particular novels, but these binaries could be easily inverted if one compares the villains with the heroes of other novels under study. Romanov`s lack of patriotism and Henry Osborne`s profligacy will remain the only vices absent in other heroes. The promiscuity of Guy Trentham is evident in Abel and Raymond Gould; the vengeance of Margaret Trentham in Kane and Abel, the violence of Romanov in Abel and Charles Seymour`s shady tactics in competition and Henry Osborne`s opportunism in Charles Trumper. If Margaret Trentham does exactly the same things to Charlie Trumper that Abel does with Kane, or when Charles Seymour does to Simon things similar to what Charlie 161
Trumper does with Margaret Trentham, what is it that makes one a hero and the other a villain? It could be argued that it is the comparative goodness of one over another in the context of any action towards insignificant characters and the continual acts of kindness and generosity all heroes receive and provide. Then there would be a morality that is flexible, a contextual morality in a predominant shade of grey but not undermining the universal idea of being humane ­ an ambivalence, informing the choice of heroes and villains, and good and bad. These heroes, villains and the popularity of these novels point towards a reading community and a social structure that nurtures such a flexible contextual morality. Hence the individual becomes the symbolic representation of a collective, a society and its culture, or societies and cultures. The societies perceived in the novels under study and the discourses on its constructs and characters reflect this ambivalence visible in the morality of choice of hero and villain, the self and the other; a pride and shame visible in discourses on capitalism, patriarchy, nationalism, religion, democracy and war. This could be the reason that spurs the process of reassurance or reaffirmation of pride and negation of shame by representing challenges to the pride in it that the hero has to win over, for him/herself and the perceived societies that they represent, among other things. When Adam Scott holds on to his patriotism under temptation and torture from the evil Russian spy and professor or anyone who could be identified as an enemy, there could be a conscious will on the part of a reader, who might not or could not take such temptation or torture, for him to keep holding on against that challenge on patriotism. Similarly, any shame induced by the social constructs and characters mentioned above need to be allayed and pride reaffirmed; and the representation of such, as in the novels under study, might include various other aspects specific to perceived societies 162
and cultures along with the aforementioned ambivalences and the cultural and civilizational tendencies that decide shame and pride. In that way, the Russian Romanov accumulating money becomes a matter of dishonour while Abel becoming rich becomes a matter of honour. The significant part in this representation is the victory of heroes over those challenges that the reading communities could relate to and possibly over the author`s doubts about the social constructs and characters mentioned above. This leads to the interpretation of the novels under study as celebrations of success; of money, power and honour. While K&A and ACF celebrate the success of capitalism and its benefits, FAE celebrates the success of democracy and its benefits; and AMoH celebrates the moral courage of man under duress. As mentioned earlier, these narratives on success becomes the image of the Archer brand. The meaning of a brand is its most precious and irreplaceable asset. Whether you`re selling a soft drink or a presidential candidate, what your brand means to people will be every bit as important as its function ­ if not more so ­ because it is meaning that tells us this one feels right or this one`s for me. Meaning speaks to the feeling or intuitive side of the public; it creates an emotional affinity... (Mark and Pearson 10) Sustenance of the image and meaning of the brand through consistent repetition is obvious within the novels under study; and also observable on a comparative reading of Archer`s novels. Once the brand is established, its meaning and heroes often attain a cult status and in John Izod`s words, pass into popular discourse where they may remain familiar figures for years (1). 163
Chapter VI Summing Up As mentioned in the introductory chapter, the thesis attempts to critically explore popular fiction by a reading of select novels of Jeffrey Archer. There are some preconceptions that go into the desire to attempt that, which are influenced by cultural and historical intersections where the researcher locates himself in. Popular fiction is often considered in that locus as something trivial and not worth critical attention, even while cultural studies and explorations of popular cultures and practices were thriving elsewhere. Being a student of literature, the question of what people usually read also instigated a deep interest in popular fiction. In the last ten years, Indian English literary scenario acknowledged more popular authors than it did ever before with the increasing and immense popularity of Indian popular writers like Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi and studies in popular fiction flourished. During the same time, the English author Jeffrey Archer became a regular visitor to India with book readings and other marketing strategies. On research, it was found that he is a bestselling author and that his works have never been critically explored in known literary academic circles. The immense popularity of his works in India, in a way, inspired this research. Four novels, Kane and Abel (1979), First Among Equals (1984), A Matter of Honour (1986) and As the Crow Flies (1991), were selected as representatives of the success stories brand that Archer novels symbolizes. The aim of the thesis was to closely read and explore the significance of the representations of individuals and societies, keeping in mind the identity of the novels as popular fiction and to identify and survey the implications of cultural pointers dispersed in the texts under study. In 164
that process it tries to recognize the role of Best-seller Novels in general and Archer`s novels in particular in the dissemination of culture and to highlight the significance of the study of Popular Fiction in academic curricula. The thesis explores, in the novels, subtexts and discursive patterns which could play a role in a reader`s cultural imagination and performance. For this purpose, critical and close reading of the texts was employed. After multiple readings, it became obvious that beneath the thrill and allure of these success stories, there lie discursive patterns that are consistent and often hegemonic. There is often a tendency in literary academic circles to dismiss popular fiction as pure ideology` or propaganda or as capitalism`s favourite medium` (Gelder, Popular 35). The discursive patterns found in the novels reaffirm that literary` judgement in a way; but the dissemination of those discourses is not that obvious on a single reading of a single novel. (This is not to say that all popular fiction might follow similar trends.) The consistent repetition of these patterns under the fast paced action and story of the novels obscure these patterns and normalize many narratives by the positioning of a popular hero. In the case of the novels under study, collation of the repetition of textual material that form discursive patterns and the interpretation of such discursive patterns could serve as a foregrounding process that could expose such disseminations. The core chapters of the thesis address this task. It attempts to identify subtexts; as in Deborah Stevenson`s words, ...footnotes and inconsequential marginalia`, which can provide pointers to the priorities and values that guided the representation and the social, cultural and historical context within which it was drawn (51). The representation of individuals within the novels were analysed and 165
the focus on the hero was found out. The perception of the hero in Archer`s fiction often points to the attainability of heroic status by a common reader, which suggests an economic politics. Close reading of the heroes and their attributes revealed consistent similarities and generic representation. The key generic attributes of the heroes were physical fitness and strength, sexual virility, intelligence, ability to learn from experience and observation, ambition, selfishness, cunning and hardwork and tenacity to overcome setbacks and tragedies. These characteristics were found to be well aligned with traditional conceptions of patriarchy and masculinity. The masculine representations were then contextualised in a cultural milieu of masculinity in crises and found that the representations could be a reaffirmation of faith in traditional masculinity and patriarchy. The thesis then brought together and interpreted repeated representations of social systems, constructs, experiences, characters and proclivities. The interpretations suggested the presence in the novels of the following: the conceptualisation of tradition as a structure of collective wisdom that needs to be preserved and the discriminating idea of class-bound and exosomatic transference of values, virtues and vices through generations; the suggestion of a social need to mimic or perform nationalisms and patriotism that could sometimes be hegemonic; an advocacy of fame and contribution to national history as a yardstick of success and the perpetuation of a one-dimensional history; a reduction of the complex texts of memories and war into an emotional response to nationalism/patriotism; the suggestion that capitalism and related social and political structures are naturally better and harbingers of development, success and happiness; the justification of a morality that stems from capitalism that condones the exploitation of the weak and glorifies the ability to do that; a hegemonic patriarchy in language and narration despite posing to advocate 166
gender equality; the conceptualisation of religion as the domain of the weak and helpless and the reaffirmation of a pattern of reward and punishment; and a reassurance of the integrity and competence of British politics and democracy and the consequent othering. The next task was to gather cultural markers strewn across the texts and find out any narrative formation or normalisation in the representation of cultural landscapes. The perception of the heroic and brand image of success were also interpreted. Key findings include the presence in the novels of the following: the narrative representation of the significance of languages and accents in identity formation and othering, class segregation, personal characterization and the exploitations of such; the narration`s awareness of the cultural power of languages seen in the representation of it as a unifying factor across certain diversities and as a potent tool in the construction of cultural and political histories; a hegemonic discourse of English being the language of success in the West or the societies represented; the representation of language as being used as a tool of social and financial advancement and success quite in resonance with the brand image of the novels; a preoccupation with paintings, literature and the artistic heritage of the West; an apparent demarcation between highbrow and lowbrow art and culture and the knowledge of such categorisation and category as a marker of elitism; the portrayal of a composite cultural landscape with due representation to the popular; the portrayal of a pervasive presence of news-media in the characters` lives stressing its potency in cultural education; a repeated insistence on brand names instead of things as a marker of status and success and typifying a capitalist market; and an aporia visible in the perception of the hero and heroic, exposing the operation of an ambivalence and 167
contextual morality. Also, the perception of success in the success stories could be interpreted as a process of reassurance and a symbol of collective shame. It could be concluded that these novels are potent locations of cultural discourses which are often submerged in the pace and thrill of the story. Such submerged discourses need to be highlighted and engaged to comprehend better the cultural dynamics of popular/genre-fiction and the mass of readers often outside the academic study of literature. A limitation of the study is that it is only one critical reading positioned and produced from the cultural locus of the researcher. Ethnographic studies of the reception of Archer`s fiction and popular fiction in general could possibly offer more variegated responses and interpretations. Since the realm of popular fiction is an inexhaustible source of diverse sub-genres, with immense reach, where trends emerge, fade and reappear frequently, research in the field of popular fiction has ample contexts and possibilities. Researches could be done transcending the genre boundaries within popular fiction, focusing on readers, reading processes, cultural production, etc. As other subjects are mined for new perspectives and further complications of dominant narratives in an increasingly crowded academe, the formation of the field of popular fiction presents a fertile opportunity to develop a greater understanding of (American) popular culture (Schneider-Mayerson 31). The evolution of the study of popular fiction as a separate field of study within the ambit of literary studies could empower readers as well as academicians. Such studies are important because they reflect the societal values. One should remember that popular fiction is produced to cater to the tastes of the masses. Hence, a critical reading of popular fiction should enable us to understand the sociological setups of a society as well as reveal the modes of representation and ideologies that could form part of such narratives. This could be substantiated by the words of Strinati: 168
...without a sociology of popular culture, the relationship between popular culture and society` remains assumed and unexamined: it becomes a question of faith and assertion, not argument and empirical research. The fact that popular culture is produced by commercial industries for markets of consumers must be a major factor influencing this relationship; and if this is so, it must play a crucial part in shaping any meanings and ideas contained in the popular culture produced and consumed. This is not to say that this fact is the only influence, but since it is the one which most clearly motivates the relationship, it is one which it is necessary to understand. Also, reflection (and kindred ideas such as construction), may not be the most appropriate way to understand this relationship. Concepts such as ideology may also be as important, if not more important, in explaining this relationship, because the texts of popular culture may often be false, inaccurate, misleading, deceptive or illusory. In addition, the textual analysis of popular culture need not take account of how power influences the relationship between popular culture and society. ...we can therefore conclude that the future development of theories of popular culture needs to be more adequately grounded in sociology, both in its theorising and in empirical research. (252-253) 169
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