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Volume 2, Issue 1-2
  • ISSN: 2043-0701
  • E-ISSN: 2043-071X


Even as George Saunders jettisons the usual trappings of literary realism, he does so not in order to debunk authorship and authority (cf. Barthes) or to reduce a story to the language of its own telling. Rather, he reasserts the writer’s moral role, and thereby defines a space for the figure of the author. With reference to Lionel Trilling’s defence of Nathaniel Hawthorne and ‘shadow realism’ this article situates Saunders in a literary tradition which challenges reductive conceptions of mimesis. It cites examples from Saunders’ short stories and novellas (CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, 1996; Pastoralia, 2000; In Persuasion Nation, 2006), and also addresses an author-sponsored website, with attention to how Internet materials are not only a promotion of Saunders’ work, but also an extension of it. Saunders foregrounds the referential workings of language while remaining attached to a sense that language is a tool for moral questions.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): authorship; Barthes; George Saunders; mimesis; morality; Trilling
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