‘What was the thing she was?' – realism, postmodernism and the fragmented body in Richard Ford's A Multitude of Sins

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This essay argues that Richard Ford's 2001 short story collection ‘A Multitude of Sins' is a specifically realist attempt to engage with and critique postmodernism. The difficulties inherent in such an attempt are suggested by the image of the fragmented body which occurs at key moments in the collection. Although the human body may appear to offer itself as substantial, realist alternative to the flimsiness of the postmodern image, this possibility is undermined by the fragmented and incoherent appearance of the ‘body in pieces’. The essay concludes that, confronted by the impasse implied by the fragmented body, Ford seeks a more effective alternative to postmodernism in a pragmatic notion of the self which has significant affinities with the theory of the self put forward in the early years of the twentieth century by George Herbert Mead.

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Original languageEnglish
JournalTextual Practice
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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