László Sári B.

E-mail address: sariblaszlo@gmail.com
Home institution: 
University of Pécs,
Department of English Literatures and Cultures
Academic positionassistant professor
Areas of research: Contemporary American fiction,
British film history, cultural studies
Title of the presentation: Transgression and intermediality in
contemporary American minimalist fiction

Most important Publications

  • Az amerikai minimalista próza nyomában. A mondat becsülete. Írások a hetvenéves Abádi Nagy Zoltán tiszteletére. Edited by Bényei Tamás, Bollobás Enikő, D. Rácz István. Debrecen: Debreceni Egyetem Kiadó, 2010, 296-316.
  • Az új irodalmi érzékenység: Az Amerikai pszichó és a transzgresszív regény kialakulása. Kalligram 19.5 (2010): 72-80.
  • A hattyú és a görény: kritikai vázlatok irodalomra és politikára. Pozsony: Kalligram, 2006.
  • Sári B., László, (ed.) A kritikai kultúrakutatás. Helikon 51.1-2 (2005).
  • Revolution Revisited: The Intersection of the Personal and the Historical in A Book of Memories by Péter Nádas. Literatura 30.3-4 (special issue in English) (2004): 86-100.
  • Test és politika: homoszociális viszonyok Ottlik Géza Iskola a határon című regényében. Irodalomtörténet 94.4 (2003): 555-580.
  • A posztmodern irodalomtudomány kialakulása: A posztstrukturalizmustól a posztkolonialitásig. Edited by Bókay Antal, Vilcsek Béla, Szamosi Gertrúd, Sári László. Budapest: Osiris, 2002.

Title of the presentation

Transgression and intermediality in contemporary American minimalist fiction


Contemporary American minimalist fiction as exemplified in the works of Bret Easton Ellis and Chuck Palahniuk exhibit strong intermedial tendencies; works of fiction by the most well known minimalists are rich in references to other, mostly visual media, and oftentimes the very stories they relate can be understood in dialogue with and in response to the mediated experience of the individual in the field of contemporary culture. What is more, it can be argued that Ellis and, especially, Palahniuk engage with questions of contemporary media in ways that are based on the literary appropriation of representational techniques associated with visual media (feature film, television, fashion photography, advertisement, etc.), while trying to use the same to dissent from the very ideology these media circulate in popular culture. From Ellis’s notorious use of brands to characterize otherwise indistinguishable individuals in American Psycho through his depiction of a terrorist organization operating in the international scene of fashion and followed by several filmcrews in Glamorama to his engagement with his own public figure in Lunar Park, or Palahniuk’s insistence on choosing a clearly identifiable segment of consumer society in his early, so-called ?transgressive novels? from Fight Club to Lullaby indicate that minimalists hold a grudge against the visual in contemporary culture, yet, in the spirit of the maxim of their literary trend, ?show, don’t tell?, they rely heavily on the visual in their texts.

To complicate matters further, this resistance to the visual is in sharp contradiction with the ways in which Ellis and Palahniuk’s works are circulated in the cultural marketplace. To mention just a few disturbing details of the paradoxical relationship between minimalist fiction and the dominance of the visual in contemporary culture, American Psycho at the time of its publication must have been promoted, albeit inadvertently, by the intensive campaign against its graphic portrayal of violence, and Palahniuk himself owes his literary recognition, at least partly, to David Fincher’s ingenious adaptation of Fight Club to film. These mediated and, to a certain extent, ?mediatized? representations of both authors do not only propel their literary career but at times make them vulnerable to the dangerous logic of the market as well as to sudden changes in the political climate, like after 9/11 and the midst of the war on terror, or in the general atmosphere of ?backlash?. No wonder, then, that both Ellis and Palahniuk have developed distinct strategies to counteract these tendencies beyond their control. Accordingly, my presentation I will take a look at the different ways in which they engage with their public image both in their late works as well as in their media appearances.

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