The Pruitt-Igoe MythPruitt-Igoe Housing complex,St Louis, Missouri1950s to 1970s
‘Pruitt-Igoe was constructed according to the mostprogressive ideas […] It consisted of elegant slab blocksfourteen storeys high, with rational ‘streets in the air’(which were safe from cars but, as it turned out, not safefrom crime); ‘sun, space and greenery’, which LeCorbusier called the ‘three essential joys of urbanism’(instead of conventional streets, gardens and semi-private space, which he banished). It had a separation ofpedestrian and vehicular traffic, the provision of playspace, and local amenities such as laundries, crèches andgossip centres – all rational substitutes for traditionalpatterns.’Charles Jencks, The Language of Postmodern Architecture (1977)
„Our working hypothesis is that thestatus of knowledge is altered associeties enter what is known as thepostindustrial age and cultures enterwhat is known as the postmodern age.‟Jean-François Lyotard, The PostmodernCondition: A Report on Knowledge(1984)
‘Exxon is 45th on the list, making itcomparable in economic size to theeconomies of Chile or Pakistan. Nigeria [witha population of 135 million] comes in justbetween DaimlerChrysler and GeneralElectric, while Philip Morris is on a par withTunisia, Slovakia and Guatemala.’United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
„The radical disruption of the linear flow of narrative,the frustration of conventional expectationsconcerning unity and coherence of plot and characterand cause-and-effect “development” thereof, thedeployment of ironic and ambiguous juxtapositionsto call into question the moral and philosophical“meaning” of literary action, the adoption of a tone ofepistemological self-mockery aimed at the naïvepretensions of bourgeois rationality, the opposition ofinward consciousness to rational, public, objectivediscourse.’John Barth, ‘The Literature of Replenishment’(1979)
„If the modernists […] taught us that linearity,rationality, consciousness, cause and effect, naïveillusionism, transparent language, innocent anecdoteand middle-class moral conventions are not the wholestory, then from the perspective of these closingdecades of our century we may appreciate that thecontraries of those things are not the whole storyeither. Disjunction, simultaneity, irrationalism, anti-illusionism, self-reflexiveness […] moral pluralism[…] these are not the whole story either.‟John Barth, ‘The Literature of Replenishment’(1979)
„Simplifying to the extreme, Idefine postmodern as incredulitytowards metanarratives.‟J.-F. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition (1984)
Intertextuality – self-conscious appropriation andtransformation of works from the literary canon. ZadieSmith On Beauty (2005).Performativity or self-reflexivity – where the storybecomes a performance of and commentary on theprocess of narrating, writing and reading. Italo CalvinoIf on a Winter’s Night a Traveller (1979), Martin AmisTime’s Arrow (1991).Fusion of genres – where the novel might containelements of journalism, historical account,autobiography, science fiction, etc. Kurt Vonnegut,Slaughterhouse 5 (1969).
Multiple voices/diaspora – narrative voices historically under-represented in literature. Caryl Phillips Cambridge (1991), SalmanRushdie Satanic Verses (1988), Tariq Ali Shadows of thePomegranate Tree (1991), Zadie Smith White Teeth (2000) &Andrea Levy Small Island (2004).Historiographic metafiction – writer re-imagines historical eventsbut fictionalizes or transforms them. Peter Ackroyd Dan Leno andthe Limehouse Golem (1994). A.S. Byatt, Julian Barnes, PeterCarey, E.L. Doctorow.Cultural critiques – novel stands in an evaluative relationship tothe culture of postmodernity. J.G. Ballard Cocaine Nights (1996).Will Self, Angela Carter, Michel Houellebecq, Bret Easton Ellis,Ian McEwan, Philip Roth.