Parasites, plagiarists and "fictual" stories in Charles Palliser's "A Nice Touch" and "The Catch"

Source document: Brno studies in English. 2020, vol. 46, iss. 2, pp. 211-229
  • ISSN
    0524-6881 (print)
    1805-0867 (online)
Type: Article
The present article focuses on Charles Palliser's Betrayals (1994) and analyses two of its chapters, "A Nice Touch" and "The Catch", in order to illustrate how the seemingly random collection of sections that make up the novel constitute variations on the same themes and strategies. By discussing the connections between these two chapters, I intend to throw light on the coherence that emerges from the novel's undeniable fragmentariness. Central among its recurrent motifs is the theme of betrayal, which the article approaches through an analysis of plagiarism from the perspective of J. Hillis Miller's logic of the parasite. Drawing on this deconstructionist critic, I show how the undecidability of roles (betrayer-betrayed, plagiariser-plagiarised, host-parasite) in the chapters under consideration is echoed by the narrative’s play with ontological levels and the blurring of boundaries between reality and fiction. The analysis leads to a final reflection on fragmentary texts that often exploit intertextuality and metafictional techniques as best fitting the contemporary worldview, and it closes with the proposal to consider Betrayals as one of the harbingers of what has become a prolific trend in twenty-first century literature.
  • The research carried out for the writing of this article was financed by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness (MINECO) in collaboration with the European Regional Development Fund (DGI/ERDF) (code FFI2017-84258-P). The author is also thankful for the support of the Government of Aragón (code H03_20R).
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