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Record Type: Review   ID: 569

Constructing Postmodernism

McHale, Brian

 This interesting excursion into literary history is based on a postmodern constructivist approach in which "all our cognitive operations, including (or especially) perception itself, are theory-dependent. This means . . . data do not exist independently of a theory that constitutes them as data; they are not so much ‘given’ as ‘taken,’ seized" (p. 2). In this view, versions of reality cannot be evaluated by the criterion of "objectivity." Instead, McHale sets forth the following criteria for assessing versions of reality (which should be kept in mind while considering exceptional human experience in general or specific EHEs): "the explications of the version; its intersubjective accessibility; its ‘empirical-mindedness,’ i.e., its aspiration to be as empirical as possible, where empiricism is not a method but a horizon to be approached only asymptotically; and, above all, the adequacy of the version to its intended purpose" (p. 2). The brief Foreword, "Introducing Constructivism," is one of the best explications of the postmodern and narrative turns I have read. Then, in the text, McHale analyzes various postmodern novels and relates them to contemporary culture. There are four parts: Narrating Literary Histories; (Mis)reading Pynchon; Reading Postmodernists; and At the Interface. Although this book is an excellent introduction to ideas about postmodernism, through the literary studies, it also provides the experience of the postmodern.
Publisher Information:London, England: Routledge, 1992. 342p. Bibl: 308-324; Chap. notes: 268-307; Index: 325-342
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