White, J. P. (2022). In Text More Than Text: Reading For A "Desire for History" in Cather, Poe, and Pynchon. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.14418/wes01.1.2559
This study employs the concepts of structuralist narratology and Lacanian psychoanalysis to analyze three novels as formal totalities (Willa Cather's My Ántonia, Edgar Allan Poe's The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, and Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49), in the process arriving at what it terms a "desire for history." The desire for history concerns how literary texts relate themselves in their construction to their own historical conditions of possibility, and the manifold repressions that arise in the representation of diegetic worlds that begin to resemble real, contradictory Histories. Significant analytical weight is put on three formal "symptoms": the "meta-episode" in My Antonia, the paratext in Pym, and the list-form in Lot 49. By addressing the unique formal structure of each, three particular desires for history are identified and elaborated. Although the study does not lay claim to a fully materialist situation of the texts, nor a "final" reading of their form, it is hoped that the desire for history will prove a useful analytical category in materialist criticism.