Postmodernism in the fiction of Richard Brautigan.

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Sweatt, Suzanne
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Middle Tennessee State University
During his lifetime, Richard Brautigan published ten novels and one collection of short stories. The themes and techniques of these innovative works of fiction contribute to that division of contemporary literature known as post-modernism.
This study identifies postmodernist elements in Brautigan's fiction, establishes Brautigan as an early initiator of postmodernism, and evaluates his place in contemporary literature. Recognizing the growth of technology, a change in the perception of reality, and the difficulties in establishing individuality in this fragmented world, Brautigan presents an anti-hero who survives by transforming reality, by enduring, or by forming a relationship with another person.
The first chapter, drawing from the contemporary criticism of John Barth, Leslie Fiedler, Jerome Klinkowitz, David Lodge, and others, characterizes postmodernism. Features of postmodernism include flat characterization, lack of plot development, lack of epiphany, multiple endings, typographical play, and, frequently, the appearance of artlessness.
Chapter II discusses Brautigan's fiction of the 1960s: A Confederate General from Big Sur, Trout Fishing in America, In Watermelon Sugar, The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966, and Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-1970. These novels established Brautigan's reputation as an innovative author.
The five novels that Brautigan published in the 1970s are the subject of Chapter III: The Hawkline Monster: A Gothic Western, Willard and His Bowling Trophies: A Perverse Mystery, Sombrero Fallout: A Japanese Novel, Dreaming of Babylon: A Private Eye Novel 1942, and The Tokyo-Montana Express. Brautigan's further experimentation with the novel form is evident in these works.
Brautigan's final novel, published in 1982, So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away, blends elements of the traditional novel and the postmodernist novel to produce an important work. The study concludes that an understanding of Brautigan's themes and techniques can be best accomplished by knowing the totality of his fiction and the tenets of postmodernism.