No Hero and No Faces: The Postmodern Antihero in Reza Ghasemi’s The Nocturnal Harmony of Wood Instruments

Document Type: Research Papers

Author

English Language and Literature Department, Persian Gulf University, Bushehr, Iran

Abstract

Reza Ghasemi’s novel, The Nocturnal Harmony of Wood Instruments, is an intriguing narrative of exile, portraying a nameless protagonist/narrator living in a dystopian microcosm. Hallucinating and self-delusional, he presents a collage-like picture of his life and the account of a novel of the same title he has apparently written. The present study investigates the diverse postmodern characteristics of the work such as metafiction, pastiche, paranoia, dissociation of meaning, looseness of association, and apocryphal history. These characteristic attributes are masterfully employed by the writer in a harmonious yet befuddling texture. This exploration of the postmodern elements serves as the necessary context for the depiction of the narrator/protagonist as a postmodern antihero. It is stated that as an inevitable outcome of dominance of postmodernism which carries with itself memories of disasters and traumas, the apocalyptic vision of the world, and an entropic picture of the universe, there is no room for heroism in its traditional and archetypal sense. Far from being a hero distinguished with heroic codes of action, and in contrast to charismatic heroes capable of leadership and worthy of admiration, Ghasemi’s protagonist, it is proved, is an antihero unable to see any pattern in life and rarely its destination. Far from trying to establish his own personal, suprasocial codes, the antihero is always a displaced person and in relation to society, infrasocial. His self-centeredness makes him not only unheroic, but anti-heroic. The study traces the artistic rendering of the postmodern ambiance in the birth and development of an archetypal antihero.

Keywords


Barthelme, Donald. “See the Moon.” Unspeakable Practices, Unnatural Acts. Farror, 1968, pp. 97-107.

Bauman, Zygmunt. Globalization: The Human Consequences. Polity, 1998.

Bewes, Timothy. “The Novel as an Absence: Lukács and the Event of Postmodern Fiction.” Novel (2004): 5-20.

Bowra, C. M. Heroic Poetry. McMillan, 1952.

Bradbury, Malcolm. The Modern American Novel. Oxford UP, 1992.

Brombert, Victor. In Praise of Antiheroes: Figures and Themes in Modern European Literature 1830-1980. U. of Chicago P., 1999.

Butler, Judith. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”.  Routledge, 1993.

Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. Princeton UP, 1949, Reprinted in 2004.

Edelstein, Alan. Everybody Is Sitting on the Curb: How and Why America’s Heroes Disappeared. Praeger Publisher, 1996.

Eliot, T. S.  Four Quartets. HartcourtBooks, 1943.

Emig, Rainer. “Alien Sex Fiends: The Metaphoricity of Sexuality in Postmodernity.” European Journal of English Studies, vol.9, no.3, 2005, pp 271-285. 

Freese, Peter. “Surviving the End: Apocalypse, Evolution, and Entropy in Bernard Malamud, Kurt Vonnegut, and Thomas Pynchon.” Critique, vol.36, no.3, 1995,: www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5011069583 Accessed: 1 May, 2009.

Frye, Northrop. Anatomy of Criticism. Princeton UP, 1957.

Ghasemi, Reza. The Nocturnal Harmony of Wood Instruments. Tehran: Varjavand Press, 1380.

Gordimer, Nadine. Writing and Being. Harvard UP, 1999.

Grace, Daphne. Relocating Consciousness: Diasporic Writers and the Dynamics of Literary Experience. Rodopi B. V., 2007. 

Gurung, Rita. The Archetypal Antihero in Postmodern Fiction. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers, 2010.

Hassan, Ihab. Rumors of Change: Essays of Five Decades. U. of Alabama P., 1995.

Hite, Molly. “Positioning Postmodernism.” Novel (1990): 324-327.

Hoorvash, Mona. “A Planet out of its Orbit: Postmodernism in Reza Ghasemi’s The Nocturnal Harmony of Wood Orchersta.” Research in Contemporary World Literature, vol. 15, iss. 58, 2011, pp. 149-167.

Hume, Kathryn. Pynchon's Mythography: An Approach to Gravity's Rainbow. Southern Illinois Up, 1987.

Hutcheon, Linda. A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction. Routledge, 1988.

Joustra, Robert and Wilkinson, Alissa. How to Survive the Apocalypse: Zombies, Cyclons, Faith, and Politics at the End of the World. William B. Erdman, 2016.

Kaufmann, Walter. Nietzsche: Philosopher, Psychologist, Antichrist. Princeton UP, 1950.

Keesey, Douglas. "Tracing the Postmodern Sublime." Papers on Language and Literature, vol. 42, no.2, 2006, pp. 220-223.

Khayef, Elham et al. “Investigating Modernist Elements in Nocturnal Orchestra of Woods.” European Journal of English Language and Literature Studies, vol. 3, no. 6, 2015, pp.1-10, www.eajournals.org/wp-content/uploads/Investigating-Modernistic-Elements-in-Nocturnal-Orchestra-of-Woods.pdf. Accessed 1 June 2018. 

Lewis, Barry. "Postmodernism and Literature (or: Word Salad Days, 1960s-90)." In The Routledge Companion to Postmodernism. Ed. Stuart Sim. Routledge, 2001,pp. 121-133.

Lukács, Gerog. The Theory of Novel: A historico-Philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Litearture. Translated by Anna Bostock, MIT P, 1971.

Lyotard, Jean-Francois. The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. Translated by Geoff Bennington and Brian Massumi. Manchester UP, 1979.

McHale, Brian. Postmodernist Fiction. Routledge, 1991.

Middleton, Peter and Woods, Tim. Literature of Memory: History, Time and Space in Postwar Writing. Manchester UP, 2001.

“Pastiche.” Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2018. en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/pastiche. Accessed 12 August 2018.

Petrović, Lena. "Postmodern Literature Does Not Exist." Linguistics and Literature, vol.2, no.9, 2002, pp. 281-301.

Ravenhill, Mark. Shopping and Fucking. Methuen, 1996.

Safran, William. “Diasporas in Modern Societies: Myths of Homeland and Return.” Diaspora, vol. 1, no. 1, 1991, pp. 83-99.

Schickel, Richard. “Freaked out on Barthelme.” New York Times Magazine, 16 August 1970: 14-15. nytimes.com/1970/08/16/archives/freaked-out-on-barthelme-hes-now-the-most-interesting-fiction.htm, Accessed. 12 August 2018.

Seigneuret, Jean-Charles. Dictionary of Literary Themes and Motifs. Greenwood P., 1988.

Stone-Mediatore, Shari. “Postmodernism, Realism, and the Problems of Identity.” Diaspora, vol.11, no.1, 2002, pp. 125-138. 

Tambiah, Stanley, J. “Transnational Movements, Diaspora and Multiple Modernities.” Daedalus, vol. 129, no.1, 2000 www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=5588964263 Accessed: 30 April, 2009

Tanner, Tony. City of Words: American Fiction, 1950-1970. Harper & Rowe, 1971.

  Waugh, Patricia. Practicing Postmodernism: Reading Modernism. Routledge, 1992.

Zeitlin, Martin. "Father-murder and Father-rescue: the Post-Freudian Allegories of Donald Barthelme." Contemporary Literature, vol. 34, no.2, 1993, pp. 182-204.