The problem of closure in the novels of Barbara Pym
Rankin, Arthur Louis
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Periodically narrative undergoes a crisis of closure as authors strive to define the boundaries of the novel's form. One such occurrence took place during the mid-Twentieth century. Novelists began to play various narrative games with the texts they were creating, and these games opened up the possibilities of the text's boundaries. In order to understand true closure it has become necessary to examine the entirety of an author's output to understand the relationship of the works to each other. This dissertation is the first in-depth study of the problem of closure in the novels of Barbara Pym and investigates the use of crossover characters as a device for expanding the narrative boundaries of the novels. In addition to the investigation of crossover characters, the dissertation explores the influence that comic ploys and intertextuality have on the novels. Barbara Pym experimented with various narrative forms in order to create her comic novels. However, she often reinforced the comic nature of one novel by including its characters in other novels. Her use of crossover characters expands the narrative boundaries of one text by having it spill over into the world of another novel. Since Pym expands the narrative world of her novels, it becomes important to examine each novel to discover how it relates to the other novels. This examination is important because readers may not read the novels in the order that they were published and may miss how Pym plays with narrative boundaries. Therefore, the relationship between the novels might not become apparent. The dissertation focuses on these relationships and uncovers subtle aspects of the texts that, then, reveal their interrelationships. These subtle relationships lead me to the conclusion that true closure can only be achieved by spatial readings of texts that uncovers how authors like Pym transcend typical narrative boundaries and magnify their textual space.