In an Appendix, in conversation with the author in London in February 2005, Graham Swift comments extensively on his fiction, past and future, as well as the laborious process of exploration which constitutes writing a novel. Graham Swift documents ...
the disillusionment of late twentieth-century British urban middle class as it strives to recover after losing faith in myths of power and progress. Swift's seven novels to date tell family stories: intergenerational strife, marital disharmony and the inability to communicate are related to significant moments in nineteenth- and twentieth-century history, especially the two world wars. As a postmodern author, Swift self-consciously pays homage to tradition through polyphony and metafiction: in his novels the moral imperatives of nineteenth-century realism are combined with fragmented tales of alienation typical of modernism and the questioning of representation characteristic of contemporary fiction. "From History to Storytelling" focuses on Swift's insistent exploration of first-person narratives of trauma and examines the power of storytelling to relieve guilt. Overwhelmed by painful memories reconstructed through telling, Swift's ageing protagonists are hesitant and frequently unreliable storytellers. Through narrative they seek to comprehend their place in history, personal and national. Haunted by their choices, they feel persecuted by socio-political and natural forces. Swift's narrators resort to confession, seeking to accommodate guilt which stems from their failure as sons, fathers and husbands. By telling stories his characters learn to explore their suffering for meaning and reconnect with the world: confessing their guilt redeems them and restores their faith in life. In novel after novel, Swift progressively reinforces his belief in storytelling as a fundamental human instinct and a therapeutic ritual.
Number of pages: 256
Date of publication: 01/02/2011
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