Publication Date

April 2018


Matthew Garrett


English, College of Letters


English (United States)


Working against the implicit dismissal of a literary object when someone calls it ?sentimental,? this thesis hopes to say more. It asks, What do you mean? and takes on some of the burden of providing an answer. What do we mean when we call a novel ?sentimental?? What formal properties does this literary object possess beyond the deflective you-know-it-when-you-see-it? And importantly, what does the sentimental tell us about our involvement in late capitalism? Each chapter of this thesis focuses on a different formal aspect of three contemporary novels?the form of commodity in Jonathan Safran Foer?s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2005), the form of character-person in Kazuo Ishiguro?s Never Let Me Go (2005), and the form of ironic narration in Hanya Yanagihara?s A Little Life (2015)?that stands in isomorphic relation with each novel?s form of new domesticity and, more broadly, the social relations and aspirations of belonging in the world that each novel enacts. This thesis aims to demonstrate that these sentimental novels have much to tell us about contemporary modes of reading?and therefore about our status as subject-objects, participant-observers, of this capitalist lifeworld.



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