Narrative Level, Internal Time Consciousness and Narrative Ethics: Susan Sontag’s Narrative Art as Evinced in Death Kit
International Journal of Literature and Arts
Volume 7, Issue 6, November 2019, Pages: 152-159
Received: Aug. 19, 2019;
Accepted: Oct. 28, 2019;
Published: Nov. 8, 2019
Views 472 Downloads 133
Ning Huixia, School of Foreign Languages, Henan University of Technology, Zhengzhou, China
Literary critics have swarmed to shower their comments—markedly diverse comments indeed—on Death Kit. Being not intended for propounding some dualistic interpretation of the novel, this essay ventures to expatiate on the novel’s narrative art manifesting itself in a trinity comprising (1) the technique of narrative level, (2) the technique of internal time consciousness, and (3) the ethic for carrying on the narration. By bringing the extradiegetic, the intradiegetic and the metadiegetic to an ultimate silence, Sontag is meant to suggest that the hero Diddy has finished freighting his death kit and is on the way to the terminal demise. It is by describing how his consciousness performs such leaps and bounds in the temporal stream that his past life repeatedly gains access to his present life and that his present life would instantaneously turn into his past life, and that his future is nonexistent at all except for its sporadic emergences as his dreamlike reverie would induce them. Such leaps and bounds of his consciousness which succeed in acquiring their definite shapes by following the temporal random driftiness have been incessantly intensifying the anguish stemming from the reminiscence of his excruciating life in the past and serve to debunk his expectation that he can restore his vitality by committing a murder in the course of his imaginary life. The falsehood inherent in his imaginary life compels him to realistically cast once more about the advisability of actually committing suicide. Moreover, narration goes in the novel in very strict compliance with an explicit ethics she imposes on herself. This serves to throw light upon Sontag’s approach towards the US government’s propaganda aimed at sanctifying the Vietnam War and the catastrophe brought to that country by American troops. In this way the moral caliber of the novel is vindicated.
Narrative Level, Internal Time Consciousness and Narrative Ethics: Susan Sontag’s Narrative Art as Evinced in Death Kit, International Journal of Literature and Arts.
Vol. 7, No. 6,
2019, pp. 152-159.
Rollyson, Carl. Understanding Susan Sontag. Columbia: University of South Caralina Press, 2016, p16.
Sayres, Sohnya. Susan Sontag: the Elegaic Modernist. New York: Routledge, 1990, p 72.
Rollyson, Carl. Reading Susan Sontag: A Critical Introduction to Her Work. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2001, pp 54, 82.
Fremont-Smith, Eliot. “Review of Death Kit.” The New York Times 18 Aug, 1967, p 31.
Donoghue, Denis. “Sweepstakes.” New York Review of Books 28 Sept.1967, pp 5-6, 8.
McCaffery, Larry. “Death Kit: Susan Sontag’s Dream Narrative.” Contemporary Literature 20.4, 1979, pp 484-499.
Moser, Benjamin. “Introduction: Auction of Souls.” Sontag: Her Life and Work. London: Penguin Books Limited, 2019, pp i-x.
Genette, Gerald. Narrative Discourse: An Essay in Method. Trans. Jane E. Lewin. Ithaca and NewYork: the Cornell University Press, 1983, p 228.
Sontag, Susan. Death Kit. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux 1967, pp 3, 7, 3, 24, 310, 24, 310, 310, 44, 44, 50, 165, 164, 166.
Maunsell, Jerome Boyd. Sontag. London: Reaktion Books, 2014, p 77.
Sontag, Susan. As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2012, p 336.
Husserl, Edmund. The Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness. Trans. James S. Churchill. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1964, p 23.
Bruss, Elizabeth. Beautiful Theories: The Spectacle of Discourse in Contemporary Criticism. Baltimore: John Hopkin UP, 1982, p 226.
Toback, James. “Whatever You’d Like Susan Sontag to Think, She Doesn’t.” Esquire July, 1968, pp 59-61, 114.
Sontag, Susan. “On Courage and on Resistance: The Oscar Romero Award Keynote Address.” At the Same Time: Essays and Speeches. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2007, pp 180-191.
Sontag, Susan. “At the Same Time: The Novelist and Moral Reasoning.” ibid, pp 210-231.
Ruas, Charles. “Susan Sontag: Me, Etcetera...” Conversation With Susan Sontag. Ed. Leland Poague. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1995, p 175.
Sontag, Susan. “Trip to Hanoi.” Styles of Radical Will. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1969, pp 205-274.
Sontag, Susan. “On Style.” Against Interpretation and Other Essays. New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1966, pp 15-36.