British Modernist Narrative Middles

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Middles play a key role in shaping narrative form. However, while Edward Said has shown how beginnings shape the novel and a wide range of intellectual endeavors in Beginnings: Intention and Method, and Frank Kermode has explored the pull of the ending on Western narrative in The Sense of an Ending, there has been no comparable study of the middle. Defining the narrative middle as a central piece of text that has a transitional or transformational function, British Modernist Narrative Middles draws attention to the ways narrative middles have been used to construct distinctly modernist narratives through transformations of narrative form and technique. The various techniques employed in modernist narrative middles are demonstrated through close readings of three canonical modernist texts: Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim, Henry James's The Golden Bowl, and Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse; as well as three British neo-modernist texts: Rayner Heppenstall's Saturnine, B. S. Johnson's The Unfortunates, and Brigid Brophy's In Transit. While not all modernist texts employ prominent narrative middles, when they do, these middles can be crucial to our understanding both of these novels' narrative form and how they grapple with the major thematic and poetic concerns of modernism.