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Aggressive FictionsReading the Contemporary American Novel$
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Kathryn Hume

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450013

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450013.001.0001

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Modalities of Complaint

Modalities of Complaint

Chapter:
(p.40) 2 Modalities of Complaint
Source:
Aggressive Fictions
Author(s):

Kathryn Hume

Publisher:
Cornell University Press
DOI:10.7591/cornell/9780801450013.003.0002

This chapter is concerned with both how complaints assault the reader and what inducements they offer to continue reading despite the unpleasantness. “Complaints” in this chapter are defined as the relentless articulation of discontent, usually characterized by strong emotive elements. The chapter shows how a novel can create a voice and pitch that voice to an implied reader who colludes in or ignores the injustices of the world. Pitching the voice, in the sense of tuning it to a particular frequency, says something important about the modern form. Hence the chapter also explores how we can open ourselves to material we find unpalatable, and what we might gain from doing so. To facilitate discussion, this chapter considers works by seven authors, representing male and female voices, self-centered and other-centered lamentations, and speakers from a variety of subordinate positions.

Keywords:   complaints, modern complaints, subordination, discontent, strong emotive elements, injustices

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