Loose Canons: Readers, Authors and Consumption in Helen Simpson's 'The Festival of the Immortals'

Cox, Ailsa (2013) Loose Canons: Readers, Authors and Consumption in Helen Simpson's 'The Festival of the Immortals'. Journal of the Short Story in English, 60. pp. 147-156. ISSN 0294-0442

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Abstract

Helen Simpson’s “The Festival of the Immortals” satirizes the contemporary phenomenon of the author event, peopling a literary festival with dead authors from the English literary canon. However, Simpson tempers the satire with an affectionate portrait of two elderly festival-goers for whom the cult of the author represents an emotional investment in the act of reading. The article draws on Bakhtinian theory in order to examine Simpson’s ambivalence towards public forms of literary consumption, which may be compared with other examples of female consumerism in her previous stories. In this story and elsewhere, Simpson address the silencing of female voices and the marginalizing of women’s experience. Using Derek Attridge’s concept of an “idioculture” we may understand the interconnected activities of reading and writing as a means of accessing “otherness”, and defend the legitimacy of reading texts through an imagined figure of the author.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: English Language & Literature
Date Deposited: 02 Oct 2013 13:25
URI: http://repository.edgehill.ac.uk/id/eprint/5609

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