The following excerpt first appeared as part of the Routledge Annotated Bibliography of English Studies series.
Machinic Modernism: The Deleuzian Literary Machines of Woolf, Lawrence and Joyce
This book investigates several modernist novels in light of the theories of Gilles Deleuze and, to a slightly lesser degree, Felix Guattari. The author is interested in how the “machine-like” work and style of Deleuze and Guattari facilitate pragmatic readings of texts. These pragmatic readings suggest that textual activity in several modernist novels reflects broader cultural activities, that the metaphysical movement of text corresponds to various social movements, and that text reproduces historical circumstances in signs and syntax.
The book seeks to depart from conventional forms of scholarship and to resist Deleuze-Guattarian paradigms that overemphasize pragmatism and empiricism at the expense of radical innovation. In a way this book is a Deleuze-Guattarian treatment of Deleuze and Guattarian with a focus on key modernist novels such as Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, D.H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow, and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Just as Deleuze and Guattari reframe seminal issues of philosophy in terms of pragmatism, so these modernist novels negotiate cultural and discursive phenomena with a bearing on then-current philosophy.
This book seeks to build a critical “machine” with which to interpret the machine in texts as well as to negotiate the so-called machine age; it also interrogates the organic-mechanic duality already interrogated by Deleuze. In so doing, it considers differences in literature in light of Deleuzian pragmatics to show that the philosophical moves taking place in Deleuze reflect similar moves taking place in modernist literature generally. The book argues that To the Lighthouse and The Rainbow implicate metaphysical structures in interesting ways but also in ways that are not entirely satisfactory without an understanding of Ulysses. In Ulysses the theories and mechanic imperatives of Deleuzian modernism find their fullest expression.