Parables of distress: <i>Arcadia</i> (1992) and <i>Signals of Distress</i> (1994)

Philip Tew

in Jim Crace

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print October 2006 | ISBN: 9780719069123
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701232 | DOI:
Parables of distress: Arcadia (1992) and Signals of Distress (1994)

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This chapter explores the sense of historical and personal transition for two communities in Continent and The Gift of Stones, one a Third World seventh continent and the other a Stone Age village. In both, traditional cultures are challenged. Jim Crace's commentary is embedded in the parabolic and allegorical structures of his fictions, and his worlds are not fantastical ones. Continent has a loose form, with varied characters and settings. Despite the dynamics of modernity, individuals retain a sense of the past and certain mythopoeic possibilities reassert themselves almost uncannily. Invented elements recur, such as the manac beans dropped by the prisoner on his arrest in ‘The World with One Eye Shut’, which are sold to prevent erotic desire in The Devil's Larder. Crace's storytelling strategies depend on the innate, if partial, failure of more rational and familiar methods of explication.

Keywords: Jim Crace; Continent; Gift of Stones; Third World; Stone Age; village; modernity

Chapter.  16943 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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