Universitatea „Lucian Blaga” din Sibiu, Facultatea de Litere și Arte
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7 / 2018
Establishing a Convention at the Beginning of the 21st Century: James Wood’s Hysterical Realism and Stefano Ercolino’s Maximalist Novel
Hysterical Realism is a term coined by James Wood, used to describe novels such as David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, Don DeLillo’s Underworld, or, the novel that stands at the foundation of this paper, Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. The Maximalist Novel is a book Stefano Ercolino wrote in 2014, where he refers to a “hybrid genre” that appears in the second half of the 20th century, goes further into the 21st century and is characterized by ten fundamental elements. In attempting to offer a definition of the Maximalist Novel, Ercolino works with seven novels, most of which coincide with Wood’s novels. These rich, ambitious novels encompassing a plethora of characters and a multicultural reality have been incredibly popular at the end of the 20th century and well into the 21st century. Using White Teeth as case study in order to provide clear examples and useful guidelines, this paper sets out to identify the reasons behind the inefficacy of Wood’s attempt at defining a new literary genre and Stefano Ercolino’s successful attempt.
Keywords: hysterical realism, Zadie Smith, White Teeth, James Wood, 21st century literature, multiculturality, Maximalist Novel, Stefano Ercolinos