Andrew Miller’s Ingenious Pain: Re-Imagining the Mind/Body Dichotomy and Its Enlightenment Contexts
Ludmilla Kostova (University of Veliko Turnovo, Bulgaria) [BIO]
The need to explore the Age of Enlightenment and its (dis)contents has engendered a specific trend in Anglophone literatures, which comprises a wide range of generically and ideologically different texts. Instances include Erica Jong’s Fanny: Being the True History of the Adventures of Fanny Hackabout-Jones (1980), Coetzee’s ironic “robinsonade” Foe (1986) and Malcolm Bradbury’s last published novel To the Hermitage (2000). The texts in question perpetuate and/or problematise received myths of the Enlightenment as the self-proclaimed fount of modern European thought. This paper will examine some of the trend’s distinctive features as illustrated by Andrew Miller’s prize-winning novel Ingenious Pain (1997). Attention will specifically focus on the book’s engagement with eighteenth-century representations of the mind/body dualism. Insofar as Ingenious Pain exemplifies a crossover of history and literature/film typical of the 1990s, which has distinct commercial implications (see G. S. Rousseau, "Ingenious Pain: Fiction, History, Biography, and the Miraculous Eighteenth Century", Eighteenth-Century Life 25/ Spring 2001), the paper will likewise consider the problem of "selling" the Enlightenment to latter-day readers/spectators. Issues to be considered include:
- the neo-picaresque vision of history and its ethical parameters;
- postmodernist revisionism and consumerism;
- irony and/versus marketability.