Hanif Kureishi’s The Last Word (2014) is a fictional work that depicts the effort of a young journalist from London, Harry, to write the biography of a very famous author of Indian origin, Mamoon, who now lives in the quiet English countryside. Starting from the very beginning, with its symbolic title, the novel is built upon a metatextual framework as it discusses the power of words and narratives in a literary context. In particular, the thematic coordinates of the text incessantly creates intersections between the conceptual domain of WRITING, which includes its peripheral subdomains such as researching, remembering, but also the manipulation and revision of facts and stories. The overall effect is to hybridise the fields of narrative, (fictional) biography and authorship, and deliberately challenge the reader in the construction of meaning and the attribution of reliability to characters. Therefore, the governing megametaphor LIVING IS WRITING and its possible micro-articulations emerge as a network of rhetorical devices of representation and conceptualisation of life experience through the practice of writing and communicating. This paper intends to investigate the range of these metaphorical renditions in the novel, and their power to symbolically encapsulate lives in words (Mamoon’s life recorded and/or reinvented through words). The central argument is that such structures superficially serve to mirror reality and experience, blending the macro-concepts of WRITING and LIVING, but in reality they are also endowed with the possibility to set off a sequence of ambiguities, given their ideological potential (i.e. biography writing as a process of adjustment and interpretation of facts in spite of claims of faithfulness). As readers are asked to apply a kind of “double vision” (Gavins 2007) to the text, various text worlds are generated, bringing to light the language continuum connecting the coterminous spaces of fiction and non-fiction and the key role of metaphor as a tool to approach the self and the other, and human existence at large. The purpose of this article is twofold, namely a) to take into account various metaphoric expressions originating from the central megametaphor in select extracts from the novel and b) to provide a preliminary examination of their ideological effects. Methodologically I follow an interdisciplinary frame that draws from stylistics, postcolonial discourse, biography studies and literary studies (Adami 2006; Ashcroft 2009; Bradford 1997; Browse 2016; Douthwaite 2000; Kövecses 2000, 2002; Stockwell 2009; Sorlin 2014).

Living is Writing. Metaphors of Representation in Hanif Kureishi’s The Last Word

Adami, Esterino
2019-01-01

Abstract

Hanif Kureishi’s The Last Word (2014) is a fictional work that depicts the effort of a young journalist from London, Harry, to write the biography of a very famous author of Indian origin, Mamoon, who now lives in the quiet English countryside. Starting from the very beginning, with its symbolic title, the novel is built upon a metatextual framework as it discusses the power of words and narratives in a literary context. In particular, the thematic coordinates of the text incessantly creates intersections between the conceptual domain of WRITING, which includes its peripheral subdomains such as researching, remembering, but also the manipulation and revision of facts and stories. The overall effect is to hybridise the fields of narrative, (fictional) biography and authorship, and deliberately challenge the reader in the construction of meaning and the attribution of reliability to characters. Therefore, the governing megametaphor LIVING IS WRITING and its possible micro-articulations emerge as a network of rhetorical devices of representation and conceptualisation of life experience through the practice of writing and communicating. This paper intends to investigate the range of these metaphorical renditions in the novel, and their power to symbolically encapsulate lives in words (Mamoon’s life recorded and/or reinvented through words). The central argument is that such structures superficially serve to mirror reality and experience, blending the macro-concepts of WRITING and LIVING, but in reality they are also endowed with the possibility to set off a sequence of ambiguities, given their ideological potential (i.e. biography writing as a process of adjustment and interpretation of facts in spite of claims of faithfulness). As readers are asked to apply a kind of “double vision” (Gavins 2007) to the text, various text worlds are generated, bringing to light the language continuum connecting the coterminous spaces of fiction and non-fiction and the key role of metaphor as a tool to approach the self and the other, and human existence at large. The purpose of this article is twofold, namely a) to take into account various metaphoric expressions originating from the central megametaphor in select extracts from the novel and b) to provide a preliminary examination of their ideological effects. Methodologically I follow an interdisciplinary frame that draws from stylistics, postcolonial discourse, biography studies and literary studies (Adami 2006; Ashcroft 2009; Bradford 1997; Browse 2016; Douthwaite 2000; Kövecses 2000, 2002; Stockwell 2009; Sorlin 2014).
23
Special issue
39
51
http://www.ojs.unito.it/index.php/kervan/article/view/3613/pdf
Metaphor, Hanif Kureishi, The last word, cognitive metaphor theory, biography, fictional autobiography
Adami, Esterino
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1714087
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