Document Type


Publication Date


Published In

Unknowing: The Work Of Modernist Fiction


Philip Weinstein explores the modernist commitment to unknowing by addressing the work of three supreme experimental writers: Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust, and William Faulkner. In their novels, the narrative props that support the drama of coming to know are refused. When space turns uncanny rather than lawful, when time ceases to be linear and progressive, objects and others become unfamiliar. So does the subject seeking to know them. Weinstein argues that modernist texts work, by way of surprise and arrest, to subvert the familiarity and narrative progression intrinsic to realist fiction. Rather than staging the drama of coming to know, they stage the drama of coming to unknow. The signature move of modernism is shock, just as resolution is the trademark of realism. Kafka, Proust, and Faulkner wrought their most compelling experimental effects by undermining an earlier Enlightenment project of knowing.

Published By

Cornell University Press


The introduction of this work is freely available courtesy of Cornell University Press.

Copyright (c) 2005 by Cornell University. Published by Cornell University Press. All rights reserved.

Find in Tripod