Robert Coover's Fictions.
01 Oct 1987-American Literature-Vol. 59, Iss: 3, pp 488
20 Dec 2018
TL;DR: In satire, evil, folly, and weakness are held up to ridicule -to the delight of some and the outrage of others as discussed by the authors, and satire may claim the higher purpose of social critique or moral reform, or it may simply revel in its own transgressive laughter.
Abstract: In satire, evil, folly, and weakness are held up to ridicule - to the delight of some and the outrage of others. Satire may claim the higher purpose of social critique or moral reform, or it may simply revel in its own transgressive laughter. It exposes frauds, debunks ideals, binds communities, starts arguments, and evokes unconscious fantasies. It has been a central literary genre since ancient times, and has become especially popular and provocative in recent decades. This new introduction to satire takes a historically expansive and theoretically eclectic approach, addressing a range of satirical forms from ancient, Renaissance, and Enlightenment texts through contemporary literary fiction, film, television, and digital media. The beginner in need of a clear, readable overview and the scholar seeking to broaden and deepen existing knowledge will both find this a lively, engaging, and reliable guide to satire, its history, and its continuing relevance in the world.
01 Jul 2010-Marvels and Tales
TL;DR: Coover's 2004 novel, "Stepmother" as discussed by the authors, takes on the wicked stepmother figure of fairy-tale tradition and offers a more complex depiction of the character, but it does not address the role of stepmothers in fairy tales.
Abstract: The wicked stepmother is a staple of the popular fairy-tale tradition and arguably its most famous villain. While she wasn't always wicked or always a stepmother in folklore tradition, the wicked stepmother can be found in a variety of well-known Western fairy tales. The Brothers Grimm feature some of the best-known stepmothers, such as those in "Cinderella" (ATU 510A), "Snow White" (ATU 709), and "Hansel and Gretel" (ATU 327A) as well as lesserknown stepmothers, such as those in "The Six Swans" (ATU 450) and "The Juniper Tree" (ATU 720), all of whom are wicked. Walt Disney took the Grimms' wicked stepmother and gave her an unforgettable face in his 1937 film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Snow White's stepmother stands out for her terrifying image as the wicked queen. Since then, the wicked stepmother has become a stock figure, a fairy-tale type that invokes a vivid image at the mention of her role - so much so that stepmothers in general have had to fight against their fairy-tale reflections. A quick Internet search for the term "wicked stepmother" will produce hundreds of websites dedicated to the plight of stepmothers fighting against the "wicked" moniker they have inherited from fairy tales. Robert Coover's 2004 novel, Stepmother, takes on the wicked stepmother figure of fairy-tale tradition and offers a more complex depiction of the character. The plot of Coover's novel is quite simple; the novel, however, is far from simple. Stepmother, the title character and the novel's protagonist, is trying to save her daughter's life. Her unnamed daughter has been found guilty of an unnamed crime against the court of Reaper's Woods and is to be executed. Stepmother breaks her daughter out of prison, and the two of them flee to the woods. Stepmother hides her daughter and, once the daughter is recaptured, tries various schemes to prevent, or at least to delay, the planned execution. She tries appealing to the Reaper, her arch enemy and the authority in the woods, with magic, sex, and reason, but she fails. Her daughter is executed, and Stepmother seeks vengeance. The execution of her daughter and Stepmother's subsequent revenge is not a new plot to Stepmother, as she repeats it over and again with each of her daughters, the many heroines of fairy-tale tradition: How many I've seen go this way, daughters, stepdaughters, whatever - some just turn up at my door, I'm never quite sure whose they are or where they come from - but I know where they go: to be drowned, hung, stoned, beheaded, burned at the stake, impaled, torn apart, shot, put to the sword, boiled in oil, dragged down the street in barrels studded on the inside with nails or nailed into barrels with holes drilled in them and rolled into the river. Their going always sickens me and the deep self-righteous laughter of their executioners causes the bile to rise, and for a time thereafter I unleash a storm of hell, or at least what's in my meager power to raise, and so do my beautiful wild daughters, it's a kind of violent mourning, and so they come down on us again and more daughters are caught up in what the Reaper calls the noble toils of justice and thus we keep the cycle going, rolling along through this timeless time like those tumbling nail-studded barrels. (1-2) Stepmother explains that there is nothing new in what we are about to read; she has experienced it all before and will experience it all again. But she still has to try to save her daughter, and as readers we are left with the impression that she will keep trying with each new daughter's appearance. The impetus of the novel is summed up in its second sentence, narrated by Stepmother: "my poor desperate daughter, her head is locked on one thing and one thing only: how to escape her inescapable fate" (1). Throughout the novel, Stepmother and other characters struggle against their predetermined fairy-tale functions. Despite recognizing the "inescapability" of their fates, they still try to change the cycle of events they know will unfold by manipulating fairy-tale patterns to their advantage. …
TL;DR: The authors identified Robert Coover's novel The Public Burning and Norman Mailer's novels of the sixties, An American Dream and Why Are We in Vietnam?, as cold war critical national narratives.
Abstract: Applying the theories of Guy Hocquenghem, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Louis Althusser, this essay identifies Robert Coover's novel The Public Burning and Norman Mailer's novels of the sixties, An American Dream and Why Are We in Vietnam?, as cold war critical national narratives. The essay discusses the crises of masculinity provoked in the American fifties and sixties by anticommunist discourse, which rhetorically linked communism and homosexuality (and thus, in the psychiatric and popular imaginary, effeminacy) as "perversions." These novels critique the way homosociality functions to consolidate patriarchal power, and the resulting institutional homophobia, homosexual panic, and violence. These concerns center on the anus and anality, a trope signifying male homosexuality, and subverting the dominant discourse. The essay also discusses Mailer's and critic Leslie Fiedler's homophobia and concludes that Coover, with his use of subversive Bakhtinian carnival laughter, presents a more devastating, comprehen...
TL;DR: Coover's Secret Sharer? Richard Nixon in The Public Burning as discussed by the authors is a classic example of such a story, and it has been widely cited as a seminal work in contemporary fiction.
Abstract: (1996). Coover's Secret Sharer? Richard Nixon in The Public Burning. Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction: Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 82-91.
TL;DR: In this paper, an examination of Coover's Pinocchio in Venice Critique is presented, with a focus on postmodern mannerism and postmodernism in contemporary fiction.
Abstract: (2004) Postmodern Mannerism: An Examination of Robert Coover's Pinocchio in Venice Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction: Vol 45, No 3, pp 273-292