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This results in the assumption that one's identity is an effect of society's constructed, normative ideals as well. Judith Butler states that: [ Through constant repetition by individuals, gender norms are manifested. Judith Lorber and Susan A. Farrell describe in their book 'The social construction of gender' how gendered expressions are often rituals but still optional performances that portray what one would like to convey about sexual natures After taking into account how identity is constructed, elaborating on the assumption that gender identity is a crucial part of one's identity, describing how concepts of masculinities are developed and appropriated and genders are performed, I want to apply my findings to the novel and the protagonist's development and try to find out how Frank's identity is constructed.

Construction of Frank's masculine gender identity Frank, protagonist of the novel the 'Wasp Factory', constructs his identity, I argue, through an exaggerated, male, gender performance. He lives with his father on an isolated island, never attempting public school, as his birth certificate was never registered and he therefore officially does not exist.

This poses the first condition for the monstrous construction of his masculine gender identity. As elaborated in the first chapter, identity is always a process of communication between the self and society, built upon reactions of other subjects to the self. As there is no possibility for this kind of communication, Frank constructs his identity upon handed down masculine gender norms conveyed to him by media mostly movies. Women, I know from watching hundreds — maybe thousands — of films and television programmes, cannot withstand really major things happening to them; they get raped, or their loved one dies, and they go to pieces, go crazy and commit suicide, or just pine away until they die.

Of course, I realise not all of them will react that way, but obviously it's the rule, and the ones who don't obey it are in the minority. His father, Eric and media, that obviously conveys normative gender norms, are the only sources he can build his expectations, values and beliefs on. It gets clear that he developed a binary, hegemonial view of gender relations, seeing men as the strong and ruling group, dominating women.

Violence, rituals, mythology As elaborated in the theoretical chapter about masculinities, hegemonial power and authority are often underpinned by violence that sustains dominance and marks territory. Frank did not only murder three of his young relatives but has daily routines and rituals that involve the killing and torture of animals. What connects all his deeds is the ritual background.

All our lives are symbols. Everything we do is part of a pattern we have at least some say in. The strong make their own pattern and influence other's, the weak have their course mapped out for them. The weak and the unlucky, and the stuoid. The Wasp Factory is part of the pattern because it is part of life and — even more so — part of death.

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He sees himself as warden over life and death and believes his ultraviolent behaviour is proof to him and others that he is a 'real man' The Wasp Factory is an old tower clock, converted to a machine that provides different methods of death to wasps, supposedly forecasting certain events to Frank. The Factory's meaning is only slowly revealed towards the end of the book, similar to the protagonist's real identity and can be seen as a form of creating duality by the narrative voice Cox The reader seems to know everything about Frank as the text is mostly written in the first-person narrative, but at the same time the Wasp Factory indeed is present from the beginning of the text but it's real meaning is only revealed at the ending of the book, like Frank's identity, that is deconstructed Degenring Body image As composed before, masculine identity is not only defined by cultural aspects but the body as well.

For Frank, the male genital is crucial for the identity, as a man and the loss poses his life tragedy: 'I am not a full man, and nothing can ever alter that; but I am me, and I regard that as compensation enough. In 'Masculinities' Connell explains, referring to Alfred Adler, that the construction of masculinity upon the performance of the body consequently becomes unstable and vulnerable when the expected performance can not be met, for instance as a result of disability But if there is weakness […] there will be anxiety which motivates an exaggerated emphasis on the masculine side of things.

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This 'masculine protest', in Adler's famous phrase, is central to neurosis. It means over- compensation in the direction of aggression and restless striving for triumphs. He feels 'chubby' and 'plump' 19 and is deeply disappointed that the cruel crimes he committed, which are his indicators for 'true' masculinity, do not show on his outer appearance as he does not look 'dark and menacing' Once again it shows how much emphasis Frank puts on the actual acting of the gender. He believes that only through a repetitive performance of violence he can convey his masculinity, which is the most essential part of his identity.

His isolation from society explains why he supposes to be castrated for such a long time as he has no other standards or comparison besides the explanations by his father. So far I have tried to show that Frank compensates his supposedly mutilated genital by an exaggerated, male gender performance in form of ultra-violent behaviour and deliberate separation and hatred from and against women.

Writing – Emily Garside

This construction, I argue, underlined by rituals and mythology, could only be developed as a consequence that identity formation is a process that needs communication between the self and society. As this communication is mostly denied, Frank can not compare his behaviour to other people and consequently receives no response to it. Angus was not only dominant to Frank in form of making him believe false information, but set the beginning to a fictional construction of Frank's identity by making him believe to have had a male sex before the attack.

This shows a clearly patriarchal system, in which the father is dominant to the son and acts out power.

The transgressive Iain Banks; essays on a writer beyond borders.

Furthermore, Angus provokes Frank by telling him to have seen 'better men' 68 than him. He consciously reinforces Frank's pain about his fictional castration and thereby encourages him to further compensate masculinity through violence, of what he actually does not know of mostly, as he is bodily disabled and can not walk properly outside the house.

His total control over Frank reaches as far that he makes him believe to know what and how much alcohol he drank from the smell of his farts. The relationship to his father shows once more the duality and ironic structure created by the narrative voice in the text: Frank devalues his father as being weak and frightened of him 'gaining too much independence' 61 , not matching his idea of masculinity, but with regard to the conclusion of the book his masculine performance and degradation of his father becomes humorous as he is actually a woman Falcus Another interesting aspect of Frank's violent actions is the fact that they are accepted to a certain point.


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No one revealed him as the murderer of the three children and his father does not know or want to admit about the constant killing of animals on the island, so Frank does not invert society's rules and norms of a man. Although it results in the deaths of two cousins and his younger brother, Frank's ultraviolent behaviour ultimately poses no threat to the societal order but, like the ill- fated group dynamics that control Golding's boys in Lord of the Flies, seems to remain — almost — within the socially acceptable boundaries of what boys naturally tend to get up to.

Despite the fact that Frank does undoubtedly go too far, his actions are never deviant or subversive but follow the normative guide- lines of masculine propriety. Frank's violent masculine behaviour was learnt from normative roles, mostly conveyed by media. Thus, the society he lives in, in a way, produces his behaviour. Additionally, no one in his social surrounding, indeed sparse but present, reacts to his actions, which is also a passive form of acceptance. He poses no threat to society because he only harms wild animals on the island that no one cares about.

This poses another contrast in the text, as Frank's brother Eric's actions — he burned dogs and frightened children - were degraded as being 'manic' and he was forced to go to a mental clinic. Regarding both brother's crimes rationally, one might argue that Frank actually committed worse and crueler crimes by killing three human beings. However, as Eric's crimes pose a threat to society by killing domestic animals, only he is held accountable for his deeds.

This shows how relative the concept of violence can be, as it always depends on if one's deeds threaten society's order or not and thus are accepted. Frank's identity is deconstructed at the very ending of the text as he realizes that he was actually born with female sex: 'I'm not Francis Leslie Cauldhame. I'm Frances Lesley Cauldhame.

Maybe she will see her female sex as reason to change the male gender to a female gender. Conclusion At the beginning of the term paper I made the statement that Frank created his identity by compensating the literal loss of his masculinity in performing a normative, handed down male gender performance. I tried to show how identity, masculine gender and gender performance are constructed and appropriated and applied these concepts to Frank's development. I argued that Frank's exaggerated male gender construction was only possible to develop, as he was isolated from society and therefore had no chance to communicate and get response to his identity formation.

Furthermore, the patriarchal dominance of his father and media shaped the normative view of masculinity. To compensate the fictional loss of his genital, Frank performatively acted out a male gender, that was connected to violence, power and marking territory. His vision of masculinity was hegemonial, handed down and normative. To sustain his constructed, male identity, Frank deliberately separated himself from women, denouncing them as the weak sex, which suggests a patriarchal world view.

The creation of his own 'personal mythology' contributed to Frank's reassurance of a powerful man, as it justified his cruelties and gave him security. His dissatisfaction with his body exemplified the normative body image Frank appropriated. In performatively acting out his vision of masculinity Frank portrayed what he wanted to convey about his lacking sex. The Wasp Factory. London: Abacus, Criticism Birke, Dorothee.


  1. This Thing Called Love A Brother/Sister Story.
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  3. Reading: Simone Caroti — The Culture Series of Iain M. Banks: A Critical Introduction?
  4. Pirouette (Afrikaans Edition).
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  7. Amandas Blue Ribbon Summer: An Amanda Cooks Book.
  8. Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, Connell, Raewyn W.. Berkeley: University of California Press, Cox, Katharine.

    i whored for art…

    Martyn Colebrook and Katharine Cox. Degenring, Folkert. Dornberg, Martin. Einige Anmerkungen aus philosophischer und psychologischer Sicht. Susanne Bach. Falcus, Sarah. Oxford English Dictionary. He may start in Scotland and finish in the who-knows-where of science fiction, but the late Iain Banks or Iain M.


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    3. I have never been to Nasqueron: A geographer reads Iain M. Banks - UCL Discovery.
    4. Publication: The Transgressive Iain Banks: Essays on a Writer Beyond Borders.
    5. La Leçon d’Histoire de M. Kahn - Volume 1 (Zoo Academy - Français) (French Edition).
    6. [PDF] Studies in Scottish fiction : to the present - Semantic Scholar.
    7. FACE OF EVIL: UNION, GRACE- Two Novels By Richard Geary.
    8. Banks always set his course beyond the borders. Here, twelve astute observers of Banks as a conventional writer and, alternately, as an author of science fiction, examine his contributions from his opening novel The Wasp Factory to writings well into the present century. Their topics include Banks's work in the political novel, landscape and the art of geography, the supernatural border-crossing, and Banks's delvings into gender, games and play.

      They are careful to separate Iain Banks from Iain M. Banks, but note where and when Banks crossed that border, as well. Feedback For webmasters. Periodicals Literature.