Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1959.13/922121
- 'False Pretences' and the 'Real Show': identity, performance, and the nature of fiction in Conrad's Fate
- The University of Newcastle. Faculty of Education & Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science
- In Diana Wynne Jone's fifth chrestomanci novel, Conrad's Fate, the philosophical potential of her imagined worlds of Chrestomanci, with their parallel series generated by alternative probabilities, is explored in specific relation to the possibilities and choices that construct personal identity. Twelve-year-old narrator Conrad’s preoccupation with his Fate, the “bad karma” his Uncle Alfred convinces him he possesses, comes to dominate his understanding of himself so completely that when he is persuaded it is a lie, he feels bereft not only of purpose but of identity itself: “If I didn’t have a Fate, then what was I?” (246; emphasis in original). Conrad’s belief that personality is destined, however, is interrogated not only through his complex and confused attitudes to his own identity and to other people’s, but also through the novel’s action, its language, and its imagery, all of which provide alternative ways to conceive of the relationship between identity and reality. In this article, I examine Jones’s investigation of the nature of identity, in particular the idea that identity may be understood in terms of social roles, both across the narrative and within the fantasy setting of Conrad’s Fate. I also consider the implications of this critique for our understanding both of certain literary conventions about identity and about fiction, and of Jones’s contrasting and distinctive account of the work involved in writing and reading fiction. I argue that Jones’s vision of identity as constructed through constant and active engagement with circumstance in turn generates a powerful allegory of the function of reading — especially the reading of fantasy fiction.
- Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts Vol. 21, Issue 2, p. 221-232
- International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts
- Resource Type
- journal article