The process of self-discovery in Matt Cohen's novels from Korsoniloff to Flowers of Darkness

Balsom, Edwin James (1987) The process of self-discovery in Matt Cohen's novels from Korsoniloff to Flowers of Darkness. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

To read a Matt Cohen novel is to experience a sense of futility and despair followed by a faint sense of confidence in human beings to achieve psychological and spiritual maturity. His characters are constantly bombarded by familial, amorous, or sociological problems, and are often driven to the brink of confusion with only a glimmer of hope for survival and recovery. But survive and recover they do, and with an appetite for life that leads them towards self-knowledge and the possibility for self-discovery. -- Regardless of the setting or plot in each novel, the main issue is always the perpetual quest of his pathetic central characters for self-identification. The sense of futility and despair is engendered by their successive failures to recognize themselves as whole individuals amidst the wreckage of their past lives; they cannot seem to discern the detailed characteristics of their ‘real’ selves because they have always practiced self-deception or allowed themselves to wander aimlessly from relationship to relationship without concern for permanence. -- The sense of confidence in human beings to achieve maturity comes with the characters’ success in mastering their own fears and emotions, and in penetrating the superficial layers of their psyches to glimpse the nature of their true spiritualities. Although the depth of penetration and the clarity of their perceptions vary with each character, it is the precarious survival of his characters themselves and the possibility for further growth which becomes the trademark for Cohen’s novels.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/5464
Item ID: 5464
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves [177]-182.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1987
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Cohen, Matt, 1942---Criticism and interpretation; Identity (Psychology) in literature

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