Limina: A Journal of Historical and Cultural Studies

Rethinking Author Construction: The Intrusive Author in Alasdair Gray’s Lanark and 1982, Janine

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Claire Blomeley

Australian Catholic University

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Rethinking Author Construction: The Intrusive Author in Alasdair Gray’s
Lanark and 1982, Janine


With the proclamation of 'The Death of the Author' in 1968 by Roland Barthes came the rise of the notion that the author, along with the text s/he creates, is a construction.[1] Textual authority has shifted from authorial intention to the text, and with it the reader. This breakdown in authority has led to an anxiety of form in the author. In metafictional novels, novels that draw attention to their fictionality, this anxiety is made explicit through consistently highlighting the construction of the author. Alasdair Gray’s novels, whilst varying in content and form, all include metafictional devices that consider the construction of the author. Patricia Waugh in Metafiction argues that modern writers are aware of theoretical concerns regarding the constructed nature of fiction, and through this are able to manipulate and draw attention to the formation of a text. [2] Waugh also argues that metafictional writers 'all explore a theory of fiction through the practice of writing fiction.' [3] With this in mind, I argue that Alasdair Gray’s novels are consistent with the idea raised in Lanark: 'I want Lanark to be read in one order but eventually thought of in another.' [4] Each of his novels can be read as independent texts, but can also be thought of as a body of work that, when read as such, influences the reading of the individual novel. Whilst this is true of all bodies of work, I argue that Gray explores the influences of creating various authorial positions on the construction of the author in both an individual text and in a collection of works. Metafiction holds that the author engages with theoretical questions regarding literature and therefore manipulates theoretical ideas in the texts to address these questions.


[1] R. Barthes, 'The Death of the Author', in Leitch, V. B. (ed.), The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism,
2nd ed., New York, W. W. Norton & Company, 2010, pp. 1322-26.
[2] P. Waugh, Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction, London, New York, Routledge,1990, pp. 2-5.
[3] Waugh, p. 2.
[4] A. Gray, Lanark, Edinburgh, Canongate, 2011, p. 483.

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