In this study of British novelist John Cowper Powys, Joe Boulter concentrates on the novels Owen Glendower, Porius and Wolf Solent.
EXTRACT FROM THE INTRODUCTION
In these essays I do not argue that John Cowper Powys is a postmodernist novelist. Nor do I provide an interpretation of Powys using the techniques of postmodernist literary criticism.
What I do is use some of the analogies between Powys’s themes and techniques and the themes and techniques of postmodernist theorists as the basis for interpretations of some of Powys’s novels. In other words, I do not interpret Powys as a postmodernist, or in a postmodernist way, I interpret him in the context of postmodernist theory.
I use this method of interpretation for two reasons. Firstly, as Fredric Jameson notes, postmodernism is the current cultural dominant. If Powys is to be relevant today, he must be relevant in the context of postmodernist theory. Secondly, Powys and many postmodernist theorists have a common perspective. They are all, in a loose sense, pluralists. I explore this analogy in the first essay, ‘What is the Saturnian Quest?’ This common philosophical perspective leads to a shared interest in other issues, some of which I look at in essays on ‘the other’, ‘performance’ and ‘parody’.
I hope that my interpretative approach will clarify how Powys’s novels work and suggest ways in which they can be relevant today, as well as offering a fresh look at some of the problems with pluralism.