Postmodern Literature Characteristics: Define the moral and purpose of Transgressive fiction?

Updated: Apr 23

Postmodern Literature

Postmodern Characteristics

Absurdism and Transgressive Fiction


Well, well, well.

I've been asked by someone, "so what is the purpose in your stories, what is moral, what am I learning here." and this made me think to write a short article on a trend of literary fiction in which we don't try to convey a goal or purpose in the story. My writing particularly can be categorized under transgressive fiction and has many commonalities with absurdism but what gives them the quality I'm looking for is postmodernism perspective to literature. I would like to use this to expand my response to such a reaction of so what is the goal? After such a conversation, I felt purposeless for few minutes. Then I thought what if there’s good to be caused by purposelessness?

Postmodern Literature

Absurdist fiction is a genre of literature that began in the 1950s and 1960s mainly in France and Germany as a result of post-war disillusionment. This is a specific time period in which gave birth to Postmodern literature and what that label entails. Postmodern literature is defined as literature written after World War II through the current day. Works of Postmodern literature reflect a society's social and/or political viewpoints, shown through realistic characters, connections to current events, and socioeconomic messages. The writers are looking for trends that illuminate societal strengths and weaknesses to remind society of lessons they should learn and questions they should ask. So when we think of Postmodern literature, we cannot simply look at a few themes or settings. Since society changes over time, so do the content and messages of this writing. It is from these real-life themes that we find the beginning of a new period of writing.

Moving forward, we have Postmodern literature that is a form of literature characterized by the use of metafiction, unreliable narration, self-reflexivity, intertextuality, and which often thematizes both historical and political issues. This style of experimental literature emerged strongly in the US in the 1960s through the writings of authors such as Kurt Vonnegut, Thomas Pynchon, Philip K. Dick, Kathy Acker, and John Barth. (source) Postmodernists often challenge authorities, which has been seen as a symptom of the fact that this style of literature first emerged in the context of political tendencies in the 1960s. (source)

Linda Hutcheon claimed postmodern fiction as a whole could be characterized by the ironic quote marks, that much of it can be taken as tongue-in-cheek. This irony, along with black humor and the general concept of "play" are among the most recognizable aspects of postmodernism. (source) So, Postmodern literature is a form of literature that is marked, both stylistically and ideologically, by a reliance on such literary conventions as fragmentation, paradox, unreliable narrators, often unrealistic and downright impossible plots, games, parody, paranoia, dark humor, and authorial self-reference. (source) It is important to know that Postmodern authors tend to reject outright meanings in their novels, stories, and poems, and, instead, highlight and celebrate the possibility of multiple meanings, or a complete lack of meaning, within a single literary work.

Postmodern Characteristics

Postmodern literature often rejects the boundaries between 'high' and 'low' forms of art and literature, as well as the distinctions between different genres and forms of writing and storytelling. Here I have some common stylistic techniques that are often used in this form of literature:

  • Pastiche: The taking of various ideas from previous writings and literary styles and pasting them together to make new styles. The word implies a lack of originality or coherence, an imitative jumble, but with the advent of postmodernism, pastiche has become positively constructed as deliberate, witty homage or playful imitation (source).

  • Intertextuality: The acknowledgment of previous literary works within another literary work. It includes allusion, quotation, calque, plagiarism, translation, pastiche, and parody (source).

  • Metafiction: The act of writing about writing or making readers aware of the fictional nature of the very fiction they're reading. It is frequently used as a form of parody or a tool to undermine literary conventions and explore the relationship between literature and reality, life, and art (