• VANCE, Fiona Natalie.
- And it struck me that I should listen : madness in Timothy Findley's 1990s fiction.
Résumé de Thèse par l'étudiant
The three novels that Timothy Findley wrote in the 1990s focus heavily on madness as a theme, as a character stimulus and as an integral critical device. In 'Headhunter, The Piano Man's Daughter' and ' Pilgrim', Findley defines society's major problems of loneliness, indifference and intolerance through the manifestations of insanity in his characters. For these characters, madness offers a respite from the usual restrictions that society imposes upon individuals in its perpetuation of the status quo, and as a result, "insane" characters hold special places in Findley's novels. Chapter One discusses how the "insane" characters in the novels fall into Michel Foucault's four truth-telling modalities: the sage, the prophet, the teacher-'techne' and the parrhesiast. The alignment of truth with insanity allows these characters to speak about society's ills and also about the solutions to those ills. Chapter Two explores Findley's moral divide, where the extent of sympathy with the "insane" is an initial indication of a character's moral standing. Chapter Three analyzes the ambiguity surrounding the many aspects of "insanity" in the novels, and suggests that Findley uses this ambiguity to question society's assumptions, rules and boundaries, especially in its categorization of individuals. This thesis draws upon Foucault's 'Madness and Civilization' to illuminate the constructed context of madness, as well as his later work, ' Discourse of Truth', which addresses the concept of parrhesia. I also use the ideas of Gaston Bachelard in 'Psychoanalysis of Fire' to reflect upon the inherent duality and ambiguity of fire as it closely relates to the "insane" characters of all three novels.