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Christos Tsiolkas’ The slap and (the means of uncovering) the truth


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Grobenski, Jelena. (2017). Christos Tsiolkas’ The slap and (the means of uncovering) the truth. Diploma Thesis. Filozofski fakultet u Zagrebu, Department of English Language and Literature. [mentor Polak, Iva].

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Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap is a 2008 multi-award winning novel notorious for its unrefined and unembellished representation of the multicultural Australian middle-class society. After a man slaps another couple’s child at a friends-and-family barbecue in contemporary suburban Melbourne, little cracks escalate to expose the group’s collective and individual hypocrisy and selfishness. The text heavily operates on ambiguity and proved especially divisive; while some call it a contemporary masterpiece perfectly documenting the tensions of multicultural society, others dismiss it as crude and gratuitous, especially because it does not shy away from explicit representations of sex, violence and bigotry. This thesis ventures into uncovering the truth of The Slap hidden underneath its all-encompassing ambiguity. The groundwork for this is laid first by exploring the notion of truth in art in the context of aesthetic theory, and by briefly looking at how different literary movements and theories define themselves in relation to truth, namely formalism, structuralism, postmodernism and postcolonialism. Second, it looks at the particularities of the novel’s realistic mode, especially the way in which free indirect style and the novel’s eight focalisers help constitute The Slap's reality. The thesis then again turns to aesthetic theory in order to provide a sounding board for the analysis of the text’s patterns as two striking instances of beauty are identified in the novel. Both of these are subversive, passionately sharing some of postmodern and postcolonial dispositions, particularly the complete deconstruction of sociocultural labels and (with it) the notion of the universal subject, in this case, the Australian multicultural middle-class. However, the analysis of the instances simultaneously points to an alternative, a cure for the inherently hostile reality that they lay bare. The conclusions are based on a close-reading of the novel, and are then corroborated by the author’s own statements. The final goal of the thesis is to uncover a constructive truth that the novel offers to the reader who is willing to engage with its aesthetic, rather than judge it.

Item Type: Diploma Thesis
Uncontrolled Keywords: Christos Tsiolkas, The Slap, Australian middle-class, literary truth, aesthetics
Subjects: English language and literature
Departments: Department of English Language and Literature
Supervisor: Polak, Iva
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2017 15:05
Last Modified: 12 Dec 2017 15:05

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