Reframing Marilynne Robinson’s fiction

elusive everydayThe acclaimed novels of Pulitzer Prize winner Marilynne Robinson—Housekeeping, Gilead, Home, Lila, and Jack—are explored in a new book by Boston College Professor of English Laura Tanner. The Elusive Everyday in the Fiction of Marilynne Robinson (Oxford University Press, 2021) highlights the tensions of form and content that haunt moments of transcendence in Robinson’s work. From the publisher: Robinson’s novels, Tanner argues, “construct a world that is mimetic as well as symbolic and revelatory. Although the heightened apprehension of the quotidian in Robinson’s novels often registers powerfully and beautifully in representational terms, its aesthetic intensity is enacted at the expense of characters who patrol the margins of the ordinary with unceasing vigilance. Inhabiting the everyday self-consciously, her protagonists perform a forced relationship to the ordinary that seldom relaxes into the natural or the familiar; scarred by grief, illness, aging, and trauma, they inhabit a world of transcendent beauty suffused with the terrifying threat of loss.” Tanner wrote an essay about the connection between emerging from the pandemic and Robinson’s work. Tanner’s other publications include Lost Bodies: Inhabiting the Borders of Life and Death and Intimate Violence: Representations of Rape and Torture in Twentieth-Century Fiction.

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