Thematized iconicity and iconic devices in the modern novel

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The following paper offers case studies of forms of thematized iconicity in the modern realist novel. Taking its cue from Eco and Sebeok&#8217;s <i>The Sign of Three</i> (1983), it explores some of the ingenious, yet plausible, ways in which acoustic and visual iconicity have played a substantial role in modern fiction. Examples of acoustic iconicity and indexicality are explored in David Lodge&#8217;s <i>Deaf Sentence</i> (2008), whereas visual iconicity is shown to be of overarching importance in Umberto Eco&#8217;s <i>The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana</i> (English translation: 2005). Emphasis is placed on the importance of a self-deprecating satirical perspective in <i>Deaf Sentence</i> and on the way in which copious intertextual material and visual images are used to defamiliarize the historical context of Eco&#8217;s novel. Reader-response is considered in the case of narrated iconicity in both works. The paper is predicated on the working hypothesis that thematized iconicity deserves serious consideration as a literary topos in its own right.


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