The Banal Object

Naomi Segal and University of London
1 October 1981
220 × 140 mm
157 pp
Paperback: 978-0-85457-099-7
The 'banal object' is one whose very insignificance appears to hint at a hidden meaning. In the texts Dr Segal examines here, the narrators have crucial encounters with such objects: these scenes first dramatize, and later tentatively resolve, a personal and literary crisis. Close analysis reveals many themes of radical self-questioning, expressed in a language whose thematics - or, fundamental imagery - reproduces the opposition of self and world seen in the relationship between narrator and object, and displays a similar ambivalence of fear and desire. The texts are also placed in a literary-historical context: their special use of objects arises from the conflict between Symbolism and Naturalism, and exemplifies a turning-point in modern European writing.