Brian T. Way

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The writings of Richard Brautigan achieved considerable popular and critical praise in the 1960s but were generally ignored or denounced thereafter. This dissertation offers a reassessment of Brautigan's oeuvre by advancing a contemporary reading of his works within the critical and cultural environment of his times. After a preliminary examination of So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away to illustrate the artful complexity of Brautigan's final work, the dissertation examines the critical and literary framework that surrounded Brautigan's earliest writings, submitting that his works are best understood in a postmodern critical context. Trout Fishing in America, A Confederate General from Big Sur, and In Watermelon Sugar are examined as metafictions, self-reflexive works that are concerned primarily with the nature of words and texts and which foreground the text itself as the dominant subject of fiction. In the 1970s, Brautigan turns this fully developed metafictional sensibility toward the genres of popular romance. Through a metafictional combination and adaptation of several romance forms, including western, gothic, erotic, detective and historical romance, these genre experimentations move Brautigan toward the development of a unique hybrid text that aspires to enfold all forms of human discourse in an elastic fictive structure--such is the final substance of Richard Brautigan's metafictional romance.



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