Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This thesis examines the ambiguous function of intertexts within Timothy Findley's novels. His fiction is in constant dialogue with other literary texts and conventions as well as numerous social, economic, and political discourses. This intertextual dialogue politicizes Findley's work because the re-presentation of intertexts often subverts and challenges ideological biases, revealing sexist, racist, and totalitarian features. However, the repetition of intertexts not only implies difference but also similarity, a paradox which creates ambiguity within Findley's novels. I propose that this ambivalence is evident in both the form and content of Findley's work, arguing that the relationship between his own texts and intertexts parallels the struggle within his protagonists who flirt with and often join their enemies.;Over the course of this thesis, I show how intertextual readings of Findley's novels reveal the problematic relationship between authority and representation. Findley persistently undercuts institutional and political authorities. For example, he reacts against the repressive tactics characteristic of psychiatry in The Last of the Crazy People and Headhunter, the military in The Wars, big business and government in The Telling of Lies, organized religion in Not Wanted on the Voyage, and fascist governments in The Butterfly Plague and Famous Last Words. However, issues of authority are not only connected to institutional forms but are also linked to the authority of those who write history and fiction. Finally, his novels explore the authoritative aspects of literary genre, conventions, and aesthetics, and in doing so, also investigate the troubling relationship between narrative construction and representations of violence. This disturbing relationship between representation and repression is especially evident in Findley's critique of intertexts from the modernist period. Although Findley clearly admires these texts, he also uncovers important links between certain modernist aesthetics and the aesthetics of fascism. In doing so, he critiques both the reader's desire for and the resulting dangers of formal unity.



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