Fiction in the Quantum Universe
By Susan Strehle
(University of North Carolina Press, Paperback, 9780807843659, 293pp.)
Publication Date: May 1992
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According to Strehle, the actualists balance attention to questions of art with an engaged meditation on the external, actual world. While these actualist novels diverge markedly from realistic practice, Strehle claims that they do so in order to reflect more acutely what we now understand as real. Reality is no longer "realistic"; in the new physical or quantum universe, reality is discontinuous, energetic, relative, statistical, subjectively seen, and uncertainly known -- all terms taken from new physics.
Actualist fiction is characterized by incompletions, indeterminacy, and "open" endings unsatisfying to the readerly wish for fulfilled promises and completed patterns. "Gravity's Rainbow," for example, ends not with a period but with a dash. Strehle argues that such innovations in narrative reflect on twentieth-century history, politics, science, and discourse.