Keywords: American literature, postmodernism, absurdism, existentialism, autobiography, narrative


The article is devoted to the study of the thematic and poetic features of the late prose “Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man” of the American writer Joseph Heller. Developing the concept of lateness Theodor W. Adorno and Edward W. Said discovered that the last work may possess hidden complexity under the illusional formal simplicity. Risk and rebellion became the main motives in Heller’s novel as he goes to rediscover The Great American Novel and compare himself\narrative “reflection” with its creators. The author turns reader’s attention to the problem of perception of a writer, composing the theory of “literature of despair” as the visible foe he stands against. This paper aims to discover the distinguishing difference between previous and last novels, foremost in changing the poetics of absurdism and existentialism. The author intentionally depicting himself as an ironic figure Eugene Pota that “is” writing his last novel here and now. This character is a reflected image of Heller himself, through which he analyzes his life and work. The choice to frame the whole narrative as the metaphorical odyssey of Tom Sawyer in search of a literary mentor resonates with John Bart’s essay about “literature of exhaustion”. A complicated canvas of plots, – rewriting Kafka, Twain, Bible – allows to explore gender roles in the narrative, redirect well-known stories into postmodern patterns. The late style appears as the result of history – bringing the forgotten pieces of conventional fictional techniques in an unexpected manner. Heller overcomes the despair before his own death and audience criticism because he strongly believes that art will continue to live.


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How to Cite
Dudar, Y. (2021). JOSEPH HELLER’S NOVEL “PORTRAIT OF AN ARTIST, AS AN OLD MAN” AS THE LATE STYLE WRITING. Scientific Journal of Polonia University, 40(3), 23-31.