The Trilogy’s Take-off in the Thirties: A Close-Cultural Reading of Novel on Yellow Paper
All that I have argued to this point about Smith’s writing becomes readily evident in the opening pages of her first major published work, Novel on Yellow Paper (1936). It is wholly aboveboard about its new procedures and even audacious in its announcement of what it will critique, as well as which topical discourses, attitudes, texts and thinkers it will snarl into its speaker’s own complicit speech in scary demonstration of the highly ‘overwritten’ nature of her consciousness. These pages alone ought to have been enough to signal to its many contemporary readers — as well as to critics who attempted to analyse it over the next forty years — that Smith as a new writer was less interestingly ‘a la’, to use her derisory shorthand,1 and more interestingly doing something risky and innovative. Certainly they should have been enough to signal that she was not an ‘eccentric’ using newly fashionable techniques to confess her own personal oddities in autobiography, but rather a sniper tucked into the very heart of contemporary culture, taking constant aim at herself as well.
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