The Unpleasure of Modern Bliss and Its Legacy for the Implied Reader
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- Student papers (HF-IKS) 
This thesis will explore how modernist authors’ approach towards challenging easy pleasures offers an unpleasurable, but ultimately positive reading experience for the implied reader. Textual “blanks” will, in relation to ambivalent memories, challenge the implied reader with an unpleasant experience. The result is modern bliss. In recent discussions of modernist criticism, Mao and Walkowitz argue that modernism’s most valuable feature is subverting and transforming the mind-set of bourgeois readers as a political act. (Altieri ftnt 10). However, while not dismissing this political aspect, the emphasis on subversion is a negative one (Altieri 769). This thesis suggests it is also valuable to explore how modernist texts produce unpleasure for the implied reader in works created in postmodern and contemporary literature. Rather than being a negative reading experience, the thesis will suggest that the result of unpleasure is a positive one, namely modern bliss. To do this, I will explore the modern novel Mrs Dalloway and the postmodern novel Never Let Me Go, dedicating a chapter to each novel. Each chapter will attempt to locate “blanks” creating ambivalence in relation to the characters’ memories in the novels. This ambivalence creates unpleasure for the implied reader. I will argue that even though ambivalence and challenging reading may have negative connotations, it becomes a positive reading experience for the implied reader. In addition, I will investigate the legacy of modern bliss in postmodern and contemporary works. Thus, the project offers both a contribution to the concept of unpleasure as a part of the implied reader’s experience with the modern bliss, and a reflection on why it matters to read modernist works against this concept rather than only for the subversion principle.
Master's thesis in Literacy Studies