What is the Self?: Subjectivity and Narrative Progression in Richard Powers' "The Echo Maker"
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In this paper I take an interest in a question that has been the subject of muchdiscussion across literary and cultural studies as well as in the parallel fields of philosophy, psychology and cognitive science during recent decades. The question is: what is the self? This paper offers a reading of Richard Powers' The Echo Maker to the extent that the novel constitutes an answer to this profound and difficult question. I draw on the work of theorists such as Uri Margolin, Alan Palmer and Lisa Zunshine, for their cognitive approach to literature. I am particularly interested to explore how the author manages to juggle the demands of conventional narrative progression required by the novel genre, including the construction of characters as relatively consistent,logical and 'rounded' individuals, with some radically destabilising approaches to the nature of consciousness and the self.