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Transgressive fiction

See also: transgression - transgressive cinema - transgressive art - grotesque literature - cult fiction

Classic authors: Marquis de Sade - Matthew Lewis - Georges Bataille - William Burroughs - Émile Zola

Contemporary authors: Kathy Acker - Dennis Cooper - J.G. Ballard - Bret Easton Ellis - Chuck Palahniuk

Haunted (2005) - Chuck Palahniuk [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

Recent examples of English language transgessive fiction include Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk. These works deal with issues that are considered to be outside the social norms. Their characters abuse drugs, engage in violent behaviour or can be considered sexual deviants. [Jun 2006]


Transgressional fiction is a form of literature in which the story centres around one or more characters who feel confined by the current norms and expectations of (usually Western) society. These characters, throughout the course of the story, attempt to break out from those boundaries and find that which they are looking for, be it better self-identity, inner peace, or anything else that they are unable to attain within the current boundaries.

Many of the characters' actions may be considered frequently anti-social and/or violent and nihilist, and so the genre is no stranger to controversy. The genre encompasses a number of famous modern works, some of which are listed below, not to mention a surprisingly wide variety of authors.

At the same time, less bound by societal restrictions, its proponents claim it is capable of pungent commentary upon the society its characters inhabit.

Minimalism is a common method of writing in transgressional fiction.

American novelist Chuck Palahniuk often uses the phrase transgressional fiction when describing his form of writing.

Literary ancestry

The basic ideas of trangressional fiction are by no means new.

In particular, it can be argued that the 19th century French author Émile Zola's works about social conditions, and 'bad behaviour' are direct ancestors. Zola's works were extremely controversial at the time. Later French work from the twentieth century is also a possible influence.

Dostoyevsky's novels Crime and Punishment (1866) and Notes from Underground (1864) also deal with some common themes, as does Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun's Hunger (1890).

In the United States, Charles Bukowski is a possible ancestor, as is perhaps Jack London.

In England, the genre owes a considerable influence to so called working class literature, which often portrays proletarian characters trying to escape the poverty trap by inventive means. In the USA, the genre has tended to focus more on middle class characters.

Authors of transgressional fiction

Notable works of transgressional fiction

This is a short list of works of transgressional fiction that are of considerable popularity.

--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgressional_fiction [Feb 2005]

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