Reading for quiet in Marilynne Robinson's Gilead novels

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This essay argues that Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead novels embody a quiet aesthetic of narrative that has emerged as a vibrant trend in the early years of the twenty-first century. Robinson’s fiction is not driven by the narratological “noise” of action, event, and plot, but by the internal machinations of consciousness, a reinvention of modernist themes that is also a return. By reading for quiet in Robinson’s work, this essay therefore demonstrates how the Gilead trilogy challenges the dominance of “trauma” narratives in contemporary American fiction and privileges the representation of quiet people, places, and states above the wider noise associated with Western culture.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction
Early online date18 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Marilynne Robinson
  • Gilead
  • philosophical quietism
  • contemporary fiction
  • quiet


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