Foregrounding in Fiction: A Stylistic Reading of Selected Works of Fiction by Leoncio P. Deriada (Abstract)

(The abstract to my undergraduate thesis)

The reading of texts in the Philippines has been largely content based, using approaches that focus on a particular sociopolitical bias. It is in this situation that Regional writers are marginalized in Philippine literary criticism: standards and priorities in Luzon are sought from all texts, thus giving ascendancy to texts from Luzon in the arena of National Literature. To demonstrate the point, Leoncio P. Deriada, arguably the leading Regional writer, is poorly studied and anthologized in spite of his being one of the most decorated writers in the country. This study therefore aimed both to give voice to this marginalized giant and to bring in a new, socio-politically unbiased wind into literary criticism in the Philippines. It aimed to use stylistics, an approach which emphasized on the language of literature in evaluating the text’s merits, on two of his short stories, namely “For Death is Dead in December” and “Lunacy.” The study particularly sought instances of foregrounding – the parts of the text that stylistically stand out, and observe how they affect the meaning of the texts. The study revealed three tendencies in both stories: the non-use of quotation marks in dialogue to lend the texts a stream of consciousness quality; the repetition of phonemes to lend the text a vocal quality and to produce sound to the images being described; and semantic deviation in the form of metaphor, to facilitate metonymy and to create the image of madness. Deriada’s texts are ripe with foregrounding, and his text can be described as being stylistically rich. The stories studied would be good material for the teaching of literary form.


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