Connected through Custom: Well Dressing in Jon McGregor’s Novel, Reservoir 13

PARKES-NIELD, Sophie (2021). Connected through Custom: Well Dressing in Jon McGregor’s Novel, Reservoir 13. Folklore, 132 (2), 208-217.

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Placing a calendar custom in a fictional text opens a wealth of possibilities to the writer: enabling new plots or changes in trajectories; signposting critical information about place and pace, time and timing; conveying and communicating complex characters. In Reservoir 13, a novel by Jon McGregor, the custom of well dressing appears not as superfluous detail, but as an intentional device to control and manipulate the text—and the reader’s response to it. Though the mentions of the custom are fleeting, this article demonstrates how its inclusion, and its frequency of use, enables the writer to develop a sophisticated sense of place and distinctive, memorable characters through a few well-chosen words. The custom also aids readers in their navigation through a structure which could otherwise prove difficult to fathom, while simultaneously grounding the characters in their calendar when collective trauma may provoke feelings of detachment and isolation.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number:
Page Range: 208-217
Depositing User: Justine Gavin
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2020 11:06
Last Modified: 14 Dec 2022 01:18

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