Great Expectations

Great Expectations

Kathy Acker

This book begins when a young boy, Pip, learns he has come into great expectations. What these expectations actually are, or the change from the total disparity between Pip’s ideas of ‘expectations’ and what is real to Pip’s learning to feel, is the narrative of this plagiarized Bildungsroman.

Thus Great Expectations is both the story of a young boy’s introduction to the world and a profound examination of moral values. Written at a time when Acker’s relationship with society is in question, texts given by the society—Dickens, Proust, Flaubert, Reage, Victoria Holt, Keats—appear both as they were written and in a new and interrogative light. The whole culture is brought into question.

Out of the agony of the author’s total disenchantment, or plagiarism, appears beauty: given text is laid on given text; language is no longer used to control but to be; the reader touches language rather than is controlled by it; meaning changes to tapestry. This book is totally sensuous.

This book is “the most completely unified work of art Acker has yet produced. One that by its formal concentration and its unified shape at every depth of reading fulfills the sort of demands that Sterne or Canetti makes of the novelist.” – Alain Robbe-Grillet