Cosmopolis: The Styles of Postmodern Literature

8 Aug

5th. article in our 7-week series on the film Cosmopolis

Cosmopolis the styles of postmodern literature is very hard to define but it generally is any book written after the 2nd world war that is constructed in certain styles. It also goes against the Enlightenment style commonly used in books wrote between the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Here is a brief description of the styles used. [1]

  • Dark Humour: making fun of serious or taboo situations.
  • Fabulation: fiction that does not conform to realism
  • Historic metafiction: creating fiction out of historic events or people.
  • Intertextuality: when another author’s work is featured/referenced in another author’s work.
  • Irony: doing or saying the opposite of what is happening.
  • Magic Realism: using elements (like magic) that are not possible in our reality.  
  • Maximalism: 1) complex and/or massive amounts of descriptive text. 2) Mass movement or trend.
  • Metafiction: fictional writing drawing attention to the relationship between reality and fiction.
  • Minimalism: using basic amounts of texts so the reader’s imagination creates the story.
  • Paranoia: using heavily panic induced thoughts of oppression and harassment in plots.
  • Pastiche: pasting together two or more genres.
  • Poioumena: a story of the makingor tellingof another story.
  • Technoculture and hyperreality: Using technology to cloud or simulate real life.
  • Temporal distortion: using multiple realities or distortion of time.

With that in mind here are a few postmodern books that are similar to Cosmopolis.

Money: A Suicide Note by Martin Amis

Set in New York and London it features John Self, a successful commercial director and “consumer extraordinaire”, is invited to direct his first film. Soon he finds the cast hate each other and their characters, acquires a stalker, and discovers his girlfriend is cheating on him which sends him on a downwards spiral.

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

Set in Manhattan, it follows the daily life of Patrick Bateman, a successful investment banker. He mostly works out, eats out and spends a lot of money. He also happens to be psychopathic killer! This book was adapted into the famous movie of the same name and provided Christian Bale with a break out role.

Pattern Recognition by William Gibson

This story takes place in London, Moscow and Tokyo and follows Cayce Pollard, a marketing consultant. She has a pathological sensitivity to logos which make her perfect to judge the effects of corporate logos. Cayce is hired to find the anonymous creators of artistic internet videos which appeals to her need to find patterns in meaningless data and sets her on to a tricky and dangerous journey.

Also see 4th. article in the series; Let It Express Itself: Post Modern Art & Cosmopolis 

Please join us for a discussion Thursday 8/9/2012 @7pmE




51 Responses to “Cosmopolis: The Styles of Postmodern Literature”

  1. littlebells August 8, 2012 at 10:09 AM #

    Ozzie: this is excellent!!! Fantastic research!

    • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:02 PM #

      Thank you LB!

  2. Comic Relief August 8, 2012 at 10:23 AM #


    Thanks for the interesting collection of Post-modern styles, this must have taken a lot of work to collect and review these ideas and books.

    You claim for literature it began after the 2nd world war. In most of the books I’ve read, Post-modern art only began in roughly the sixties after half a century of modern art. Some say Post modernism began earlier; I think I understand why they say this yet I find this hard to believe. But excuse me, an argument of when Post-modernism started may be grossly (un)Post-modernistic.

    Visual artistic postmodernism seemed to be both a rejection and sometimes an affirmation of pre-modern and modern art.

    What did Post-modern literature reject in regard to modernist literature?

    • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:19 PM #

      Thank you CR! It was a hard one. This was as simple as I could get it and even then I’m still not 100% on all the terms, lol!

      In my view art is subjective, so time and dates can vary. It rejected enlightenment, which means the advancement of knowledge, to promote intelligence over supersition and to move society forward.

      • Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 7:33 PM #

        Thank you. I imagine this was a great answer for 19th century pre-modernism also.

  3. Open Book August 8, 2012 at 7:02 PM #


    Very informative and I agree with LB very well researched. I have a few questions but I will wait for the discussion. TC!

    • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:20 PM #

      Thank you OB!

  4. Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 6:53 PM #

    Ozzie, Paris, LB, or OB,

    What would you say was the major POMO writing methodology or style apparent in Cosmopolis? I thought irony played a really significant role.

    • Open Book August 9, 2012 at 6:54 PM #

      Hi CR & Everyone!

    • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:23 PM #

      I thought irony too with a smidgen of the others.

  5. Open Book August 9, 2012 at 6:54 PM #

    Hi Ozzie

    U listed a number of styles often attributed to Postmodern lit. Of these styles which ones are represented in Cosmopolis?

    • Open Book August 9, 2012 at 6:57 PM #

      Anyone can take a stab at this Q.

      • Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 7:06 PM #

        I claimed irony.

        • Open Book August 9, 2012 at 7:09 PM #

          I add to that: Historic Metafiction

          • Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 7:23 PM #

            That’s interesting; what fiction was referred to. I’ve heard others mention Moby Dick, Hamlet, and Ullysees in relation to the book.

            • Comic Relief August 10, 2012 at 3:52 PM #

              Sorry, I was talking to Openbook.

          • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:25 PM #

            I add technoculture. That car was tricked out, lol!

          • Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 7:26 PM #

            That’s interesting. I have heard others refer to “Moby Dick,” “Hamlet,” and “Ullyssees.” Are these the fictional references you would make?

  6. ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:00 PM #

    Hi all!

    My computer is freezing again (I swear it knows we’re discussing this article and is going to do exactly what it did while I was writing this!), so the replies may take awhile.

    • Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 7:07 PM #

      Hi Ozzie.

    • Open Book August 9, 2012 at 7:07 PM #

      Hi Oz!

      No worries take your time. We will all pray for your computer to behave.

      • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:28 PM #

        LOL! I swear it knows when I have something important to do and causes hell! It froze at the beginning of the discussion but at the moment its ok. It better stay that way or it’s going out the window!

  7. Open Book August 9, 2012 at 7:12 PM #

    Here’s an interesting quote from DeLillo.

    “My own personal preference is for fiction that is steeped in history, that takes account of ways in which our perceptions are being changed by events around us. Global events that may alter how we live in the smallest ways. –DeLillo in an article by Philip Marchand in 1991”

  8. parisienne August 9, 2012 at 7:24 PM #

    Hi All!

    I would put Cosmo in the technoculture and hyper reality category because he’s so removed from actual reality.

    • Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 7:27 PM #

      Hi Paris.

    • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:31 PM #

      Hi Paris!

      Yes, I for got about his removed reality.

    • Open Book August 9, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

      Hello Paris!
      Ah! Great choice.

  9. Open Book August 9, 2012 at 7:31 PM #


    What kind of audience do u think Cosmopolis aspires to attract?

    • Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

      Do you mean the book, movie, or possibly both since I heard he sought out Cronenberg?

      • Open Book August 9, 2012 at 7:35 PM #


      • parisienne August 9, 2012 at 7:38 PM #

        Who sought out Cronenburg? Delillo?

        • Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 7:45 PM #

          I don’t remember where but that’s what I think I heard.

  10. parisienne August 9, 2012 at 7:34 PM #

    I think it will attract viewers that like to view reality in an absurd fashion.

    • Open Book August 9, 2012 at 7:41 PM #

      Hmm! U may be right Paris.

      DeLillo has stated in an interview the audience he want’s to attract.

      DeLillo:……”I like to imagine it’s being read by some stranger somewhere who doesn’t have anyone around him to talk to about books and writing—maybe a would-be writer, maybe a little lonely, who depends on a certain kind of writing to make him feel more comfortable in the world.


      I’ve read critics who say that your books are bound to make people feel uncomfortable.


      Well, that’s good to know. But this reader we’re talking about—he already feels uncomfortable. He’s very uncomfortable. And maybe what he needs is a book that will help him realize he’s not alone.

      • Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 7:56 PM #

        Cronenberg is unique in that he has had a long history of connecting with mixed audiences:
        • With movies like “Naked Lunch” he has provoked the interest of the Lit fans and cinefiles/
        • Attracted a sci-fi audiences with “the Fly”
        • Attracted fanboys with movies like “A History of Violence.”

        Delillo seems to have a very sophisticated literary audience but he appears to have wanted a broader audience with Cosmopolis.

        It isn’t hard to believe that he is likely to thinks Pattinson will bring in younger fans.

    • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:48 PM #

      Oooh, good answer! I was thinking that it maybe was a sepcific section of literature students and hipsters, lol! Stupid tired brain!

      • Open Book August 9, 2012 at 8:04 PM #

        Thanks Oz!

        I think people don’t realize that Dark or Absurdity can be a very good way to get relief from the real crazy stuff happening in the world. I mean stuff u have suppressed, then u read a book or see a film that speaks to the very thing u are trying to reconcile in your psyche. I think absurdity allows audiences to pop the cork to help them bring forth the truth.

        • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 8:09 PM #

          Exactly! Humour can help you deal with things in my opinion.

  11. Open Book August 9, 2012 at 7:49 PM #

    This is why I like dark humor books and films it makes me feel like I’m not alone. DeLillo’s definition is a perfect description for why I love this genre.

    • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 7:59 PM #

      I like dark humour too but that is because I have a bit of a warped sense of humour at times!

  12. parisienne August 9, 2012 at 7:53 PM #

    I was originally going to say dark humor but I don’t see where he’s making fun of it.

  13. Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 8:53 PM #

    Night all. This was fun.

  14. Comic Relief August 9, 2012 at 8:54 PM #

    Great article Ozzie. 🙂

    • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 8:55 PM #

      Night CR!

  15. Open Book August 9, 2012 at 8:57 PM #

    I’m going to go as well. Great article Ozzie.

    • ozzie20 August 9, 2012 at 9:11 PM #

      Thank you for coming! I better go too. I’m starting to feel dizzy. Night all! 🙂

  16. parisienne August 9, 2012 at 10:08 PM #

    I didn’t think it was dark because I didn’t see Delillo making fun of anything but rather making a point about technology and realism.

    • Open Book August 9, 2012 at 11:21 PM #


      I see your point. After thinking about it, u are correct Cosmo does have more Absurd elements littered throughout the narrative than satirical ones. I think that’s what makes it so uncomfortable to watch how irrational Eric is with money. Excellent observation!! This relates to LB’s theory regarding Economics in today’s society being based on Behavioral rather then Rational Economics.

  17. Noeme September 2, 2012 at 6:07 AM #

    it really helps me with my homework.
    Thanks! :))

    • Comic Relief September 3, 2012 at 9:47 AM #

      Thanks for your reply Noeme. Hope you return and reply again.

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